/ Technology

Farewell Ceefax – will you miss it?

300. 302. 316. 101. 400. 220. These are numbers I’ll remember long after I’ve forgotten my old PIN or mobile numbers. Ceefax, the BBC’s text information service on analogue TV, is in its final days.

As each part of the country switches to digital TV, so the analogue Ceefax gets switched off too.

And if you’re wondering, ITV’s Teletext service ended in December 2009.

Even with a computer and an internet connection, I still often preferred Ceefax for its speed and convenience. Information was basic and graphics were rudimentary (or laughable now), but that was OK.

I could switch on the TV and find what I wanted, fast. Page 316 for the latest football scores, 400 for the weather, 101 for the news. Going over to the other side of the room to turn on my computer and wait for it to boot up was oh so slow in comparison.

I also fondly remember the music that went with the pages on live broadcasts! Like Ceefax, it was pretty easy-going. Why not listen to this Ceefax music as you read the rest of my Convo?

Does the digital text service live up to Ceefax?

Despite reminiscing the considerable charms of Ceefax, I don’t lament its demise. The internet is now so much richer, and our computers so much faster, that I don’t think it’s really needed anymore. Plus, with our tablets and smartphones, we can now access the information we want much more conveniently and in front of the telly.

I also don’t think Ceefax’s replacement, the BBC Text service on digital, is quite as useful as its ancestor. In fact, I rarely use it. There are too many competing options around that do what it does just that bit better.

It’s also not that fun to use. I certainly can’t see it receiving the same kind of nostalgia in the future – unless they bring back some blocky graphics and that music again!

Will you miss Ceefax? What were your favourite pages? And does its digital replacement live up to your expectations?

Comments
Profile photo of wavechange
Member

Ceefax is an interesting part of the history of TV, like the Test Card. It provided a useful source of information before the days of the Web.

I can remember when one or two very useful minority interest pages were removed to make way for something popular – probably National Lottery results – and that annoyed me.

I do not miss Ceefax but welcome the development of a service that provided useful information on demand. What impressed me much more was NCSA Mosaic, the first ‘popular’ Web browser, back in 1993. That was big step forward from Gopher and other early Internet services. But that’s getting off-topic.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

Here is a link to a Teletext museum website, with images that provide reminders of the past:
http://teletext.mb21.co.uk

Profile photo of kermit
Member

I used to use Ceefax all the time as a wide-ranging source of information, then along came the Internet. The digital TV replacement for Ceefax is, I find, clunky and tedious to navigate so I hardly ever use it, except to look up program information.

Member
Calum Campbell says:
7 May 2012

I totally agree the BBC Red Button is worse than Ceefax because some news stories are now spread out of three pages instead of one like in Ceefax and was quicker to load than red button that sometimes dosn’t work.

Profile photo of m.
Member

I do miss ceefax, I enjoyed digesting info on mix whilst watching TV at the same time. Scrolling the news whilst watching countryfiles is something I genuinely miss.
I found it quick, easy to use and far less intrusive than the web.
RIP ceefax.

Member
Ian Savell says:
30 April 2012

I used to use text for
* Program schedules (now I use the TV’s EPG which is far better)
* Subtitles (now incorporated in the broadcast, but had my partially deaf Mum not died last year she would have been devastated, she found digital subtitles intermittent and hard to read)
* Headlines (I can get them on my PC browser’s home page, but that’s in a different room, and “red button” headlines are limited)
So I don’t really miss text, but the “modern” alternatives are not all as convenient as the best of text.

Profile photo of John Ward
Member

I stopped using Ceefax a few years ago and haven’t really missed it although – as Chris says in the article – it was very handy for rapid updates on your favourite topics; the navigation certainly stayed in your head so you could quickly jump from a soccer score to a share price for example. It was nice to have a reminder of the Ceefax background music; I always liked the test card music and often had it on during the daytime when pottering around indoors. I wish the test card was still available as a standard reference for adjusting all the picture modes and moods available on the modern television set.

Member
par ailleurs says:
1 May 2012

I used (note the past tense) to love Ceefax. But there again I used to think that a Morris Minor was a sensible car, cassette tapes were a brilliant invention and video recorders were great. That says it all really. Who can forget the thrill of wanting to check the travel news before setting out. Each page took about 15 seconds to change and you didn’t necessarily want to read anything on every one of them.
The BBC’s modern digital text service is quick and useful. It wins hands down. Let’s face it there are only a few die-hards who mourn the passing of analogue TV. Ceefax is the same. Bye bye; it was nice knowing you!

Profile photo of m.
Member

I still think cassette tapes are brilliant, just wish they had found a way to stop them bunching & sticking, I still install cassette players in any car I drive.
Sometimes new technology doesn’t mean better tech,
I find the BBC digital service too complex and not user friendly [admittedly it may be saying more about me than the service].
I didn’t mind the time it took Ceefax to load as I used it on mix, thing is I liked it and found it appropriate for my needs, like rocket lollies and bicycles I could actually fix myself.
As for just a few diehards mourning the passing of analogue TV, I think we are more than just a few, digital is being sold to the public as the best thing since sliced bread. Those of us who actually worked on analogue systems, know just how overrated digital is, and how much we have lost by going down the 2 step path.

Profile photo of redkite
Member

The BBC were running down Ceefax for years. There used to be pages of finacial advice on a saturday-you could get the inshore weather forecast every day-I could go on.
Now this info is not available unless you have an internet connected computer. But some people either don’t want the expense and hassle and some people simply cannot afford it-I know of several on low wages who can’t.
On the other hand, the travel section is now much better, and changes fairly quickly when stoppages occur.

Profile photo of davarn
Member

The programme guide on digital is hard work. I just want to call up a channel prog guide. Rocket science of course!

Profile photo of davarn
Member

I may have delayed more than most when it came to going digital, but having experienced it, with the plethora of “choices” available, I’m less than impressed. More channels has resulted in an ever deteriorating feed of bunkum than ever before.

There is no user friendly text schedule available. What I now see is an onerous and time consuming process simply to find what’s on a particular channel or later in the day on any.

The result for me? I now watch far less TV than hitherto. I’ve realised there are better things in life than spending half an hour searching for something decent to view on a TV