BBC Ceefax

Ceefax was the BBC's Teletext service. Launched in 1974, the service grew quickly over the following 2 decades, even being used 'in vision' to fill gaps in programming overnight. The service finally ended with the switchover to Digital Television in 2012 - the final invision sequence of this can be found on the 'Teletext in View' page of the site.

All contents on this page have been recovered from original VHS recordings.

BBC2 Ceefax - 8/4/1983

In earlier years, the content on the Ceefax service differed between BBC1 and BBC2, with BBC1 generally containing fewer pages but running faster, and BBC2 containing more pages but running slower. In the earlier part of the 80s, branding differed between the two services too with BBC1 using blue and yellow, whilst BBC2 used red and yellow. The BBC2 service from April 1983 here, with headlines including experiments onboard the Space Shuttle Challenger, some 3 years before the fatal disaster involving the craft, and talk of armed police in Manchester. It's also just past the 100th anniversary of the death of Karl Marx. At this early point in the service's life, Fastext had not been launched, so the footer does not contain the familiar four colour navigation, and the page for subtitling had not been standardised on 888, differing by channel.

BBC2 Ceefax - 14/9/1986

On 14th September 1986, BBC2 Ceefax are focusing on events in Greece which had been struck by an earthquake the previous night. Meanwhile the SDP are calling for cancellation of the planned Trident nuclear missile system and rejected commiting to renationalisation of British Telecom or British Gas during their party conference. In less serious news, Sheila Starfish is making a statue of Reg the Octopus to hang things on.

BBC2 Ceefax - 11/1/1987

BBC2 Ceefax from January 1987, and the more familiar Ceefax Blue look is in place. Being the more 'in depth' Ceefax on BBC2, there's a lot more of a wider magazine selection of pages, with quizzes and art galore in addition to the usual news and sport you'd expect. As well as the Telesoftware service in the 700s, allowing downloads of listings for compatible micro computers of the 80s. In the news, headlines include the Government refusing to comment on a potential nuclear weapons crash, and concerns continue to grow around fuel supplies in the Soviet.

BBC1 Ceefax - 20/7/1991

A much more cyan look to Ceefax from July 1991, and on this particular example it's even specifically branded up as the weekend version of the service. Regional teletext is still some years off for the BBC, so listings for all ITV regions and sections for Welsh news have to be carried nationally. Politics stories heavily dominate most of the news stories for that summer, and in sport Ayrton Senna talks about recovering from a crash in Germany some years before his tragic fatal one of 94. On engineering, there's also a full list of the transmitters due to launch their NICAM service in August of that year.

BBC1 Ceefax - 22/12/1993

BBC Ceefax from December 1993. Another new look, albeit very pared back in both design and content terms. The 'At Speed' and 'In Depth' split between BBC1 and BBC2 Ceefax continues, complete with extra branding to hammer home the point. Headlines include Dominos UK vowing to continue their delivery time guarantee despite a lawsuit in the US, and Leeds is tipped for some festive snow.

BBC1 Ceefax - 18/12/1996

From December 18th 1996 on the BBC, and things are gearing up for Christmas with the BBC having released their highlights for the festive season. In news, the Duke of Edinburgh sparks controversy by wading into the gun debate in the wake of Dunblane, and Pizza Hut are still expanding in the UK. Also in those heady pre-Jamie-Oliver days, there's talk of rewarding school attendance with burgers! Regional Ceefax was still a good 9 months away in 1996, so the TV listings section has to carry all regional variations on the pages too.

BBC1 Ceefax - Diana's Funeral - 6/9/1997

Everyone remembers the unprecedented disruption to the TV schedules following the tragic death of Princess Diana at the end of August 1997. From the day of her funeral in early September 1997 comes the coverage from BBC1's Ceefax service too giving a rare insight to a day we'll never see the likes of again. Similar to the broadcast, the BBC's textual medium has almost blanket coverage across the news (with a much smaller section for Mother Teresa). Television and radio listings are thrown out of the window, with a rare now and next page with all but one channel showing the same thing. Travel sections are dedicated to getting people in and out of London, and sporting pages detail events being called off. Even areas such as children and music have their own unique angle on the events of that day.

BBC1 Ceefax (South East) - 25/12/1998

From the South East region, Christmas 1998 on the BBC, and it's time to see what the festive schedules are looking like for that year - especially that varied schedule on BBC News 24. In news, Richard Branson's balloon challenge ends in failure, and with the end of the year being close everyone is doing their look back at events of the past 12 months. Also on page 619, don't miss some a feature on that well remembered BBC trailer from 1998 looking back over decades of children's television.


  • Jason Robertson (@grim_fandango) - For being a source of inspiration for this project -
  • Alistair Buxton - For creating the original recovery software -
  • BBC -

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