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RIP Teletext: Jan, 1993 to Jan, 2010

Andy Vandervell


RIP Teletext: Jan, 1993 to Jan, 2010

Come January 2010 the text news service Teletext, which is currently accessible through ITV, Channel 4 and Five, will become unavailable.

Mike Stewart, the group managing director, blamed the "fragmentation of television audiences and the boom in online use for news" as having eroded Teletext's readers and made it increasingly unviable - adding that the service had made a loss for the last three years.

Freeview channel Teletext Holiday's will continue to air, while the company's various online assets will also continue. Teletext's operator, Daily Mail and General Trust, aimed some blame at Ofcom, which had announced that the operator could lose its public service license after 2014, but given the service had been loss making for three years already it seems a half-hearted explanation. Ultimately, it appears to be another struggling business that's fallen victim of the recession.

So, Teletext, will it be missed? Many will have fond memories of the service, particularly Mr. Biffo's (aka Paul Rose) Digitizer gaming column, which ran between 1993 and 2003. However, in this digital age, its relevance has been increasingly dubious.

Will you miss Teletext? Let us know in the comments.


The Guardian


July 16, 2009, 7:54 pm

Wasn't teletext introduced in 1976? Which would make it 33 or thereabouts.

I remember a few years later, in a primary school project, we were asked to think about 'life in the year 2000'

The teacher suggested an upgraded ceefax-like service that would link everyone's tv/computer together. I guess the later French minitel system would be the closest match.


July 16, 2009, 8:28 pm

I used to be an avid reader of Digitizer. Also, what will happen to Bamboozle?!


July 16, 2009, 8:37 pm

Ah I didn't even know it still existed!! Bad me. I don't know if I'll miss it because it was slow and awkward BUT it was a life saver in its day. I remember mum using it every morning to check traffic... and I too read the Digitizer column ! TV Guide was great too.

Andy Vandervell

July 16, 2009, 8:42 pm

Aero: You're probably thinking of ORACLE, which Teletext replaced.


July 16, 2009, 8:51 pm

@ Andy - alright, no need to shout ;)


July 16, 2009, 8:58 pm

A sad day! I read Digi every day religiously for years, Mr Biffo etc always raised a smile, talking about getting drunk on gin etc, not sure how suitable for most of their viewers; but pretty funny! The replacement (Game Central is it?) never quite replaced it, but still pretty good, honest reviews though (how sad I'm nearly 30 now and still read it occasionally!)


July 16, 2009, 9:03 pm

I remember when it 1st started, looking at things like worlwide weather/time etc and reading the news pages for hours on end. won't miss it as the pages update so slowly, RIP teletext.


July 16, 2009, 9:29 pm

@Aero - slight confusion in that "Teletext" is both the name of the company that replaced Oracle as Andy rightly says, and the generic name of the technology that is /was used to run the Oracle/Ceefax/Teletext services.

With a claimed 13% of all holiday's booked from the UK, it was a license to print money for many years but the technology was superceded many years ago and I'm suprised it's still going now. Digitizer & bamboozle were good but I won't miss it.



July 16, 2009, 9:54 pm

And what about the 'your letters' right to reply page, think it was P143 back in the day? Like reading right wing diatribes from a certain red-top, sometimes hilarious, sometimes depressing, but always worth a look!


July 16, 2009, 10:49 pm

Used to love playing a little quiz called 'Bamboozled' on it. But it's past time to move on now - it's beyond retro.


July 17, 2009, 12:34 am

Haven't used it in ages. Thought it'd been replaced by the red button now. Bamboozle does bring back memories though. Won't be missed but was great for it's day.


July 17, 2009, 1:40 am


I loved Bamboozle. My old Sony tv let me cheat though when the questions were too tough lol!


July 17, 2009, 2:18 am

I remember when buying a TV with teletext cost an extra £50! It was great in its time but has had its day. Time to move on....

Tony Walker

July 17, 2009, 2:56 am

I cannot believe what that guy has said! The reason no-one is using teletext (inc. Ceefax and Teletext - note the capital) is they turned it off on the digital signals. It was quite happy coming through my Sky Digital box until they did that.

Plus it was very usable with the newer breed of televisions with page memories built in. My last 3 TVs (Philips 32" CRT, Tosh rear proj., Tosh LCD) have all had 1200 page memories. They will remember the sub pages too so given a couple of minutes to load all the sub pages and you can whizz round stuff waaaay faster than the fastest broadband.

Finally, old style (pre fastext and 1200 page memory) teletext was way faster than the "red button" service - I'd rather wait 45 secs for my PC to boot than suffer the red button.


July 17, 2009, 5:40 am

I only ever used it for Digitizer and Game Central when I used to watch TV. The rest of my family however spent more time using Teletext then watching actual TV lol!!


July 17, 2009, 12:51 pm

long live ceefax.


July 17, 2009, 1:28 pm

I worked in darkest West Africa for a few years at the end of the 1990s. No TV without a satellite dish (and only then crappy French channels and the local station which was dreadful). We survived on VHS films, sent over by friends and relatives.

These used to go missing, but one day in the middle of a long rainy season, one turned up in the post that had taken literally months to arrive. I opened it with feverish haste, longing for anything to break the monotony of a 5 month rain shower.

To my utter surprise, my Mum had got the timings wrong on the recorder, and what I was presented with was 4 hours of Ceefax, recorded from BBC2 (I think). I was devastated!

The really sad thing was, I actually sat down and watched it for a couple of hours, reading about news that was a few months old.

So whilst not specifically about Teletext, the context is the same. RIP Teletext!


July 17, 2009, 2:03 pm

I got my name on the screen for my 6th birthday with teletext - that was WAY cool!


July 17, 2009, 2:27 pm

I still use teletext and ceefax on a daily basis, for news and sport news.

The quickest way to catch up with what's been going on when having my breakfast, analogue teletext usually as it's faster and more comprehensive.

Certainly hope that the BBC and Sky continue to provide a service or i'll have to resort to using the internet via my Wii as i chomp my toast.


July 17, 2009, 6:30 pm

@Bluepork: I got my name on the screen for my 6th birthday with teletext

WOW, was that you. :)

Actually I'll miss the Mode 7 graphics :) People who had BBC Micro's when they were younger will know what I'm talking about.


July 17, 2009, 8:24 pm

I love Digitizer on Teletext, good reviews n comments, as well as footy stuff. BUT I mostly read it on the internet because it is loads qicker than on Sky


Tony Walker

July 18, 2009, 8:20 am

There's an excellent Teletext widget for Dashboard on the Mac.

Tony Walker

July 18, 2009, 8:28 am

Mode 7 was even carried over to the Archimedes.

Now that was a computer! The GUI was about 20 years ahead of Windows and OS X. Computer Concepts Impression was a brilliant DTP cum WP package.

Finally a little bit of trivia... The people behind Computer Concepts formed Xara who wrote the Corel Draw rival Xara Studio. This is still going and being updated and you may have seen it in reviews.

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