Julian Clover finds that for the football fan, analogue Ceefax is still top of the league
New Year in Windsor and my hosts were in need of a football fix. Just who was going to be in the Palace team that afternoon? The answer was found not by WAP, 3G, the Internet or digital text – even though all four means of information were available ¬– but the BBC’s analogue text service Ceefax.
Summoning up the clunky information pages wasn’t easy. My friend had to switch from Sky Digital to something called analogue TV – the BBC having long since abandoned the transmission of Ceefax on its digital services – then summon up the pages on the numbers he had learnt by heart. His reasoning was simple; the pages just aren’t on digital text. At least the BBC did finally give into demands to add page numbers to its digital service – the result of a long forgotten tussle between the BBC’s news department, which ran Ceefax, and the interactive department that would run BBCi. But while there are video loops, sports events and Doctor Who music concerts, not all the pages found on Ceefax have been replicated on BBCi.
Even football commentators refer to managers using Ceefax to check if they still have a job. A reference to when Saturday afternoon scores would be followed by text, before the days of Sky Sports’ Soccer Saturday.
Still the weathermen refer to Ceefax and the current affairs show Question Time advises its viewers to read their comments on, you guessed it, Ceefax.
It’s fortunate that there are no major football teams in the Border area, apologies to any Carlisle supporters, as when digital switchover happens viewers will loose Ceefax altogether.