BBC Television Service
BBC Testcard A
Test Card A was the first BBC test card. First broadcast in the late-1940s, it is credited as being the world's first television test card to be transmitted. The 2.5 MC frequency grating was of most interest to engineers, hence its location in the centre of the circle. Although a great improvement on anything previously available, Test Card A and it's successor, were criticised for not having sufficient testing features. Test Card B no longer exists. A photograph exists of a studio, with a partial view of Test Card B on a stand. BBC engineer George Hersee described it in his 1967 work, but it is believed that no copies of the full card remain in existence.
BBC Testcard B
BBC Testcard C
Test Card C was first broadcast in January 1948. At the time, the aspect ratio of TV broadcasts was 5:4. By the early-1950s, this had changed to 4:3. The design of Test Card C was altered slightly as a consequence.
Some BBC regional transmiiter sites used slightly different versions of Test Card C. There were at least three different designs in use at the BBC. Additionally, the ITA used a slightly different design for the ITV Network. In 1964, two new test cards were introduced. Test Card D was adopted by the BBC and ITV for use on BBC One and throughout the ITV Network. Test Card E was used for the new 625-line BBC Two service.
BBC2 Test Card C
Thanks once again to Francois Frappe for this rare photograph of the BBC2 test card E. The photograph was taken in 1971 in the morning just before 9am.
Test Card D and Test Card E were virtually identical, bar the frequency gratings, which were finer on the latter, to cater for the higher definition offered by the 625 service.
BBC Testcard E
The frequency gratings on Test Card E were sinusoidal, and thus technically more useful than the square waves on previous test cards. However, as a result, some of the gratings looked soft and fuzzy - the lowest grating in particular. TV dealers complained about this and Test Card E was consequently scrapped, after c. one week on air. It was replaced by a modified version of Test Card C.
Experimental Colour Transmission
BBC2 Colour Testcard F
The image to the right was taken by Francois Frappe from the Dover Trasmitter on Channel 56 in 1969.
Test Card F, designed by BBC engineer, George Hersee, was introduced in 1967, and aired on the new colour 625-line BBC Two service. The test card features Mr Hersee's daughter, Carole, pictured alongside Bubbles the clown.
Test Card F was broadcast from a 35mm slide, using a Rank Cintel slide scanner. It was actually a dual-layer slide - one layer for the monochrome areas, the other for the colour parts - very carefully aligned and sealed in a glass slide-holder. There was no BBC One-branded slide version of Test Card F - the 'BBC2 COLOUR' test card slide was used on BBC One and BBC Two. However, when Test Card F was aired on BBC One, a 'BBC 1' caption was electronically-superimposed, covering up the 'BBC 2 COLOUR' legend.
The Rank Cintel slide scanner was a large and expensive piece of equipment, but probably of more importance, technically, is that it would be near impossible to keep two scanners aligned identically to match each other. Like all standards, their absolute accuracy is not as important as the fact that everybody agrees. Hence, it was far better to use just one scanner, and overlay a 'BBC1' caption on the feed that was used for the BBC One transmissions, as this resulted in a consistent test signal for both networks. Test Card F was generally broadcast for longer periods during daytime hours on BBC Two than on BBC One the latter's schedule often being filled by programmes for schools and children. The BBC One caption overlay was a little crude by modern standards. It was produced by a dedicated unit that had the relevant parts from an 'Anchor' machine (an early form of electronic caption generator, before the introduction of Astons and Ryleys).
BBC2 Trade Test Transmission
BBC1 Trade Test Transmission
Since the 1950s, BBC trade test transmissions were accompanied by music compiled from library music publishers. Over the years, virtually every music genre imaginable was featured. The vast majority of this music was not commercially-available in the UK. However, in 1953 and 1954 some commercially-available recordings were used with Test Card C these were all on the Oriole label. In 1954, some pieces from the Xavier Cugat Orchestra and the David Carroll Orchestra included vocals. Tracks featuring vocals were a rarity during trade tests. For a period in the 1970s and early-1980s, some of the tapes included pop music. Any pop music played with the test card would have been an 'out-take' recording, produced outside of the UK. The BBC could transmit this material as 'library' music, as the recording would not have been commercially-released in the UK.
The test card was also occasionally accompanied by a test tone. Until the 1970s, the tone would be inserted for short periods at regular intervals during the day. By the 1980s, music was played with the test card for much of the day, with tone being restricted to short periods each morning, when the test card first appeared. There were different tones for BBC One and BBC Two: BBC One used 1KHz, and BBC Two 440Hz. The use of different tones on each channel was mainly just so that engineers (and viewers of a certain disposition) could uniquely identify each channel.
BBC1 Royal Wedding Testcard
BBC1 Testcard Christmas
BBC2 Testcard - Illustration
Does anyone know any information relating to this illlustrated version of the BBC testcard F?
BBC2 Testcard - Christmas
BBC Testcard F
Carol Hersey, the original test card girl. She was the daughter of a BBC engineer.
BBC1 Testcard F
The BBC digital testcard appeared in May 1984, with no caption generator to overlay the channel identification caption in place as yet until the autumn. There were differences between this and the optical version of F which was scanned by the Rank Cintel scanner which was a very expensive piece of equipment. On BBC1 the test card shown on BBC2 was used on both channels so as to provide a consistent test signal on both networks so a BBC1 overlay caption was shown on the BBC1 feed, and this was also the case on the PM5544
BBC Test Card G
From 1980 to 1983, a Ceefax 'In-Vision' service was also broadcast from 3.20pm to 4pm (weekdays) on BBC Two this was immediately followed by the appearance of Test Card G, for the afternoon 'programme transfer' (see below). At c. 4.45pm, Test Card F would appear, and remain until the next programme, usually an Open University production, at 5.10pm.
PYE Test Card G
BBC1 & BBC2 Testcard F
Merry Christmas Testcard f
This Christmas testcard is taken from a recording we believe to be from 1991
CAR TV LNDN
BBC Testcard J
BBC Widescreen Testcard F
BBC Widescreen Testcard W
BBC HD 1080 Lines
BBC Testcard No57
BBC Testcard No61
We believe the name of the name of the young lady in this BBC 'Make-Up' testcard is Lyn. At the time the chart was being prepared (around 1976) she was a secretary in TV Training Department (then based at Woodstock Grove (WG), subsequently moved to Elstree Centre in 1984). She was picked as she had won a Miss BBC competition.