Myths about technical stuff 

7 December 2005

BBC testcard

Blue was electronically added to many black and white idents when colour arrived.

Myth Source: Urban myth

Only partially true: most black and white idents were originally white-on-blue or yellow-on-blue (white-on-black overwhelming 405-line cameras due to too much contrast). Many colour idents were simply the monochrome ones viewed as designed for the first time.

Doctor Who’s first episode was repeated a week later due to power cuts interrupting the first showing.

Myth Source: Urban myth

The BBC claimed at the time that the episode was repeated due to popular demand and “the interest generated” by the show.

However, some months later, it was revealed that the repeat was due to damaged audience figures on the first showing because of the assassination of US President John F. Kennedy less than 24 hours before.

Power cuts did, of course, interrupt the launch of BBC2 five months later.

Welsh-language programmes were output by BBC-1 in the sixties and seventies in England only for the benefit of viewers in the Welsh borders.

Myth Source: Urban myth

Welsh-language programming also appeared in England (and occasionally Scotland, though not Northern Ireland) as a public service to Welsh speakers outside of Wales. Additional service in border areas was an indirect bonus.

Although BBC-TV and ITN broke into regular programmes on 22 November 1963 to announce that President Kennedy had been shot, the two networks stopped their own coverage shortly thereafter to rebroadcast via satellite non-stop coverage of the assassination

Myth Source: Urban myth

There was no way either network could have done that. At the time, there was no television broadcast satellite in geostationary orbit over the North Atlantic.

Early satellites could broadcast between the US and the UK for only about fifteen minutes at a time once every hour and a half.

The VHF 405-line transmitters were switched off before Central, TVS and TSW began.

Myth Source: Urban myth

VHF finally came to an end in 1985, so the new companies in 1982 (and TV-am in 1983) all broadcast on VHF as well as UHF Colour at first; Channel Four, like BBC2, was UHF 625-line only.

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