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Goodbye Ceefax

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Steve Herrmann Steve Herrmann | 12:05 UK time, Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Screenshot of Ceefax


Ceefax - the BBC's teletext service - finally ends its long career tonight when it is due to be switched off at 23:30 BST. There is more on this, and the history of the service, in our news story today and linked coverage.

As each part of the UK has in turn gone through the switchover to digital and lost the Ceefax service in the process, it has been a long farewell, which I have written about here before.

Now, with the analogue TV signal in Northern Ireland being switched off, the last stage in the process has arrived, and the service will come to an end.

The BBC Red Button services will carry on the Ceefax tradition of providing clear and concise news from around the UK and the world, on demand, on your TV.

Indeed the Red Button service is in the process of being reinvented for internet-enabled TV sets, and this “Connected Red Button” service will combine the simplicity of traditional Red Button with the flexibility and depth of online. My colleague Daniel Danker has written about this work here and there is already a BBC News app for connected TVs which I wrote about here and here when it launched.

At its peak, Ceefax had an audience of some 20 million viewers a week, and as the end of the service has approached, it has received several thousand letters and emails of thanks from viewers.

In a tribute to the clarity of Ceefax’s simple, concise format and news stories, and to mark Ceefax's last day, the Plain English Campaign - which campaigns for clear, concise language in public information - has given Ceefax a lifetime achievement award.

It's an honour to have received so many tributes from Ceefax viewers, and to get this award, and both are a recognition of the skill and dedication of all the journalists who have worked on the service over the years, and the care they have taken in writing every story.

Steve Herrmann is editor of the BBC News website.


  • Comment number 1.

    Will you keep screens shots of the last bits of news and information entered - not just the goodbye screen?

    It would be wonderful to have those published somewhere on the internet.

  • Comment number 2.

    The simplicity of CEEFAX was key, I wish the same could be said for numerous websites. A sign of the times that we would wait patiently for a page to turnover now we complain that the red button is too slow.

  • Comment number 3.

    RIP Ceefax. The new digital teletext service will never be the same as the Ceefax service on tv which is in most of us view better than the current digital. The digital age has killed one of the most loved features of the tv.

  • Comment number 4.

    Thank you to all the Ceefax Team 1974-2012 and thank you too to the Red Button Digital Text Team for all their service too from the earliest days of digital television to future days.

  • Comment number 5.

    Definitely the end of a technology generation with the departure of Ceefax... makes me feel old! Anyway, it's exciting to see the initiatives in place with the BBC Connected Studio ... in with the new!

  • Comment number 6.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 7.

    Sorry but BBC Red Button needs a option to turn the video on/off and to have a letters page

  • Comment number 8.


    Does the BBC imagine they have the sole rights to use the words Red and Buttons in the same sentence?

    I salute the Oscar winning actor Red Buttons!

    Gone, but not forgotten!

  • Comment number 9.

    I have affectionate memories of Ceefax (despite being more of an Oracle man: Turner the Worm, Digitiser, the advent calendar, shirts for goalposts... ) Anyway thank you to all the people who worked on Ceefax over the years. The red button service never really caught on with me. Not quite the same. (Luckily this wonderful internet malarkey arrived at just the right time...)

  • Comment number 10.

    Steve - Interesting post, and absolutely right to mark the end of what I believe was among the least 'flashy' yet best-loved BBC services. Also very fitting that the Plain English Campaign recognised the contribution of Ceefax; to do such a consistently excellent job of distilling often long and complex stories into short, clear summaries is perhaps its lasting legacy.

  • Comment number 11.

    It's worth bearing in mind that there was no reason why Ceefax couldn't have continued on digital TV if the BBC had wanted. The rest of Europe has retained its original analogue teletext services after digital switchover - it's only in the UK that the broadcasters got together and agreed that they didn't want to continue with teletext after switchover.

  • Comment number 12.

    Twitter and Ceefax with their short bursts of information do have things in common; it's a good fit.
    Never being fan of either, I feel bad for those that will miss the short-burst format, but I was never one.

  • Comment number 13.

    @BlueBerry (12)

    "Twitter and Ceefax with their short bursts of information do have things in common;"

    Sounds like what they're trying to achieve with comments on these editors blogs these days. Having not posted here in a while, it was a shock to find we're allowed barely more than a Tweet now. Short-burst is apparently the new long-burst.

  • Comment number 14.

    RIP Ceefax. Am with Gary Lineker on this: "The best way to watch Wimbledon is on Ceefax"

  • Comment number 15.

    RIP indeed Ceefax... quite excited to see what new products BBC comes up with given the rapid pace of development in interactive TV and other related technologies redefining the news consumer experience.

  • Comment number 16.

    @Michelle Summers - you may be excited about the new technology developments but some of us old fellas are really going to miss Ceefax - agree with Dunebasher (#11) -really don't see why BBC couldn't continue the service on the digital platform.

  • Comment number 17.

    I hope Newswatch covers the Goodbye in its 26 October 2012 edition

  • Comment number 18.

    A sad day indeed. In the early 1970's I worked in a TV design lab on the early TV sets designed to work with Ceefax.

    I thought it a fitting tribute that the last piece of musical backing at the end of Ceefax was BART by the US band Ruby.


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