4-Tel On View

Welcome to the first ever television presentation gem of the week. Each week, on a Friday afternoon, I plan to indulge in one of my geekiest and most shameful traits — an unhealthy interest in television presentation. If you read the post below, you will get the gist…

This is a brilliant example of television presentation gold from Christmas 1996. There are several notable aspects to this clip.

Firstly, it is a closedown — always a favourite among television presentation geeks. Also, it contains a Christmas ident. These are sought-after for their short-lived nature. Moreover, this clip is from Channel 4’s ‘circles’ era, which was quickly replaced due to its unpopularity. (It is a reasonably amusing ident too.)

But the reason I have chosen this clip to be the first ever television presentation gem of the week is that it exhibits 4-Tel On View. Moreover, as 4-Tel On View stopped broadcasting at the beginning of 1997, this must be one of the very last broadcasts.

4-Tel On View was Channel 4’s equivalent of the more famous Pages from Ceefax, which can still sometimes be seen on the BBC. This was designed as a low-budget filler programme, broadcasting selected pages from Channel 4’s teletext service, normally very late at night or very late in the morning. Presumably the logic is that it is better than a testcard.

As you can see, it has a quirkiness and a sense of humour that is somewhat lacking from Pages from Ceefax. It’s also a world away from the po-faced and corporate ITV Nightscreen, which 4-Tel On View producers Intelfax went on to make.

I can remember watching 4-Tel on View as a child, and I could never work out why or how it contained animations, which were lacking on both Pages from Ceefax and actual teletext. According to Wikipedia, it was all down to a “Magic RITE box” — so now you know.

Another highlight that dates this clip is the trumpeting of some very 1990s technology in the television listings. You can watch Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure in PALplus, with Nicam stereo, and subtitles on 888!

Another odd thing about this clip is that some of the pages and animations seem to scroll through far too quickly. If this clip is playing at the right speed (and the ident at the start seems perfectly normal to me), then this is a usability flaw of 4-Tel on View that made it almost useless!

Can anyone explain the ‘Beware of imitations’ animation? Was there some sort of rogue 4-Tel On View in operation?

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