Millennials ask me all the time about what it was like growing up in the 1970s. Actually, no-one has ever asked me that. But it does not stop me from boring the shit out of them with tales from the bygone, be-flared days of 1976 and before. The intrinsic desire to bore younger people with tales from the past grows stronger with every passing year.
One of the best ways to transport people back to the last quarter of the 20th century is to try and describe a typical Saturday morning. You would get out of bed, much as we do now, but then there would be nothing to do. That meant an interminable wait until something came on TV. And by something, I mean anything. And by interminable, I mean endless.
There were only three channels back then. But it felt more like one and a half because much of the time, especially in the mornings, there was literally no content. TV companies had nothing to show, so audiences would get the ‘test card’ instead.
It’s hard to explain to the digital generation what a test card was or the strange, omnipresent role it played in all our lives back then. It was a static image showing a complex pattern that enabled TV shops to tune their sets accurately.
To add a colour test, a bloke from the BBC called George put his daughter Carole in the middle of it playing with a spooky clown. And to ensure the sound on a new TV was working another bloke from the BBC called John, who was a bit of a swinger, chose a soundtrack of upbeat snazzy instrumentals straight out of a bad Lee Marvin movie. These played on a loop for 40 or 50 hours until a programme came on.
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