The YouTube Files – An Evening With Oracle.

An Evening With Oracle (ITV, 1992)

You might know by now that when I was younger I used to enjoy watching Teletext, which I felt was as useful a source of information as newspapers and magazines were, so I have decided to review a video that was recently uploaded to YouTube by “WEBFAX”. Oracle was formerly the Teletext service that was available on ITV and Channel 4, and this video features the pages 100-399 on ITV on the evening of 19 December 1992 (I’ll do the Channel 4 equivalent in another piece soon).

The date is rather significant because Oracle would close at the end of 1992 having lost its licence, meaning that there was not even two weeks left before they would go off-air (and Christmas was coming too!), and they were beginning to wind down their services by this point. Here are some of my highlights. In the 100s we begin with the news pages, provided by ITN. There’s plenty of information, along with the Premium Bond numbers.

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Then there’s Live At Five (so called because I think that it updated every day at 5pm), which was a magazine section that featured horoscopes, letters, puzzles, and so on. Then there’s sport, and as it’s a Saturday, all of the football results have just about come in (and this was the first season of the Premier League), and the league tables and pools news are now updated. There’s also results in plenty of other sports, which is good news for ice hockey fans.

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Then we go into lots of pages of adverts, including betting and phone-in competitions. Who wants the chance to win a Super Nintendo? Then there’s a test page, and a page saying goodbye and explaining to viewers what was happened. Then we go into the 200s, which features the weather and TV guide. There’s also information about what’s on, including cinema news, and those all-important pantomimes.

The TV pages feature the critic Sam Brady, who really was the grumpiest person, and didn’t seem to like any programme at all. Maybe that was the idea, but it did make you feel that he was in the wrong job. But he will not be gagged! I remember seeing him interviewed on the TV once, and I was rather surprised to discover that he actually was a real person. There’s also ratings, soap news, and more adverts.

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Going into the 300s the pages are mostly weather and travel news, along with the chance to go on holiday somewhere in this country, or maybe a little further. There are also some oddities. I have always enjoyed some Teletext art, but I wasn’t expecting it on this page. Congratulations Mr Farquharson! I wonder what’s going on here?

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I would like to dedicate this piece to my sister Lucy, who died recently at the age of 47. She was as big a fan of pop culture, nostalgia, and trivia as I am, and I did enjoy sharing my memories about things with her, I will definitely miss doing that.


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