The YouTube Files – Another Evening With Oracle.

Another Evening With Oracle (Channel 4, 1992)

Following on from my recent look back at what was on offer one evening on Oracle on ITV, I thought that I would now have a look at what Channel 4 had to offer. This is on the evening of 20 December 1992 (one day after the previous review), not long before the closure at the end of that year, and again this video was uploaded to YouTube by “WEBFAX”.

The pages 500-699 are covered (pages 700-899 were never used, apart from 888 for subtitles), and 400-499 was Channel 4’s ancillary service 4-Tel (I might review those pages one day too). Whereas ITV covered things like news and sport, on Channel 4 you would get things like entertainment news, things for younger viewers, adverts, and so on. Again, I’ve picked out some of my highlights.

We begin with some finance pages, so if you are rich and are eager to know where the FTSE is, then this is for you. There are also some city news updates, that are provided by ITN, although not much seems to be happening at the moment, maybe that’s a good thing? And then we come on to the pages that I probably looked at back then.

First there is Beat Box, featuring pages about pop music, including trivia, charts, and a gig guide. It is determined by their critics that the album of the year is “Copper Blue” by Sugar. Then there are some children’s pages, featuring lots of animated pictures, rather terrible jokes, and stories. And don’t forget to take a look at the advent calendar too.

The next section is Buzz, featuring computer games, pen pals, competitions, all those kind of things. There is also the soap Park Avenue, which featured lots of episodes and characters, and as usual it’s all happening. And there is also Debbie’s Diary and Josh’s Diary. These pages were popular as they featured a teenager trying to deal with life.

I’m not sure why horse racing was featured separately from the other sport news on ITV, I suppose it was because they could have enough pages to fit in all of those ludicrous bookmaker “this’ll romp home!” adverts. There are also results, and columns from tipsters, although they all seem to be on holiday at the moment. Diversions is a section about hobbies, including pages on angling, chess, and recipes.

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Then there are film, theatre, and video reviews, followed by more money pages. On p669 for some reason, there is a picture of snooker, even though there is nothing else on that page. Was this an advert or a test page? It’s rather unusual. The last pages feature engineering and transmitter news, the A-Z index, and just like on ITV, a farewell from everyone at Oracle.

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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.