12 Ceefax facts from what name means to Cleese rant and strange Hoddle plea

Ceefax has had a reboot – thanks to a fan who recreated the old school text-based information service from his home

Nathan Dane, 20, spent six years bringing the BBC teletext facility to life, with news headlines and a weather map, and using that famous block style of writing from 1980s and 1990s TV.

Ceefax was switched off by the Beeb in 2012 as part of the move to digital TV.

But here we reveals 12 things you never knew about it…

Ceefax launched in 1974, the name a pun on “seeing facts” and was the world’s first teletext information service

Kicking off with 30 pages, it gave news and sports coverage including chess and racing, as well as pages of weather, music reviews, travel information, jokes and even an alarm clock. At its height as many as 600 pages were available

Ceefax was actually created by accident. The technology for the service was initially set up by engineers to provide subtitles on TV programmes for the deaf

When it launched, the news pages were produced by just one journalist who worked normal office hours – meaning it wasn’t updated at evenings or weekends

After England football manager Glenn Hoddle was caught up in a 1999 scandal over comments he made about disabled people, his 13-year-old daughter Zara contacted Ceefax to try to save her dad’s job. She wrote: “I am Zara Hoddle and I would just like to say that I am very supportive of disabled people, so is my dad.” Her plea failed and Hoddle was sacked

And in November 1997, QPR assistant manager Bruce Rioch first learned he had been dismissed from the team by reading about it on Ceefax. He said: “I was at home watching the Louise Woodward case on television when I turned on Ceefax and read that I had been sacked.”

Ceefax also caught out fans of Wolverhampton Wanderers in 1994 with an April Fool’s Day story that manager Graham Taylor was changing its colours from their traditional gold to white. The club’s switchboard was flooded with angry callers.

Little-known footballer Roy Essandoh became an unlikely hero of the FA Cup in 2001 after offering his services to injury-hit Wycombe Wanderers. His agent read on Ceefax that they were in need of a striker in a quarter-final tie against Leicester City. Essandoh scored the winner.

John Cleese once wrote to the service to politely complain that the latest Somerset cricket scores were not up to date.

Manic Street Preachers bassist Nicky Wire was once said to have left a hotel because there was no Ceefax on the TV while Canadian pop star Avril Lavigne reportedly insisted on “Ceefax and Bovril” in her hotel room during a British tour.

Ceefax tried out some revolutionary coverage of the annual Boat Race between Cambridge and Oxford during the 1980s when a map was constructed of the route and two dots representing the boats were moved across the screen as the race progressed.

In 1994, a Ceefax newsflash wrongly broadcast during a rehearsal that the Queen Mother had died. The message was only on screen for 30 seconds but was still seen by viewers and the BBC issued an apology to her.

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