Teletext is a medium where encoded pages of information are broadcast alongside a television programme, and can be decoded on-screen by the viewer at the touch of a button.  Developed in the UK in the early 1970s, the last British teletext service was discontinued in the mid-2010s but teletext is still used in many countries around the world.

Once broadcast, teletext was generally overwritten on the server and the archive status of teletext pages is patchy at best, with (at least in the UK) only a few examples of pages saved by the broadcasters and some pages saved by the public using PC decoder cards.

This website covers efforts to recover teletext pages from television programmes recorded on regular domestic videotape and other methods.

Tape donation and loans

The Teletext Archaeologist archive consists of pages ranging from 1976 until 2018 and is continually expanding.

In particular, we are looking for:

  • Video tape recorded between 1974 and 1980
  • BBC1 before 1984
  • BBC2 until December 1989
  • ITV before 1984
  • Channel Four and S4C, from any era
  • Paramount Comedy Channel recordings

…can you help to plug the gaps?

First-generation copies are best – copies do blur the teletext signals recorded on the tapes.  But if you don’t want to part with original tapes then a good quality dub can still be useful as long as it hasn’t been through a time-base corrector – these can overwrite the teletext data with their own signals.  Please do get in touch via the contact section below!

Twitter Latest

The latest curated finds are shared on Twitter – here are the latest posts:

For those interested in the technical innards of the recent Telfax recovery, here's a screenshot of the software I use to extract it. It shows the teletext line data in plain text, with the parity bit removed to make it legible on ASCII-8 machines /THREAD https://t.co/BSS1NNVGkM grim_fandango photo

There are bucket loads of examples of this in the archive, but 99% of it’s encoded or encrypted https://t.co/iRYfPSk0D7

Because Telfax is piggybacked onto the usual Ceefax service, it's a lot slower than normal teletext, and despite this being quite a long recording I don't have all of it. So here's what's left! https://t.co/IIhZdsMeXx grim_fandango photo

BBC Club news from 1995. The recovery process is a bit involved, and here it looks like the data to describe a row has gone AWOL. https://t.co/HeOaylewSV grim_fandango photo


Interview on The Retro Hour podcast

Great to speak to Dan and Ravi from the Retro Hour podcast about all things teletext! Please give it a listen and subscribe, it’s a very professionally produced show. Teletext: Back From The Dead – The Retro Hour EP147

The Archive

The site now has a list of the services recovered so far, over 1200 teletext services from 1976-2016.  Scroll though at your peril here: https://teletextarchaeologist.org/the-archive/