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BBC HD to sign off with Test Card Special on March 26 – but wake up early

BBC HD will hand over to BBC Two HD in the early hours of March 26 with a Test Card Special featuring the best of Beeb’s test cards from the past 79 years.

As BBC Two HD replaces the BBC HD channel, the iconic card, used to test picture fidelity, will be retired as BBC engineers reckon they can fine tune any issues viewers have with little to no trouble now. 

Andy Quested, chief technologist for HD and 3D at BBC Technology, said that since it launched in 2008, the test card has almost eliminated complaints about lip-sync errors between audio and video that can occur with flat screen TVs and HD.

BBC HD to sign off with Test Card Special on March 24
BBC’s iconic colour Test Cards have been around in some form since 1967.

“I was very pleased to see a drop in lip sync complaints to virtually zero over the next few weeks,” Quested blogged. “Now whenever we get complaints we can investigate the source, especially when people say they have confirmed their system is correct by using the test signal.”

While this is great news for viewers, it means that Carole Hersee and Bubbles the Clown are to be handed their P45’s. For those nostalgic types who want a chance at recording a slice of BBC history, the BBC will be broadcasting a Test Card Special on the night of March 25-26. 

As well as showing off the famous Test Card F, the BBC will also be broadcasting replicas of its test cards from the 30-line version of 1934 all the way through the 405 and 625-line models in black-and-white, then colour and widescreen, to the current HD version.

The sequence is a ten-minute loop that will repeat for several hours, from the last BBC HD show on the morning of March 26 at about 1:30AM, until 6:00AM when BBC Two HD will take over. 

“I must thank all the current and past BBC R&D engineers who put so much expertise into creating many of these industry standard test cards,” Quested added. “As for a re-return of the test card I can’t say. Personally I would like to see it again sometime.”

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