Nowadays the morning television schedules for the UK terrestrial TV channels are awash with magazine style shows, and programmes about buying or selling houses or antiques, or at least that’s what it seems to be whenever I turn the TV on if I happen to be at home during a weekday.
Back in the 1980’s though, watching daytime TV outside of the summer holidays meant you might actually learn something useful, rather than the value of some old plate or a recipe for something you’ll never actually get round to making. Back then, daytime TV meant Programmes for Schools and Colleges.
ITV and BBC2 both showed a range of educational TV programmes for all ages, from simple English and Mathematics lessons for the primary schools right up to programmes detailing Science topics for secondary schools. One thing all these shows had in common was that before they started there was a countdown clock on screen. This was a series of dots or dashes marking out a clock face, which would disappear one by one until there were none left, and the next programme would start.
Obviously the idea of these programmes was for schools around the country to videotape them to show their pupils at a time suitable to the teachers. When you were at school you always knew you were going to be lucky enough to watch something when the schools big TV was wheeled into the classroom. Every school in the country must have been issued with one of these TV sets – a big wooden surrounded TV with two doors that closed in front of the screen, all sat upon a massive metal stand with castors on.