TV Cream

Bric-a-Brac: O is for...


Scene: a Stanley Baxter ITV Christmas special in the mid 1980s. The expensive film parody is The Jewel in the Crown. Posh Old Empire Duffer (Stanley Baxter) confronts an Indian mystic (Stanley Baxter, plus dubbin). “I say, what’s your name?” “Please sir, my name is Page!” “Page? Odd name for a soothsayer, what?” “Oh, yes. I am Page the Oracle!” That’s how far the advertising slogan of ITV’s Ceefax-beating text service had penetrated popular consciousness. Paging the Oracle (the name supposedly stood for Optional Reception of Announcements by Coded Line Electronics, but if that’s not a classic case of retro-fitting words into a nice-sounding acronym we don’t know what is) brought you the wonders of magazine show Live at Five, teen section Buzz (featuring Debbie’s Diary!) and the semi-legendary endless text soap opera Park Avenue. Oh, and endless flashing double-height captions urging you to book a Thomas Cook holiday while places last. Until, that is, it was canned at the end of 1992 to make way for the imaginatively titled ITV Teletext.



  1. THX Kling Klang

    May 6, 2012 at 10:32 pm

    There was a time when they always used to show the Warner Bros. rip-off cartoon ad for this with the bulldog getting into various Oracle-connected scrapes in the wee small hours of the morning. It was a way of telling you should really have gone to bed by now.

    Whither Sam Brady?

  2. THX Kling Klang

    May 8, 2012 at 11:13 pm

    Good grief! Still as angry as ever, which is, er, nice to see, if not as prolific. Now we have to track down Take Care Frank the agony uncle, whatever his real name was.

  3. Harold Steptoe

    April 12, 2017 at 8:55 pm

    I remember the cyan coloured Oracle Space Dog: named 4T.

    Their music pages on 4-TEL were also good… Blue Suede Views and Beat Box were great.
    But sadly they were later replaced in Oracle’s later years by the crappy Planet Sound. Which just used to print ridiculous letters from some sad get from Pinner who was obsessed with Geri Halliwell….

    • Tom Ronson

      March 31, 2022 at 5:51 pm

      Peter Pinsent was the Geri Halliwell obsessive whose manic screeds stank out The Void (Planet Sound’s answer to Blue Suede Views). Other regular contributors included Rebecca Nahid, Big Fat Flying Bloke, and Donut Shop George.

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