Join the cue

It’s funny what you notice when you’re only half watching a tv programme. This evening, for instance, we just caught the end of the news on Channel 4. Shana spotted something.

‘Look at those lines,’ she said. I looked. Veteran tv journalist Jon Snow was reading the news summary. I guessed what Shana was on about and frankly, thought it a little ungenerous, so I told her as much:
‘They’re only wrinkles,’ I said. ‘After all, Jon Snow is aaround 80-odd, and he has had a hard life reading the news. Give the guy some slack, why don’t you?’
‘No not those lines,’ said Shana. ‘Those! Top right of the screen, you buffoon.’
‘Oh those,’ I said. ‘What about them?’
‘Haven’t seen them for years,’ said Shana. ‘Must be a commercial break coming up.’

She was right too. And I also hadn’t seen them for a long time. Vertical black and white lines, forming a square in the top right corner of the screen. I knew they meant we were close to an ad break, but I had no idea what they were called. Shana soon discovered it was something called a cue mark or changeover cue. Not used much now, what with digital telly having killed the analogue star. Other readers may have fond memories of such things though. I still say they should bring back the old TV test card, but it may never happen.

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