Think Tank (1)


Anthony H. Wilson


Granada (regional), 17 to 28 August 1981 (9 episodes in 1 series)


Research game in which three college teams were challenged to find things out using reference books and a "viewing data computer", which we suspect means a Prestel terminal. Which makes us feel very old all of a sudden, as it strikes us that nobody under thirty is going to know what Prestel was. Well, look it up then...

The teams were Sixth Form pupils from local schools in the Granada area, each side consisting of four people. The winning team was Prestatyn High School, namely John Hawkins, Sara Dracup, Andrew Howe and Phil Davenport.

The aforesaid Sara Dracup says:

It was called a view data computer and was connected to Oracle or similar. Tony Wilson of Joy Division (though we did not know that at the time) was the host and we were awarded £1000 for the school and I got a crap pewter tankard, engraved, but the school would not pay extra for glass bottomed variety. We was robbed. My shining moment was cutting paper figures to win a game. I now teach English at a comp in Kidlington.

We think the fact that the show used something similar to Oracle (the ITV teletext service until 1992) confirms our suspicion that it was indeed Prestel, which for the benefit of those who didn't take the research initiative earlier was a sort of interactive version of teletext which came down phone lines and which was rendered obsolete overnight when the world wide web came along.


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