Screen Test (1)



Michael Rodd (1970-9)

Brian Trueman (1979-83)

Mark Curry (1984)


BBC Manchester for BBC1, 18 November 1970 to 20 December 1984 (226 episodes in 21 series + 6 specials)

as Calling Young Film Makers: 18 June 1977 to 24 June 1978 (11 episodes in 2 series)


An observation-based quiz for schoolchildren. In early series, four kids (usually two boys and two girls, and nearly always in school uniform) would watch a film-clip, then the presenter would ask each of them in turn a question about the visual or verbal content. If they answered incorrectly, one of their opponents could buzz in for a bonus point. This would continue for several rounds, then the final round was on the buzzer, with points being lost for incorrect answers. The winners would come back in semi-finals, with a chance to get into the grand final. The overall prize was, in some series at least, a video camera.

File:Screentest set.jpgThe set.

In the final series, hosted by Mark Curry, the set changed from desks to open chairs for both host and contestants, and there were now two teams of three contestants, competing on behalf of their home county. Only the four highest-scoring teams made it through to the semi-finals, and the overall winners went on to play a team from 'Grange Hill', a concept that would soon be taken over by First Class. (This last ever show was probably the only one ever to have a studio audience.)

There was also a 'Young Film-Makers' competition for viewers. The prize for that was a trophy.

Key moments

Trueman would sometimes visit the homes of the finallists for Film-maker of the Year. No doubt to check up that they weren't sending in a clip of Wallace and Gromit, or something.

The huge white flippy-flappy scoreboards under the desks, shot in Krypton Factor-style side-on perspective.

Theme music

Marching There and Back by Syd Dale


Once the show proved its potential, two series of Screen Test were made for most of the 1970s, reducing to one series in the autumn from 1980. When the show featured on "The 100 Greatest Kids' TV Shows" in 2001, Michael Rodd stated that the show was originally brought in as a summer filler for "Blue Peter" - "We did the first five shows in black and white and the next five in colour, then we knew we'd arrived".

File:Screentest old michaelrodd.jpgHere's Michael Rodd in Black and White.
File:Screentest michaelrodd.jpgAnd here's Michael Rodd in Colour. Magic!
File:Screentest old 1.jpgHere's a contestant in Black and White.
File:Screentest boy.jpgAnd here's a contestant in Colour. Nice one!

In the same interview, Rodd revealed that he still, thirty-odd years on, received e-mails from students asking for the 'Screen Test' theme tune for use in pub quizzes. Brian Trueman and Jan Pinkava also appeared, talking about the latter's film that had won the aforementioned award in 1980. Trueman was especially enthusiastic about it, as it had been by far the best entry that he had seen during his time on the show.

File:Screentest filmwinner.jpg1980 winner of Young Filmmaker of the Year, Jan Pinkava, went on to win an Oscar for an animated short in 1997.

A spin-off show, Screen Test - Calling Young Film Makers!, gave advice on how to make and edit a film. Eleven episodes were made during 1977 and 1978.

The idea of a prize recognising young film-makers was revived in 2007 by the Children's BAFTA awards. The "Me and My Movie" competition was run in association with Blue Peter.

Rather bizarrely, the contestants' names were always featured in the show's end credits. To the best of our knowledge, the only other quiz in which this occurred was Lingo.

TV Brain tells us that many of the episodes have been wiped from the archives with 85 of them surviving. These are the episodes that survived:

Series 1: Episode 10
Series 4: Episodes 1-5
The 1974 Christmas Special
Series 10: Episode 1
Series 11-12: All 11 episodes
Series 13: All 13 episodes
Series 14: Episodes 1, 3, 7-8 & 10-11
Series 15: Episodes 4 & 11
Series 16: Episodes 3 & 9-11
Series 17: Episodes 1-4, 6 & 9-11
Series 18: Episodes 1, 6 & 9-11
Series 19: Episodes 1, 4-6 & 10-13
Series 20: Episodes 1, 4, 6-7 & 9-11
Series 21: Episodes 1, 6, 9 & 11
The 1984 Christmas Special

Web links

Wikipedia entry

Opening titles from the BBC Motion Graphics Archive



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