Screen Test

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For the method of evaluating the on-film performance of an actor, see Screen test. For the 1937 Australian documentary, see Screen Test (film).
Screen Test
Presented by Michael Rodd (1970–1979)
Brian Trueman (1979–1983)
Mark Curry (1984)
Country of origin United Kingdom
No. of series 21
No. of episodes 227 (inc. 2 specials)
Production
Running time 30 minutes
Broadcast
Original channel BBC1
Picture format 4:3
Original run 18 November 1970 (1970-11-18) – 20 December 1984 (1984-12-20)

Screen Test is a United Kingdom children's quiz show about films, broadcast from 18 November 1970 to 20 December 1984 on BBC1. It was first hosted by Michael Rodd, who was succeeded by Brian Trueman and Mark Curry.

Background[edit]

When it was launched on 18 November 1970, Screen Test was one of the earliest children's TV quiz shows in the UK; it was originally intended to be transmitted during Blue Peter's annual break. In 2001, Michael Rodd commented on Channel 4's 100 Greatest Kids' TV Shows: "We made five programmes originally in black and white, which were going to go into the summer slot that Blue Peter left when they all went on holiday. Then, we made the next five in colour — so we knew we'd really arrived then!"

Viewing figures began to fall in the early 1980s, and the BBC decided that the series had run its course. In 1984 Screen Test was dropped.

Programme content[edit]

Contestants aged around 11 were shown a series of film clips, with each one being followed by a series of questions specifically about the content of the clip. Most episodes included a clip from a film made by the Children's Film Foundation as one of the rounds.

Aside from the quiz, early in its run, the programme featured pre-filmed items about the film world and later a young film-makers' competition. Viewers were invited to send in films they had made themselves to be judged by anonymous experts. The prize at stake was a selection of camera or projection equipment. This competition was first introduced in the 1973 series. Michael Rodd stated that it was included because "with Screen Test only being shown once a week, and with only four contestants each week, there were thousands of young people who could not possibly ever take part in the programme, so the BBC decided to launch a competition to encourage viewers to take an interest in making their own films." The Oscar-winning Jan Pinkava was the winner of the 1980 series with his film The Rainbow. Runners up were awarded with a sophisticated looking certificate of merit that would be sent in the mail. One of the young film makers, Will Bilton, reported that, after his 8 mm animated film Gus & Guzzles was broadcast in November 1984 in the final series before Screen Test was cancelled, he received an unexpected cheque of £15. This motivated him to continue with his career in animation.[1]

The programme's military-style theme tune was called "Marching There and Back", composed by Syd Dale.

In popular culture[edit]

The 2007 film Son of Rambow features a pair of young film-makers; they attempt to create their own movie after being inspired by the Screen Test competition.[2]

Transmissions[edit]

Series[edit]

Series Start date End date Episodes
1 18 November 1970 27 January 1971 10
2 22 September 1971 24 November 1971 10
3 7 April 1972 16 June 1972 11
4 6 December 1972 14 February 1973 11
5 25 September 1973 1 January 1974 12
6 29 May 1974 17 July 1974 8
7 12 September 1974 18 November 1974 11
8 7 July 1975 1 September 1975 9
9 31 December 1975 10 March 1976 11
10 28 May 1976 6 August 1976 11
11 30 December 1976 10 March 1977 11
12 20 May 1977 29 July 1977 11
13 4 January 1978 29 March 1978 13
14 7 November 1978 23 January 1979 11
15 5 April 1979 14 June 1979 11
16 15 November 1979 31 January 1980 11
17 7 October 1980 16 December 1980 11
18 22 September 1981 1 December 1981 11
19 5 October 1982 29 December 1982 13
20 5 October 1983 21 December 1983 12
21 3 October 1984 20 December 1984 12

Specials[edit]

Date Entitle
24 December 1971 Christmas Special
23 December 1974 Christmas Special

Archiving[edit]

Many editions of Screen Test were among the children's programmes wiped by the BBC in 1993 when they were considered to be of no future use. Most editions of the first ten series had already been wiped before then; the only series to exist in full are series 11, 12 and 13, with many editions from series 14-21 having been junked.

References[edit]

External links[edit]