Test Card F is a test card that was created by the BBC and used on television in the United Kingdom and in countries elsewhere in the world for more than four decades. Like other test cards, it was usually shown while no programs were being broadcast. It was the first to be transmitted in color in the UK and the first to feature a person and has become an iconic British image regularly subject to parody.
The central image on the card shows Carole Hersee playing noughts and crosses with a clown doll, Bubbles the Clown, surrounded by various greyscales and color test signals used to assess the quality of the transmitted picture. It was first broadcasted on 2 July 1967 (the day after the first color pictures appeared to the public on television) on BBC2.
The card was developed by a BBC engineer, George Hersee (1924–2001), father of the girl in the central image. It was frequently broadcast during daytime downtime on BBC Television until 29 April 1983 and was still seen before the start of programs until BBC1 began to broadcast 24 hours a day in November 1997, and on BBC2 until its downtime was replaced entirely by Pages from Ceefax in 1998, after which it was only seen during engineering work, and was last seen in this role in 1999. The card was also seen on ITV in the 1970s, occasionally used in conjunction with Test Card G.
In the digital age, Test Card F and its variants are very infrequently broadcast, as downtime in schedules has largely become a thing of the past. Several variations of TCF have been screened, among them Test Card J (digitally enhanced), Test Card W (widescreen), and its high definition variant, which is sometimes erroneously referred to as Test Card X.
Up until the UK's digital switchover, the test card made an appearance during the annual RBS (rebroadcast standby) Test Transmissions and, until 2013, during the BBC HD preview loop, which used Test Card W.