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Useful Notes / Red Button Interactive

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A screencap of BBC's Red Button Digital Teletext service as of June 2017, which replaced Ceefax after analog cutoff.

A British TV phenomenon more than anything, and not to be confused with Big Red Button.

Red Button Interactive is basically the Digital Teletext successor of many TV, cable and satellite networks based on the DVB standard. With the advent of digital television comes a heavily upgraded form of Teletext that allowed broadcasters to provide a richer, more dynamic and interactive experience. Like it’s predecessor, it is not quite as good as the internet, although Smart TVs can have a version of the Red Button that is augmented with internet-based web services (The BBC calls this Red Button+, and it can provide links to iPlayer and other BBC-owned services on the internet). Initially these were found in a separate menu, but eventually became accessible in tandem with live broadcasts, through the remote control's red Fasttext button.


This is a good place to start if you want more information from The Other Wiki.

A technology rather than a trope, in the strictest sense, but still something that makes up part of a production, so it tends to be used in the exact same way by similar productions, or in a bespoke fashion as and when required, and as such is rarely inverted, subverted, or averted. For the most part, the information on this page will be examples of the technology over lists of times it has been used.


Angle Selection

The first major use of the technology was to provide alternate angles for football coverage, by Sky Sports- during selected Premiership matches, viewers could choose to watch the entire match from one of four angles consistently, or switch between them at will, as well as pull up statistics, highlights and other information. This was later expanded to all football matches, as well as some rugby and cricket. The BBC have also adopted similar services for their sports coverage.

This was later extended to audio selection, offering a choice of commentary tracks or even just the crowd noise.

The musical audition show How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria also had a karaoke feed.

Extended Live Coverage

Channel 4 first used this for Big Brother Live — instead of dedicating its entire satellite channel E4 to broadcasting house action live, it broadcast it during the channel's down time (it was not a 24-hour channel at launch) and broadcast its normal programming for the bulk of its normal time, while still offering the option to watch BB by pressing the red button. This happened in a similar fashion to the way Sky Sports offered football above, with a choice of two camera angles, two looping highlights reels and text-based news updates.

Most used by Reality TV — or at least programmes with a 24-hour ongoing element — but it is not unheard of to see it used for longer event and news coverage without upsetting the standard schedule.

Programme selection

Sky Sports would use this to broadcast eight football matches simultaneously on one channel regularly — repeating all that day's Premiership matches as live, allowing the viewer to select which match they would like to see, without having to run eight entire channels. The BBC also used this for live coverage of The Olympics and Wimbledon, for event or match selection respectively.

Sky News and BBC News have also used this to run a number of separate feeds, generally kept to different subjects, selectable at will.

DVD Extra content

Short clips, broadcast on a red button feed after the main programme has finished. Programmes to use this include:

  • Genius included outtakes and ideas that didn't make the grade for the show itself.
  • That Mitchell and Webb Look Cut sketches and interviews.
  • Nevermind The Buzzcocks Team captains Phill and Noel would debate "which was better" between some musical topic and something that sounds like it. Wizard was considered to be better than Wizards, while Coldplay were considered inferior to cold sores.
  • Casualty on the BBC does this sometimes, with Red Button Specials; minisodes that feature an epilogue, prologue or other view to that week's, or sometimes the previous week's, story.

Play Along

One of the more 'interactive' uses of the form, the service would allow the user to play along with a Game Show, occasionally for prizes. Programmes to use this include:


Simply used instead of a phone to vote in programmes with phone votes—used almost exclusively by Reality TV, but also occasionally by music channels. MTV, as an example, used this to generate a daily top ten chart, and for the brief period of time for which the UK version ran, Total Request Live.


A simple replacement for Teletext, as seen in the page image. Notably used by The BBC, Sky and MTV. Indeed, BBC'S replacement for Ceefax is called Red Button and has all the same content from Ceefax, and is still heavily used to this day by the elderly and disabled.

International Adaptation:

Outside of the UK, the red button service also saw use in certain countries, partcularly those who deployed the same DVB standard for digital television, cable and satellite.
  • In Ireland, the service will be used to deliver news and interactive features over free-to-air digital terrestrial.
  • In Malaysia, the red button is used by satellite monopoly Astro to provide interactive services for some of their variety and live programming, and during important sporting events. This is normally implemented as a video-wall like experience that can be brought up with the red button which allows the viewer to select a particular match off the wall instead of having to surf the channels one by one. There is however no deployment on free-to-air digital terrestrial- the government is instead investigating Hybrid Broadband, which requires a Smart TV.
  • In Hong Kong, the service is used to provide additional content and value-added services on TVB's free-to-air digital terrestrial broadcast.