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Changing the mindset


OFTEL (Office of Telecommunications) (1982) : the Telecom's watchdog

The July 1982 White Paper proposing the creation of British Telecom as a private company raised a further issue - who would regulate it? As a nationalised industry, the Post Office had been answerable to government in a way that a private company would not.

The White Paper therefore also proposed a regulatory or 'watchdog' body, the Office of Telecommunications. OFTEL officially came into being on August 1, 1984, the same month that British Telecom became a public limited company. Professor Bryan Carsberg was appointed to be its first Director General.

OFTEL had three main functions:

  • promoting the interests of consumers;

  • maintaining and promoting effective competition;

  • making sure that telecommunications services are provided in the UK to meet all reasonable demands, including emergency services, public phones, directory information and rural services.

In at the Bleep end : new telephones for sale

This film made in 1985, explains how telephones are moving into a more glamorous mode. Well-known presenters and actors such as Chris Searle, Fulton MacKay, Joanna Lumley, Tony Robinson and Myriam Margoles all appear to demonstrate the wonders of the new styles of phone.

Fulton MacKay and Tony Robinson have even been persuaded to don 'Superman'-like outfits.

In at the Bleep end

Dr Hello: Nowadays, phones are even better looking than I am. An elegant telephone says something about a room doesn't it?

Chris Searle: Like what?

Dr Hello: Like 'swanky gaff'

Chris Searle: This is what you call 'swanky gaff'.

Butler: The new telephone your ladyship.

Her Ladyship: Put it over there Bladders.

Butler: Very good your ladyship.

Dr Hello: Phones can be glamorous.

Joanna Lumley: Hang on I'm wearing my peach, I'm just going to change you over. That's better, I can only chatter when I'm matching. Now tell me what is this scandal about Joachim.

Dr Hello: You see today, phones are fashionable. And er if ever you need me again, you know what to say don't you.

Chris Searle: 'Hello, Hello, Hello' - oh wonderful.

Tony Robinson: Shazam! Kevin - what are you doing here?

fun and games

Can you beat our games? Explode equipment to see what's inside, hear the changing sounds of telecommunications, see how telecommunications designs have changed over time or send an e-postacard.

what's on

The UK's first permanent gallery dedicated to the history of information and communication technologies opens in the new Information Age gallery at London’s Science Museum.

audio history

Take a trip down memory lane with extracts of the interviews which have been recorded as part of the Connected Earth oral history programme.

featured story

100 years of automatic switching!
In 1912 the GPO installed Britain's first automatic telephone exchange in Epsom.

Discover the early days of the telephone...