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Woman who's the most viewed person in UK TV history explains how it happened

Woman who's the most viewed person in UK TV history explains how it happened

Test Card Girl Carole Hersee was shown on screens between 1967 and 1998.

If you are over the age of 40 and watched lots of TV growing up, then you will most definitely remember the 'Test Card Girl'.

Eight-year-old Carole Hersee was once the little girl whose test card photo became an iconic memory of UK TV between 1967 and 1998, as the image was shown back when there was no live programming.

Watch below as the now-64-year-old explains how the infamous photo came about:

Born in Surrey, Carole was the centrepiece of the television Test Card F (and later J, W, and X) and was paid £100 for the shoot.

According to an Telegraph article from 2006, it was claimed that she had the longest television appearance in history — an estimated total of 70,000 hours - which is equivalent to nearly eight continuous years.

As a teenager, she also received heaps of fan mail and was regular contacted by media outlets for interviews - which she denied.

But after spending a few decades on our screens, you can understand why Carole has never really felt the need to have more air-time.

However, just last year, she appeared on BBC show QI as a guest topic in the crowd.

Carol with Bubbles the Clown.

It was also great to see that that she even brought along clown doll Bubbles.

"He was a kit and I made him," explained Carole.

"Oh, so your dad George. He was an engineer at the BBC?" host Sandi Toksvig asked.

"Yes. And he was helping to design test cards," she replied.

"And it was just decided that a child would be better than an adult because there'd be no fashion, no makeup to worry about.

"And it just happened to be that dad had sent him some pictures of my sister and I, and the committee decided, 'well, we might as well stick with his children'."

Carole with the image in 1974.
Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Toksvig then said that, due to how often she was on TV, she must have a Guinness World Record.

However, that doesn't seem to be the case.

"No, because it's not something that's achievable to be beaten," Carole quipped.

She also had a bit of a joke with the other panelists, with Greg James asking: "People must have stopped you and gone. Where's the clown? Get the clown with this pay naughts and crosses?"

To which Carole replied: "No not really."


She was then asked if the other pictures featured on the show were 'unused alternatives' to the original image.

"It was done in two sessions. And these were taken in the first session and then they decided what they were going to make the picture up as and it was decided that the blackboard was a good foil for finding the centre of the screen," Carole added.

Despite having the longest stint on TV, she now works as a stage costume designer.

Featured Image Credit: BBC

Topics: BBC, TV and Film