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Origins and History of Bloopers

Most of us know what bloopers are, but when did people start recording them with cameras? When did people start using the word in the way we use it today?

Origin

The term “blooper” originates from wartime censorship. It is actually a shortening of the two words
“blue pencil,” and was used to remove unacceptable parts of documents and letters.

Earliest Examples

The earlier example of a study or recording of broadcast errors and blunders was Behind The Mike, which was a radio show. It was broadcast on NBC from 1940 to 1941 and occasionally included the radio announcers’ fibs as part of a particular segment called “Oddities in Radio.” Movie studios had begun filming “gag reels,” usually for employee viewing only, in the 1930s.

The term “blooper” was popularized by a television producer named Kermit Schaefer in the 1950s. Before this decade, the words “boner,” meaning a bone-headed mistake, and “breakdown” were used before this to mean the same thing. Schaefer’s show Pardon My Blooper! featured recordings of errors from television and radio broadcasts. Schaefer also transcribed many bloopers into a series of books that he published up until his death in 1979.

UK Bloopers

Jonathan Hewat was the first person in the UK to broadcast radio bloopers. He did so toward the end of the 1980s. He would later produce a show on the same radio station called “So You Want to Run a Radio Station” that was nominated for a few awards. BBC heard of his show and started their own shows. One of the most famous examples of these was a series of six fifteen-minute programs called “Can I Take That Again?” These programs had a lot of success that caused BBC Radio 2 to start more programs called “Bloopers.”

Television

The famous comedian Dick Emery showed his own out-takes at the end of his BBC shows in the 1970s. He called these A Comedy of Errors. Shows like It’ll be Alright on the Night (which has been running on television since 1977) have shown out-takes from film and TV.

Bloopers, out-takes, and other kinds of videos continue to be shown on television programs and at the end of movies today.