BBC Television Service
BBC Television Service began on 2 November 1936, broadcasting from Alexandra Palace in North London. For the first three months the service would alternate weekly between the Baird 240-line system and Marconi-EMI 405-line system; switching to the Marconi-EMI system permanently from 5 February 1937 onwards.
The Tuning Symbol (later to be known as the test card), was also used. It was merely a circle and a line, occasionally followed by the words ‘BBC Television Service'.
Due to the start of World War II, it was closed on 1 September 1939.
- The BBC Logo Story
BBC Television Service returned on 7 June 1946, using the BBC coat of arms as the ident. It was on-air for three periods a day - 3-4pm for Women's programmes, 5-6pm for Children's programmes and 8pm-late for Main programmes.
Each period had a standard start-up routine; at 5 minutes to the hour the BBC Tuning Signal would be shown, then at 1 minute to the hour it would fade into the BBC coat of arms and finally at 20 seconds to the hour that would fade into footage of the Houses of Parliament.
The first proper logo for the BBC Television Service was unveiled on 2 December 1953, consisting of this elaborate mechanical device designed by Abram Games. For obvious reasons, it came to be nicknamed the "Bat's Wings".
For the first few years the BBC continued to use the old tuning signals at the start-up routine, but from 19 August 1955 the tuning signal was updated to fit in with the Bat's Wings ident. However this tuning signal was unpopular and so was replaced on 16 June 1956 with a new tuning signal called "Angel's Wings".
By October 1960, the "Bat's Wings" had been superseded by the BBC tv blocks. Here, they are contained within a circle with a map of the UK behind them, divided into the BBC's seven broadcast regions of the time (North of England, English Midlands, West of England, London, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland).
On 19 September 1960, BBC TV started broadcasting children's educational programmes during weekday mornings under the name BBC Schools & Colleges. The ident was known as the "pie chart" for obvious reasons.
BBC tv adopted its most famous symbol, the globe, on 30 September 1963. At the same time, the BBC tv blocks were modified, becoming slanted to match the angle of the letters.
With the launch of BBC Two on 21 April 1964, the BBC Television Service was renamed BBC One, and this second globe logo was introduced - which makes no reference to the new name. An earlier version exists with BBC tv service info. This logo is just the 1960s BBC logo.
The third globe logo (known as the "watch-strap" globe for obvious reasons) was the first to feature the BBC One name, it was introduced on 18 April 1966. It was soon revised with a new version introduced on 6 June 1966.
Having survived three BBC re-brands unchanged, the BBC Schools & Colleges ident was updated in 1967.
The last globe logo before the introduction of colour, sometimes known as the "floating" globe. It was introduced on 7 July 1968.
Colour was introduced to BBC1 on 15 November 1969, and with it came one of the channel's most famous logos. Designed by Murray Andrew, the "mirror globe" was a mechanical globe with a concave mirror behind it. It was filmed in black and white, the blue colour for the continents and "BBC1 COLOUR" legend being added electronically before airing. The word 'COLOUR' was in Helvetica.
The inclusion of the word "colour" could be viewed as a subtle reminder to buy a colour TV set, as most viewers would have still been watching in black and white at this time.
On 3 January 1971, the BBC started broadcasting Open University programmes on both BBC1 and BBC2, the strand had its own ident and clock which were used on both channels.
Subtle changes were made to the logo in 1972, with "COLOUR" now in an italic serif font and the corners of the BBC1 blocks rounded.
Around the same time the BBC Schools & Colleges strand finally went into colour, with a new ident based on a diamond.
The logo returned to promote the Series 2 of Life on Mars in 2007.
With colour TV sets becoming more and more common, more significant changes were made to the "mirror globe" at the end of 1974. The background was now dark blue and the continents yellow, and the "BBC1 COLOUR" legend was replaced with "BBC1" in Futura Bold font.
The BBC Schools & Colleges diamond ident was refreshed with the new colours, but with "BBC1" also being in yellow to signify the morning showing. In 1978 the strand was re-branded with the "dots" ident.
On 5 September 1981, the "mirror globe" was modified once again, with the continents now pale green and the bold "BBC1" legend replaced with a twin-stripe version that had been used on programme slides and promotional trailers since the mid-1970s.
Much tweaking was made to this logo during its first nine months on air as a result of problems arising with the colour scheme and the size and position of the globe and legend. The clock only lasted a few months before being replaced with, for the first time ever, a CGI clock in November 1981.
In late 1981 the Open University ident and clock was also refreshed with CGI versions replacing the mechanical ones. However in 1984 the strand was re-branded for the first time with BBC1 and BBC2 identifiers added.
In January 1982, the BBC Schools & Colleges dots ident was also refreshed with a CGI version.
A new era replaced the previous era above at 7pm on 18 February 1985. This era was known as COW (Computer Originated World).
On 16 February 1991, the Computer Originated World was replaced by a new virtual globe, designed by Martin Lambie-Nairn's branding agency, Lambie-Nairn, who had first made an impact with Channel 4's original 1982 ident. The idents were computer generated and were played from modified Laserdisc players and had no soundtrack. The ident consisted of a figure "1" inside a rotating transparent globe surrounded by a swirling smokey atmosphere above the BBC's corporate logo – the bold italic letters "B B C" within three rhomboids, above blue red and green flashes.
BBC1 was renamed BBC One. The new ident received a facelift as a balloon, which was created by Lambie-Nairn on 4 October 1997.
On 29 March 2002, BBC One introduced a new look which saw the globe motif disappear from its idents after almost 40 years. Instead the idents featured people in various form of dance and movement. The logo was also altered to match the one already used by BBC Two. Lambie-Nairn were also behind this new look.
“The new channel idents explore the universal theme of rhythm, dance and movement through different activities, moods and world cultures. From the power and grace of a Brazilian dance to the raw energy of a festival, from the high elegance of ballet to the speed and agility of basketball players, the idents bring a new feel to BBC ONE.”
“We aim to capture the essence of the new spirit that is alive on BBC ONE, and reflect it in the new channel’s new identity. Whatever your age, wherever you live and whoever you are, rhythm and movement are common to everyone. BBC ONE should have that same universal appeal.”
—Lorraine Heggesey, controller of BBC One (BBC press release)
Initially, eight idents could be seen on screen. They were all shot in the United Kingdom. Further idents were added over the upcoming years.
On 7 October 2006, BBC One introduced a new identity.
The Circles ident package was announced on the 26 September 2006 as the replacement for the 'Rhythm & Movement' idents that had been in use since Easter 2002. The previous idents were disliked by a large amount of the population, and when Peter Fincham became controller of BBC One, he hinted in August 2005 that the dancers would be changed soon.
“It may well be that the time is coming to look at a new way of doing it. No date or direct decision has been made but it's under review.”
—Peter Fincham, controller of BBC One, at the Edinburgh International Television Festival.
The idents themselves were designed and produced for the BBC by Red Bee Media and marking the end of Lambie-Nairn's time at the BBC after fifteen years. Imran Hanif composed the original music for all idents, having been selected from a shortlist of 12 composers and bands.
All the idents revolved around a circular theme and all featured a scene which is revealed to end in a circle formation. The circle symbol was decided upon as a 'symbol of unity', but it was also a 'nod' towards the classic globe used in previous years. The idents would involve people, plants or animals moving, or whose interaction causes a circular shape, which is revealed at the end of the ident. The circle would then be emphasized by swirls animating around it and revealing the BBC One logo at the end. The channel uses this logo on its idents and promotions, however in cross-promotions, it uses a box logo, similar to the last look, but with the lowercase 'one' typeface.
As with the previous look, no clock ident was used, a trend repeated across nearly all other channels in the UK, however the Generic, Helicopter, Capes and Kites idents may also be used for introduction into the news, following criticisms in the previous look that the dancers didn't have an ident suitable for this purpose.
On 2 May 2009, all the idents were made shorter with new adaptations of the original Imran Hanif music, with the exception of Generic, Hippos and Surfers. These changes were permanent and no original-length idents have been used since.
A new set of idents were introduced on 1st January 2017, replacing the Circles ident package. Named 'Oneness', they were created by photographer Martin Parr and produced with help of BBC Creative. These idents has been met with negative reviews as some people say they are bland and has very little creativity in it.
- Press release
- The Ident Gallery - 2006
- The Ident Gallery - 2009
- The Ident Gallery - 2017 (1)
- The Ident Gallery - 2017 (2)
- TV Ark
- The TV Room
- TV Live
- Wikipedia:History of BBC television idents
- BBC Press Office - History of the BBC ONE Idents
BBC One Idents
| Virtual Globe Idents (1991-1997) | Balloon Idents (1997-2002) | Rhythm & Movement Idents (2002-2006) | Circles Idents (2006-2016) | Oneness Idents (2017-present) | Christmas Idents (1966-present) | Enjoy (year) (2015-November 2016) (2015 | 2016)