More TV Memories – BBC2.


1967-1974: Three years after the launch of BBC2, they became the first channel in Britain to show programmes in colour, and their ident at the time featured a “2” which would rotate and be in various colours, but after a while changed to only being blue. Also during this time a clock was used and unlike BBC1 there was no national anthem played at closedown. 2bbc5

1974-1979: The next symbol featured a “2” that was made up of several blue and white stripes, with turned around to create the symbol. Occasionally the background would change colour. This was the last time that a mechanical ident would be used on BBC2. The clock design was the same as in the previous look. 2bbc6

1979-1986: The next ident was far more technically advanced. It featured the “2” made up of white and orange stripes. It was the first computer-generated ident and was played live at the start of programmes. For a short while it was also accompanied by a short jingle before the first programme of the day. When schools programmes moved to BBC2 a variation of this ident was created which featured a yellow background. Also during this time the clock was upgraded from analogue to digital. 2bbc2

1986-1991: Another change and now the symbol says “TWO”. The letters would sometimes appear or disappear in the ident. Many people feel that this ident now captures its era as featuring rather dull and highbrow programming. What strikes me about the ident is like its predecessors it doesn’t feature “BBC” at all in any form, in an era where branding is seen as so important is just seems rather strange now. 2bbc7

1991-1997: The ident is relaunched and now features the most famous “2” symbol of them all. It has become as associated with BBC2 as closely as Channel 4’s symbol has with its programmes, making it all the more surprising that it was introduced 27 years after the launch of BBC2. The ident finally featured the BBC symbol and for the first time several variations were made, all featuring the same colour and a powerful and innovative soundtrack. Like BBC1 which relaunched on the same day there were also various trail styles, although as BBC2 was the more alternative channel some of their stings were a little more unusual. There were also several variations of idents made for special seasons of programming and this era is still considered to be among the best presentation that the BBC has ever had. 2bbc4

1997-2001: When the BBC symbol was changed, they couldn’t let the look go, so it was retained, with ever more odd idents added. By the end some of them were getting a little too far away from the original idea, with the “2” being turned into all kinds of unusual things including a Venus Flytrap and a kebab, but it still worked. Also around this time slides and the clock began to be phased out which was a shame because I always felt they worked well and were part of the all-round package and image of a channel. 2bbc1

2001-2007: After almost 11 years, a whole new look was introduced. By they just couldn’t get rid of that “2” now, so it was retained, and now gained a personality! All the idents were now on a yellow background and featured the “2” doing various things such as using a paintbrush or just bouncing around. Again more were introduced as time went by. This series of idents never seemed to be as popular as the previous era but I still think that they were a decent evolution of the idea. 2bbc3

2007-present: The idea was now “the window on the world”. Various things would happen through the shape of the “2”, such as looking through a zoetrope or a car mirror. Like with what happened to BBC1, after about a couple of years, some idents were dropped and the remaining ones were re-edited. That’s how it stayed for a while, but then something rather strange happened. In 2014 to celebrate BBC2’s 50 anniversary, some old idents were brought back, mostly from the second generation (1997-2001) of the “2” idents. It was good seeing them again, but then they continued to be used in place of a new look, although the current look doesn’t seem to have been officially retired. One ident from the first generation has now turned up, and it is odd to think that look was introduced almost 25 years ago now. After being so well unified, the look of BBC1 and BBC2 now seems all over the place and somewhat tired, maybe there will be another generation of idents soon. If you’ve got an idea and a million quid I’m sure they’ll be glad to hear from you. 2bbc8


One thought on “More TV Memories – BBC2.

  1. Des Elmes says:

    The 1979 ident was designed by my namesake, Oliver Elmes – who was also responsible for the BBC1 COW six years later.

    For the first year or so, it was accompanied by the old mechanical clock with the juddering second hand, as the technology for a computer-generated timepiece was not yet in place.

    The 1986 ident, meanwhile, was designed by Alan Jeapes (better known for the EastEnders title sequence). And while most viewers may have found it boring, it’s not beyond possibility that RTE’s designers took inspiration from it when they were coming up with a new look for *their* second channel two years later:


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