Idents

On this page, we look at some of the Christmas idents that have been used over the years on BBC1. We also have pages looking at festive idents from BBC2, BBC3/Choice and BBC4.

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BBC1 Christmas

BBC1's Christmas presentation in the 1970s often took the form of a festive version of the globe. The first image here is from 1975. In 1978, the rotating globe was replaced by perhaps the creepiest Christmas symbol ever - a rotating Santa head, with faces on both sides! Also shown here is the snowflake used in 1983.


Some of the Christmas idents seen during the 'virtual globe' era, starting with 1993's evening version - during daytime, a version with a lighter sky was shown. The 1994 ident is seen here on Christmas Eve - on Christmas Day the '1' was unwrapped, with the wrapping paper left lying by the side - while the '1' was at the top of the tree in 1995.

1996's Christmas presentation had a circus theme - a version of the ident without the characters was used to introduce more serious programming.


By Christmas 1997, the stylised '1' had been killed off, but any hopes of a festive version of the new balloon ident were dashed when BBC1 instead came out with a set of idents based around the Twelve Days of Christmas. The budget clearly didn't stretch to idents covering all twelve days, so there were only four. Although the balloon itself did not feature, the colour scheme, red and orange, matched that of the balloon.

1998 saw a giant red bauble, with three variations - bauble with penguins, bauble with deer (both shown here), and bauble on its own.


In 1999 we at last got a festive version of the BBC1 balloon, complete with a 'ho-ho-ho' from a giant holographic Santa Claus, and a Christmassy rearrangement of the balloon music. Father Christmas gave his reindeer the following year off, and hired out the BBC1 balloon to deliver his presents, as depicted on this very impressive, cinematic-style ident.


For 2001, BBC1 employed the services of Aardman Animations (best known for Wallace and Gromit) for three excellent Christmas idents - and the last ever version of the balloon!


Oh dear. The three Christmas idents used during the 'Rhythm and Movement' era - children dressed as snowflakes used in both 2002 and 2003, children bouncing on puddings (designed by a Blue Peter viewer) in 2004, and children dressed as munchkins (??) for 2005.


The standard began to improve again with the arrival of the circle idents. In 2006, the locals were seen rolling a giant snowball - presumably they live in some parallel universe where it actually snows at Christmas. This was re-used in 2007 along with a new ident which went for the obvious ice skating penguins scenario (this would reappear soon afterwards as a regular ident, without the festive trappings).

Wallace and Gromit made their second appearance on a BBC Christmas ident in 2008 (following BBC2 in 1995), promoting their latest adventure A Matter of Loaf and Death. In 2009 the ident was again used to push the big televisual event of the festive season, with David Tennant's final outing as Doctor Who being marked by the Time Lord taking the Tardis for a sleigh ride. But is it canon?


2010 saw the roofs on houses in a cul-de-sac lighting up, while we have three variants for 2011, which featured a line-up of star names and The Gruffalo.

Not shown here, 2012's idents featured a red curtain upon which various Christmassy patterns and characters from that year's festive telly appeared, with the slogan 'It's Showtime!'


2013's 'wrapping paper' idents are probably my favourite of the 2010s - simple, but warmly festive.


BBC1's Christmas idents in 2014 featured a circle of decorated trees in a forest, one of which was apparently in fact a Tardis!

In the following years, BBC1's festive presentation has mainly been centered around an elaborate mini-film, with the idents seeming something of an afterthought in comparison - in my mind, all rather less interesting. 2015's campaign was based around an animated 'Sprout Boy' character, 2016 saw the ominous arrival of 'Oneness', we had father-daughter bonding in 2017, and mother-son bonding in 2018.


With 'Oneness' nowhere in sight, 2019's idents use the theme '#XmasLife', featuring a combination of animated characters and live action.


Click the following links for Christmas idents from BBC2, BBC3/Choice and BBC4.


From our YouTube channel, a playlist consisting of five videos of BBC1 Christmas idents from the 1990s to the 2010s.