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 by the snowmen - 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 idents 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 years that followed, BBC1's festive presentation tended to be 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.

Our look at BBC1 Christmas idents resumes on the next page, which covers 2019 onwards.


Brief stings between trailers have often been used more extensively at Christmas than at other times of year. These examples are from 1997, 2001, 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007.

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

  Our YouTube channel includes a playlist of BBC1 Christmas idents from 1993 onwards.

Forward to 2019-date