Idents

On this page we look at clocks that have been used in BBC1 presentation over the years. We also have a page looking at clocks from BBC2.

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BBC1/BBCtv Clocks

Up until the early 2000s, clocks were a common sight in television presentation. They were most frequently seen before national news bulletins and at closedowns (both in daytime and at night), but were sometimes used to introduce other live programming, such as Grandstand, and in the 1960s and 70s were even used for the likes for Blue Peter.


We start, perhaps unexpectedly, with a digital clock. This was introduced at 6.30pm on 8th October 1960, and may have been used exclusively for a while instead of a channel symbol.

By 1962, however, the BBC had reverted to using a more traditional analogue device. The second version of this clock, from 1963, was closer to a true circle and now featured the sloping BBC boxes.


A new version of the clock was introduced when the BBC's sole channel was renamed BBC1 in 1964, which matched the design of the new globe. The same is true of the next clock, introduced in 1966, which used the watchstraps that also appeared on the globe symbol.

A new style of clock face was introduced in 1968, which would remain until 1981. This third image is a reconstruction - in reality, the hour markings were slightly thinner than shown.


The BBC1 clock went into colour at the end of 1969, shown here along with an updated version introduced after Christmas 1974. Around December 1981, the mechanical clock was replaced by an electronically-generated timepiece. This new-look face was also used on the 1985 version of the clock, which unfortunately we don't have an image of.


The last two BBC1 clocks. The first seen here was used from around late 1991; the original version that accompanied the launch of the 'virtual globe' earlier that year had a larger face and different background. It was presumably changed to match the size of the globe.

The same style of face was used on the final clock, which accompanied the balloon idents, and was used from October 1997.

The BBC1 clock disappeared upon the introduction of the 'Rhythm and Movement' idents in March 2002. Although a clock was produced for this package, which apparently used the same clock face introduced in 1991 over a blurred still of the Capoeira ident, this was never used on air. Some claim the clock's demise is related to the delay inherent in the reception of digital broadcasts, making the timepiece inaccurate (so why hasn't that stopped the broadcast of the Greenwich Time Signal on BBC radio?). In reality, a silently ticking clock was simply viewed as outdated in the context of modern television presentation.


Three BBC1 clocks made it onto a quiz show on 18th August 2004. I kid you not. The contestants' challenge on BBC3's HeadJam was to put the above clocks into chronological order. And guess what - they got it right!


Click here for clocks on BBC2.


From our YouTube channel, a compilation of BBC1 and BBC2 clocks from over the decades.