Idents

On this page, we look at some of the Christmas idents that have been used over the years on BBC1, BBC2, BBC3 and BBC4.

We also have pages looking at idents from BBC1, BBC2, BBC3/Choice, BBC4/Knowledge, CBBC and UKTV, and regional ITV idents. See the bottom of the page for further menu options. If you want to explore the subject of television presentation in greater depth, see our links page for related sites.


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. The '1' was at the top of the tree in 1995, while 1996 had a circus theme.


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 (still, three more than in past years!) Although the balloon itself did not feature, the colour scheme, red and orange, matched that of the balloon.

1998 saw a giant red bauble - three variations; bauble with penguins (shown here), bauble with deer, 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 a year off in 2000, 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 some 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 (see BBC2 below), 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 event, 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 idents are probably my favourite of the decade - simple, but warmly festive. We round off our look at BBC1 Christmas idents in 2014, with a circle of decorated trees in a forest, one of which was apparently in fact a Tardis!

Since then, BBC1's festive idents have increasingly become merely the culmination of an elaborate campaign, centered around an expensively-produced mini-film - in my mind, all rather less interesting. 2015's 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.


Back to simpler times, and anyone tuning into BBC2 over Christmas 1979 would have seen this spinning snowflake introducing each programme.


Some 90s idents now, starting with 1994. The following year, the services of Wallace and Gromit were called in - they were starring in A Close Shave this Christmas. 1996 brought us a sparkling contribution, while 1997 saw the '2' trapped in a snowglobe. By 1998 it had escaped and appears to be sitting at the top of a Christmas tree, while by 1999 our hero has seemingly grown some wings and is seen booting off the angel at the top of the tree!

In 2000 BBC2 brought us a giant snow '2', complete with little snow '2's skating around and falling off it. This would return to our screens over five years later, posing as 2006's Winter Olympic ident.


The Christmas idents from the era of the 'personality' BBC2 idents, first seen in 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2005 respectively. 2003's ice cube never struck me as being overly festive, and indeed would later re-emerge as a 'hot weather' ident! The final one seen here, used in both 2005 and 2006 is by far my favourite - maybe because it isn't quite so yellow?


The following decade would see the recycling of Christmas idents on an unprecedented scale - only two years, 2007 and 2011, saw new idents introduced (with variants), which were then re-used in subsequent years. This was being taken to the extreme by 2015, with BBC2 dragging out any old past Christmas idents they could find lurking in the back of the cupboard!

Thankfully, a more coherent look returned to BBC2's Christmas presentation in 2018, with the arrival of the 'Curve' idents - we don't doubt the three festive idents will return in 2019 so we can make some captures!


BBC3 used Christmas idents during the 'blobs' era - the first here was seen in 2003, the rest from 2004 onwards.


BBC4 introduced its first festive ident in 2005 - and they obviously liked it so much they kept bringing it back (with minor amendments) for over a decade! It was later joined by further idents, including a reindeer ident filmed in conjunction with the BBC4 Goes Slow offering All Aboard! The Sleigh Ride in 2015, an Arctic scene in 2017 and more reindeer in 2018.


From our YouTube channel, some playlists of BBC1 and BBC2 Christmas idents from the 1990s to the 2010s, plus a video of BBC4 Christmas idents and, as a bonus, a couple of UK Gold Christmas idents from 1999.