Idents

On this page, we look at some of the special 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.


Special

Since the 1990s, the BBC channels have often used special idents for special events, seasons, programme strands, theme nights and so on - and occasionally even certain significant programmes have been awarded their very own ident. There have been so many special idents produced over the years that it's only possible for us to scratch the surface - so here is just a small sample.


Starting with what must be one of the earliest special idents - in 1984 the BBC meddled with the Olympic rings to fit the globe inside for the Los Angeles summer games.


A number of special versions of the BBC1 balloon were produced from 1999 to 2001. The first marks the total eclipse of the sun in August 1999 - the others are for Walking with Dinosaurs, Euro 2000, Blue Planet and Walking with Beasts.


The format of the 'Rhythm and Movement' idents lent itself less to special variants - however they were ripe for parody, as seen here by E4, Jon Culshaw in Dead Ringers and Peter Kay for Comic Relief in 2003 and 2005.


Special idents became more frequent again during the Circles era. Here are just a few of the many that were produced, starting with an ident to mark the second series of Ashes to Ashes in 2009. Next, the shape of BBC Television Centre's doughnut was ideal for BBC1's circle theme, and this ident filmed directly above the central courtyard was originally made for Strictly Come Dancing in 2010, but a re-edited version was occasionally used to introduce other programming as well. The next two seen here were produced for Frozen Planet in 2011 and Life Story in 2014.

There were periods during the Circles era that BBC1 abandoned its normal idents almost entirely, namely in January of three consecutive years, when special graphical idents with the slogans 'Love 2013', 'Love 2014' and 'Enjoy 2015' were used.


The 1991-2001 '2's lent themselves perfectly to special variants, and countless were produced over the decade. Shown here are 'Gorilla' (of which there were two variants), produced for BBC2's Sunday afternoon Animal Zone, but was sometimes used for other programming; and 'Dalek', which originated from 1999's Doctor Who Night, but likewise continued to be used on the odd occasion for the next two years.


More special '2's from around the turn of the century, used for BBC2's Time Season in 1999, the History Zone, the It's Scary Out There season in 2000, I Love the 70s, I Love the 80s, and finally 2001's Star Trek Night.


In 2004, BBC2 celebrated its 40th anniversary with a special version of 'Invisible Walls'.

Later idents in the personality era abandoned the yellow theme altogether and reverted to the more varied type of idents we saw in the previous era. In fact, two of them, used in 2006 for the Winter Olympics and Chelsea Flower Show respectively, actually were from the previous era! Also seen here are idents for the series Home in 2006, and a doggy 2 used for comedy programmes with the tagline 'Pedigree Comedy'.


Special idents from 2007 for the series Heroes and the BBC Electric Proms, along with a Rubik's Cube-inspired ident for 2010's Eighties season.


BBC2 had another anniversary to celebrate in 2014, and these idents feature the '2' enjoying a birthday party. Curiously, on and around the anniversary itself they were only used as brief stings between trailers and before the regular idents. But from 26th April, they began to be used as full idents before programmes. Before long, the regular BBC2 idents had been more or less phased out in favour of these anniversary idents. Additionally, BBC2 were using any excuse to use old idents, notably within a series of 70s, 80s and 90s theme nights on Saturdays around May/June 2014.

As the summer drew on, BBC2's 50th anniversary seemed to stretch on and on, and from July, BBC2 began to bring back a number of much-missed idents from the 1991-2001 era - click here for more.

To date, no special versions of the Curve idents have been produced, other than for Christmas.



BBC3 rarely used special idents - these are a few exceptions. Firstly, an ident linked to the BBC's Big Read initiative in 2003; secondly an Olympics ident from 2004 - slightly strange since BBC3 did not carry any Olympics coverage at that time - and finally, a Glastonbury-themed ident from 2005.


BBC4 has produced many special idents since 2005, so only a sample are shown here. In order, they are the Science Fiction Britannia season in 2006, Children's TV on Trial in 2007, the All-American season in 2011, the Pop Art season in 2015 (two variants shown here, created by artists Peter Blake and Peter Phillips respectively), Make! Craft Britain in 2016, and BBC Four Goes Conceptual in 2016. Some of these have also been used for general programming.


In September 2014, BBC4 aired a series of special idents designed by four artists (Sebastian Buerkner, John Smith, James Richards and Laure Prouvost) to coincide with the channel's When Art Broke Free abstract art season. These replaced the regular idents entirely for one week.


Introduced in 2017, BBC4 has two idents which are used to introduce music-related programming, such as the long-running Top of the Pops repeat run. There are also idents for astronomical programmes, including The Sky at Night (one of which must be the only ident in history to have filmed at the edge of space!) and an ident for one of the most popular parts of BBC4's schedule, the Saturday night European drama slot.


From our YouTube channel, special idents from BBC1, BBC2 and BBC4, plus each of the BBC4 abstract idents.