A viewer of the BBC’s feedback programme Newswatch made an intriguing suggestion this week. Could retro branding be used on news programmes to mark the BBC’s centenary?
There is no doubt that retro branding has its place. BBC Northern Ireland brought back a selection of old idents for its 90th, Channel 4 regularly dusts off its original logo and it’s not unusual for long-running programmes to bring back old theme tunes and titles on special occasions.
But the idea of doing this on news bulletins is more problematic.
Some sequences refer to programmes which do not exist any longer rather than BBC News itself – most notably the Nine o’Clock News.
And it could also be problematic editorially.
Imagine if an old title sequence was used before a major story. It could risk looking inappropriate and self indulgent. Imagine if this week’s lunchtime coverage of the Downing Street parties had been preceded by the classic One o’Clock News titles from 1986.
That does not mean that graphics couldn’t be added to titles to mark the BBC’s centenary – in 1979 titles were briefly altered to mark 25 years of television news.
And that, perhaps, offers a clue to the other problem. 2022 doesn’t mark 100 years of BBC News as such. Until the 1930s the BBC didn’t actually have a news service – it merely read out agency reports.
Before the Second World War, there were no bulletins until the evening – in part to avoid competing with newspapers.
In modern times, radio and television news were entirely separate and rival operations until the late-1980s.
So don’t hold your breath if you expect old title sequences to return.
PICTURED: BBC News opening sequence (1958). COPYRIGHT: BBC.