Every so often, something needs to be freshened up simply to stop it becoming tired.
A successful programme may need a tweak to the titles, new graphics or a refreshed set simply to ensure it does not end up looking stale.
At the moment, the gradual refresh of BBC regional news programmes continues.
Behind-the-scenes, this is a major infrastructure project with new equipment being installed – not a mere “brand refresh”.
But from the viewers’ perspective, it means attractive new sets and changes to presentation techniques which are still evolutionary rather than revolutionary.
It’s rather like a shop closing for refurbishment – when it reopens it (hopefully) has a little bit of extra zing and zest which ensures it hasn’t become dated.
The trick can be in the timing – don’t do it too soon but do it before the cracks are showing.
In recent years, it’s interesting that refreshes rather than complete revamps have become much more commonplace.
The current look of BBC News programmes is a direct evolution of the 1999 relaunch.
In some respects, the changes since then have been fundamental – in 1999 it would have been unthinkable for the presenter to stand up regularly despite the more radical approach pioneered by 5 News.
Yet, every refresh and relaunch over the years has been so natural and evolutionary that there has been little public comment.
The same has been true with gradual changes to formats and storytelling techniques. The number of live pieces, for example, has grown significantly as satellite trucks are no longer required while non-linear editing has allowed for more creative packaging.
Contest this with the 1980s – during that period, the Nine o’Clock News had three significant relaunches with very obvious cosmetic, editorial and technical changes: new music, one presenter then two then one again, computer graphics, longer pieces, big changes to the editorial agenda. Merely ditching traditional newsreaders in 1981 was but a detail.
Over on ITV, it’s worth noting that there have been no obvious cosmetic changes to most national and regional news programmes since 2013 – except for the editorially driven move to give News at Ten a more distinct visual look.
There’s nothing wrong with how the programmes look but I do think the time must be approaching for a little lick of paint just to make sure they stay ahead of the curve – the equivalent of a BBC-style evolution rather than a revolution.
Observant viewers will have noticed that Good Morning Britain’s just had that kind of revamp. I’d bet it passed over the vast majority of its audience.
I’m a BBC Breakfast viewer so won’t be changing loyalties. However the new graphics are much cleaner and the screen is less cluttered. Well done to the designers.
In Northern Ireland, by the way, the bumper before the local weather on GMB now refers to “ITV Weather” rather than “UTV Weather”.
It seems to be part of an ongoing programme to gradually remove the last examples of the kind of UTV branding which actively replaced the ITV masterbrand while retaining UTV as a local sub-brand, just like the remnants of Granada, Central and Meridian:
So why has the trend in recent years been for continuity and subtle change rather than bold new looks?
One reason is that technological change – while dramatic behind-the-scenes – has had less of a fundamental impact on individual items.
In the 80s, electronic news gathering and computer graphics completely overhauled the way news programmes were produced.
Let’s not forget too that part of the audience hates change. Every revamp of news programmes brought some critical comments. Sometimes this was simply down to viewers finding things unfamiliar for a few days or weeks.
But there is absolutely nothing wrong with subtle evolution. If it ain’t broke – don’t fix it. But don’t let it become dated and stale either.
PICTURED: Good Morning Britain opening sequence. COPYRIGHT: ITV plc.