Never believe everything you read on the internet

The BBC, like other reputable news organisations, would take a very dim view of a journalist who simply took a fact off a website and repeated it without checking it. Even where people have no intention to mislead, they can innocently get something wrong.

Unfortunately the normally excellent BBC Archive Twitter and Facebook feeds made that error the other day when they reported that the electronic BBC Two symbol was introduced on 1st March 1979.

Videos from the time show it was very definitely introduced later. The date can be narrowed down to 22nd June 1979 or 23rd June 1979. So which was it?

VIDEO: the ‘=2=’ ident and associated clock in use on 23rd June 1979. SUPPLIED BY: YouTube channel – Kaleidoscope Presentation Vault. COPYRIGHT: BBC.

Neither day had any special significance. Might the electronic ‘2’ have first appeared, almost as a teaser, at 10.58am on 22nd June as BBC Two opened for Play School? If so, it would not have been seen again until the early evening. Or maybe it first appeared in the evening? Or on 23rd June before Saturday Cinema?

It’s important to remember the new ident in 1979 wasn’t a modern rebrand. The stripey ‘2’ had been seen in prototype form on captions from around 1976/1977. The shape was initially notably squarer. It even featured on the 1978 Christmas ident along with the electronic fanfair composed by Roger Limb which was to accompany the symbol until 1983.

By early 1979 it was being used on slides and some trails. So the new ident represented evolution not revolution. The revolution was in the way it was generated electronically.

It would certainly be good to know exactly when it was introduced.



The TV Room would like to thank archivist Ed Stradling (The TV Museum) for his help in further narrowing down the launch date for this ident, by confirming the use of the 1974 ident in off-air recordings from 21st June 1979.



Posted by Andrew Nairn

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