Updated: Tuesday 7th April 2020.
With the BBC currently going to great lengths to relay, reinforce and implement the government’s directive around social distancing, it seems a little odd that BBC One’s current on-screen presentation continues to promote the idea of people coming together via group activities (Oneness).
Whilst this largely unloved branding package has been in place since January 2017, its theme is now at odds with current government policy and the messaging within many BBC programmes. Worse still: when one of these sequences is played out whilst the announcer makes reference to the new social-distancing arrangements.
And whilst the need to use idents to link into programmes is understandable, the rationale for the continued use of Oneness stings (which are based on the idents) is certainly questionable. This seems like unnecessary additional promotion of outdoor group activities.
In late-March – following the government’s move to take a more aggressive stance on coronavirus – BBC One found itself resorting to a lesser-used ident – Forest – which has generally been reserved for use in the wake of significant, tragic news events. It’s also one of two idents available for times of national crisis.
Forest is a shot of a group of trees accompanied by a birdsong soundtrack. It does not include the Oneness tagline.
The second option for such circumstances – Logo – features a large version of the BBC One logo, with a similar background to that used on some programme promotions. This was used recently by BBC Northern Ireland, to introduce a PIF (public information film) about coronavirus, and also to link into last night’s broadcast by the prime minister, and the news programme that followed it.
The regular set of Oneness idents continue in use in most BBC One junctions. Is it now time to seriously consider a replacement for the Oneness campaign? Reinstating the previous ‘Circles’ ident package is a potential option. These sequences would still fit in well with other (existing) OSP elements such as promotion graphics.
And there’ll always be support for bringing back the 1997 – 2002 idents, featuring the distinctive BBC One balloon. Those much-loved sequences provided some stunning aerial shots of various UK countryside and cities, as the balloon floated majestically above. Worth noting though, these idents were not filmed in HD.
So, what’s the BBC’s view of Oneness, when the population is being urged to stay at home and exercise social-distancing when outdoors? BBC pres enthusiast and viewer Darren Page took issue with the BBC’s “inappropriate” use of Oneness idents. Their response:
As far as possible, we are attempting to keep things business as usual at BBC One in order to remain a trusted and valued companion for audiences in these strange and worrying times.BBC Marketing
After careful consideration, we felt the Oneness idents should stay on air to reinforce this familiarity. They have been part of the BBC One audience’s life for quite some time now, and we feel they are firmly established as representing the channel’s identity rather than being perceived as any kind of unhelpful statement against social-distancing. We are also confident audiences understand that the idents and most of our pre-recorded shows were filmed before the pandemic.
Whatever the line is between maintaining a sense of normality and looking ridiculous, we think you’re on the wrong side of that line BBC Marketing. Hopefully, you’ll see sense, or be overruled.
Darren Page's correspondence with the BBC has been reproduced here with his permission.FEATURE IMAGE:
PICTURED: BBC One ident. SUPPLIED BY: The TV Room. COPYRIGHT: BBC.