The time when Christmas branding meant a new mechanical model

For some of us, recording and archiving BBC TV Christmas symbols has been an annual ritual for many years.

For decades now, these festive branding devices have benefited from the wizardry of computer software, often with impressive and memorable results.

But back in simpler times, the festive idents were physical devices – the work of staff at the BBC mechanical workshop. Whilst there’s no doubt that computer technology produced considerably more polished and sophisticated results in later years, there was an unmistakable charm about their mechanical predecessors.

They may look rather crude by today’s standards, but to those of us who knew nothing else, this was a pres highlight of the year.

And of course, these idents had a much shorter on air life back then. They didn’t appear until Christmas Eve – and sometimes not even at the start of the day. They remained until Boxing Day usually. Though if Christmas Day or Boxing Day fell at a weekend, they could remain on air until 28th December at the latest.

In the coming weeks, The TV Room will be taking a walk down memory lane, and revisiting many of the old symbols.

For now, let’s step back in time to 1983, when Breakfast Time provided a rare behind-the-scenes look at that year’s idents being assembled:

VIDEO: Breakfast Time goes behind-the-scenes to speak with some of the BBC staff who will be working over Christmas. Includes footage of the preparations for the BBC One/BBC Two Christmas idents. Presenter: Selina Scott. Reporter: Nigel Farrell. TX DATE: December 1983. SUPPLIED BY: The TV Room. COPYRIGHT: BBC. VREF: 6824-01.

Christmas 1985 was the final time that mechanical models were used to introduce programmes on BBC TV. For some reason, BBC One’s offering that year apparently didn’t go down well with a lot of viewers. It met with a rather unfortunate end on Noel Edmonds’ Saturday evening show, shortly after Christmas.

VIDEO: The Noel Edmonds Late Late Breakfast Show addresses viewer complaints about the 1985 BBC One Christmas symbol. TX DATE/TIME: 4th January 1986, 5.55pm. SUPPLIED BY: The TV Room. COPYRIGHT: BBC. VREF: 6824-02.

Acknowledgements

FEATURE IMAGE:

PICTURED: designer working on the 1983 BBC Two Christmas ident in the BBC mechanical workshop. SUPPLIED BY: The TV Room. COPYRIGHT: BBC.

Posted by The Voice

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