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TV Ident Exemplars



Channel 4 launched in November 1982 with a state-of-the-art computer-generated ident. The technology required to generate the multi-coloured flying pieces of the logo didn't even exist in the United Kingdom at the time. The designer responsible for the idea was Martin Lambie-Nairn and he went on to provide idents for many of the other main television channels. The '4' logo was animated performing various acrobatic stunts, perfectly timed to a signature tune known as 'Four Score'. This was composed by singer and musician, David Dundas. The original Channel 4 idents were in use for fourteen years, a very long time in broadcasting history. They are still regarded as the most successful idents of all time.




The ITV station for Wales and the West of England used be known as HTV. They started broadcasting in colour in 1970 and introduced an ident that became known as the 'aerial' due to the simple but rather clever lettering animated into the shape of a television antenna. Nearly twenty years later and the HTV ident took on a more upmarket appearance as part of the ITV Network's so-called 'corporate look'. The regional companies in ITV were asked to adopt the 'generic' ITV logo, keeping their own local names underneath. The catchy jingle was the work of none other than that David Dundas.




Over in London, the weekdays ITV station, Thames, used their 1969 ident design for twenty long years! Some famous London landmarks were squashed together in the so-called 'Skyline' ident design. As they gently emerged from the river, a strident melody was played out which will be still be remembered by many today. At weekends things got a lot more trendier, with LWT's 'Solari' ident, more commonly known as the 'Blinds'.




Thames lost their franchise to Carlton Television who adopted the rather curious 'CARLON' logo with the 'T' squashed inbetween the 'L' and 'O' as if it had been an afterthought. Lambie-Nairn (of Channel 4 fame) produced a whole 'family' of idents for Carlton which centred on various expressions of the 'TV From The Heart' idea. A bright star lands on the heart and completes the formation of the logo each time. Carlton and all the other English regional stations became just 'ITV1' in 2002.





In the good old days of television, the announcer was 'in-vision', so viewers could see who was introducing the programmes. On TVS in the South of England, nice auntie figures like Jennifer Clulow were on screen to guide the audience through the schedule. Here she collides with the original TVS ident, which bears a remarkable similarity in colour scheme to Channel 4's first effort. By the late 1980s 'in-vision' was considered too old fashioned and scrapped in favour of an updated TVS ident, complete with bevelled edges and a tumbling shiny chrome effect. Nobody was quite sure what the symbol was meant to be. Was it a flower? Was it a shell? Was it a pair of underpants? It seemed the meaning didn't really matter. How wrong they were.





In 'TSW Land' things were different, in fact they started remarkably different indeed. The original TSW ident featured a surreal sequence too bizarre for words to adequately describe. Coupled with a frenzied jingle, it was an assault on the eyes and ears. Things were toned down a bit in the mid 1980s when TSW copied the 'flying objects in space' idea so successfully pioneered by Channel 4. What were those green humps though? A funny hat? Sydney Opera House? The logo, supposedly modelled on rolling hills and winding rivers, became nicknamed 'Kermit's Bra'.





What a difference a decade makes: Tyne Tees Television, with their unmistakable 'TTTV' logogram entered the 1980s with an ident that would have looked more impressive at the beginning of the 1970s. The received pronunciation of the accompanying announcement was definitely not Geordie. By the time this piece of wobbly hand-drawn animation was retired in 1987, computer-generated idents were all the rage. Fast forward to the early 1990s and Meridian burst on to screens in the South of England with a rather fascinating interpretation of 'Big Bang': From an explosion of white light through the blank screen, a stylised eclipse of the sun emerges with odd facial features. It is accompanied by a musical fanfare composed by, yes you guessed it, David Dundas.





To the present day and BBC One demonstrate how the modern television channels have rejected computer-aided 'razzle dazzle' in favour of human 'live action' in their idents. The station name fades in gently with a token couple of red swirls, as if to gently hint at the shape of what once represented the United Kingdom's first station - the world. In Scotland, ITV1 is known as STV (Scottish Television) and in the example shown we see a cardboard cut-out of the letter 'S' handed between members of the public. You'd never believe these idents cost their respective broadcasters six figure sums to commission.


And for those who can't get enough of TV idents, click here for my degree dissertation: 'Television Channel Identities: On-screen Decoration or Meaningful Brand Reinforcement?'