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Best and worst idents from each BBC1 and BBC2 set post-1991?

Since 1990, BBC1 and BBC2 have released many new idents. Which are your favourites?

DD
DemonDays Yorkshire Look North (Yorkshire)
Obviously, we're all fans of Martin Lambie-Nairn's work for BBC2.

There's a reason why, if you know what the word 'ident' means, you've definitely seen Paint. Silk, Optics, Powder, Fluffy Dog and Car are also popular ones, and with good reason, too.

There were refreshes in 1997, 1999 and 2000 - and then, in 2001, the Personality 2s were introduced. I'm a big fan of these. I think they were very well suited to the 2000s and were a darn sight better than what the neighbouring channels had.

Window to the World was a lot less striking, but the present set are, pretty much, universally acclaimed. On BBC1, Oneness is...universally derided. I'm a big fan of Circles, while Rhythm and Movement was pretty atrocious.

But what's your favourite - and LEAST favorite - ident from each series?

Here are my choices.

BBC1 90s - balloons beat virtual globe for me. I'm not really knowledgeable enough about the individual balloon idents to have an opinion.

BBC1 R&M - Tai Chi was the best of a bad bunch. Ballet was misused as a kind of generic 'DEATH' ident, so that gets the lowest spot.

BBC1 Circles - I love Neon, the Penguins, the Rover, the Magical Forest...I think the weakest one here is Windows.

BBC1 Oneness - all of them are bad except Forest. Get rid.

BBC2 91-97 - Cooper Cut-Out had excellent versatility, Garden was lovely, and Paint was very striking. Powder and Optics were lovely, Car takes third place, the very underrated Balloon takes my second place, and - it has to be - Fluffy Dog for the win. On the other side, Water and Shadow were a little bit bland.

BBC2 1997-2001 - Duck just about edges Swan as the best, with Excalibur shortly after them - then Catalyst. None of the Gorilla idents appealed to me, so they come bottom here.

BBC2 Personality - My favourite here from the usual set is probably Fish. Shout out to Formation and Morris Dancers. But my real favourites are the Christmas idents from 2001 and 2002. The 2003 one is probably the weakest of the group, however - so festive that they used it in summer...

BBC2 Window - Cappucino and Seascape were great - as was Mirror - but my vote goes to the beach variant of Tent. The tagging ones were awful, and I'm not a fan of Chase.

BBC2 Curve - The blue and green one is the best, for me. The one with brown lines is probably my least favourite.
NA
natwel27 Meridian (South East) South East Today
From the top of my mind at this very moment:

BBC One:

Balloon:
Best - English 12, Millennium Dome or Christmas 1999
Worst - Olympics 2000

Rhythm and Movement:
Best - Acrobats or Capoeira
Worst - Haka

Circles:
Best - Neon
Worst - Bikes (Cut Down)

Oneness:
Best - Forest
Worst - Choir Rehearsal

BBC Two:

91-01:
Best - Zapper or Wave Night
Worst: Paper Cut-Out

Personality 2's:
Best - Fire
Worst - Drip

Window on the World:
Best - Zoetrope
Worst - Tagging Idents

Curves:
Best - Gritty
Worst - Authoritative 2
Last edited by natwel27 on 22 November 2020 8:44pm
LY
Lynetwork Tyne Tees Look North (North East)
Great topic idea!

I can't agree with Ballet as the worst from Rhythm and Movement - I think it's absolutely beautiful. That and Acrobat are my favourites from that set. Worst is probably either Haka or Salsa.

There are quite a few Circles idents that I'd pick as the best, namely Neon, Moon, Penguins and Helicopter with the original music. For worst, I think 2016's Christmas idents were rather paltry (though to be honest I don't rate a lot of the later Circles-era Christmas presentation other than 2014's Christmas trees and maybe Sprout Boy).

For Oneness I'd say Bhangra ends up being the best of a bad bunch as it's at least choreographed well (unless we're counting The Supporting Act as Oneness, then of course that wins bar none). As for the worst, well... I'm spoiled for choice. It would be easier to name the ones that weren't the worst.

One thing I do agree with is that the Tagging idents are the worst idents in Windows on the World. My picks for the best would be Seascape, Zoetrope and Cappuccino (which really shouldn't have been axed in 2009). To be fair, Tent, Mirror and Sunroof are pretty great too.

Curve is a difficult category for me as I don't think there's a bad one in the set. Authoritative and Mind-Bending kind of end up as the boring ones but at least they're well made and fit for purpose. My favourites are probably Captivating, Offbeat, Sparky and Escapist.
LW
LWTfan1968
BBC 1 1997-2002: Best: no opinion, they're all just places with the balloon flying over really. Worst: 1998 Christmas (where the f--- is the balloon? or ANY BACKGROUND ELEMENTS???

2002-2006: I really think that they're all meh, so no opinion really.

2006-2016: Once again, really no opinion. they're circles, they lasted a decade, they're good.

2017-Present: I can't really have an opinion because I've only seen Tea Breaks whenever I'm "legitimately" watching the BBC News at 1/6 (now that Bread Makers is in the mix here, I'll be able to watch that one at 1....er-6, 1 over here in New York.

BBC 2 1991-2001; 2015-2018: Best: Car. Worst: that one christmas ident with the screaming fairy at the beginning (1998? I know it was after the logo change)

2001-2007: Best: Fire. Worst: Bounce and its varients (the 2 doesn't do anything really, in all the other ones it moves or at least does something.)

2007-2014: Best: Titanic (Copper Cut-Out and Silk BGM) Worst: the Tagging set (why? just why?)

2018-Present: Best:(tries to think of good Curve ident) Punchy (it's seemingly a nod to the 1974 ident, with the '79 orange and '91 viridian colors) Worst: Captivating (jeez, TSW's original ident had a higher framerate than this s***) and Feel Good (the sounds make me Feel Uncomfortable).
JL
JamesLaverty1925 Central (East) East Midlands Today
BBC One

1997-2002
Best-St. Michael's Mount and Christmas 2000
Worst- None

2002-2006
Best- Skateboarders
Worst- Acrobats (Not sure why, maybe just played too often with the news)

2006-2016
Best- Capes (2009 long edit) and Christmas 2014
Worst- Pedal Power

2017-Present
Best- Christmas 2017
Worst- Choir Rehearsal (it takes a special type of awful to be the worst of Oneness)

BBC Two

1991-1997
Best- Optics, Firecracker and Diary
Worst- Paper Cut Out and Garden

1997-2001
Best- Wave (Day and Night) and Woodpeckers
Worst- Millennium

2001-2007
Best- Fire and Invisible Walls
Worst- Domino (it got old very quickly)

2007-2014
Best- Mirror
Worst- Tagging Set

2018-pres
Best- Intense
Worst- Illuminating (still better than any Oneness ident)
DD
DemonDays Yorkshire Look North (Yorkshire)
Great topic idea!

Thanks! Smile

Quote:
I can't agree with Ballet as the worst from Rhythm and Movement - I think it's absolutely beautiful. That and Acrobat are my favourites from that set. Worst is probably either Haka or Salsa.

I think the issue with Ballet is how it was used. On the face of it, it's a strong ident that clearly should have been used more frequently - I think a routine six o'clock news spot would have helped to prevent the oversaturation of Acrobats and Capoeira. However, it was immediately pigeonholed as being the "death/disaster ident" after the death of the QM the day after its introduction (and even then they only used a still initially).

I think Ballet is a decent ident that simply didn't fulfil the purpose ascribed to it. A group of ballerinas cloaked in striking red with cocked legs...it's smart and solemn, but not suited to death news. It was reserved for periods of "national reflection" (surely Tai Chi would be more apt?) even though its soberness doesn't mean it had to be sombre.

As it is, I don't particularly like seeing stills of it today, because it still evokes an unpleasant pit-of-the-stomach feeling for me. The ident was never showed enough to allow it to sink in and become reassuring or relaxing, despite the fact that it was the ident perhaps best designed to evoke those qualities.

Objectively, the worst might well be Music Video, because it's a representation of something innately capitalistic and related to the music industry rather than something relatable to the country - yet it was tied to a wider 'national identity'.

Quote:
There are quite a few Circles idents that I'd pick as the best, namely Neon, Moon, Penguins and Helicopter with the original music. For worst, I think 2016's Christmas idents were rather paltry (though to be honest I don't rate a lot of the later Circles-era Christmas presentation other than 2014's Christmas trees and maybe Sprout Boy).

Wallace & Gromit was the high point of the Circles festive adverts, I think.

Quote:
One thing I do agree with is that the Tagging idents are the worst idents in Windows on the World. My picks for the best would be Seascape, Zoetrope and Cappuccino (which really shouldn't have been axed in 2009). To be fair, Tent, Mirror and Sunroof are pretty great too.

Cappuccino should never have been axed. It feels like they were too lazy to edit it, really. I thought it was supposed to be the flagship ident, so it's disappointing that they got rid of it and left the others to become overplayed.
JL
JamesLaverty1925 Central (East) East Midlands Today
Looking back now, Ballet is a decent ident, making use of a striking, beautiful backdrop with the Minack Theatre. But I think the almost instant association with the death of the Queen Mother meant it was instantly seen as the "sombre" ident. I remember it being used a few times early in the run, but by June 2002, I don't think it was used outside of funerals and other more serious programmes. A great shame TVHome wasn't around at the time, so we could see how often it was used.

Slightly off topic, but I vaguely remember an unusual showing of ballet c. October 2002, before the 10 O'clock news. Acrobats was played out in full, with no announcement, and then we had about 10 seconds of ballet, with a quick generic announcement of the bulletin. Does anyone else have any recollection of this?

Quote:
One thing I do agree with is that the Tagging idents are the worst idents in Windows on the World. My picks for the best would be Seascape, Zoetrope and Cappuccino (which really shouldn't have been axed in 2009). To be fair, Tent, Mirror and Sunroof are pretty great too.
Cappuccino should never have been axed. It feels like they were too lazy to edit it, really. I thought it was supposed to be the flagship ident, so it's disappointing that they got rid of it and left the others to become overplayed.


That was my problem with the whole WotW set. The same few idents were used too often, and we never had any new idents which stuck. Cappuccino, as you say, was a brilliant, inventive ident that should have survived the 2009 cull, instead of, IMO, Zoetrope, which I felt got old quickly and was used far too often.
DD
DemonDays Yorkshire Look North (Yorkshire)
Looking back now, Ballet is a decent ident, making use of a striking, beautiful backdrop with the Minack Theatre. But I think the almost instant association with the death of the Queen Mother meant it was instantly seen as the "sombre" ident. I remember it being used a few times early in the run, but by June 2002, I don't think it was used outside of funerals and other more serious programmes. A great shame TVHome wasn't around at the time, so we could see how often it was used.

Slightly off topic, but I vaguely remember an unusual showing of ballet c. October 2002, before the 10 O'clock news. Acrobats was played out in full, with no announcement, and then we had about 10 seconds of ballet, with a quick generic announcement of the bulletin. Does anyone else have any recollection of this?

Quote:
One thing I do agree with is that the Tagging idents are the worst idents in Windows on the World. My picks for the best would be Seascape, Zoetrope and Cappuccino (which really shouldn't have been axed in 2009). To be fair, Tent, Mirror and Sunroof are pretty great too.
Cappuccino should never have been axed. It feels like they were too lazy to edit it, really. I thought it was supposed to be the flagship ident, so it's disappointing that they got rid of it and left the others to become overplayed.


That was my problem with the whole WotW set. The same few idents were used too often, and we never had any new idents which stuck. Cappuccino, as you say, was a brilliant, inventive ident that should have survived the 2009 cull, instead of, IMO, Zoetrope, which I felt got old quickly and was used far too often.

I agree with all of this. Ballet did maybe have one shortcoming: only one camera angle.

I don't remember the incident you describe - I was but a baby then - but it's easy to imagine occurring.

Zoetrope was definitely overused. My least favourite of the Windows outside of the Tagging and Chase idents.
BH
BillyH Founding member London London

I don't remember the incident you describe - I was but a baby then - but it's easy to imagine occurring.


I was a 14 year old teenager posting on this forum then!! Now I feel old...

The R&M idents (no, not BBC2 Xmas 1997) got a lot of ridicule at the time and they were inferior to the balloon idents for me, but that montage on the final night made them feel surprisingly special, particularly ending with Ballet which really reminded me of how good that one was. Ironically the number 1 around that time was 'I Don't Feel Like Dancing' by the Scissor Sisters, and I think someone on this forum brilliantly edited the montage to that song.

The best dancer ident was, of course, the one-off "Wallace and Gromit" remix that unexpectedly appeared around Christmas 2002, which sadly still isn't on YouTube despite an upload of it definitely being around at the time.
Member since 26 May 2001
JL
JamesLaverty1925 Central (East) East Midlands Today

I don't remember the incident you describe - I was but a baby then - but it's easy to imagine occurring.


I was a 14 year old teenager posting on this forum then!! Now I feel old...

The R&M idents (no, not BBC2 Xmas 1997) got a lot of ridicule at the time and they were inferior to the balloon idents for me , but that montage on the final night made them feel surprisingly special, particularly ending with Ballet which really reminded me of how good that one was. Ironically the number 1 around that time was 'I Don't Feel Like Dancing' by the Scissor Sisters, and I think someone on this forum brilliantly edited the montage to that song.

The best dancer ident was, of course, the one-off "Wallace and Gromit" remix that unexpectedly appeared around Christmas 2002, which sadly still isn't on YouTube despite an upload of it definitely being around at the time.


The fact they were straight after the balloon has hindered them, and it has taken, at least for me, Oneness to release how well they worked as idents.

Strong unifying themes of the Rhythm and Movement in different forms and a recognisble musical motif are all there, as well as all mainly using the same colour red in some form, instantly made you think "This is BBC One". Even the Christmas idents, which at the time I thought were a bit cheesy, have aged well. Yes, still cheesy, but I remember them rather fondly.

I think the Christmas idents left a legacy as well with BBC One idents. Because of the Christmas idents in exclusive use, the news of the Boxing Day Tsunami in 2004 was introduced by kids on Christmas pudding Space hoppers. I know it was a few years until newssafe Christmas idents became the norm, but was this why they were started?
DD
DemonDays Yorkshire Look North (Yorkshire)

I don't remember the incident you describe - I was but a baby then - but it's easy to imagine occurring.


I was a 14 year old teenager posting on this forum then!! Now I feel old...

The R&M idents (no, not BBC2 Xmas 1997) got a lot of ridicule at the time and they were inferior to the balloon idents for me , but that montage on the final night made them feel surprisingly special, particularly ending with Ballet which really reminded me of how good that one was. Ironically the number 1 around that time was 'I Don't Feel Like Dancing' by the Scissor Sisters, and I think someone on this forum brilliantly edited the montage to that song.

The best dancer ident was, of course, the one-off "Wallace and Gromit" remix that unexpectedly appeared around Christmas 2002, which sadly still isn't on YouTube despite an upload of it definitely being around at the time.


The fact they were straight after the balloon has hindered them, and it has taken, at least for me, Oneness to release how well they worked as idents.

Oneness must be singularly disastrous in terms of ident launches. The original two were dropped simply because we all hated them, after all.
MC
M-CORP Meridian (South East) South East Today
My choices, with too much thought put into them...

BBC1 90s - this is tricky. The virtual globe is really nicely lit and has a lovely moody ambience that was a nice different direction to take the globe. On the other hand the balloon is more interesting and the fact you had multiple idents meant it retained its freshness. The best idents, however, were the initial launch idents in '97, because there the balloon was flown for real (as opposed to being CGed in later), and like a Storm Thorgerson album cover, it gains so much from being done for real.

BBC1 R&M - Skateboarders was a nice contrast to the rest of the set - sombre and graceful, avoiding the obvious route that many of the other idents took - that being 'Yo mate! We're down with the 18-25 year-old demographic!' Music Video was probably the worst offender in this category, and also unsuitable for about 90% of BBC One's programming - at least Tumbler fitted in perfectly with daytime television. (I do also like Capeoria and Tapdogs.)

BBC1 Circles - Kites and Mission Control are my favourites, the latter for nostalgic Doctor Who-related reasons. Windows was the blandest but even that had a cute soundtrack. Though all the idents were hindered by their being shortened down.

BBC1 Oneness - JESUS CHRIST GSGUG^Yw$!%£&@(!))

BBC2 1991 - Immediate favourite would be Firecracker, with close calls being Wave, Car, Neon or Diary. With the exception of Paper Cut-Out where nothing happens (but even that one isn't too bad), they're all consistently class.

BBC2 1997 - See above, except they dropped Firecracker and Diary to make way for the 2000 idents.

BBC2 2001 - Sticky Label was a nice then-unusual attempt to muck around with the logo and do comedy in an ident, while Formation has an iconic end shot in my view. Don't really have a worst ident, they were all consistently decent, if trying too hard to be funny on a channel that still had to show Newsnight.

BBC2 2007 - Mirror and Seascape were the best, Tagging was an interesting idea, Sunroof was the worst for being bland and not standing up to repeat viewings, washing over the viewer without really drawing your attention.

BBC2 2018 - all are decent, but Gritty and Punchy stick out as my favourites, while Illuminated was too simplistic for my tastes.
I do have a brain, but I left it in the oven too long.

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