A History of the BBC in 100 Blog Posts: 1993

On Thursday 8th April 1993 viewers to BBC Breakfast were greeted with the news that the accompaniment to their morning routine would be a receiving a new look after the Easter weekend.  Following a brief (slightly arch) history of the programme from the Bough years through to the current Dando/Witchell period, it was revealed that the show would be joining the rebrand of the BBC's news service in which all of the daily bulletins, including the one, the six and the nine would share the same new "virtual studio" and opening featuring a giant "glass" effigy of the BBC's coat of arms upfront.

Thirty years later when the BBC's singular news "brand" permeates so much of its broadcasting with even local news programmes and Newsnight sharing the same "look", it's easy to forget there was a time when they were all visually different:  BBC Breakfast News with its spinning Earth in the C, the virtual camera making a trench run through a clock face embedded in the One O'Clock News (from the BBC) logo, the blue rolodex at the start of the Six O'Clock News (also from the BBC) and the transmitter inspired totalitarian logo at Nine, all with their own dramatic theme music.

Retaining three or four separate studios for programmes offering much the same content was clearly fairly wasteful in what was, even then, a cost conscious corporation.  The number of rival channels had also increased, with Sky News having launched a few years earlier and so giving different strands of television channels a distinctive and in this case "authoritative" image was an important way to stand out from the alternatives.  The fact that the BBC's designers had made the whole thing look like the briefing room on the Death Star was by-the-by.

Fortunately this new look was also pretty short lived.  After the launch of News 24 in 1997 with its friendlier flags and casual atmosphere, the brand had fragmented again with the new channel, BBC News bulletins, Breakfast News, regional news and BBC World all having different looks.  So another rebrand began in 1999 with bulletins on the main channels following the lead of the BBC's news channel and there's a very detailed history of the journey from the "cream and red look" through to the "white look" at the Wikipedia.

Live & Kicking

"We were about to go live when this kid got into the pen with Mr Blobby – and just starting punching him."
[The Guardian]

"How many Saturday morning programmes of the last decade can you name?"
[Off The Telly]

Fist of Fun

"When Lee and Herring were once asked where they got all their crazy ideas from, they answered “We stole them off The Goodies“."
[Off The Telly]

"After OTT published its retrospective on Lee and Herring in September 2000, both Stewart Lee and Richard Herring got in touch with the site. Obviously, we weren’t going to let them go without exploiting their generosity in some way, and so in October we took the opportunity to question them about their work."
[Off The Telly]

"We got a lot of saucy letters. And someone even sent in a Brian May made out of liquorice."
[The Guardian]


"BBC Radio 4 programme entitled 'Quietly Resisting' about the British Special Operations Executive agent Harry Rée during the Second World War."
[Imperial War Museum][BBC Programme Index]

"A episode of the Late Show from 1993 dedicated to the work of Toni Morrison, presented by Salman Rushdie."
[BBC Clips]


"Just before Christmas 2005, I find myself on the phone to Robert Bathurst. He’s doing the usual promotional rounds, having been press-ganged into talking up his imminent role in The Comic Strip revival “Sex Actually“."
[Off The Telly]

"Doctor Who has been on hiatus for several years."
[BBC Archive]


"Radio 1 entered the 1990s maintaining its position as Britain’s most popular radio network, held over the previous two decades, but in a short period of time, the station had become a national object of ridicule, excellently epitomised by Harry Enfield’s astutely created characters Smashey and Nicey."

"The modern BBC is the inheritor of a great tradition of quality, artistic talent, honest accurate reporting and above all independence. We must maintain and enhance this tradition while fitting the BBC for the fast -changing and competitive world into which we have been thrust."
[World Radio History] 

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