History of the BBC

History of the BBC

Other objects in the BBC Heritage Collection

Objects from the BBC Collection - Branding

A selection of mechanical BBC TV symbols used on air in the 1970s and 1980s are now on display in the Media Café, New Broadcasting House, London.


BBC One clockBBC One clock

The screen clocks were shown at major junctions between programmes and always before the news. The first BBC ident was introduced in 1953 in response to the impending launch of commercial television. The screen clock was used before the news of BBC One in 1981.

Abram Games design of BBC logoAbram Games design of BBC logo

Abram Games was commissioned to design an on-air image, probably hastened by the imminent arrival of commercial competition. Games, who designed the logo for the Festival of Britain in 1951, created the logo nicknamed the 'Bat's wings' logo, an elegant and rather ethereal image which captured the spirit of the times. In reality, it was an elaborate mechanical brass contraption, with a tiny spinning globe in its centre - for BBC Scotland, the spot in the middle was replaced by a lion.

Alternative BBC crestAlternative BBC crest

The wooden BBC crest (1934), carved by George Kruger Gray, is found in the Council Chamber of Broadcasting House, London. It is very unusual in being the only BBC crest to carry the alternative motto - 'Quaecunque' (whatsoever), and not the usual BBC motto, 'Nation Shall Speak Peace Unto Nation'. The quotation is taken from St Paul's Epistle to the Philippians: 'Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are of good report: if there be any virtue and if there be any praise, think on these things.' The original motto is the one used on the Coat of Arms, and most commonly associated with the BBC today.

BBC Revolving worldBBC Revolving world

Mechanical idents or screen clocks were shown at major junctions between programmes and always before the news. The first BBC ident was introduced in 1953 in response to the impending launch of commercial television. The revolving black and white globe began life in 1963. Colouring techniques were used to show it in blue and yellow after the advent of colour in 1967. The globe remained a symbol for BBC One until 2002 – its last incarnation was as a hot-air balloon.

BBC Two identBBC Two - the logo

February 1991: brand specialists Lambie Nairn produced its first set of BBC Two logos, part of a new look for the channel. Initially all the logos appeared in the colour viridian. However, the idents matured over the years, becoming individual characters on a yellow background, and latterly as a cut out 'window on the world'. All have been hugely popular with the public. Celia Chapman, Executive Producer, Lambie Nairn said: "BBC Two was probably the first ident that got its own fanmail!"

BBC mosaic logoBBC mosaic logo

This is one of the earliest versions of a BBC logo. It is found at the centre of the original mosaic floor in the reception of Broadcasting House, London. Completed in 1932, Broadcasting House is a jewel of Art Deco design, which integrated a wide range of artists and designers in the conception and embellishment of the UK's first ever purpose-built radio centre. No-one knows who actually designed this mosaic logo, but its interlaced tracery of letters appears at various points in and around the building, notably on the reception doors and inside the lifts.

The first BBC CharterThe first BBC Charter

The BBC has all seven Royal Charters. It started life as a Company, but changed to a Corporation following a report by the Crawford Committee. The Government accepted the Committee's findings and established by Royal Charter the British Broadcasting Corporation. The Charter set out the way in which the BBC would be governed. The first Charter ran for 10 years from 1 January 1927 and recognised the BBC as an instrument of education and entertainment. Subsequent Charters expanded this remit to include the dissemination of information. The eighth Charter (1 January 2007) charges the BBC with delivering the latest technology to the public and taking a leading role in the switchover to digital television.

The first Radio TimesThe first Radio Times

Here is the first edition of The Radio Times, 'the official organ of the BBC', which appeared on news stands on 28 September 1923. It came into existence initially because of the huge resistance from newspapers to the new medium of radio. Faced with the possibility of a press embargo of radio listings, Director-General John Reith decided that the BBC would publish its own listings magazine. At first, it was a joint venture between the BBC and publisher George Newnes Ltd. But in 1925 the BBC took over editorial control, and by 1937 the entire operation was in-house. The Radio Times used leading writers and illustrators of the day and the covers from the special editions are now regarded as design classics.

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