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Brian Eno and the Arena Bottle

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Nigel Smith Nigel Smith | 12:10 UK time, Monday, 22 February 2010

A bottle drifts across dark, smoky water towards you. Inside are neon-lit letters spelling 'Arena'. Over the top plays Brian Eno's evocative piece of music Another Green World.

That Arena has recently profiled the composer of its famous signature tune seemed like the perfect excuse to make this short film about the much-loved opening sequence that's remained unchanged for more than 30 years.

A Short Film About Bottles

Anthony Wall, series editor of Arena since 1985, was the obvious first person to talk to. For starters, the original Arena bottle is perched high on a bookshelf in his office. It reappeared a few years ago after someone found it in a clear-out of old BBC prop cupboards.

The Arena team are habitual archivists. As well as the bottle they showed us a bulging file full of decades-old letters that viewers had written enquiring about the memorable theme tune. We were also able to use a selection of the alternative title sequences Arena has made over the years which placed the bottle in surprising situations (a supermarket, on the moon) or reversioned Eno's music in a completely different style.

My colleague Pete Marsh has done a lovely job editing the piece and used these gems from the archive to great effect. Sadly we couldn't squeeze them all in. The most bizarre was the title sequence for Arena's Animal Night from 1989 which saw puppets by Spitting Image creators Luck & Flaw on board a very suspicious-looking Ark.

We also interviewed the musician and writer David Toop whose first album was released on Brian Eno's Obscure label in 1975 and who's quoted in Geeta Dayal's recent book about Another Green World.

For a perspective on how credit sequences have changed over decades and what makes Arena's so enduring we met Richard Norley, the Creative Director of Jump Design and Direction. His company have made opening titles for such hits as the X Factor and Hell's Kitchen.

You only have to read the comments on YouTube to see how much people love Arena's bottle and Eno's wonderful tune. Let us know what you think about our little tribute.

Related Links
Arena - details of upcoming programmes and what's available on iPlayer
Short Film About Bottles On YouTube


  • Comment number 1.

    Well, quite by accident, I was reminded of the first time, back in 1993 when i first arrived in London from Vancouver, stumbling across Arena one night and being completely floored by the title sequence. Not until tonight, while watching a film with a friend which had as part of its soundtrack the very same Arena theme music. So, on being asked if i knew the tune - we fired up her new laptop, found it - and this fantastic short film about it. So - thank you.


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