Created We 1-Mar-17
Revised We 1-Jan-20
ABC began broadcasting in 1956, providing programmes at the weekend in the Midlands and the North. As with other ITV companies, it used short animations in the commercial breaks called opticals or optics (depending on which company you asked). There was one optic at the start of the break and another shown between each advert, which is the one reproduced here. It uses ABC's triangle logo, introduced in 1958.
ABC's idents were updated in 1964, which a saw new, bolder typeface for the ABC lettering. The optics were updated too.
At some stage after it began broadcasting in colour, ATV went through a phase of using this brief animation between each commercial in the ad breaks. (The company had also used opticals in its black and white days.)
In 1972, BBC 1 had a spinning globe ident, with a horizontal dividing line. The station logo and the word "COLOUR" appeared in Roman italics underneath. Everything was light blue on a black background. For BBC 2 a similar mechanical model was made, based on the channel's first spinning "2" ident. The model could be made to rotate as many times as required during announcements. And BBC 2 went one better than the main network - its ident could be displayed with three colours instead of two.
In the mid-Seventies, the word "COLOUR" was dropped from the idents of both BBC networks. On BBC 2, the rotating cube was replaced with an upright cylinder sliced horizontally. The magic happened when the slices with white stripes on rotated one way and the slices with the light blue stripes rotated the other, splitting up the "2" and reforming it again. The colours from the previous ident were kept and as before there was a seldom-seen variant with a black background.
From 1961, the "chopsticks in a bowl" symbol that appears to me to be a stylised "B". It is said to loosely represent the Border TV region, with the horizontal line showing the boundary between Scotland to the North and England below, with the fork on the left perhaps depicting the Solway Firth estuary.
Exactly ten years, to the day, after Border began broadcasting, its first UHF transmitter came into service, bringing with it programmes in colour and a new Border ident. Eventually, the word "COLOUR" was dropped. Sadly, none of these early idents were animated, nor did they come with any jingles.
Granada began broadcasting in the North of England in 1956. Its first ident seen before its programmes on the ITV network featured an arrow reaching up to perturb the "N" in the station name. Station boss Sydney Bernstein was reportedly unhappy with the whimsical way in which his company was being presented and after a few weeks the animation was dropped, leaving a simpler ident that just faded in and out.
Eventually, Granada's ident was animated again. And if the arrow pointing to the "N" was too subtle before, the message "from the North" now appeared too. There was still no jingle.
In 1968, Granada introduced a new ident featuring only the company name between horizontal lines. It was animated, but only for regional programmes, and the trademark arrow pointing North was gone.
In June 1969, the arrow was back, now incorporated into a new symbol. It looks like a man on a unicycle carrying an umbrella, but served the company for over thirty-five years. Here you can see how it looked on Granada's first two colour idents. Sadly there was no clever animation nor memorable jingle to go with either. It seems idents were grim up North!
Southern - Black & White NEW! Su 1-Sep-19
Southern's first ident, used from 30th August 1958, has a star (or is it a South-pointing compass?) as its symbol. I don't know whether it's this nautical theme, or the basic animation, but this ident reminds me of Captain Pugwash!
From 1974, this is the silent 'tartan' ident of STV. The spacing around the 's' in the logo has been modified, perhaps to fit better with the transition from the tartan pattern. Compare this with the logo on the static caption, used before programmes from Scottish Television right up to the early 80s, when a computer-generated thistle took over.
The fifth area of the UK to receive commercial television was South Wales and the West of England. Television Wales & West, known on screen as TWW, began broadcasting in January 1958. TWW's break bumper looks as if it was created by someone who drove one of those cars that have a single windscreen wiper.
This is Ulster's second colour ident. An animated version is said to exist, but it's the more common static caption that is seen here. The zigzag pattern was in the logo from the first day of broadcasting and survived until 1993 when the company rebranded as UTV.
This was the BBC 1 clock used from the launch of the channel's new colour service in November 1969. It was reportedly the work of senior designer Alan Jeapes, who used hour markers of increasing thickness. This clock face would continue to be used for over a decade.
This was BBC 2's first version of the new clock, featuring the station's symbol, a 2 with a dot in it. As with all of the BBC's mechanical models, it was shot using a black and white camera and colour was then added by a 'synthesiser'.
By 1971, the BBC 1 clock had been modified with the new BBC corporate logo, which now had rounded corners.
By 1972, the BBC network clocks had been modified again. The "COLOUR" label changed from a sans-serif font to a Roman font and was now in italics. "BBC COLOUR" in this style would now also appear at the end of the credits for most BBC productions.
On February 7th 1974, Blue Peter was introduced with a clock that had the word "COLOUR" missing, and the announcer told viewers, "today's programme is in black and white." Black and white programmes from the same era could also be introduced with a similarly labelled BBC 1 globe. (Wikipedia notes the first colour edition of Blue Peter aired on September 14th 1970, but the programme was still being shown in black and white as late as June 24th 1974.)
The BBC 2 clock from 1972, which now sported a blue background to help distinguish it from BBC 1.
A third colour was added to the BBC 2 clock to match the station's ident - both featuring the logo, lettering and line in white. At the end of 1974, new idents were launched for BBC 1 and BBC 2, which no longer had the word "COLOUR" on screen and also no longer featured the line running across the screen. As the dividing line went out of fashion, it was dropped from BBC 2's clock.
BBC Service Information Clock Revised Fr 1-Mar-19
The clock design seen in the 1970s on BBC 1 and BBC 2 was also used to introduce Service Information, a programme not listed in the schedules, which gave out transmitter information to the television trade. As well as the green-on-purple variant seen here, many other ghastly colour schemes were experimented with such as purple on green, green on white, pink on light blue, light blue on pink, yellow on brown, brown on yellow and green on red.
After Christmas 1974, a new design for the BBC 1 globe appeared. Three colours were now used and the channel name was now larger and used the Futura Bold typeface. The new lettering and colour scheme were also applied to the clock. Then, at some point in 1975, the second hand was replaced with a shorter one, so that it no longer extended through the other side of the ring in the middle.
BBC 2 also had a new ident after Christmas 1974: a large, stripy "2" wrapped around a cylinder. As with BBC 1, the horizontal dividing line was gone as was any reference to colour. And on 2, there was no longer any sign of the BBC name, except on the new clock, where the corporate logo was retained. There was also a lesser-spotted black version of this clock.
In 1979 a new BBC 2 ident took to the air, the first to be played out from a solid-state device. The new clock, though, remained a mechanical model with a camera pointing at it, for now.
Around autumn 1980, BBC 2's mechanical clock was replaced by a box of electronics, designed in house by Richard Russell. This allowed the network symbol underneath the clock to be properly shaded. Similar hardware was later rolled out for BBC 1.
It wasn't until 1981 that BBC 1 finally adopted the twin-stripe design first used on its programme slides and Christmas idents in the previous decade. The stripy lettering also brought back some consistency across the BBC's two channels. A new globe meant a change from yellow to lime green. And the clock also got some new hands.
This is BBC 1's first virtual clock, which appeared in late 1981. The mechanical version of this stripy clock had lasted only a few months before this electronically-generated version took over.
This is BBC 1's second virtual clock, introduced in February 1985 to accompany the new virtual, golden globe symbol, known inside the BBC as COW (Computer-Originated World) or OWL (Open World Logo).
ABC broadcast at the weekends, serving both the Midlands and the North of England. This clock was for joint continuity, parts of the programme schedule where both regions were showing the same programmes. It was broadcast from the ABC studios in Teddington, Middlesex and would be seen, for example, before World of Sport on Saturdays. The second ABC clock was seen only by viewers in the Midlands.
This ABC clock, without any logo, was seen only by viewers in the North.
ATV's digital clock was the last image broadcast by the company as it closed down for the final time, 34 minutes into the first day of 1982. Later that morning, Central was born. Its clock used the same digits, this time superimposed onto a Central caption.
This is Border Television's mechanical clock, used in the Eighties. It features the company's "chopsticks in a bowl" symbol.
Grampian Clock NEW! Su 1-Sep-19
This was the clock that Grampian Television used in the Seventies.
Granada Clock NEW! Su 1-Dec-19
This is one of Granada's "clouds" clocks, which were used until 1968. Originally they had a serif font and a sweeping second hand, but by the mid-60s, they had changed to using a sans serif font and a second hand that stopped with a judder every second, as seen here. The clock face wasn't keyed onto the background, but instead was foil-printed onto the cardboard image of the clouds.
When colour came to the Wales and West region in 1970, Harlech became HTV and its famous "aerial" logo was born. To go with the new white-on-blue symbol was this white-on-blue clock, which lasted well over a decade.
ITV Clock NEW! Su 1-Dec-19
Workers at the ITV companies went on strike in August 1979 and when programmes finally returned in October, ITV ran a national service whilst the regions got up and running again. The clock shown before the the first programme after the strike, ITN's News at 5.45, was a rebadged Thames clock. (See below for the original.)
This was the London Weekend clock introduced at the same time as its famous River ident. It was unusual in that despite being a mechanical clock there was no judder perceptible on the second hand.
London Weekend Television Clock I NEW! Th 1-Aug-19
In 1978, London Weekend decided to become London Weekend Television again, or LWT for short. The clock was adapted, accordingly. To save space, it was mounted in a rack facing upwards and shot from above.
London Weekend Television Clock II NEW! Th 1-Aug-19
By the early Eighties, the logo and lettering were removed and the clock dial was redesigned to use the stripes from the ident.
In 1964, London's weekday ITV contractor began using an ident that ended with a rotating star, the adastral, in the middle of a black background. The ident was later modified to use a grey background. These were the clocks created to match each version. The black clock made its first appearance in the evening of Monday, April 6th.
Southern Clock NEW! Sa 1-Jun-19
This was a clock used by Southern after the station began its colour service. The clock was still in use in 1981, the company's final year of broadcasting.
This Scottish Television clock resembled something you used to see on electric cookers. It was unpopular because if the camera wasn't aligned properly, it seemed to tell the wrong time, as the centre stalk to which the hands were attached actually came quite a way out in front of the clock face.
Thames Television's clock also told you the date as well as the time. It was used until the end of the Eighties, when the Thames mirrored skyline ident was dropped and the ITV "corporate look" began.
TSW promoted itself as "Television Simply Wonderful" on its opening night in 1982. It ceased broadcasting ten years later, having lost its licence at the next franchise round. This computer-generated clock was TSW's only timepiece throughout its decade on air.
TVS Clock NEW! Fr 1-Mar-19
The second clock design used by TVS, which served the South and South-East from 1982 until the end of 1992. Sometimes the caption would say "TVS South" or "TVS South East", when different presentation was being transmitted in each of the two TVS sub-regions. Notice that unlike the BBC's mechanical clocks, which were filmed in black and white and then had colour added electronically, this TVS clock and the London Weekend timepiece above were coloured models shot by colour cameras.
This clock was introduced when Tyne Tees began broadcasting in colour in 1970. As well as white-on-blue, other colour schemes were experimented with such as light-blue-on-black.
Westward Clock NEW!
For some reason, Westward's clock, used until it ceased broadcasting in 1981, reminds me of one of those wooden-framed clocks you used to see on the wall inside banks. The exploded pie-chart style (with the bottom right-hand quarter of the rounded rectangle separated from the rest) was also seen on continuity slides for much of the Seventies.
Seen in 1977, this clock from Yorkshire Television features golden lettering.
This was Yorkshire's first computer-generated clock and features the station's familiar yellow chevron symbol. It was a replacement for a mechanical clock of a similar design.
Martin Lambie-Nairn and his company were responsible for Channel 4's identity when the station launched in 1982. This is the Channel 4 clock, which features the 4 logo made up of coloured shapes. For some reason they decided to use a dark blue rather than the main logo's light blue.
After the introduction of colour, many programmes were still shown in black and white, including all schools programming. So there was a second BBC 1 clock, seen here, without the "COLOUR" label on it.
The BBC 1 network clock changed at the end of 1974 with the channel name now in white. But around schools programming the lettering was yellow, which is also as it appeared on the schools diamond symbol that lead in to each programme. This was probably because the diamond model was only designed to support two colours. (It was first introduced when the globe and clock still used blue on a black background.)
In September 1981, the BBC 1 clock, globe and schools countdown switched to using twin-stripe characters, and the yellow parts changed to green. By 1982 there was an electronically generated version where the white dots turned black as the seconds ticked by. This was last shown on Friday, June 24th, 1983 - the final day of schools programmes on BBC 1.
On Monday, September 19th, 1983 schools programmes moved to BBC 2. They were billed under the heading Daytime on Two and instead of a countdown, a daytime version of the BBC 2 symbol appeared ten seconds before each programme. With no Schools, BBC 1 closed down after Breakfast Time and started up again for Play School, which had also switched sides. It would be some years before BBC 1 would get its own Daytime schedule.
The Open University NEW!
From the Seventies, a sight that would have been familiar to insomniacs. This ident signified that it was either very late at night or very early in the morning and you were about to see a programme from The Open University. You can also click a link to remove the colour, which will reveal how a rotating disc and vertical blinds produced the animated symbol.
This was the clock that was used at the beginning of the Open University slot and would be seen before the ident above. Both are mechanical models and the colours would have matched, unlike here where the yellow is much darker. Clicking or tapping on the clock will add and remove a "Follows shortly" caption.
This is the first electronically-generated version of The Open University clock. This was later replaced when programmes spread to BBC 1 and the clocks then took on the colour scheme of the channel broadcasting them. The BBC 2 version is shown here. Again, clicking or tapping on these clocks will add and remove a "Follows shortly" caption.
As well as the standard test cards with grey squares and/or coloured bars, there were a couple of other test cards used by the BBC. The first is a pulse and bar pattern, which included a burst of lilac. The two vertical lines on the right-hand side show that the card was transmitted from Cardiff. Different arrangements meant sixteen different regions could be identified in this way. The second pattern is called a multi-burst and features frequency gratings.
This is one of the colour bars used by HTV.