Today is 60 years since Abram Games designed the first BBC ident, nicknamed the ‘bat’s wings’. Click on the image above (or here) to see the BBC’s film of the idents from then to now.
The BBC logo has transformed through a range of styles and typefaces, sitting again today in the three square boxes that first housed the initials in the 1961 ident (can you namecheck the typefaces?).
Games won the commission to create the first ident in 1951, but it took him two years to develop. I think it’s clear that the design took his 1951 Festival of Britain logo as a starting point, from which he developed a model that represented the ‘high tech’ that television represented in the 50s.
According to the BBC website “What he eventually came up with was a model, made of piano wire and brass and strobing lights, which survived in working order just long enough to be filmed, before reputedly breaking down irrecoverably.”
“Games’s BBC “bat’s wings” lasted for eight years. They were replaced in due course by another model, this time of a globe, the on-air device which was to symbolise BBC TV and later BBC One for the next four decades.
“The BBC still has some of the electro-mechanical models, surprisingly small, which linked programmes in the 1970s and 80s, and I was allowed to take them out of their display case. There is a 1970s vintage BBC Two logo made of a series of spinning discs with painted edges. When the discs come to a halt the edges spell out a figure “2”. And there’s a BBC One ident just larger than a shoebox containing a globe in front of a curved mirror. As the globe turns, its distorted reflection also turns behind it.
“In their heyday the models lived in a cupboard at Television Centre along with a dozen other clocks and fault captions and a camera known as NODD, which stood for Nexus Orthicon Display Device, apparently.”