BBC One revealed their new look on New Years Day. The only problem is, it’s not even finished. I’ve teamed up with TV Presentation Critic Matt Webb to share our views on the new presentation.

I’ve been involved in broadcasting for over ten years, most recently involved in branding and publicity, and it’s clear to me that there’s something not quite right with this rebrand.

There’s one very clear element missing from the two new idents on BBC One, and that is the lack of post production. The circle idents were post-production heavy, but they needed to be. This is the UK’s flagship television channel, you need to add a bit of sparkle, a bit of music, a bit of oomph to really attract your audience and keep yourselves fresh. In my opinion, these new idents lack any of that.

I’d give examples, but with only two, I’m not spoilt for choice. So let’s take the swimmers for example. The camerawork isn’t the best, it’s raw, and if there has been any post production on the ident, I’d like to know where it has been placed. You can also tell where the swimmers have been given the cue to turn around.

I totally get the whole premise of ‘oneness’, but there are better ways, more creative ways, to showcase this, heck, the circles showcased more ‘oneness’ than these. But strangely, because we’ve only got two to go by, maybe, just maybe, these aren’t even the finished article?

And its the lack of idents that is so shocking. Two. That’s right, a national broadcaster, who are meant to have 20 idents rolled out, only have two. That’s like British Airways only having two planes when they’re meant to have 50.

But of course, a lack of idents means you’ve not got many options to choose from when it comes to deciding what goes before each programme. Just to clarify, the only new idents I’ve seen on BBC One are the swimmers and the exercise class.  If you’ve got a hard hitting programme like Panorama, do you really want an exercise class to be the ident before? Does that reflect the BBC’s overall stance on news programmes?

Of course not, but then, do you want to see a bunch of backsides taking you into the news? This is what BBC One treated us too on New Year’s Day. Suddenly the news had a whole new meaning.

It was, and is, a rushed rollout. It’s a campaign thats incomplete and with my publicity and branding head on, isn’t doing the BBC any favours. Sure, Martin Parr who is shooting these idents has a good 18 more to go and we’re yet to see what they’ll turn out like, but you know it’s tough when you have to revert to the circles ident, especially when you’ve been plugging your new look campaign for weeks and at the start of a brand new year too.

As I say, I completely get the ‘oneness’ campaign. I understand what it means, but these idents don’t do it justice, they don’t do BBC One justice. I’m sorry.

Matt Webb has been a Head of Radio Production and TV Presentation Critic for a number of years, and shares his thoughts on the new BBC One branding.

When I was growing up, what TV idents and branding do I most remember? Well, my earliest has to be the iconic BBC One hot air balloon globe floating over the great British countryside with a rather nice soundtrack. In fact, I was lucky enough to meet the man who flew the balloon over the UK when he visited my school in the 1990s.

Oh, and then there were the dancers, skateboarders and ballerinas or ‘Rhythm and Movement’, as the branding executives called them. Those lead in to programmes such as EastEnders or My Family.

Then along came the hippos, weird women lawn mowing and people going out for a cycle ride in the pouring rain, they were given the title of ‘Circles’. Although they were mercilessly shorted, new soundtracks added and a change in Subtitles font in 2009 – these graced our screens for ten years.

Be careful what you wish for though. I’d been harking for the last 2 years about BBC One needing an ident refresh, whether it be adding to or resting some of the circle idents or even, a new idea to rebrand the channel.

Then, on New Year’s Day 2017 along came… well, people standing around in the sea and an exercise class. The executives called these ‘Oneness’.

What can we say about Oneness, idents filmed by a stills photographer, shooting video on a stepladder with a large production team standing around wondering what’s going on. Shaky footage, with no music, nothing for the continuity announcers to talk over, just ambience. Oh, and to keep the footage as raw as possible, almost no post production was used in the final edits.

Then there’s the lack of idents. At the moment there are two idents in circulation with two different versions each. Now, would an exercise class or a group of swimmers turning their backs to the audience be suitable for a continuity link into say, the BBC News at Ten or Panorama? The answer is well, no.

The BBC said they’d retired the Circle idents in a press release. So what happened the other night, BBC One scheduling appeared to have no suitable ident to lead into Panorama, so reeled off the Capes ident from the Circles package.

How can you launch a new ident package, with a lack of variety for the whole host of programmes BBC One airs – and then jump back to a retired ident when there’s nothing that will lead into serious programming?

Then there’s the surrounding ident stings, ECPs, end boards and promos using a concoction of different branding from the last 5-10 years.

You have to ask, are the coffers so low at the BBC that they simply cannot afford to properly rebrand or revamp any of their channels? I mean, you’ve got BBC Two using idents from 25 years ago for goodness sake.

Matt & I also have some thoughts on how the BBC could improve.

I think the BBC should allow the audience to film their representation of ‘Oneness’, get them to submit them either via social media or email [I’ve taken the liberty of making the email address for them – [email protected]], sift through them and use them. Sure, you’ll probably get lots of rubbish, but viewers are savvy, they’re tech savvy, they’re creative, and there’s nothing they’d like more than seeing their work on the television. Compare it to radio, everyone loves hearing their name on the radio, so imagine people seeing their visuals before EastEnders of the BBC News at 6. Add in some proper post production (You’ll need too with viewer submissions) and you’re there. You’ll get more than 20 idents, you can rotate them as and when, and its engaging. Your viewers then become ONE with the channel, with the oneness brand you’re trying to encapsulate.

Whilst Matt takes it a step further;

Scrap everything and start again, do a 1991-style overhaul of the whole family of channels and be done with it.

Share your views on the new idents below.


Ian Pinnell

Ian Pinnell is an award winning broadcaster & creative from Oxfordshire. He currently serves as a Trustee for two charities, and Publicity Officer for Radio Cherwell, hospital radio in Oxford.

1 thought on “Oneness”

BBC or ITV? – Roy Peach · 11/01/2017 at 9:56 am

[…] Find Ian’s investigation HERE […]

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