This week whilst Graham McCallum’s show is on at Kemistry, Liv Siddall looks back at some of British TV’s best-loved graphics, idents and opening credits and asks you to submit your personal favourites.
The work of Graham McCallum is currently on show at London’s Kemistry Gallery. McCallum is the visual whizz behind the long-running ‘look’ of the BBC. He worked in the graphics department of the corporation in the 60s and later went on to help illustrate and form the visuals for shows such as Jackanory and Blackadder before then designing the famed CNN logo.
In Monday’s article about Graham’s show we posed the question: why do idents and graphics from TV stick around for so long in our heads where other things simply get forgotten? It’s a funny thing to realise, and believe you me it’s an incredibly fun topic to research. Yesterday I trawled YouTube for the forgotten greats of TV’s grouting and had an absolute whale of a time! As well as revisiting opening credits for old kids’ TV shows I time travelled back to 1991 where blue paint was flying through the air straight at a metallic, pointy number two (not that kind of number two).
From old Nissan or Bovril adverts to the opening credits of The Worst Witch, the feeling I experienced when watching these long-forgotten pieces of design was so palpable that even the sight of a yellow BBC2 logo whizzing around as if it was on Robot Wars made me smell the living room in my old house. This compilation of Channel 4 Idents actually made me choke up a bit.
Why is this? Why do these strange little animations and lo-fi opening credits touch such a raw nerve in all of us? One theory is that these visuals were our first real introduction to the idea of graphic design. When – before witnessing these when you were glued to the screen from 5:30pm til 8:30pm each night – could you have appreciated design acting as a sort of trumpet for what you were looking forward to? That is, after all what an ident is – a klaxon for entertainment. Entertainment means happiness and happiness is generally what you tend to remember.
This week we ask you to tell us which logos, opening credits and idents give you a funny feeling inside. Which ones stick permanently in your brain and why do you think that is? As always, comments are welcomed below.