Never Mind The Baubles: BBC One Christmas Idents Through the Years

❉ Festive balls galore, as Sam Michael guides you through Auntie Beeb’s best Christmas idents…

Television idents; like sexual partners, they’re there every night without you really noticing but by-golly are you shocked when they change unannounced!

Noddy Holder once said: “Gary Glitter is one of the greatest characters ever in the rock and roll business and there ain’t many of them about these days”, which of course I’m sure he regrets… However, he also stated: “IT’S CHRISTMAAAAAS!”, precisely 3 minutes and 27 seconds into Slade’s Merry Christmas Everybody. For many it’s the first listening of this song or another festive tune that marks the moment that it is OFFICIALLY Christmas. For others it’s when Christmas lights go up in town, when the first Christmas card arrives in the post or the first spotting of a HILARIOUS festive jumper…

If you’re a regular reader of We Are Cult, then odds-are that your ‘oh, now I’m feeling festive’ moment most-likely comes from an annual televisual moment, and I don’t mean an environmentally damaging, tax-evading, capitalist fizzy-drinks company with a history of bad business practices reeling out the same bloody truck advert they’ve been running since 1996. No, for me, I feel like it’s really Christmas when the BBC One Christmas idents are revealed!

Television idents are like sexual partners, they’re there every night without you really noticing but by-golly are you shocked when they change unannounced!

In case you haven’t seen them yet, the 2016 Christmas idents titled ‘Oneness’ were first broadcasted on Sunday 4 December just before ‘Planet Earth 2.’ They include various recognisable festive moments that include balls! Speaking of balls, I genuinely thought that’s what the bloke in this ident was going to show us when he exclaims “Wait and see what I’ve got for you…” while unzipping himself…

We’ve all got it out at a Christmas party…

So with season of goodwill upon us (goodwill very much needed in the post-Brexit and divided Britain) I thought I would guide you through a few of my favourite BBC One Christmas idents from yesteryear…

Let’s skip the foreplay and get to the good stuff with my favourite Christmas ident ever from the year 2000, just look at this beauty:

Aww, look at that…

The balloon itself was an ingenious idea and introduced BBC One programming from 1997 – 2002, bringing in the BBC’s digital era. Everything about this is magical: The Father Christmas in the balloon, the presents on mini parachutes and the enchanting music. Also, it has to be said that, for its vintage, the CGI is pretty much spot-on and would pass muster today.

The balloon wasn’t used in ’97 or ’98, which I feel was foolish considering how gorgeous it looked in a festive night sky, such as in 2001 but especially in 1999’s Chrimbo offering from Auntie Beeb…

Again, awwwwwwwwwwwww *breath* awwwwwwwwwwwww

Sadly, as the balloon was dropped, so was any hope of seeing it at Christmas… Christ, I sound like I fancy that balloon…  Anyway, you guys want to go further back don’t you… So let’s take a look at these offerings from the 1970s – starting in 1978 when the BBC Globe became a possessed Santa head with two faces or a selection of frozen children screaming in agony… For some reason, everything seventies petrifies me!

‘The Exorcist’ was a huge hit in the ’70s, to be fair

Frozen in time, forever!

Moving on to the eighties, The Globe excitingly gave birth to mini-globes dressed as Power Rangers…

Many acid takers in the ’80s saw this on BBC One every night

And in 1983… in 1983… What the hell is that?!

Did Scotland just smash the globe?

By 1985, recession had hit the UK hard and with a budget of 20 pence, the BBC relied on little Stuart Nebleworth, the son of the BBC canteen manager, to use his Year 9 woodwork skills to create the state of the art animatronic idents for both the three-sided Communist cracker of 1984 and epileptic robins of 1985 (Incidentally, Stuart Nebleworth went on to work on ‘Avatar’)…

Leaping forward into the nineties, we were treated to a new-look 3D globe and sexy ‘1’. This also meant some really festive CGI Christmas idents, including this one from 1993, which takes me right back to my childhood:

Expect the Live and Kicking music to kick in any second!

Around the mid ’90s everybody became obsessed with animation, thus the idents took the same route… Here’s 1994’s ident introducing, oh, another live animation in Wallace and Gromit! Oh boy, you’ll have to excuse me, these ones really take me back! Happy days!

…Bit annoying after a while, isn’t it?

Similar animations were used in ’95 and ’96, however with the launch of the balloon (oh you sexy beast, you) the BBC made the obvious decision to go with these creepy ‘Twelve  days of Christmas’ idents and bumpers…

No, just no.

Have you had enough yet? Well I don’t care, skipping the balloon era because, like foreplay, I disregarded convention and started with the best bit, we move in to the, urghh, ‘Rhythm and Movement’ idents.

These were idents which included people dead behind the eyes dancing to some version of the same dull tone. Although having said that, the Trance version of these idents were banging!

Things got a bit lazy here as they used the same theme, for both Christmas ’02 and Christmas ’03…

Anybody would think Christmas is all about kids?!

They carried on with these nauseating children dressed as something from a private-school nativity for the NEXT 3 YEARS! Until finally in 2006 they replaced them with this awesome offering… One of the best!

Due to the phone-in competition scandal of 2007, the BBC was reprimanded on every penny it spent with “I can’t believe my licence fee money was wasted on this shit” uttered every 15 seconds in that year. Because of this the BBC saved their money and reused the 06 idents, spending the money on Christmas party instead!

In 2008, I was dating a rich girl from Japan who spent £2000 on me for Christmas, however you might remember that Christmas differently as the return of Wally and Groms and similar to 2009, the BBC decided to start a series of self-indulgent idents with themes around their own shows.

She got me an original 1966 world cup final programme! I bought her Dorothy Perkins vouchers.

2009 gave us this, created so that you became utterly sick of David Tennant and welcomed his regeneration into a boy with a face like a foot:

2010 returned to the theme of “Coming home for Christmas” which was ironic as that’s the only Christmas I spent away from my loving family and instead spent it with my then girlfriend (English and NOT rich) at the time and her family who included her openly-racist stepfather. So in 2011, BBC One realised they’d offended me and returned to complete self-indulgence with this whopping ident that lasted a full one minute and twenty-eight (count them!) seconds. Set cringe to max!

After blowing the budget on this, they flip-reversed it for 2012 and launched the most underwhelming and boring idents ever… Seriously, just look at the ‘kin state of this:

Might as well not bother…

2014 returned to glam with this heart-warming snowy treat, with each ident including a nod to Auntie Beeb’s top shows…

Again, awwwwwwwwwww

Last year we returned to the years of creepy animation as a cute little sprout took a merry adventure, as narrated by Peter Capaldi. Capaldi returns this Christmas in another ‘Doctor Who and The Final Nail in Coffin’ by Steven FUCKING Moffat who’s seeking to destroy all… Sorry! Sorry! I will get through one article without mentioning the demise of the best television show in history.

So with the 2016 Christmas idents’ conceptof togetherness or ‘Oneness’ (this really has been the year for making up words!), it’s a return to form for the BBC. Seriously, I love these idents. BBC One at Christmas is nearly always on in the background of every Christmas, it’s a small part of the festive season but it’s all those small parts including the events taking place in this year’s selection of idents – grandad asleep, naff Christmas jumpers and pigging-out on food – that really make up Christmas in the UK.

For some hardcore BBC Globe action, here’s a YouTube playlist of all BBC Idents from 1974 onwards…

It’s just gone a quarter to midnight here on We Are Cult, and thus ends today’s scheduled article.


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