ⓘ Computer Originated World. The Computer Originated World was the method of creating the BBC1 symbol that was used between 18 February 1985 and 16 February 1991. ..

Computer Originated World

ⓘ Computer Originated World

The Computer Originated World was the method of creating the BBC1 symbol that was used between 18 February 1985 and 16 February 1991. It was later used by the international, commercial television service BBC World Service Television from its launch until 26 January 1995.


1.1. BBC1 Launch

The Computer Originated World replaced the previous Noddy globe symbols at 7 pm on 18 February 1985. Unusually, the new look was unveiled whilst the channel was still on the air rather than waiting for the following morning to launch it. The globe was created by the BBC graphics and BBC computer departments and work began in 1983. The need to replace the Noddy globes came about as the globes were the only mechanically produced idents around on television, as more and more television companies started to use computer graphics, made popular by the launch of Channel 4. The COW was originally planned to launch on 1 January 1985, but Michael Grade, then controller of BBC1, delayed the launch to coincide with a larger schedule change that accompanied the launch of the soap opera EastEnders, and updated and renewed weather graphics. This launch was hoped to reinvent BBC1 following ratings slide and ever increasing competition from their commercial rivals at ITV.

The globe itself launched at 7 pm on 18 February, introducing one of the new flagship programmes: Wogan, a chat show hosted by Terry Wogan and featuring a variety of guests. The old Noddy globe had been used throughout the day until the 7 pm launch.


1.2. BBC1 Components of look

The Computer Originated World itself is a semi-transparent blue globe with golden continents and gold "BBC1" legend located below the globe in a font similar to that used in the early days of the BBC. The globe revolved at a steady pace throughout, and had the effect of a spotlight added to the surface. The continents were placed in such a way that the continents appeared to float on the water. The caption had the option of displaying the legend Ceefax 170 and later Ceefax 888 in reference to the subtitles available with the programme. Regional variations also included a legend with the region name, also in gold, below the BBC1 legend. The globe was generated when needed by the computer programme located in a metal box. This box had switches on the front that could turn the BBC1 caption, regional caption and subtitles caption on and off, as these elements were added later. These generators were delivered to all 11 regions and installed before Christmas 1984.

The look also featured an altered clock face to that used previously. This clock was once again electronic, but was changed to a black background, blue counters and gold hands to match the ident. The updated BBC1 legend also featured below the clock. The nations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and one English Region the West Midlands did receive their own variations of the clock, however it is not believed that any other English Regions received their own variations. The network BBC One clock did not have a centre dot; this was never rectified throughout the run of the clock due to an oversight, however the dot was present on regional variations.

The new look also marked a change in programme slide design. These new slides featured the BBC1 legend upright and sideways in a black sidebar to the left of the screen. The remainder of the screen featured a picture of the programme and the programme name located at the bottom. However, the programme slides were still optically developed. This was changed in September 1988 when the introduction of Quantel Paintbox allowed captions to be created digitally. The design was altered slightly with the BBC1 legend made more textured, slightly smaller and moved to the bottom of the screen. The font was also changed to Optima, with text remaining in the same position. All this would now be located over the image rather than separate from it.

Promotions were not uniform, but were based on a seasonal scheme before being replaced. The promotions usually didnt contain any channel branding but would occasionally feature parts of the BBC1 legend in the design.


1.3. BBC1 Christmas idents

During Christmas times, the 1 and the globe was altered into a variety of guises. One was made for each year the ident was in existence, None were used by BBC Scotland, instead using their own idents.


2.1. BBC World Service Television Components of look

Upon the launch of BBC World Service Television on 11 March 1991 to replace BBC TV Europe, the channel reused the COW symbol. Technically, the globe itself remained the same with changes made only to presentational style and the caption below the globe and the whole look being brought into line with corporate branding at the time.

The ident itself was modified with the caption beneath showing a BBC corporate logo, with the slanted legend World Service Television beneath, in the same style as used for regional variations of the BBC1 ident at the time. No clock accompanied the look, due to the various time zones used around the world, with serious or news programming being introduced by the globe.

Presentational style mirrored by that used on BBC1 and 2 at the time, and featured a static globe, positioned with Britain, Europe and Africa in view, with BBC logo beneath located in the top left corner of the screen. The logo was present throughout the presentation. Static captions also featured this globe symbol in the top left corner, located in a sidebar of generic lines, with programme title overlaid the image at the bottom of the screen. The station was also unusual, in the fact that it had a static, opaque permanent digital on-screen graphic DOG of the BBC logo in the top right corner of the screen.

The look appears to have been dropped on 26 January 1995.


2.2. BBC World Service Television Replacement

The look on BBC World Service Television was dropped in favour of a look consisting entirely of real and simulated flags on the screen, with a single large BBC logo in centre screen. This was to emphasise the role that news played on the channel, and to associate itself more closely as a news channel, rather than BBC1. This is primarily evident, as the look was reused for that purpose upon the channels split into BBC World, as well as the original BBC Arabic Television.

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