I was a huge fan of the BBC One balloon. Used from 1997-2002, the entire presentation package at that time was simply glorious.
I recall the first glimpse of the balloon quite well. I remember having trouble sleeping that night, so I went downstairs to the living room and turned the television on. You have to remember that at this time, BBC One wasn’t broadcasting 24 hours a day, so they were off-air. The telly switched on to BBC One automatically, and Test Card F was on the screen. It was a lovely sight to see. However, something was different… the BBC logo had changed. It wasn’t the familiar slanty logo that I had known for years. It was all white and boxed.
I thought nothing of it, so I switched over to ITV for a while. Then after half an hour, I went back to bed.
I was awake again at about 6.30am. BBC One was showing Ceefax, so I sat and listened to the music for a while. Then, at 7am…
It was all new. No more swirly globe, but a gorgeous hot-air balloon, taking flight around the UK. The ident had music as well for the first time in years! Over the course of the day, I enjoyed seeing the balloon across different locations.
Over the course of the presentation, the BBC added more idents to the collection, but then they started introduced “people” idents. These weren’t as good as the original idents, but they were a taste of what was to come for BBC One in later years.
In 2002, the balloon and ‘globe’ branding vanished from our screens, and nothing seen since has been an improvement on this fantastic presentation.
Scores on the Doors
Visuals: Beautiful balloon, a shame that the later idents weren’t up to scratch. 7/10
Music: Simply beautiful. 9/10
Lifespan: just 4 and half years, the shortest presentation package at the time. 6/10
Popularity: Better than Oneness. 8/10
Overall Rating: 30/40