BBC Nine O'Clock News (1988)

Concept and creative process

The BBC 'Nine O'Clock News' titles were given a radical redesign in 1988 by the external design consultancy Lambie-Nairn. The design got a bad press following its launch for its overly dramatic imagery of thunderbolts and sound waves emanating from a pointed tower, accompanied by strident, dramatic music, all of which reminded some critics of Nazi symbolism! The design was in fact in many respects paying homage not only to the BBC's first on-screen television identity of 1953 by Abram Games with its ‘Bat’s Wings’ design, but also to the Corporation’s own heraldic Coat of Arms with its thunderbolt Jupiter symbol. Another influence was the title sequence of the 'BBC Television News and Newsreel' of 1947-1955, with its background image of the sharply pointed Alexandra Palace transmitter with superimposed radiating sound waves. That sequence in turn bore more than a passing resemblance to the classic RKO Radio Picture logo of 1928. This design therefore came about as the result of a good deal of research. Daniel Barber designed and shot the final sequence to convey a sense of urgent news gathering and broadcasting in a visually powerful and energetic style. This effect was heightened and elevated even more by the impact of the jarring musical accompaniment.