Jane in the Desert - sequence 2 (1984)

Concept and creative process

Jane was an innovative, short-form drama series which was shown nightly in 10 minute segments. The weekly episodes were edited together and broadcast in a 50 minute version on Saturday evening. There were two series, ‘Jane’ and ‘Jane in the Desert’ which won the BAFTA award on two consecutive years for best Graphic Design. The series was based on the Daily Mirror strip cartoon ‘Jane’, which achieved great popularity in WW2. With its heavy pin-up elements, ingénue Jane does her best to foil enemy agents while wearing minimal clothing. The series starred Glynis Barber as Jane, the late great comedy legend Max Wall as the butler Tombs, Robin Bailey as the Colonel, John Bird as the enemy agent and Suzanne Daniel as Jane’s nemesis. The narrator was the classic BBC commentator, Bob Danvers-Walker. The visual look for TV sought to echo the cartoon strip origins by framing the action in cartoon-style vignettes. Filmed entirely with analogue technology, the multi-layered look foreshadowed the commonplace techniques now easily achieved with today’s digital technology. The filming took place at Television Centre in TC1, the BBC’s largest studio, using five TV studio cameras that were linked through a Grass Valley mixing desk. Animation was added live through Telecine. Using blue screen as a matting device, each camera was assigned either a drawn picture, or an actor. The final composite was built up in layers from each camera. As a final touch, a piece of bespoke technology was built to colourise the actors in order to better integrate them into the final composite. Between the filming of the first and second series, the BBC’s in-house developed digital paintbox came on line and this was utilised in elements of the second series. The series was critically acclaimed for its ground-breaking look and its fresh perspective on story telling.

Animator - John Cousin.

Rostrum Cameraman - Peter Willis.

Editor - Malcolm Warner.

Incidental music and songs written and performed by Neil Innes.

Illustrators - Paul Birkbeck and John Kennedy.

Graphic Design Director - Graham McCallum.

Producer - Ian Keill.

Director - Andrew Gosling.

Winner of a Design & Art Direction Wood Pencil for Television Graphics 1985.

BAFTA Craft Award for Graphic Design 1985.

'Jane' design elements, storyboard and screengrab