Omnibus (1974)

Concept and creative process

In the 70s/80s, ‘Omnibus’ was the leading Arts series on BBC1 which launched many notable directors’ careers. Its only competition was the South Bank Show on ITV. Bob Blagden was the resident graphic designer assigned to the BBC Music and Arts department under the leadership of producers Leslie Megahy, Alan Yentob and Barrie Gavin. During that time, he directed three generic title sequences for 'Omnibus' which needed to capture the spirit of an Arts series without being specific to any one art form. The target audience was all ages with an interest in the Arts.

For his first commission in 1974, he took the 'O' of ‘Ominbus’ and created a kinetic sculptural form where the 'O' was divided into five arcs suspended against a black background. The audience first saw the five arcs suspended in an abstract form but as the motion control camera tracked around them, they came together to form the 'O' of ‘Omnibus’. The logo animated onto the screen to form the full title. Unfortunately, the version that has survived is truncated at the front and is missing the coming together of the separate arcs that formed the ‘O’. 

Bob Blagden’s work as a designer for ‘Omnibus’ was awarded a BAFTA for graphic design in 1978 for ‘Omnibus: For Art or Money’. It was the first BAFTA awarded to a graphic designer. Barrie Gavin, the Editor of ‘Omnibus’ and ‘Arena’, launched Bob Blagden’s career as a film and TV director when he commissioned him to direct his first film about illustrators for the ‘Arena’ strand.