Riverside (1982)

Concept and creative process

‘Riverside’ was a weekly magazine programme first shown on BBC 2 in 1982. The show was named after the BBC’s Riverside Studios and focused on the pop culture of the day. Performed before a live audience, acts and interviews, often controversial, featured music, art, fashion and style from emerging talent. The Smiths, Bow Wow Wow and New Order were amongst many acts, destined for fame, making their first TV appearance. In keeping with the mood of the day, the titles featured a young ‘Punk’ arising from water, hair aflame. Lasers then sprang from her eyes resolving into the title of the show. A live action shoot was arranged in the tank at the BBC’s Ealing studios. The model’s real hair was plastered down under a layer of fireproof material and then a specially made rig of pipes fastened over the top. This in turn was connected to a gas cylinder that could be quickly turned off. Finally, a wig was fitted. With much Health and Safety in attendance, the young model was put into the tank and instructed to look directly into camera. On the call of “Action” the hair was lit, the wig burst into flames and the model stood there for a few seconds before slowly lowering herself below water level. The laser beam title resolve was an early example of the then emerging 3D computer animation. It was produced and designed at The Moving Picture Company. The analogue live action film and the digitally produced animated lettering were combined at MPC to form the final composite, the footage being reversed to make it appear as if the model was rising from the water, hair aflame.

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'Riverside' titles shoot images