Man in a blue shirt sitting in his studio smiling

Sid Sutton

Sid Sutton interview

Directed by Mark Craig and produced with funding from the Shiers Memorial Fund/Royal Television Society

About Sid...

Sid Sutton joined the BBC in 1961 as Assistant to the artist and designer Tom Taylor, who was at that time responsible for the Presentation group of the BBC Television Graphic Design Department. Sid was promoted to a full Designer post a few years later. In the interview he recalls his career as a Designer, and from 1968 onwards as Senior Designer for Presentation Graphics. He enjoyed a great deal of creative freedom exploring the medium of film in the days of black and white television and remembers the excitement that the advent of colour generated in the late 1960s. In 1969 he designed a new on-screen Television Identity for the BBC. It was a purpose-built, internally lit model of the globe rotating in front of a curved mirrored background, a brand image which successfully fulfilled its important function at programme junctions for over 15 years. During his tenure of the Presentation Graphics Group, he also designed titles for programmes such as ‘Points of View’, ‘Late Night Line-Up’ and ‘Disco 2’, all of which were produced in the small Presentation B studio at BBC Television Centre. In 1973 he made the transition from Presentation to general Programme Graphics and in his interview features his live action film work on the title sequence for ‘Film 73’, specially shot on location at the Rank Film Laboratory. He also proves that he was equally adept in front of, as well as behind the camera, as the magician performer in his title sequence ‘For My Next Trick’ (1975).

Before leaving the BBC to set up his own film company, Sid Sutton successfully created titles for the 1980 series of ‘Dr Who’, one of the most prestigious commissions a designer could be asked to undertake, and a particularly daunting challenge, given the previous exemplary achievements in that role of his colleague Bernard Lodge.

Presentation slides

A selection of the thousands of slides that were produced in the BBC Graphic Design Department in the 1960s and 1970s to promote and trail programmes, channels and times, with an announcer reading the programme information over the still image. The Presentation Department was a small group of designers and assistant designers dedicated to this task within the Graphic Design Department under the guidance of Senior Designer Sid Sutton.

Designers were given a free hand to design and create their images by drawing and painting, collage or photographing images which were then combined onto 35mm slides together with the programme information. This was the era when the BBC had little competition in the decades before Television Presentation evolved into the important marketing force it became from the 1980s onwards with the launch of Channel 4.

1960s Presentation Slides

1970s Presentation Slides