Alan Yentob replaced Graeme McDonald as controller of BBC2 in 1987. He quickly realised BBC2's current identity was harming the channel and the review he ordered led to the birth of a branding legend.
 
Research carried out in 1990 revealed many viewers found the "TWO" logo dull and old-fashioned. So Martin Lambie-Nairn was asked to come up with a new identity for the channel. The result was a large, sans-serif figure 2 which could be used in all sorts of branding applications.
 
The "2" launched on 16 February 1991. BBC2's programmes remained the same, but the new logo changed people's perceptions of the channel. The 2 itself remains one of the best-loved channel symbols of all time.
 
Originally there were 11 idents, with "Garden" being introduced later in 1991.


BBC1 had already showed off its new globe before Going Live, and Grandstand. But this was an era when Open University tied up BBC2 until mid-afternoon so it was an agonising wait to see the new look.
 
The first part of BBC2's branding package to be seen was the new Open University symbol, at 6:50am Bye-bye to the familiar animation - and that fanfare! Finally, at 2:45pm a menu appeared, followed by the first showing of Paint. BBC2 - and TV branding - would never be the same again. Shame they forgot to switch on the BBC logo generator!
 
BBC2 idents designed by Martin Lambie Nairn and Daniel Barber consisted of 9 animated idents using a bladed number '2' The idents used a veridian colour branding with the idea of the different sequences could develop with time.
 
The designs of both BBC1 and 2 may seem simple almost conservative with it's bladed number 2 and classical numeral 1. Lambie Nairn says "almost anti-graphic design."


Click for larger image Click for larger image Click for larger image Click for larger image 1st Showing
16.02.1991
2nd Junction
16.02.1991
3rd Junction
16.02.1991
4th Junction
16.02.1991


Click for larger image Click for larger image Click for larger image Click for larger image 5th Junction
16.02.1991
6th Junction
16.02.1991
7th Junction
16.02.1991
8th Junction
16.02.1991



Click for larger image Click for larger image Click for larger image Click for larger image BBC2 - Blade
1991
BBC2 - Bevel Glass
1991
BBC2 - Copper Cutout
1991
BBC2 - Copper Cutout B&W
1991


Click for larger image Click for larger image Click for larger image Click for larger image BBC2 - Neons
1991
BBC2 - Cut Out
1991
BBC2 - Paint
1991
BBC2 - Shadow
1991


Click for larger image Click for larger image Click for larger image BBC2 - Silk
1991
BBC2 - Water
1991
BBC2 - Water & Reflection
1991
BBC2 Open University
1991


Click for larger image BBC2 Closedowns
1991
Click for larger image The matching clock to compliment the new look. The new clocks used a system known as GNAT - Generator of Network Analogue Time. The hands could have a shadow (but never did) and the background image could be changed with ease. Alas they never played around with it...

BBC2 Clocks
1991
Later in 1991 BBC2 reduced the size of the clock and these two clips underline the original size and the new smaller size. The right hand clip showing the smaller clock is from new year's eve 1991 with Reg Sanders leading the celebrations.

Click for larger image BBC2 Closedown
1991
Click for larger image Another closedown from 1991

Click for larger image BBC2 Ghost Ident
1991
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Click for larger image BBC2 Puzzle Ident
1991
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Click for larger image BBC2 Ident - Garden - Original and Revised
1991
Click for larger image Exact date of first appearance unknown, Garden appeared a few months down the line and was mostly seen before Gardener's World and similar programmes. The soundtrack changed after a short time, getting its own jingle after originally using a remix of "Water".

BBC2 Ident - Made In Japan
1991
With BBC2's new down-to-earth image came the idea of special idents for themed seasons, evenings etc. This one celebrated a season of programmes about Japanese culture, "Made In Japan". The audio is the same as "Paint".

Click for larger image BBC2 Ident - English
1991
Click for larger image You're invited to tea at Hilda Ogden's! Not really, but the next special BBC2 ident was used for a short season of programmes entitled "Little England".
 
Right clip - The full, clean version; apologies for the flickering colour.


Click for larger image BBC2 Ident - Christmas
1991
Click for larger image As if by magic - a mischievous star throws out snow from a cloud, which promptly explodes into a gift-wrapped 2. While overhead, a rocket sails above the numeral. There was a shorter version of the sequence, minus the music.


BBC2 Ident - Billboard
1992
A short season of art-related programmes, Commissions and Collaborations, was screened in April and May 1992. To mark the occasion a bill sticker pastes the BBC2 logo to a hoarding, using time-lapse photography.

Click for larger image BBC2 Ident - Wet & Windy
09.05.1992
Click for larger image As BBC1 viewers were treated (or should that be subjected?) to the Eurovision Song Content, BBC2 presented a night of programmes about that great British obsession - the weather. The symbol certainly lived up to the title - Wet and Windy!

Click for larger image BBC2 Ident - One World
1992
Click for larger image "One World" began life around 1988 as a season of environmental programmes on BBC1. Four years later One World moved to BBC2, with the result that BBC2 adopted the globe symbol! Sorry for the truncated announcement.

Click for larger image BBC2 Ident - Powder
1992
Click for larger image The first 18 months saw plenty of themed idents, but there remained 11 regular idents. That was until October 1992, when the first additions were made to the set. Kicking off was Powder, first shown Monday 26 October.

BBC2 Ident - Optics
1992
Later that morning Optics debuted during Schools programmes. And how different it was from other designs - optic fibres sway maniacally, initially with no clear pattern but gradually settling down to form the 2.

Click for larger image BBC2 Ident - War & Peace
1992
Click for larger image In the lead-up to Remembrance Sunday, BBC2 broadcast a season of programmes examining all aspects of war. Heradling these programmes was this sequence featuring a poppy and a "2" in barbed wire.

Click for larger image BBC2 Ident - Christmas Ident
1992
Click for larger image BBC2's Christmas trails did not have a consistent theme in 1992 so we were left guessing what the ident would be. On Christmas Eve the mystery was solved -a tree festooned with lights bounced into place with flashing red bulbs spelling out the 2. There were three different soundtracks.


Click for larger image BBC2 Ident - A Night Of Love
13.02.1993
Click for larger image Just to prove how much BBC2 loved its viewers, the channel marked Valentines' Day with "A Night Of Love" - an evening of romantic programmes to get viewers in the mood. All of which were linked by this imaginative symbol in which the 2 produces a heart shape with its reflection.

Click for larger image BBC2 Ident - Birth Night
27.02.1993
Click for larger image While BBC1 viewers were repulsed by a violent episode of "Casualty", BBC2 offered "Birthnight" - an evening of programmes celebrating motherhood. Linking the shows was this ident based on an ultrasound scan.

Click for larger image BBC2 Ident - Crime and Punishment
1993
Click for larger image Later in 1993, BBC2 viewers were treated to a season of programmes about the legal system. Another special ident was commissioned, showing the inside of a prison cell with a 2-shaped beam of light.

Click for larger image BBC2 Ident - One Day In The Sixties
30.08.1993
Click for larger image Another wet bank holiday closes August, so BBC2 treat us to "One Day In The Sixties" - a day of classic programmes from that decade. The ident is based on pop art culture, while the announcer is Patrick Allen.

Click for larger image BBC2 Ident - Fluffy
1993
Click for larger image Another set of 2s debuted in November 1993. Among this crop "Car", a radio-controlled 2 whizzing around on wheels. But there was a turkey - "Crystal Ball" (right) featured a ball rolling across the screen, revealing an indistinct 2. Blink and you'll miss it!

BBC2 Ident - Car
1993
right clip - the revised version from 1996

Click for larger image BBC2 Ident - Explode
1993
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BBC2 Ident - Crystal Ball
1993


Click for larger image BBC2 Ident - Balloon
1993


Click for larger image BBC2 After Margaret Ident
27.10.1993
Click for larger image In this themed ident the BBC 2 symbol is fixed to the door of Number 10 Downing Street

Click for larger image BBC2 Christmas Idents
1993
Click for larger image 1993 was a great year for Christmas idents, and produced BBC2's most memorable sequence. The extended version shows hobbit-like creatures hoisting the 2 up to the tree top and, once in place, the symbol catches fire!


Click for larger image BBC2 30th Anniversary
1994
Click for larger image BBC2 was 30 years old in April 1994, and celebrated with a special night of programmes linked by the channel's first controller, David Attenborough. No birthday would be complete without a cake, but make sure you keep all mischievous channel symbols away!

Click for larger image BBC2 Christmas
1994
Click for larger image Before Teletubbies and the Millennium Dome there was - the BBC2 Christmas dome! During the holiday it encased an illuminated yellow 2 amid the barren snowscapes.

Click for larger image Pizza Hut BBC2 Spoof Commercial
1994
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Click for larger image BBC2 Ident - Steam
1995
Click for larger image Two more BBC2 idents were added in February 1995. The first featured a steaming metallic 2 and was a headache to produce. A ring of syringes suspended over the 2 provided the water droplets - which splashed onto the boiling figure.

Click for larger image BBC2 Ident - Centenary
1995
Click for larger image After a bumper crop of themed idents in previous years, BBC2 only gave us one in 1995. This celebrated the 100th anniversary of cinema, with 2-shaped paint can dropping onto a bed of film.

Click for larger image BBC2 Ident - Learning Zone
1995
Click for larger image On Monday 9 November, BBC2 jumped on the overnight TV bandwagon. Their nocturnal offering was The Learning Zone, a nightly strand bringing together schools programmes, Open University and adult education programmes in one convenient slot for pre-recording.
 
The Learning Zone originally sold itself as an extension of BBC2, so this special ident appeared before programmes.


Click for larger image BBC2 Closedown
1995
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Click for larger image BBC2 Christmas
1995
Click for larger image At the height of their popularity, Wallace and Gromit were chosen as BBC2's Christmas mascots in 1995. Here they are sitting down to Christmas dinner; only it's not a turkey in front of them! Aardman Animations produced the sequence.

Click for larger image BBC2 Christmas
1995
Click for larger image Susie Blake with two more announcements for Christmas..

Click for larger image How Do They Do That? - BBC2 Idents Feature
1995
How Do They Do That? Ever wanted to know how they created the BBC2 idents? Their creator explains all as part of a six-minute feature narrated by Des Lynam.
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Click for larger image BBC2 Ident
1996
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Click for larger image BBC2 Christmas
1996
Click for larger image Nothing is quite what it seems" was the Christmas theme for BBC2 in 1996. But the ident looked pretty straight forward; even WIZARD, you might say. Watch our Professor Dumbledore lookalike spin-change into a shimmering 2!


Click for larger image BBC2 Ident - Mars Weekend
1997
Click for larger image BBC2's successful 2 era was changing very soon, so one last special ident for Mars Weekend, in the summer. Occasionally used in isolated junctions after the weekend.

Click for larger image BBC2 Closedown
03.10.1997
Click for larger image Part one of BBC2's most successful branding era came to an end on October 3rd. From tomorrow BBC2 would look slightly different, but unlike 1991 Jane Westrop makes no mention of the fact in her closing announcement.

Official Website
www.bbc.co.uk/bbctwo