BBC1's much-loved mirror globe epitomises BBC identity for many fans. Designed and built by Murray Andrew in 1969, the first impression hit our screens on 15th November that year. But how was this symbol - and the accompanying clocks - brought to the screen?
The globe itself was a small mechanical model, the size of a shoebox. It was internally lit with a 10V festoon bulb inserted at the top of the globe. The reflection was achieved by placing a concave mirror behind the sphere. The channel ID was a transparency lit from behind, making it easily interchangeable. Normally, mechanical idents such as clocks were illuminated by the lamp on the NODD camera, but this would have caused the globe's reflection to distort on screen. So an internal light source was needed. Both the globe light and the ident light could be adjusted by two seperate controls at the back of the device. The land masses on the globe were clear areas, while black metallic paint represented the sea. Apparently the heat from the bulb frequently caused the paint to peel, so touch-ups were oftne required to ensure the continents maintained the correct shapes. And those numerous small "islands" in the mirror globe? Contrary to popular belief, these were part of the design and not caused by flaking paint or dust! Murray Andrew designed several prototypes of the mirror globe, including one with raised continents and another with the South Pole visible.