BBC2 1991 – 1997 Branding

In 1987, Alan Yentob succeeded Graeme McDonald as the controller of BBC2. Recognising that the channel’s existing identity was detrimental to its image, Yentob initiated a comprehensive review that would ultimately give rise to an iconic brand. Market research conducted in 1990 disclosed that many viewers perceived the “TWO” logo as stale and outdated. In response, branding expert Martin Lambie-Nairn was commissioned to reimagine the channel’s identity. The outcome was a bold, sans-serif numeral “2,” versatile enough to be adapted across various branding elements.

Unveiled on February 16, 1991, the new “2” logo transformed public perception of BBC2, even though the channel’s programming remained consistent. This numeral “2” has since etched itself into the annals of branding history, becoming one of the most cherished channel symbols ever. The initial launch featured 11 different idents, with the “Garden” variant being added later in the same year.

BBC2 Launch – Saturday 16th February 1991

In an era when Open University programming dominated BBC2’s schedule until mid-afternoon, anticipation ran high for the channel’s new look. BBC1 had already debuted its updated globe logo prior to shows like “Going Live” and “Grandstand,” adding to the suspense. The first glimpse of BBC2’s rebranding came at 6:50 a.m. with the unveiling of a new Open University symbol, bidding farewell to the time-honoured animation and its accompanying fanfare. The wait finally ended at 2:45pm when a programming menu surfaced, shortly followed by the premiere of the “Paint” ident. From that moment, both BBC2 and the landscape of television branding were irrevocably altered – although someone did forget to activate the new BBC logo generator!

Conceived by Martin Lambie-Nairn and Daniel Barber, BBC2’s rebrand featured nine animated idents built around a stylised, bladed numeral “2.” These idents employed a verdian colour scheme and were designed with the flexibility to evolve over time. While both BBC1 and BBC2 opted for designs that may seem deceptively simple – BBC2 with its bladed “2” and BBC1 with its classical numeral “1” – Lambie-Nairn described the approach as “almost anti-graphic design,” emphasising the restrained elegance of their new identities.

BBC2 Clean Idents

BBC2 Continuity

Additional idents were integrated into BBC2’s branding portfolio, extending the range and dynamism of its on-air continuity until 1997.

BBC2 Continuity

New, it's not

Quality: HQ

Date unknown

Views: 930

Format: 4:3

BBC2 Closedown

New, it's not

Quality: HQ

1991

Views: 460

Format: 4:3

BBC2 Closedown

New, it's not

Quality: HQ

1991

Views: 447

Format: 4:3

BBC2 Closedown

New, it's not

Quality: ST

1991

Views: 393

Format: 4:3

BBC2 Clock

New, it's not

Quality: ST

1991

Views: 241

Format: 4:3

BBC2 Clock

New, it's not

Quality: ST

1991

Views: 230

Format: 4:3

BBC2 Continuity

New, it's not

Quality: HQ

17th February 1991

Views: 446

Format: 4:3

BBC2 Continuity

New, it's not

Quality: HQ

26th February 1991

Views: 421

Format: 4:3

BBC2 Continuity

New, it's not

Quality: HQ

26th February 1991

Views: 550

Format: 4:3

BBC2 Continuity

New, it's not

Quality: HQ

29th March 1991

Views: 437

Format: 4:3

BBC2 Continuity

New, it's not

Quality: HQ

8th April 1991

Views: 467

Format: 4:3

BBC2 Continuity

New, it's not

Quality: HQ

11th June 1991

Views: 527

Format: 4:3

BBC2 Continuity

New, it's not

Quality: HQ

20th August 1991

Views: 462

Format: 4:3

BBC2 Closedown

New, it's not

Quality: HQ

21st September 1991

Views: 434

Format: 4:3

BBC2 Continuity

New, it's not

Quality: HQ

1st December 1991

Views: 572

Format: 4:3

BBC2 Continuity

New, it's not

Quality: HQ

1st January 1992

Views: 500

Format: 4:3

BBC2 Continuity

New, it's not

Quality: HQ

14th November 1992

Views: 692

Format: 4:3

BBC2 Continuity

New, it's not

Quality: ST

1st December 1992

Views: 703

Format: 4:3

BBC2 Continuity

New, it's not

Quality: ST

1st December 1992

Views: 572

Format: 4:3

BBC2 Closedown

New, it's not

Quality: HQ

1993

Views: 361

Format: 4:3

BBC2 Closedown

New, it's not

Quality: HQ

6th January 1993

Views: 180

Format: 4:3

BBC2 Continuity

New, it's not

Quality: HQ

17th March 1993

Views: 596

Format: 4:3

BBC2 Closedown

New, it's not

Quality: HQ

15th May 1993

Views: 461

Format: 4:3

BBC2 Closedown

New, it's not

Quality: HQ

13th June 1993

Views: 102

Format: 4:3

BBC2 Closedown

New, it's not

Quality: ST

13th December 1993

Views: 1143

Format: 4:3

BBC2 Closedown

New, it's not

Quality: HQ

2nd January 1994

Views: 606

Format: 4:3

BBC2 Continuity

New, it's not

Quality: HQ

19th January 1994

Views: 455

Format: 4:3

BBC2 Continuity

New, it's not

Quality: HQ

21st January 1994

Views: 574

Format: 4:3

BBC2 Closedown

New, it's new

Quality: ST

12th February 1994

Views: 157

Format: 4:3

BBC2 Closedown

New, it's not

Quality: HQ

5th April 1994

Views: 498

Format: 4:3

BBC2 Continuity

New, it's not

Quality: ST

26th August 1994

Views: 827

Format: 4:3

BBC2 Continuity

New, it's not

Quality: HQ

7th December 1994

Views: 1926

Format: 4:3

BBC2 Continuity

New, it's not

Quality: ST

17th December 1994

Views: 1491

Format: 4:3

BBC2 Continuity

New, it's not

Quality: ST

17th December 1994

Views: 438

Format: 4:3

BBC2 Continuity

New, it's not

Quality: ST

17th December 1994

Views: 442

Format: 4:3

BBC2 Continuity

New, it's not

Quality: HQ

17th December 1994

Views: 1041

Format: 4:3

BBC2 Closedown

New, it's not

Quality: HQ

29th January 1995

Views: 547

Format: 4:3

BBC2 Closedown

New, it's not

Quality: HQ

15th April 1995

Views: 535

Format: 4:3

BBC2 Continuity

New, it's not

Quality: HQ

29th May 1995

Views: 37

Format: 4:3

BBC2 Continuity

New, it's not

Quality: HQ

29th May 1995

Views: 38

Format: 4:3

BBC2 Continuity

New, it's not

Quality: HQ

6th June 1995

Views: 3978

Format: 4:3

BBC2 Continuity

New, it's not

Quality: HQ

12th July 1995

Views: 636

Format: 4:3

BBC2 Continuity

New, it's not

Quality: HQ

27th October 1995

Views: 504

Format: 4:3

BBC2 Closedown

New, it's not

Quality: HQ

6th January 1996

Views: 667

Format: 4:3

BBC2 Continuity

New, it's not

Quality: ST

8th June 1996

Views: 512

Format: 4:3

BBC2 Continuity

New, it's not

Quality: ST

9th June 1996

Views: 492

Format: 4:3

BBC2 Continuity

New, it's not

Quality: HQ

2nd October 1996

Views: 713

Format: 4:3

BBC2 Continuity

New, it's not

Quality: HQ

14th October 1996

Views: 501

Format: 4:3

BBC2 Continuity

New, it's not

Quality: HQ

14th October 1996

Views: 576

Format: 4:3

BBC2 Continuity

New, it's not

Quality: HQ

14th October 1996

Views: 581

Format: 4:3

BBC2 Continuity

New, it's not

Quality: HQ

14th October 1996

Views: 572

Format: 4:3

BBC2 Continuity

New, it's not

Quality: HQ

1st January 1997

Views: 607

Format: 4:3

BBC2 Breakdown

New, it's not

Quality: ST

1997

Views: 587

Format: 4:3

BBC2 Closedown

New, it's not

Quality: ST

1997

Views: 676

Format: 4:3

BBC2 Continuity

New, it's not

Quality: HQ

10th May 1997

Views: 80

Format: 4:3

BBC2 Closedown

New, it's not

Quality: HQ

10th May 1997

Views: 356

Format: 4:3

On occasion, there were oversights where the BBC logo superimposed overlay was inadvertently omitted from the live playout.

BBC2 Special Idents

BBC2 Ghost Ident

New, it's not

Quality: ST

21st December 1991

Views: 307

Format: 4:3

BBC2 Puzzle Ident

New, it's not

Quality: ST

21st December 1991

Views: 268

Format: 4:3

Cops On The Box

New, it's not

Quality: HQ

30th May 1993

Views: 279

Format: 4:3

BBC2 Weird Night

New, it's not

Quality: HQ

17th December 1994

Views: 327

Format: 4:3

DEF II Idents & Continuity

DEF II Ident

New, it's not

Quality: HQ

Date unknown

Views: 129

Format: 4:3

DEF II Ident

New, it's not

Quality: HQ

1991

Views: 403

Format: 4:3

DEF II Ident

New, it's not

Quality: HQ

1991

Views: 93

Format: 4:3

DEF II Ident

New, it's not

Quality: HQ

1992

Views: 238

Format: 4:3

DEF II opening

New, it's not

Quality: HQ

1994

Views: 192

Format: 4:3

DEF II Ident

New, it's not

Quality: HQ

1994

Views: 74

Format: 4:3

DEF II Ident

New, it's not

Quality: HQ

1994

Views: 83

Format: 4:3

DEF II Ident

New, it's not

Quality: HQ

1994

Views: 59

Format: 4:3

DEF II Ident

New, it's not

Quality: HQ

1994

Views: 58

Format: 4:3

DEF II Close

New, it's not

Quality: HQ

1994

Views: 125

Format: 4:3

DEF II Close

New, it's not

Quality: HQ

1994

Views: 131

Format: 4:3

DEF II Close

New, it's not

Quality: HQ

1994

Views: 104

Format: 4:3

BBC2 Programme Promotions

BBC2 Comedy promo

New, it's not

Quality: HQ

22nd February 1991

Views: 144

Format: 4:3

BBC2 Friday

New, it's not

Quality: HQ

23rd May 1991

Views: 144

Format: 4:3

Gala From The Met

New, it's not

Quality: HQ

25th December 1991

Views: 84

Format: 4:3

BBC2 promo

New, it's not

Quality: HQ

1st January 1992

Views: 96

Format: 4:3

BBC2 Friday

New, it's not

Quality: HQ

10th January 1992

Views: 318

Format: 4:3

BBC2 promo

New, it's not

Quality: HQ

10th April 1992

Views: 124

Format: 4:3

Decision 92 promo

New, it's not

Quality: HQ

29th October 1992

Views: 26

Format: 4:3

Rear Window promo

New, it's not

Quality: HQ

25th December 1992

Views: 21

Format: 4:3

Crumb promo

New, it's not

Quality: HQ

24th December 1996

Views: 30

Format: 4:3

Historically, BBC2 has been the pioneering platform for experimenting with innovative presentation techniques. Breaking from its custom of seasonally updated aesthetics, the channel chose a different route in 1992. It introduced a collection of brief stings featuring the iconic numeral “2,” starting with one that even showcased a rather enviable hairstyle! This curated selection of diverse stings remained in rotation from 1992 through to 1997.

Athletics promo

New, it's not

Quality: HQ

Date unknown

Views: 134

Format: 4:3

BBC2 Friday promo

New, it's not

Quality: HQ

19th November 1992

Views: 211

Format: 4:3

BBC2 Coming Soon

New, it's not

Quality: HQ

30th December 1992

Views: 119

Format: 4:3

Wednesday promo

New, it's not

Quality: ST

5th October 1993

Views: 129

Format: 4:3

Friday promo

New, it's not

Quality: HQ

1994

Views: 153

Format: 4:3

BBC2 Friday promo

New, it's not

Quality: HQ

28th January 1994

Views: 176

Format: 4:3

Friday promo

New, it's not

Quality: HQ

4th February 1994

Views: 328

Format: 4:3

The Outer Limits

New, it's not

Quality: ST

3rd April 1995

Views: 69

Format: 4:3

Hail Caesar!

New, it's not

Quality: HQ

17th November 1995

Views: 69

Format: 4:3

Boxing Day promo

New, it's not

Quality: HQ

26th December 1995

Views: 186

Format: 4:3

Wednesday promo

New, it's not

Quality: HQ

9th June 1996

Views: 150

Format: 4:3

The Works

New, it's not

Quality: HQ

10th May 1997

Views: 46

Format: 4:3

This Life promo

New, it's not

Quality: ST

6th August 1997

Views: 194

Format: 4:3

BBC2 Holding Slides 1991 – 1992

For the first time in their histories, BBC1 and BBC2 unveiled a unified design language for their programme slides during their simultaneous rebranding on February 16, 1991. Each caption featured a sidebar on the left, which showcased one of BBC2’s newly minted idents.

Marlene slide

New, it's not

Quality: HQ

25th May 1992

Views: 27

Format: 4:3

BBC2 Holding Slides 1992 – 1997

As BBC Two expanded its collection of idents, the slide design underwent a modification. The ident backgrounds that once adorned the left-hand sidebar were removed, giving way to a minimalist black palette. This clean space allowed for the main image – or elements of it – to seamlessly extend into the sidebar, creating a more dynamic visual experience.

Rear Window slide

New, it's not

Quality: HQ

25th December 1992

Views: 16

Format: 4:3

Video Nation

New, it's not

Quality: HQ

1993

Views: 77

Format: 4:3

Timewatch

New, it's not

Quality: HQ

9th February 1994

Views: 64

Format: 4:3

Horizon slide

New, it's not

Quality: HQ

20th November 1995

Views: 18

Format: 4:3

BBC2 Miscellaneous Items