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BBC 2 Idents The Themes

While there is always a set of standard idents used on BBC2, there will also be "specials" on occasions. These are often used on Theme Nights, when all programmes for an evening are based around a common theme. Specials are also used when a themed series of programmes runs over several weeks.

If anyone can help with the missing dates, when idents appeared and were withdrawn, please get in touch.
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There have been several more special idents used than are listed here. If you have images of any of them, please get in touch!

"Made In Japan"

The first addition to the original eleven idents, this was used for a season of programmes about Japanese culture between September and November 1991. The animation starts with the Japanese for "2". A smoke effect billows out, and the Japanese "2" dissolves through to the usual "2" you see in the final image on the left. Audio was the same as "Paint".

BBC Radio 3 also had a Japanese season at around the same time.

Used : From 14th September 1991 ? Possibly a little earlier.

"pop art"

Some explanatory text, explaining when and why this ident was used, and how it was animated, will need to appear here at some point, can anyone help?. Audio was the same as "Glass".

Used : Mid-Late 1991?


Used between October and December 1991 to introduce programmes such as "Think of England" and "Little England". The "2" teapot is initially covered with a tea-cosy which is removed to reveal the image you see on the left. Note the Hilda Ogden style ducks on the wall!

Used : From 15th October 1991 ?

"Rembrandt Week (Main Titles)"

This ident formed part of the title sequence of a series of programmes called "Talking Rembrandt". The "2" is part of the eye in a self-portrait of Rembrandt. It starts as a pencil sketch, and as the camera pulls back, we see the artist's hand adding detail to the painting in a series of mixes, until the finished portrait is revealed.

Used : March (and possibly April) 1992

"One World"

Used for a six-week season of programmes to mark the United Nations' Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in June 1992. The globe is a flat disk which starts the sequence side-on, rotating 90 degrees along its vertical axis, until it faces camera. As this happens, coloured powder "blows" on to the disk, finally forming the image on the left. The sequence is obviously the reverse of how it was shot - the powder was blown off the disk as it rotated away from the camera.

Used : From 3rd May 1992

"Wet and Windy"

Used to introduce an evening of programmes running under the title of "Wet and Windy", about our national obsession - the weather. The "2" is effectively the moon, reflected in the window, which bangs open and shut in the wind and rain.

Used: 9th May 1992

"Commissions and Collaborations" a.k.a. "Billboard"

The third new ident for May 1992, created for "an ambitious season of programmes featuring new work by British artists commissioned by BBC2", according to the Radio Times. In time-lapse, a man on a ladder pastes the advertising billboard with sheets of paper, finally revealing the complete picture - a large "2".

Used : From 16th May 1992

"War and Peace"

In the five weeks leading up to Remembrance Sunday, BBC2 showed a "War and Peace" season of programmes and films on the dominant theme of 20th Century British life: the human cost of modern warfare. The programmes ranged from documentaries and interviews with veterans, to dramas such as "Testament of Youth" and the comedy series "Blackadder Goes Forth". In the ident, a "2" made of barbed-wire forms around a single poppy.

Used : From 3rd October 1992

"Halloween Night Ident 1"

Five minutes after BBC1 had scared the gullible silly with the Screen One drama "Ghostwatch", BBC2 opened "The Vault of Horror", an all-night Hallowe'en celebration of the perverse pleasure of being scared witless. Three special idents were used. In the first, a spoof of "Paint", the "2" gets spattered with blood, before falling victim to a chainsaw massacre, and having it's top sliced off. Red paint and polystyrene bits everywhere!

Used : 31st October 1992

"Halloween Night Ident 2"

In the second ident for "The Vault of Horror" night of programmes, the innocent "2" gets electrocuted by a pair of jump leads.

Used: 31st October 1992

"Halloween Night Ident 3"

Not quite a shower scene, but whichever way you look at it, we see another "2" slaughtered. We should warn the "2"s to avoid Halloween.

Used : 31st October 1992

Edinburgh Festival

Used for programmes during the 1992 Edinburgh Festival, the "2" takes to the stage and steps in to the spotlight.

Used: Autumn 1992

bbc2_1992_edinburgh_festival.jpg (10252 bytes)
"A Night of Love"

An evening of documentaries, features, drama and some classic films combined in a mix of passion, romance and sex for the eve of St. Valentine's Day. Apparently. This clever ident rose out of the water, with the "2"s reflection making the shape of a heart.

Used: 13th February 1993

"Birth Night Scan Ident"

"Birthnight": an odd evening of documentaries, poignant recollections, light-hearted features and comic sketches in celebration of birth. The ident was highly original: an ultra-sound scanner showed not a baby, but a "2".

Used : 27th February 1993

"Crime and Punishment"

A four-week season of programmes examining concerns over the workings of the criminal justice system. This clever shot of a prison cell from above shows light from the "2" shaped window with bars across. The only problem with this ident is that prison cells don't have windows in the roof, and this particular cell has no door...

Used : From 16th May 1993

"One Day in the 60s"

Over twelve hours of classic programmes and films from the swinging 60s, including the pilot of "Steptoe and Son", "Peyton Place", "Man Alive" and "Department S". The ident had suitably groovy music to accompany it, as the various small squares alternated randomly between 60s imagery and the familiar "2".

Used: 30th August 1993

BBC2 After Margaret "After Margaret"

Used for an evening of programmes remembering Margaret Thatcher's years as Prime Minister. The "2" is fixed to the door of Ten Downing Street.

Used: 27th October 1993

"30th Anniversary"

This appropriately named ident was used on April 16th 1994 to celebrate BBC2's 30th Birthday. The "2" plunged down from a great height (like "Powder", and with the same audio) with cream splattering everywhere.

Used : 16th April 1994

"New Moon"

Used for programmes celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the moon landings. What you see is the shadow of "2" on the moons surface, ready for one great leap for "2"-kind.

Used : From 28th June 1994


Used for a month of programmes in the "Bard on the Box" season, exploring the work of - and exploding the myths about - Britain's most famous playwright. The "2" bubbles to the surface of a seething witches' cauldron.

Used : From 16th October 1994

"Berlin Wall"

Used for "Tales from Berlin", a short season of films about Berlin and the aftermath of the collapse of the Berlin Wall. A "2" shaped piece of wall is lifted out, leaving a hole.

Used : From 29th October 1994


Used one Christmas, possibly 1995 or 1996, before an episode of Steptoe and Son. Does anyone remember the exact date?

"Mars Weekend"

Used for "A Weekend on Mars" in July 1997, and occasionally seen outside this period. It starts in close-up on the "2" Martian surface, then zooms out to reveal the full scene, with the flying saucer blipping in and out of view. The soundtrack sounds suitably Martian! There were two versions - one with the flying saucer, and one without. This was the final new ident before the BBC TWO revamp in October 1997.

Shown : From 5th July 1997

"Red Dwarf Night 1"

A series of five idents, each used on "Red Dwarf Night" in February 1998. Each ident was transmitted only once. Unfortunately BBC Presentation made a mess of the first one, fading up half a still on top of the image.

The theme is a love affair between the "2", which has a red antenna sticking out of its head, and a scutter, one of the mechanical robot service droids on board Red Dwarf. Ident 1 is the initial meeting, with the scutter chasing the "2".

Used: 14th February 1998

"Red Dwarf Night 2"

Ident 2 has the "2" and the scutter sharing a drink at the cinema. Their noisy slurping causes someone in the audience to call out and tell them to be quiet.

Used: 14th February 1998

"Red Dwarf Night 3"

The scutter continues to chase the "2" off the screen. The camera then whip-pans to this image, revealing the "2" and the scutter have shed their "clothes" - for a spot of hanky-panky!

Used: 14th February 1998

"Red Dwarf Night 4"

The "2" and the scutter get married, the service overseen by another scutter, who comes closer into view.

Used: 14th February 1998

"Red Dwarf Night 5"

A close-up on a heavily pregnant "2" gives way to bouncing baby scutters and small "2"s. The "2" and the scutter are now a family.

Used: 14th February 1998

"Evolution Weekend"

Introducing a weekend of programmes celebrating the 150th anniversary of the publication of Darwin's "The Origin of Species".

Used: 27th March 1998


"Evolution Weekend"

The single ident was animated by starting with the still image of a "2" in clear water. A stone is dropped causing large ripples in the water. We see the reflection of a monkey peering in to the water, as it morphs into an ape, early man....

Used: 27th March 1998

"Evolution Weekend"

... in to modern man before he moves away to reveal the "2" where we started. Further ripples are seen with just the "2" visible.

Used: 27th March 1998



We think the above is fairly close to a definitive list of BBC2 Special Idents. Other we know about but don't have:

If you have copies of the above, or remember others that are "Missing", please get in touch.

Some more special idents from the 1991 theme day "A Perfect Christmas" can be seen in the BBC2 Ident Zone.

The Ident Zone
Last Update 06 Apr 2000