Logopolis! The greatest ever TV logos

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"So we need something for Keith Chegwin - commonly known as 'Cheggers' - new game show which, as I understand it from Edward, will have a kind of popular music theme."

Above, an exclusive still from the actual creation of the Cheggers Plays Pop emblem. Arguably the finest TV logo ever created. It just is. But which other programme-ushering-in wodges of typography are fit to touch its sequined hem? Glad you asked, as we’ve prepared a bit of a list…

Marion, get your hit records out!Pebble Mill at 1

A happy sign for millions that you’d successfully wangled a sick day off school, the imperious Pebble Mill at 1 logo takes the cursive style of the show’s original 1972 caption card for a veritable spin! Look how the loop of the capital P winds around itself, connoting the dizzying smorgasbord of light chat, ecclesiastical cookery, grumpy gardening and stick-mic pop music it’s about to usher in.

"Mr Policeman, see if you can ram your bicycle into that freaky youngster standing on the edge of the wharf!"The Tomorrow People

Although Thames TV’s boys-in-pants sci-fi series most often played out as farce, it was blessed with a stentorian title caption that alluded to a harsh, futuristic world, but without resorting to the Data Seventy font. And the way it used to ‘split’ at the start of each episode somehow captured the TPs’ habit of legging it… for a bit, before then ‘jaunting’, only to leave a bicycling copper to (chortle!) career headlong off that jetty! So good, Marvel comics lifted it in full some decades later.

"Phwoar! Looking at that smashing lady walking through Covent Garden... hold on, aren't I supposed to be juggling right now? Lor!"Gems

C’mon! Look at that! A perfect fusion of 1980s design, playing with that era’s twin obsessions for pastel colours and floaty shapes. It also perfectly evoked the essence of this shortlived daytime soap – it’s flighty, it’s informal and it’s about sewing, you dummy! We like to think even now ‘breakout star’ Tony Slattery still owns a stonewashed denim jacket with that logo stitched onto the back.

George & MildredHis and her's

A title-case that pays due respect to its Man About the House lineage, plus there’s a rare subtlety that perhaps isn’t always present in the show, with the ‘M’ slightly domineering the ‘G’. The fusion of those fancy caps with a rather more proletariat typeface is also pleasing – yes, there’ll be some fun here, but it will be straightforward, not-too-fancy fun!

 "...from the BBC!"The Six O’Clock News

While Martin Lewis lay in wait behind a beige-y, mixed case font at lunchtimes, Sue and Nick were ushered onto screen via this slab of a logo, seemingly chiseled from a plutonium brick. This is how we want our news! Bold and with beveled edges!

"And in a few minutes - log rolling from Vancouver!"World of Sport

It’s the bravura logo Department S was too timid to do! So confident, a single letter – a single letter on a banner – suffices. That was Dickie Davies, Fred Dinenage and Kendo Nagasaki flying those planes, by the way.

"Death on Delos!"Captain Zep – Space Detective

Stay Alert! For unexpected restraint in TV titling! In a show that features Roger Dean-style fantasy art and a New Wave theme tune, the graphic designer could have been forgiven for reaching for the neon tubing. But instead we get this. And look, also, how it sits left of centre. So understated. Another winning case for the SOLVE (Simple Onscreen Letters Very nicely Executed) academy.

"Back to Desmond in the studio"Sixty Minutes

So the Sixty Minutes Rubik’s Snake gets a nod, but the Nationwide mandala is nowhere to be seen? Yes – deal with it! As a simple spot of branding, you have to admit, this is rather effective. All ruined, of course, when you cross-fade to Desmond Wilcox.

Kick it up the arse! The Old Grey Whistle Test

Or how to taken an unpromising programme name and, with the selection of just the right font (plus, let’s be honest, that harmonica doesn’t hurt), give it a kick up the arse. Much like that man does to that star.

 visionthumbVision On

Pat Keysell! Tony Hart! Wilf Lunn! Sylvester McCoy! Of course! Tony Hart’s finest hour, and, yes, we’re aware of his work on the Blue Peter badge. The mind genuinely boggles at the thought process that led to the programme’s name becoming an eyes-a-popping grasshopper/frog fusion. Or whatever that thing is.

The fonts of all wince-dom

A word in passing for a few or our perennial least-favourite logos. Such as the Doctor Who ones the show has sported since it came back to telly. Both the taxi cab version and the current effort erroneously market the programme as being the Carpet Right of the sci-fi world. Then there’s this iteration of The Golden Shot, which – much as we love the show – feels like it’s trying to capture the essence of a migraine. Meanwhile, when sans serif and serif fonts met it was moiider! Virtual Murder, in fact. The Open Air title card is a classic case of one that’s working too hard (so, right, we’ll put TV-type lines across the ‘Air’, have that three-coloured thing that somehow means telly, put it against television static…), while The Time The Place just seem like two competing shows. Bagsy we’re ‘The Time’ and you’re ‘The Place!’ Worst of all, though, the revamped 3-2-1 logo. Oh Dusty! Look at you now!

NB. We’re also announcing a ban on all lower-case only logos, and any that appear on screen with the letters gradually drifting apart.

3 Responses to “Logopolis! The greatest ever TV logos”

  1. Applemask says:

    In fact, every issue of that opening story arc to Ultimate X-Men – entitled “The Tomorrow People” – spelt that title out in a pardoy of a Cream-era kid’s show logo. There was a Thunderbirds one, a Captain Scarlet one, a Doctor Who one, and another Thunderbirds one for some reason.

    Also, I miss the days when every main news show had its own title sequence.

  2. Chris O says:

    Great article! The World of Sport circular ‘S’ has to be my favourite of all time. Lovely stuff.

    I always liked the Magpie logo (not that you care) and the circular Grandstand logo of the 1980’s was a nice one too.

  3. Jim Smith says:

    Vision On. “…Or whatever that thing is…”

    You missed a trick there.
    Turn the grasshopper 90deg. to the right, and you can see it reads “VisionOn”, mirrored.
    Tony, the master.

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