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BBC1 Virtual Globes 1985 - 1997

There were two globes use which did not exist in the real world, they were computer generated and laserdisc originated.

The new BBC1 Globe, introduced in 18th February 1985. It was called "COW" for Computer Originated World. It was the first time that BBC1 had abandoned mechanical models and still slides and used a completely computer generated image.
Same globe, this variant used before programmes carrying Ceefax subtitles. The launch of the new globe was accompanied by a relaunch of the BBC1 schedules. Wogan had his chat show three nights a week whilst the other two nights saw the launch of EastEnders. The new schedule saw a welcome boost to BBC1's weekday viewing figures.
The BBC1 clock to accompany the COW. The simple design of the clock face had been carried over from the 1981 version.
A second version of the clock was introduced, with more three dimensional lettering underneath. It was all computer generated, with just a bit of extra shadow.
The standard promotional still had the golden lettering on the right hand side with a black border graduated in to the image.
Another promotional still of the same style. During the late eighties, it seemed to be forever 21 years of the Two Ronnies. Just when we thought we'd seen the last of them, they came up with 25 Years of the Two Ronnies.
A special version of COW for the Comic Relief night in 1988. Although it was nice to see BBC1 taking the trouble, this version didn't quite work.
A year later, 1989, they produced this version, which worked much better. It was only shown twice that evening.
The BBC1 "COW" era Open University ident. You can find this and many more OU idents in their own section of the Ident Zone.
The globe was ousted in 1987 and Pudsey Bear took over for the BBC's annual fundraising night "Children In Need".
One year later, and an imposter! Although superficially similar, this is a different Pudsey. Was Pudsey still or did he rotate? I seem to recall him waving on one occasion.
Each region had their own COW, with the region name identified in gold lettering underneath as seen in these examples from Manchester and the Westcountry. In the mechanical age, each region had a large rack containing the model globe and mirror.
bbc1_cow_west.jpg (14477 bytes)
Regional programmes could not be broadcast with subtitles except in the national regions, which made this Northern Ireland COW with subtitles a bit of a botched job. There was no room for the usual "Ceefax 888" so it was tacked on the side.
Early COW period menu slide, date unknown, believed to be 1985 or 86. It must have been a summer month as It's Wicked was a summer replacement for either Saturday Superstore or Going Live!. The start time of Grandstand suggests a cricket Test Match was in progress. This was shown during a break between the early morning Open University programmes, the announcer went through the menu over some music, which was then faded up for three minutes until the globe was shown and the programmes started.
A later programme menu, this was shown before closedown, with the announcer telling us what was in store the following night on BBC 1. Not sure of the date, although someone might be able to pin it down based upon the Wogan in Hollywood programme. Note also the ten minute preview of the "New Season on 1" before the news.

1991 and the COW is sent home. The journey to a new on-screen image started in Autumn 1988 when Lambie-Nairn were brought in following their work on the Nine O'Clock News. Several designs were considered and evolved before the final choice was made. The new BBC1 globe is a swirling world of shadows and reflections. For subtitled programmes, a simple white "888" was shown in the top right corner. In the early years, stereo programmes were indicated in the top left corner.
The 1991 style clock. This was a new design for the BBC1, the previous 20 years had seen substantially the same clock. The size of the clock face was varied early on, in order to make it the same size as the globe. This made the cut from clock to globe at closedown more appealing.
A different view of the 1991 swirling globe. The best time to view the globe was at closedown, when it would spin to the national anthem, revealing all of its permutations.

The new globe was played out from Sony Laserdisks, which had been modified by BBC Engineers to make them broadcast quality.

One problem with this virtual world was that it didn't allow much freedom for variation for the special events which would normally get their own ident symbol. Hence this symbol was used to introduce the 1992 Children In Need appeal, building on the sylised "1". Yet another Pudsey was used for this one, there must be a whole army of them now.


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Last Update 29 Mar 2000