Photograph of the BBC1 Northern Ireland mechancial globe symbol (originally from 1978, used until 1985) with restored caption.

We will mend it…

At the end of June 2023, my friend Mark Simpson from BBC Northern Ireland’s presentation department wrote to me with a rather unusual request.

“An incident has occurred with our BBC1NI globe. It seems a new cleaner has been into our Pres suite and wiped the legend with something which has taken some of the ink off. Suspect some viral-killing-potent thing has been on the cloth. Must admit even I thought it would have been printed on the reverse but it seems not…”

Mark asked if I could recreate the caption for him so the globe could be restored to its former glory.

The BBC 1 Northern Ireland network globe model, shown without colour keyed on it. The still is taken from the closedown of analogue broadcasting in the UK in 2012.
The BBC1 Northern Ireland globe, giving analogue television a splendid send-off.

The BBC Northern Ireland network globe symbol is the pride and joy of the presentation department in Belfast. It was the last thing viewers saw when analogue TV was finally switched off for viewers in the United Kingdom after 76 years in 2012.

Mark contacted me about this because the fantastic Presentation team at BBC Northern Ireland and I go back rather a long way, after I created symbols for them for the Afternoon Classics daytime repeats strand ten years ago.

I later created symbols for BBC Northern Ireland’s 90th Anniversary celebrations.

Luckily for me, Mark had a scan of the caption plate, which meant I could recreate the caption using Inkscape.

I recreated Oliver Elmes’ BBC1 text from scratch, as the scan was so good I wanted to capture the text as accurately as possible.

For the “Northern Ireland” text, I offered Mark two options. The first was the Helvetica caption that the globe had been sporting up until its unfortunate accident. This was created for a special occassion, and was not the caption that the globe would have worn during most of its time on screen.

As an alternative I offered Mark the caption that would have been used for the majority of the time between 1981 and 1985. This was the rather odd rounded font that I have never been able to identify.

Off-air shot of a commonly seen BBC1 Northern Ireland caption. The caption would have been a black and white image with coloured added in the vision mixer.

I recreated this for Paul Buckle of BBC Northern Ireland as he wanted to see a caption that was often used on BBC1 Northern Ireland back in the day. It was a simple caption that had Oliver Elmes’ BBC1 text with Northern Ireland written below it.

The two BBC1 Northern Ireland caption plates, side by side in Inkscape.

The job was a simple enough one to do in Inkscape. Inkscape’s interface makes these jobs more and more pleasant because of the improvements to the layers panel.

The restored BBC1 Nothern Ireland globe.
The restored BBC1 Nothern Ireland globe. Image ©2023 Mark Simpson.

Mark wrote to me with the picture above. He seemed very pleased with the results:

Double layer laser print on acetate and it’s worked better than I thought.  I’ll still have a chat to people though to see if there’s something better, but it’s once again got pride of place in Presentation Suite B!

And so our work was done. I’ll have a big yawn, and settle down to sleep…



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