ITV Schools scarred me for life

ITV Play slinky ident
ITV Play barker
Images nicked off Andrew Wood at TV Forum
Another ‘Participation TV’ channel (i.e. scheming, conning, shite shite quiz channel) launches this week. ITV Play is replacing Men & Motors on Freeview. All I can say is:

  1. at least Men & Motors isn’t much of a loss
  2. at least it will have Quizmania on it
  3. at least it has really pretty idents!

People who have read this blog for a long time may know that I am interested in all of this television presentation nonsense. When I was a wee nipper, I found ITV regions fascinating. I just did, don’t ask me why. It was probably just the shiny logos.

It wasn’t only television logos either. Apparently my first word was ‘gas’. According to my parents I often pointed at the logo on the gas van and shouted ‘GAS’. I guess it’s one way to learn how to read.

If a station relaunched with a new set of idents, I’d usually end up watching the channel all day just to take it in. Sad or what? Imagine my delight when I discovered a few years ago, through the wonder of the internet, that I wasn’t the only one.

Anyway, when I was younger, some idents really scared the crap out of me. I remember a particular Channel 4 ident that was used to introduce its American Football programmes. It always made me jump because the ‘4’ figure made a loud grunt. Numbers don’t grunt! I can remember actually having nightmares about it.

ITV Schools ident But the scariest ident of them all was surely the rotating ITV Schools one. I’m not too sure why I was so frightened by it, but it seriously gave me the willies. I remember once actually running through to tell my mum when I managed to sit through it!

Maybe I was worried that the rather hefty-looking ITV logos would spin off course and hit me. Perhaps I couldn’t comprehend the advanced computer graphics. Everybody knows that CGI dates horribly. But despite the fact that the ITV Schools ident is almost twenty years old, I think they still look amazingly good even judging by today’s standards.

There is an excellent feature on TV ARK all about the making of this ident. It sounds like it was a truly massive task. It’s amazing to think that they would go to so much bother just to create a way to introduce some television programmes!

When I was six, the spinning ITV Schools ident and ITV Schools itself was gone forever. So I wouldn’t have to be scared by the evil ident, right? Well imagine my shock when (at the tender age of six, remember) the brand new Channel 4 Schools ident ended up being this freaky thing. The spooky countdown music (which I now actually think is pretty cool) sounded like an accompaniment to a drowning. This is music for introducing schools programmes! Did they not realise that children would be watching?!


  1. Heh…I feel your pain. Back in the 70s BBC1 used to shut off for a couple of hours in the afternoon; the shutdown was preceded by a kalaedoscopic (well, it was the Seventies) series of patterns. I was absolutely terrified of them, apparently. That, and the butler in Chigley.

    Kids, eh?

  2. Dear God the ITV schools ident brings back memories of feigning illness in order to stay off school. Seriously depressing stuff.

  3. Looks like I’m not the only one after all. One time when I was in primary school we were made to watch a programme called Time For Maths, and as soon as I saw the spinning ITV, I literally tried to escape from the school building! To no avail of course.

    And that bastard clock! After seeing that, I was plugging my ears with my fingers and trying to not hear the ‘scary’ theme to it [I think the programme there was Believe it or Not – it was definately about Sikhs]. I was so scared of those graphics at the time that my poor behaviour towards the very thought of it costed me a trip to the British Museum…

    Nowadays I watch them over and over again. It makes me laugh to much now.

  4. I was scared of the ATV ident. The music was really loud and then the “eye” shapes morphed into, what I thought, was a very scary shape! I was also scared of the Anglia knight and the YTV logo with Ilkley Moor blasting out of the TV. I think it’s all quite fun now though!

  5. […] It’s all true. This actually struck me recently when I caught a glimpse of a Celebrity Mastermind Christmas special. I’ve not watched much of Mastermind since it came back in its Rubbish John Humphrys incarnation. But I remember Mr Magnusson’s Mastermind well. I was young; how could I forget? It had possibly the scariest title sequence ever, on a par with ITV Schools. […]

  6. British idents never scared me that much and I used to be fascinated by ITV’s idents also, as well as the spinning globe on BBC1 (in first school they had a globe in the classroom which I was always spinning saying “This is BBC1” over and over again)

    American idents at the end of programmes scared me for some reason, can’t think why American idents would be scarier than British ones but there you go…

  7. Wow! I thought I was all alone on the ITV Schools Ident until I found your article on Google.
    I was absolutely petrified by the ITV Schools Ident as a small child. I would actually cry when I saw it and I nicknamed it the “De-Her-Hern”.
    I remember one occasion when we went into the dark TV Room at school. When this came on the screen, according to reports from my teachers to my parents, I started sobbing at the spinning ITV logo’s and upon it changing to the Circular one, I screamed and shouted “The De-Her-Hern!” before running into the corner and crying!!!
    I thought I was just a weird child but after reading this, it’s got me thinking that maybe there is something in this.

  8. I have the ITV Schools music on my camera and when I was young it made me think of Listowel Crescent in Clifton, Nottingham, a street near where i used to live. I used to nickname the CGI image “Dungannon Road Television”

  9. I distinctly remember being at primary school (early 80s) watching the countdown clock with the yellow bars disappearing against a blue background before a programme started. For some reason, I was always terrified that the TV was going to blow up when the last bar disappeared, and that stayed with me no matter how many schools programmes I saw.

    Recently I’ve found footage of this clock online, and I now know it to be the ITV schools clock. I tried watching the footage but even now I can’t bring myself to get to the end…