The much beloved BBC One ‘Balloon’ idents.

> Quicktime H.264
(68mb)
> iPod Compatible
(62mb)
> Watch in Flash
(53.9mb progressive)

> Quicktime H.264
(36.6mb)
> iPod Compatible
(22.1mb)
> Watch in Flash
(20.9mb progressive)

> Quicktime H.264
(50.6mb)
> iPod Compatible
(34.5mb)
> Watch in Flash
(32.8mb progressive)

> Quicktime H.264
(60.2mb)
> iPod Compatible
(56.2mb)
> Watch in Flash
(50mb progressive)

Running on-air from 1997 until 2002, the BBC One ‘Balloon’ idents where a brilliantly simple, and beautifully executed series encompassing all four nations of the United Kingdom with the use of one enormous hot air balloon.

England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales are each represented in the above compiles, with the balloon flying over such locations as the London Docklands, Eilean Donan Castle, Cardiff, and Snowdonia National Park.

The ‘Balloon’ idents were replaced by the ‘Rythm and Movement’ series in 2002, and eventually by the current ‘Circle’ collection in 2006.

After the jump is the ‘National Anthem’ edition of the ident, played at closing time on BBC One for a brief time in 1997.

> Quicktime H.264
(7.4mb)
> iPod Compatible
(5.8mb)
> Watch in Flash
(5mb progressive)

19 Responses to “The much beloved BBC One ‘Balloon’ idents.”


  • The much beloved? Why do you think they were replaced with something like Rhythm and Movement? Becasue they were so dull and boring. So, so boring.

    This was BBC One’s first move into a multi-ident package, and they had to be careful not to shake things up too much, seeing as they had used a globe device for hundreds of years previous. Thankfully BBC One has managed to ditch this stuffy ‘responsible middle-aged attitude’.

  • I for one think they’re good compared to the average 90’s ident.

  • The balloon idents are considered by many as the best of BBC 1 idents. Just like the 2 from the 90’s from BBC 2. The dancing idents were just a show of political correctness.

  • I remember at the time they were the first “live action” idents I’d seen… towards the end of the run they started getting quite creative with them too. Not being the biggest fan of the latest swoop of BBC1 idents or the dancing ones that proceeded them these are probably my favorite.

  • They were fantastically effective and haven’t been bettered since. It would have been far better if back in 2002 rather than bringing in the awful and hated dancers they’d just slapped a red box on these and kept them.

    But no – they dumped them because they weren’t “inclusive” enough. What can be more inclusive than the globe?

  • “The dancing idents were just a show of political correctness.”

    I don’t understand this – why? Because they featured different styles of dance? It seems a very Daily Mail Middle England “oh, it’s political correctness gone MAD I tell thee!” type reaction.

  • Thank you for putting up the full version of the balloon idents. they are my favourite, but when i saw the balloon for the first time, i didn’t really like them, but now, i love them.

  • I think what you thought was boring was what represented the majesty and grandeur of the nation’s premier broadcaster, which was portrayed by Lambie Nairn here perfectly. Unfortunately, this is something that hasn’t been seen on this channel since.

    BBC One might be middle aged, but they have programming like the Antiques Roadshow and Last of the Summer Wine, which wouldn’t fit on somewhere like ITV2. The balloons represented the target audience well (something that the current idents certainly do not)

    Stunning photography, coupled with graceful music created a graceful and timeless look which, to this day, are still remembered by the majority of the population, which is more than can be said about pretty much any ident from any other channel…

  • The Dance and Circle idents are merely child’s play compared to these awesome idents.

    You can still spot the balloon on PBS at the start of the BBC shows they air.

  • I dunno, I didn’t mind them. Oddly they reminded me of Australian HD broadcast loops sans the balloon and the rather attractive UK scenery. Perhaps this is something Australian broadcasters may consider filling the copious amounts of time not airing HD content with…Pimped up promos in HD noneless.

  • boring? still, they were beautiful and gave you that BBC quality ident feeling…I miss these, also the dancing ones.

  • Oh hardly boring..these aerial globes were timeless and aspirational at a time when other idents had become over-designed and contrived. They reflected the BBC nationwide remit, and the diversity of it’s UK audiences. The dance idents felt a little indulgent and one-dimensional for such a global broadcaster.

  • with the greatest of respect, i think philip is talking the biggest load of Ā£$%@ i have ever heard.

    ‘middle-aged’?!
    bungee jump?
    millennium dome?
    eclipse?
    blue planet?
    walking with dinosaurs?

    and at least the message the balloon idents were sending was the fact that bbc one was bringing the world to every corner of the uk. what did rhythm and movement have to do with the uk? or the circles?!
    imo these balloons along with the 2s are probably the best idents made. EVER.

    boring?
    idiot.

  • Yes, these are timeless (although the Docklands has changed a huge amount since these were filmed). Do I remember the aerial globe over Sydney for the idents during the 2000 Olympics?

  • oh, I remember a spoof one: that balloon on space…

  • You do, but it wasn’t a real shot. They just composited the balloon into new footage of the opera house.

  • I think you will find the the idents represent England, Wales, Scotland and NORTHERN IRELAND not Ireland as described in your article.

  • I’m with the majority, when i first saw the balloon as a six year old back in ’97, I thought “Wow, these are cool”. You can understand my shock when they were replaced by the “inclusive” dance idents. I only like four or five of the dance ones compared to the whole balloon range. [Haka being my favourite dance one, but there’s barely any footage of it]

  • I personally think the balloon idents were quite good, and I will admit to liking the current circle idents, but the Rhythm & Movement Dancers in between I thought were terrible. That music was so annoying, and I’ve never quite forgiven Lorraine Heggessey for killing off the globe! At least the circles (sort of) hark back to that. Although my absolute favourite BBC1 idents of all time were the ones that formed my childhood from 0 to 7 years – the COW Globe and the Virtual World. So although I enjoyed the balloon back then and although I’m enjoying the circles now, they’re nowhere near as warm, nostalgic, and magic for me personally than dear old Virtual and COW. šŸ™‚

Leave a Reply