Idents are fascinating aren’t they? By ‘fascinating’, I mean ‘hideous and disturbing a lot of the time’. Having said that, I’m not much of a judge of what’s scary – when I was a kid I was terrified of Max Headroom, and an antiques shop my dad used to take me in.

My mental defects aside, the world of idents is a strange one, one where the creators appear to have carte blanche to spew out the contents of their nightmares, as long as it gets people’s attention.

Here are 10 idents that have helped shape me into the rational, well adjusted adult I am today.

1. BBC Video

Made extra bad by appearing right after the closing scene of Blackadder Goes Forth. BBC Comedy indeed.

As terrifying as: Waking up in your own grave.

2. ITV Night Shift

This might have been Yorkshire only, I’m not sure. I mostly saw this through a sleep deprived fog, while waiting for American Gladiators to appear on the grainy black and white portable in my bedroom. Fucking Countdown would have been scary at that time of night.

As terrifying as: a ghost in the TV that only you can see.

3. Palace Video

To be fair, I think this was meant to be terrifying. Well done lads.

As terrifying as: 7 serial killers.

4. Channel 4

This scared everyone, and I have no idea why. Maybe it’s the black void. Fun fact: David Dundas, composer of the ‘Fourscore’ music, also wrote the music for Withnail & I. Impossible not to love it, knowing that.

As terrifying as: When the TV goes wrong and you think the world’s ended, or at the very least, something really bad has happened.

5. THX

Fucking hell guys, was this really necessary? K THX Bai.

As terrifying as: an aeroplane flying into your face.

6. Sega

Seen just before your sneaky late night session of Sonic, where you know you’re going to get killed in Labyrinth Zone, but you do it anyway because you are stupid.

As terrifying as: that drowning music.

7. Cartoon Network becomes TNT

You’re rolling along quite happily, watching Cow and Chicken or some other lighthearted buffoonery, when all of a sudden, the entire channel dies. Accompanied by music that makes you think you’ve been spiked. In the back of your mind your child self thinks all the cartoon characters are now dead.

As terrifying as: Protect and Survive.

8. BBC Select

The ident for a mysterious, scrambled channel that you could only see if you had a certificate or something. In my imagination, it was full of illegal stuff and mind rays. In reality, it was full of ‘Today in Nursing’.

As terrifying as: ‘Today in Nursing’.

9. Disney Home Video

An unorthodox choice, but there was something serious and important about sitting down to witness a Disney film, where you knew at least one of the characters was going to nearly die.

As Terrifying as: Ursula, when she’s all big.

10. Nickelodeon

This isn’t that horrifying until you’ve read the creepypastas about Cry Baby Lane and Stick Stickly. Then just hearing the ‘Nickelodeoooon!’ line will chill you to the bone. TO THE BONE.

As terrifying as: Cry Baby Lane.

Sleep well. I know I won’t now, because I am stupid.

Thank you Nick for the donation! I promise not to spend it on beer.

6 thoughts on “10 terrifying idents

  1. God, I thought I was the only person on earth who was freaked out by these things! That Sega one is utterly horrifying 😩 I feel sick now.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve got a tape somewhere where that Palace video thing is the filling of a Muppets trailer and Asterix film sandwich. Fucking terrifying!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I may be a little older but the old Open University sign and tune scared me as well as the intro to Mastermind the tune and the black chair. The old Yorkshire TV yellow y sign was disturbing. My brother was scared of the old Thames television ident. The one with the reflection in the river. Love your site I still have a lot of my crap from the 80s lol.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The best out of that list is the THX ident, you’d pop a DVD in the player and hear this buzz and think, “what’s this?” but then it builds into a crescendo of a thousand dentist’s drills. But the film after it wouldn’t be as deafening. Weird.

    I’ve noticed Americans are scared of the Viacom ident. Best ident ever is the Dolby Stereo one, not the CGI rubbish, the one from the 1820s that went “Beng beng beng beng-beng beng beng (der ner ner) beng beng beng beng beng beng beng!”


  5. What about scary signs in general? As a toddler I can remember being shit scared of the Whitbread brewery sign down the road from our house. We’d be saying goodbye to guests on the doorstep and I’d be huddling into my parents, going “Aaaargh, I can see it!” It was so red and starey. It could see into my brain. It had no right intruding like that. Why was it so powerful?



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