Thursday, 3 May 2012

The Big Match: Studio Timeline (Part 2)

In the first part of our Studio Timeline, we saw The Big Match embrace all manner of interior design styles from 'Glam Rock' to 'Doctor's Waiting Room.' Here in this concluding part, we witness the decline of the studio space itself as somewhere to conduct interviews and the dwindling use of logos to remind us what it was we were watching all those years ago.


August 1975

Style:
Explosion in a paint factory
Colour scheme:
Ever tried to decorate your house using whatever was left in those tins of paint out in the shed? Yeah, that. The 1975/76 season saw Brian Moore surrounded by wavy lines and curves of lime green, yellow, blue, grey, brown, red, white... in fact it's probably easier to list all the colours that weren't used, but we won't.
Brian's desk:
A modern, curved affair in white with slats at the front to allow for... ventilation to... er... something. Behind the desk, a big ITV Sport logo and the name of the show were displayed boldly on a large venetian blind contraption which acted as... A REVEAL! Yes, once ITV's top football commentator had verbally set the scene for the highlights package to come, the venetian blind would swivel round to display a chroma key screen showing the appropriate video footage. Not perfect, but certainly inventive (see below).

The big swivel (l-r): The boards revolve to reveal.. Wolverhampton
Wanderers wearing white shorts with their old gold shirts.
Guest area:
Still no desk to sit behind. Instead, two comfy leather swivel chairs were placed adjacent to Moore in front of a colourful backdrop, most notably showcased by Peter Taylor doing his Norman Wisdom impersonation on the Christmas 1975 programme.
Gimmicks:
Who could possibly ask for more than a swivelling venetian blind with a big ITV Sport logo on it? Not us, that's for sure.
August 1975 onwards: Curves, colours and swivelling
blinds.

August 1976

Style:
Sunshine in abundance.
Colour scheme:
In short, yellow. Oh, but wait - strangely, there was a knowing nod back to the early 70's with a set of chrome bars mounted on the wall. Those bars provided a 'frame' for a circular chroma key window in which pictures could be displayed. Clever.
Brian's desk:
A giant L-shaped beast painted (yes, you guessed it) in yellow, big enough to allow a couple of guests to be accommodated. Behind Brian, however, was a circular Big Match symbol which (as far as we can tell) was illuminated to brighten the image of two football players in action. Nice, if you like that sort of thing.
Guest area:
After Peter Taylor's impersonation of Norman Wisdom the Christmas before, the ITV production team presumably made it as difficult as possible for new guests to perform by stuffing them behind the biggest desk they could find. Frankly, who can blame them?
Gimmicks:
Nothing much, except for that circular chroma key window which was only rarely used for occasions such as the Golden Goals competition. We've seen worse, mind.

August 1976 onwards: Mellow yellow, illuminated signs and Glam Rock
returns!

August 1977

Style:
Late-70's pizza restaurant chain.
Colour scheme:
A seemingly short-lived but no less pleasant combination of red, white and green stripes on a tame beige backdrop.
Brian's desk:
Another L-shaped desk, but this time smaller and turned round to withhold Moore in his own cosy corner of the studio. The front of the desk proudly displayed the words The Big Match in a nice, chunky font, while behind the desk was a window that could show static pictures or a video preview of the match highlights to come. A simple, but effective design.
Guest area:
What guest area? From what we can make out, this was the start of an era where studio guests no longer figured in the programme and the central focus became Brian Moore presenting on his own. It meant only a smaller studio was needed, therefore less need to splash out money on fancy chairs and other paraphernalia.
Gimmicks:
Nothing fancy - just that window screen behind Brian's desk.

August 1977 onwards: ITV Sport adopts an Italiano style
as the Big Match studio shrinks in size.

January 1978

Style:
DIY superstore.
Colour scheme:
Two-tone blue in a series of broad diagonal bands, plus a splash of green for the front of the desk. This blue colour scheme lasted well into 1980 - a surprisingly frugal approach by ITV considering all previous studio designs were refreshed annually (up until the brief August '77 vintage).
Brian's desk:
Probably the same one used before everything was painted blue. Still, it had a hole in the worktop to allow a microphone to be poked through, plus ample room to house the ubiquitous and never used telephone. And look - it's the old 'moon landing' font on the front! Behind the desk, another window screen showed a variety of static boards over more than two years.
Guest area:
Still none, according to our research.
Gimmicks:
The by now common use of colour separation to make that window screen behind the desk come to life.

January 1978 onwards: Blue stripes, futuristic fonts and changing boards.

August 1980

Style:
Job centre-a-go-go.
Colour scheme:
A change at last in the form of some beige with an occasional splash of green in a series of angular bands around the studio walls. For a brief period, there was also a wall  that was mainly green in colour (the bottom half being beige) that proudly displayed the new Big Match logo, synonymous with an equally new theme tune composed by Jeff Wayne. At some point, however, this was phased out and a new set was introduced featuring a repeating pattern of a football player dribbling a ball in alternate shades of green and light brown on white.
Brian's desk:
Having no doubt had a whip-round, ITV splashed out on a super new desk for both Moore and new sidekick Jim Rosenthal to sit behind, and splendid it looked too. With curved frontage and painted in a lovely warm sandy colour, it suddenly transformed the diminishing image of a programme that had been looking a little tired over the previous couple of years.
Guest area:
Guests? What are they?
Gimmicks:
You can't have chroma key screens AND a new desk, you know...

August 1980 onwards: Green and beige before a quick change with a new
desk and a parade of painted players.

1981/82 and 1982/83

Sadly there's not much to report during the final two seasons before regular live football arrived on British screens. The concept of having a spacious studio with big desks and elaborately decorated backdrops was no longer considered necessary, let alone revolving screens and rotating displays.

Come the 1981/82 season, ITV did away with fancy designs and even a visible desk for Moore and Rosenthal to sit behind, instead sitting them in front of a boring pale brown wall. The season after, they at least managed a slightly warmer coloured, textured backdrop and hung the Big Match logo on the wall, but that was about it.

(left) 1981/82: Jimbo in a sea of beige; (right) 1982/83: ITV
push the boat out by hanging a logo on the wall.

From this point on, football coverage on TV was all about being seen in a glass-fronted studio at the ground where the match was being played. The heady days of highlights shows featuring interviews with famous players and clips of the best action were now a thing of the past. Football on TV was changing, but at least we still had the memories.

4 comments:

  1. Jim Rosenthal looking like a young Alan Partridge! Brilliant opus-style review.

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  2. Yes he does look Partridge-esque, doesn't he?!! Thank you very much for your kind words, Nelson's Column - much appreciated... :)

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  3. Loved reading this.....The blue '78-'80 studio set was the colours of World of Sport at the time.(i thought it was the back end of the studio behind Dickie, with most ot the WoS set pushed one side) Our Brian even had a tie in the same style. A pro all the way.

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    Replies
    1. Great observation re: World of Sport, Keefy J. You might be on to something there!

      Those ITV Sport ties were handed out to all and sundry back in the day. Many's the time you'd have seen the likes of Jimmy Hill, Kevin Keegan, Brian Clough et al wearing one!

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