A survey carried out by the BBC in 1990 found that the BBC Two presentation launched in 1986 gave the channel a ‘worthy but dull’ image. Then-controller Alan Yentob saw a major change of identity was necessary.
Branding agency Lambie-Nairn were commissioned, and on 16 February 1991, the new custom ‘2’ — and the signature colour, viridian — were unveiled on BBC Two, in idents that would successfully change public perception, and become world famous. The ‘2’ always appeared in the same shape, in various forms; the earliest idents of 1991 featured solely inanimate ‘2’ figures of different material in each, but also made use of camera angle tricks and properties such as refraction to achieve various effects. In later years it was given character, taking the form of a remote-controlled car, a rubber duck, a Dalek and a toy dog among many others. The expansive set of idents from 1991 to 2001 — lasting over a decade — are generally regarded as the best idents ever produced for a television channel; they ended in November 2001. The BBC corporate logo was updated within the idents in October 1997, though the idents moved away from the original viridan colour scheme in these latter years.