S4C’s past in pictures 

1 January 2001 tbs.pm/2228

1982, and new Welsh broadcaster S4C is about to relay a programme bought in by sister station Channel Four. Note the WaleS4Cymru ident style – misleading to many, as the channel is formally Sianel Pedwar Cymru (literally ‘Channel 4 Wales’ and pronounced ‘sh-annel ped-waar cum-ree’).

Back in time a few weeks to the opening of S4C on 1 November 1982 – the day before Channel Four in the rest of the UK. This menu greeted those tuning in early, promising programmes in Welsh until 9.30pm when the first English-language programme would air.

6pm and the opening shot of the HQ in Cardiff. Then inside for a word from Owen Edwards – in Welsh and English.

Edwards shows us the TVTimes pull-out, Sbec, and hands us over to the Children’s department for an episode of SuperTed.

Back from SuperTed in Welsh, we switch into English to talk about the new Channel Four, showing a promo and interviewing down-the-line from London the head of the sister channel, Jeremy Issacs. Both Edwards and Issacs settle on referring to it as Channel 4 UK.

The first appearance of the first S4C ident. That must mean it’s time for the news.

…from the BBC, of course. Newyddion, as the title sequence suggests, is not just news of Wales – it serves the function of being the international and UK national news in Welsh as well – complete with a Welsh-speaking correspondent in each of the important cities of the world. Nothing is too good for Wales!

But, before the news, you need a clock to confirm the time. S4C is still using an analogue on-screen pre-programme clock to this day, whilst the UK’s other commercial broadcasters have dropped this useful idea.

Well, that’s the early days, now to skip forward to the 1990s. S4C’s presentation remained in-vision for a decade, but in the 1990s the channel got out of the habit, and began using voiceovers over various representations of dragons. By the late 1990s, the company adopted a Lambie-Nairn identity, based on ordinary objects breathing fire – kettles, bins, fire extinguishers, pencils and fans to name but a few.

Also gone is the serif print S4C, replaced with a sans serif S4C with a forked tongue.

For the post-millennium, S4C gained a new suite of idents that are used interchangeably with the old. While the original set was based on reds and gold, the new set is allowed more freedom, but has lower production values and makes more used of pure computer generation. Unfortunately, the two looks jar somewhat and S4C may have done better to have picked one or the other.

A production endcap, in the S4C house style, complete with fire-breathing/fork-tongued logo. All S4C’s programmes are produced by the BBC and independent producers. HTV’s Welsh-language programmes for S4C seem to have all-but died out.

Back to 1 November 1982, and this is the end cap for SuperTed in the original Welsh. No standardisation of endcaps had yet been made, but S4C was clearly mentioned some 7 years before the idea would occur to ITV executives.

A static “next” caption, with live announcer reading over, heralds S4C’s gardening club.

And finally, the same thing again, from a taped promo for a sports programme. Channel 4 UK promos are supplied ‘raw’ to S4C, who add their own endboards, or make live announcements over silent clips or a static card.

A Transdiffusion Presentation

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Liverpool, Friday 1 July 2022