1st Logo (November 2, 1982-October 10th, 1996)
Logo: Eight blocks of different sizes but matching colors: blue, purple, yellow and green, with a single red bar, form the number "4" on a black background. There's several animations on how this happens:
- Round And Back: The logo, already formed, spins around, the blocks in turn spinning before setting back into place.
- Interlock: Hundreds of little blocks fly in from the top right of the screen. The camera pans across as they go off the bottom left and sets in the middle, where the blocks form the logo.
- Implosion/Explosion: The blocks spin onto the screen from various places, setting and forming the logo in the center. The latter name refers to a reversed version of it, mainly used for closedowns.
- Space Trip: The logo, already formed, breaks apart into hundreds of blocks that fly off the bottom left screen. They reappear from the top right and set back to reform the logo.
- Space Squad: Hundreds of multicolored blocks fly in from the right side of the screen, flying past the camera in some cases. The camera shifts around to reveal the blocks forming the logo.
- A still image of the formed logo (retired in November 1992).
Accompanying clock ident: The hours are represented by white bars for each hour, with the second, minute, and hour hands being yellow, red, and blue respectively. A flat 2D version of the Channel 4 logo can be seen in the top right corner of the screen. Starting in July 1994, the clock was given a hazy grey ring around the hour hands, and the logo is pushed further into the corner as well. In the Christmas of 1983 and 1985, the clock is superimposed on the backgrounds of the programming menus. This clock as a whole was used from 1982-1995, but also reappeared on January 22, 2021 for It's A Sin.
- The logo was designed by Robinson/Lambie-Nairn and animated by the defunct Los Angeles-based CGI company Bo Gehring and Associates, as there was no computer at the time that was able to animate the logo in the UK.
- At the time, "Fourscore" was the shortest musical piece to be copyrighted, and a full version, originally played on launch day, was released as a single on vinyl records. The album's reverse side also featured a calmer, synthesized version of the jingle (not related in any way to the 1992 version), also composed by Dundas, called "Fourscore II". This version was used to accompany stills were there a technical fault, and was also used to fill up the time allotted for commercial breaks if a regions ITV franchise had not sold them enough commercials to fill the timeslot.
- During the 1980s, back when there were no rules about advertising tobacco products on TV in the UK, an advert for Hamlet's cigars aired that was a parody of the 4 ident, though it was still produced and animated by the same company behind the standard logo.
- This ident was also reused on 28 December 2020 as a tribute to Martin Lambie-Nairn, who had died on Christmas Day.
- Similar to the above, the ident was also reused (specifically the "Round And Back" variant, though it slowly zooms in as well) throughout the day on the 22 January 2021, alongside other '80s era presentation animations, to promote the show It's A Sin. The on-screen bug and break bumpers seen during shows was also modified to show this logo's colors.
Variants: There are various versions of this logo. Below are some examples:
- These logos had unique variations for certain programs, such as American football (the blocks forming an American football player wearing a helmet) and Football Italia (a football strikes the formed logo, turning it into the colours of the Italian flag).
- A Christmas tape from 1985 had it stylized after a old B&W film print, complete with a deteriorated version of Fourscore as well.
- Christmas idents:
- Christmas 1982: The animation of the logo is superimposed on a background of a shiny Christmas bauble with several glowing lines. A 2D still variant with snow piled on the logo was used as well.
- Christmas 1983: Like in 1982, the animation is superimposed on a background, although this time consisting on a starry sky.
- Christmas 1984: On a dark blue background with a snow floor, can be see a snowman in the shape of the Channel 4 logo. Snow constantly falls.
- Christmas 1985-1986?: The animation goes as usual. However, the logo eventually gradually turn from multicolored to frozen at the end.
- Christmas 1987: Essentially, the same ident, with just a Christmas version of the Fourscore theme.
- Christmas 1988: We see a metallic version of the Channel 4 logo, while the screen constantly shows different glowing curves and lines appearing. Some glows appear in sync with the Fourscore theme.
- Christmas 1989: On a murky dark red/black background, a blue cup is seen on the bottom, glowing furiously and giving off mist. This mist shows the Channel 4 logo in a ghastly shade of blue, with most of it disappearing from the lack of it.
- Christmas 1990: A clear prism version of the logo is seen on a white board, where light shines and shifts through it. The Fourscore theme is also given a new arrangement with a female chorus and twinkles, giving it a heavenly-sounding vide.
- Christmas 1991: We fade through 3 different close-up shots of the logo, where various colorful imagery of patterns flash on it. The logo then fades to the logo tilting into position, with the main centerpiece of this year's theme (a 4-pointed star with a testcard-like pattern on the back, also covered in various colorful images.) faded into the background.
- Christmas 1992: The logo is rendered in a stained glass-like look, with a colorful pattern of squares surrounding it and the black square, and it features it zooming out and shining. The theme is also a medieval-styled version of the Fourscore theme.
- Christmas 1993: Going with the "Christmas in New York" theme, the logo starts with a different shot of NYC around Christmas time. The shot then defocuses, revealing the Channel 4 logo in white. The sounds of the city, as well as a reverse cymbal crash and a ding when the logo forms, are heard.
- Christmas 1994: Like a revised version of the 1985 variant, the logo freezes over in a thin layer of frost, with rotating sparkles on the inside. Freezing sounds and a sparkle are heard.
- Christmas 1995: A metallic version of the logo, along with a star on top, are seen before the logo slides in on itself. The star grows as well and flashes with the colors of the logo, radiating off lights of it as well. A modified version of the logo, mirrored on both sides to resemble a Christmas tree, slides out of itself and starts rotating. A mysterious-sounding synth tune plays throughout.
Technique: Incredible CGI.
- November 2, 1982-November 1, 1992: A bombastic four note fanfare called "Fourscore" composed by David Dundas, who also composed the regional ident music for ITV. Various versions of the jingle were used. The still version was silent aside from the continuity announcer.
- November 2, 1992-October 10, 1996: A new fanfare was introduced, based on the original one. It would feature various reprises of the same basic tune, usually accompanied by four chimes and also features a loud gong at the end. This version was brought in to replace the original jingle, as it was costing the channel too much to keep in use - David Dundas was paid £3.50 every time the original jingle was used, amounting in him earning around £1000 a week.
Availability: Extinct. It partially returned for the Channel 4's 25th birthday in 2007, on some adverts on C4 and its sister channel E4. It has since made sporadic appearances since then.
2nd Logo (October 11, 1996-April 1, 1999)
- Other idents had a more soft transition. The footage blurs as the four circles lands on it, with several waves coming from the circles.
- Christmas Idents:
- Christmas 1996: The footages center around Santa, which he is treated like a standard English citizen. The animation of the circles is intact.
- Christmas 1997: On a white BG, a lot of baby blue circles (with one containing the Channel 4 logo) are flashing. Sometimes turning purple, or being cut by white lines.
Technique: The circles.
Music/Sounds: The noises of live-action end in either a whoosh or a bunch of synth sounds.
3rd Logo (April 2, 1999-December 30, 2004)
- April-December 1999: These idents were created by Spin, and mostly featured the rectangles on same color tones, while the square with the number "4" was formed by a scanning pulse. Other versions had different fast-paced footages of places showing while the rectangles are moving.
- December 1999-December 2001: These idents were created by STATIC. The lines now features more different shades, has the Channel 4 logo is shown in different ways rather than just being "scanned". Like before, fast paced footages can be seen, although this time in the same shades has the rectangles.
- January 2002-December 30, 2004: Another idents created by STATIC. This time the animation was focused in different ambiances, rather than just the rectangles. The Channel 4 logo still have different ways to appear. Starting in May 2002, the Channel 4 URL which says "channel4.com" is added below the logo.
- Christmas Idents:
- Christmas 2000-2003: While the bars are barely seen, a lot of snow is falling to the right. The same square appear, but showing a tree at first, then showing the Channel 4 logo. Red and light blue versions are known to be used.
Technique: 2D animation.
Music/Sounds: It depends on the variant shown.
- April-December, 1999: The music theme was a remix of the track Upstream by d*note. A loud sound is heard when the Channel 4 logo is formed.
- December, 1999-2001: Different kind of tunes focused around a calm theme.
- 2001-2004: Different sort of synth tunes.
4th Logo (December 31, 2004-September 28, 2015)
Logo: We see an area or a part of the environment. Around the middle of the ident, the Channel 4 logo will form for a split second, made up of various objects depending on the variant.
Variants: There are many variants of this logo:
Original 2004 set:
- Bowls: We see a group of people playing lawn bowls outside as hedges in the shape of the Channel 4 logo parts fly around. Most of them don't notice, but one elderly lady on a bench turns around to see the sights in front of her. The Channel 4 logo is briefly made out of the shadows of the levitating hedges. This ident was often used to introduce live cricket coverage's live test and highlights. There is also a shorter version of this ident, which was only shown before the Deal or No Deal episode, which aired on September 21, 2009.
- Diner: The Channel 4 logo is briefly formed during a panning of an American diner/motel. This ident was often used to introduce the news.
- Flats: We pan through the balcony of a dark and dreary apartment complex (usually referred to as 'flats' in the UK), with the Channel 4 logo briefly forming from parts of the surrounding buildings. This ident was often used to introduce The Land Before Time (1988 film).
- Dubai: The camera sweeps across the Dubai landscape, showing lots of building under construction, and the Channel 4 logo forms from the various buildings.
- Hay Bales: We pan across a landscape of fields with hay bales dotted around, with the Channel 4 logo forming from levitating hay bales, one of which is on fire.
- Trafalgar Square: We see some pigeons flying onto Trafalgar Square in London, capital of the U.K. and walking on a large Channel 4 logo on a plinth. The logo then squeezes itself and retracts, causing some of the pigeons to either fly away or die (not visibly).
- Market: We walk through a busy street market, with the Channel 4 logo briefly coming into view overhead formed from various market stands and carts.
- Pylons: The camera is situated in a car driving down a country road surrounded by large electricity pylons, when it pans to the back of the car to reveal the Channel 4 logo briefly appearing from pieces of the pylons.
- Taxi: We see various taxi cabs in an American city, swerving around the road whilst the camera focuses on levitating blocks overhead. The blocks briefly appear to form the Channel 4 logo.
- Roadworks: We're inside a car driving down a motorway, with visible floating roadworks signs in the distance. A car in front swerves to the left and the Channel 4 logo appears formed from roadworks signs.
- Alien: A woman and a man donning a cowboy hat are stuck worried in a car as mysterious metal objects fly around them and form the Channel 4 logo twice.
In 2006 and 2007, extra idents were added to the set:
- Containers: The camera pans through a shipping port with various containers and other mechanical devices. The Channel 4 logo briefly appears formed from containers and distant structures.
- Tokyo: We see a busy street in Tokyo as the camera walks through, before turning around to reveal the Channel 4 logo briefly forming from neon signs and building parts.
- Stage: The camera starts at the top of a music stage and slowly pans down into the field below, with the Channel 4 logo appearing from various speakers, lights, and a cart.
- Rollercoaster: The Channel 4 logo is briefly formed during a first-person rollercoaster ride. There is also a shorter version of this ident, which was only shown before The Rugrats Movie.
- Rocks: We see the back of a large rock peeking out of the ocean, and the camera pans around it to briefly reveal the Channel 4 logo made up of lots of rocks.
- Homer: We see Homer Simpson put a pack of Duff beer on his hammock, but the force created by him lying on it causes the cans to fly up onto the electrical lines. He screams and falls off the hammock, and climbs up a tree to try and retrieve the cans. However, every time he tries to grab them he gets electrocuted. Night falls, and he tries one last time to get the cans. The shock causes one of them to open, and he tries drinking the can and gets electrocuted at the same time. We pan out from the Simpsons' backyard to reveal that every time he drinks, a power outage briefly flashes and forms the Channel 4 logo.
In 2010, more idents were added to the set. Some idents, such as Roadworks and Alien, were removed from the lineup.
- Junkyard: We pan across a junkyard to see a forklift grabbing some broken cars. A stack of junk and the forklift itself briefly form the Channel 4 logo. This ident originally aired as part of Channel 4's '3D Week' in 2009, before joining the main lineup in 2010.
- Blackpool: We start on the sidewalk as various people are walking down the street. The camera pans up and around to reveal the Channel 4 logo, formed from buildings, signs, and part of the Blackpool Tower.
- Airplanes: The camera pans through a large deserted area full of old aircraft, before panning up into the sky to briefly reveal the Channel 4 logo formed from said aircraft.
- Abbey: We pan through the old ruins of an abbey, with bunnies running away from the camera, as it pans out to reveal the Channel 4 logo.
- The Simpsons Homer ident was a unique animation commissioned by Channel 4 and produced by Gracie Films and animated by Film Roman and Rough Draft Korea. The animation from this ident was worked into the couch gag for the season 25 episode 'Specs and the City' with some alterations (rather than the original hammock scene, Homer is watching the Super Bowl and discovers that Bart threw the pack of Duff onto the power lines outside, leading into the animation from the ident), and whilst the lighting effects during the power outage scene are altered to remove the giant 4 logo, it can still be clearly seen in the street outlines if you look closely enough. After the 2015 rebrand, this episode is now the only way to see said ident broadcast on TV.
- The Rollercoaster variant is entirely filmed at Knott's Berry Farm in Buena Park, California.
- The Abbey ident was filmed at Bayham Old Abbey.
- During April Fool's Day 2011, all idents used on screen were edited to remove the Channel 4 logo completely.
Technique: Depending on the variant used. Quite impressive, resembling the original 1982 idents.
Music/Sounds: Depending on the logo variant shown.
Availability: Extinct, as Channel 4 rebranded the logo in September 2015.
5th Logo (September 29, 2015-October 30, 2017)
- Other idents depicted the use of several blocks bashing about, which were primarily used for break bumpers. Some of these idents include:
- A Simpsons variant, aired before episodes of The Simpsons, although not all the time. In this one, the blocks, all colored yellow, keep moving towards different parts of the screen, along with a pair of circular shapes resembling eyes with small black pupils. Although new idents were introduced in late 2017, this version is still used in one way or another, either still being used before an episode, or as a bumper between episodes.
- Another ident used for the coverage of Formula 1 motor racing.
- Beginning on June 19, 2017, all new break bumpers were made, this time actually showing the logo being formed in some matter before being thrown about.
- In the event of a death in the Royal Family or other emergency matters, a more somber ident will be used instead. The background has a unique shimmer to it as the blocks silently move slightly in the lower-right corner.
Accompanying clock ident: The clock makes a return for the first time in 20 years, being a large pile of blocks. The blocks are seen around 2 invisible clock hands, which bounce in real time with the ticking. There's also several different color variations.
Technique: Live action, with CGI animation involved. This was animated by DBLG.
Music/Sounds: The Simpsons variant uses several loud saxophone notes that play in time to the blocks on screen moving.
Availability: Extinct. The Simpsons ident and the program bumpers are still used.
6th Logo (October 31, 2017-)
Logo: As with the previous idents, there are numerous different versions that run in different lengths. All idents feature a large metal construct that resembles a man, built out of the various parts of the Channel 4 logo.
- One version features the construct running alongside a group of Paralympic cyclists. It's eventually unable to keep up with them and stops by the side of the road, tiredly wheezing out the Fourscore tune, and collapses into pieces.
- Another version features the construct walking up a mountain path that overlooks a distant town. It stands out on one of the peaks, facing the town, and blares Fourscore, the sound and force of it causing havoc in the town, knocking a cyclist off their bike, causing animals to cry out, making a couple put on protective headsets, a person closing their window, and a man along with a group of schoolchildren trying to stand against the force of the blast. The construct eventually stops, chuckles, and it cuts back to the kids toppling over in unison.
- Another variant features the construct playing in the middle of a street with a group of kids, kicking a football around. After a while, the construct kicks the ball wide, which ends up breaking the window of a nearby house. The angry occupant shouts at the group, giving chase as they all run away, the construct quickly playing the Fourscore tune.
- The fourth variant features a kaiju-sized construct submerged in the ocean, barring the top of its head, upon which a group of people (who appear to be immigrants) are sitting. It emerges from the water as it approaches the white cliffs of Dover, allowing the people to dismount from it atop the cliffs. Once they are off, it walks back towards the sea, turning around to wave at the group as it blares Fourscore.
Trivia: These idents were filmed in Liverpool, the Peak District and the White Cliffs of Dover.
Technique: Live action with CGI animation.
Music/Sounds: The background music for each ident is a simple guitar track that borrows thematically from the channel's famous "Fourscore" tune from the first logo. The construct itself blares out the jingle at the end of all of the idents, sounding akin to a foghorn.
7th Logo (November 2, 2022-)
Logo: On a green/blue cube background, the blocks of the Channel 4 logo grow and spin, forming the logo. The background moves and changes colour throughout the ident, while the 4 changes positions to match with the background.
Trivia: These are the first idents since 1999 to feature the full 4 logo for longer than a split second.
Technique: Completely CGI animation.
Music/Sounds: A calm 4-note jingle (not a rendition of Fourscore in any way for the first time since 2017), followed by ambient synth notes mixed in with whooshes.
Availability: Brand new, and currently used in tandem with the previous logo.
Logo: On a black background, we see three CGI rectangles colored blue, red and yellow stretching and rotating in various directions, eventually forming a simplified "4". It stays still for a few seconds before rotating and stops again.
Technique: CGI animation by award-winning designer/director Matt Forrest of Snapper Films.
Music/Sounds: A dramatic drumbeat with ethnical flute sound and the crowd shouting "FOUR!". The music ends with a powerful hit and it's followed by an announcer spiel.
Availability: Extinct. It was never transmitted on the main channel, as it would still use the 1982 ident.