The Open University

From the Audiovisual Identity Database, the motion graphics museum


The Open University is a British public research university and the largest university in the United Kingdom by number of students. It was founded in 1969, but didn't start enrolling until January 1971. It also used to broadcast course-based programming on the BBC as part of their core classes, a unique form of education for the time; these were eventually phased out by 2006, although the OU still produces semi-academic programming alongside the BBC from time to time.

1st Logo (1971-1991)

Visuals: On a yellow background is the text "THE OPEN UNIVERSITY" in Optima, centered on the bottom of the screen. Then, a blue circle rotates onto the background while two parts of a rounded shield wipe in. The circle rotates until it appears as a yellow circle, forming the Open University logo.


  • Starting in 1984, the logo would be presented in a different color scheme and the text at the bottom would be replaced by a different logo.
    • BBC1 (1984-1985): Yellow logo, blue background, BBC1 wordmark in white.
    • BBC1 (1985-1991): Gold logo, black background, BBC1 wordmark in gold.
    • BBC2 (1984-1986): Yellow logo, black background, BBC2's clock logo.
    • BBC2 (1986-1991): Powder blue logo, white background, TWO logo in dark blue.
  • Throughout most of its life, the logo would use chroma-keyed models for its animation; this lead to some wonky-looking end results sometimes. Later on, the logo would be remade with computer animation.
  • When the Open University broadcasted on BBC2 before 1984, the OU shield was replaced by the "Striped 2" logo.
  • On closedowns, the logo plays in reverse.

Technique: 2D animation, with model work for the earlier versions.

Audio: The first five bars of "Divertimento", composed by Leonard Salzedo, followed by a continuity announcer saying (usually) "This is the Open University".

Availability: Shown on BBC1 and BBC2 back in the day for 20 years until it was replaced by the next logo. There are flash remakes from and BBC Cult, though.

Legacy: This logo and its successor are infamous among British audiences (much like American audiences and the Viacom "V of Doom") for frightening young children.

2nd Logo (1991-1997)

Visuals: On a black background, shining rays are seen coming out a black circle, looking like a solar eclipse. A bright light then shines on the circle, revealing the shield and a translucent black bar with either the BBC1 or BBC2 logo at the time. The light then changes position and the bar becomes solid. The light then disappears and some blue and white clouds appear behind it. The shield then changes to yellow and blue and "The Open University" appears below.

Variant: A version with just the BBC logo at the time exists.

Technique: Live-action.

Audio: A mysterious synth tune with a continuity announcer.

Availability: Formerly seen on both BBC1 and BBC2 back in the day. The version with just the BBC logo only mainly appears on VHS releases.

3rd Logo (2000-2006)

Visuals: On a yellow blueprint background, the familiar OU shield is seen with "The Open University" in the same font as before below it, the 1997 BBC logo above and the copyright line below all. All but the OU logo disappears, which zooms in and the name crumples. The logo then gains glasses, a mouth, an eye, hair, and a body wearing a lab coat typing on a computer and holding a beaker surrounded by science stuff, including a violin. He moves a bit and the pictures change to become a geographer with a ponytail, dress, jacket, and yellow lips holding some kind of case and binoculars surrounded by geography stuff. She moves a bit and blinks her eye before she and the pictures change to a construction worker with a nose, mouth, hard hat, plaid shirt, and different pictures. The construction worker is holding a walkie-talkie and a clipboard. He then moves and talks into the walkie-talkie and everything disappears but the shield. The name uncrumples itself and then lays flat.

Technique: 2D stop-motion animation

Audio: A violin tune.

4th Logo (2008-2011)

Visuals: On a black background, greenish blue waves are seen faintly forming the Open University shield, then unraveling as they expand. In the bottom right is the actual OU shield in shiny light blue, which then fades out and "The Open University" in a different font with the website URL above flashes in its place.

Technique: Live-action.

Audio: A deep hum.

Availability: It was seen on programmes produced for The Open University's website.

5th Logo (2010-)

Visuals: The Open University shield from before rotates into view, with the name (in the same font as the 2nd and 3rd logos) now positioned to the right of it at a 90 degree angle. It is usually seen with the BBC logo and another co-prodicer.

Technique: 2D computer animation.

Audio: The closing theme of the show.

Availability: Seen on TV programmes co-produced with the BBC.

6th Logo (2011-2017)

Visuals: On a white background, "The Open University" in the 4th logo font fades in with "Free open learning" underneath. The OU shield from before rotates into view to the left of the text, which after a while fades out and the shield follows suit.

Technique: 2D computer animation.

Audio: A two-part synth hum with faint computerized sounds, or none.

Availability: Same as the 4th logo.

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