June 28, 2021

Jump 25 All Time Top Sequences – Joint 3rd Place

The titles we created for The Graham Norton Show came joint third in our competition to find your all-time favourite sequences designed by Jump.

This hugely popular chat show attracts all of the biggest celebrity names. Initially it went out on BBC2 in 2007, before moving to BBC1 in 2009. The sequence has been used for a mightily impressive 14 years, although is now edited down into a shorter version which no longer features the host.

The story behind The Graham Norton Show titles and Jump’s history with Graham Norton goes back a lot further than just this sequence though.

In 1998, when Jump was only 2 years old, we designed the titles for Graham’s first chat show on Channel 4, ‘So Graham Norton‘ which quickly became famous for its riotous and risque sense of humour. The sequence tapped into this naughty side and featured a series of sex advert cards in a phone box. The messages on them become real images, as if being imagined by the person reading them. The random, bizarre and cheeky collection of images matched the tone of the show.

So Graham Norton

In 2002 we created a new title sequence for ‘V Graham Norton’ which was more glamorous to reflect the growing success. A white suited Graham is seen in a studio herding and co-ordinating a collection of cheeky, colourful characters.

V Graham Norton

‘The Graham Norton Show’ followed the presenter’s move from Channel 4 to BBC. Graham had well and truly arrived as one of television’s most loved and popular personalities. He was at the top of his game. The brief to Jump was to make this new BBC sequence reflect this, and to feel like the completion of a trilogy tracking his career.

We wanted the sequence to be slick, clever and made with the highest production values to reflect Graham’s success. We also wanted to keep the glamorous sense of humour that featured in all previous titles. We hit on the concept of Graham lifting up ceremoniously out of water, giving a sense of arrival – and yet being revealed as completely bone dry. (How cool!)

Our beautiful and eclectic objects would be seen splashing, floating or sinking in the water around him. They were included as a nod to the earlier C4 title sequences and to make the titles feel part of a whole set.

Filming in water always throws up some challenges.

Russell Hilliard, One of Jump’s directors and Art Director on the sequence explains more:

“We were filming at a water tank studio in the middle of winter – so you can imagine how cold the water was. Graham was incredibly patient and good humoured for the whole day though. Often he would have to sit on his specially constructed perch in the middle of the freezing water, totally unable to move, while lights and cameras were being adjusted around him. We certainly tried to work fast that day.

Graham was filmed on a hydraulic contraption which lowered him into the water. The contraption sat on the bottom of the pool. The depth of the water however would only allow a range of movement equivalent to half the height of a human. So for some takes, Graham stood on the perch and was lowered into water down to his waist, and for other shots he sat on the perch and was fully submerged.  Needless to say there was a scuba diver in the pool at all times for safety!

The Graham Norton Show

We meticulously planned the day and the shooting schedule as we presumed Graham’s suit would be trashed when soaked after being submerged. We had three identical suits which were from a high street chain but had been beautifully embellished with sparkly fabrics. As we needed multiple suits there was no way we were going to D&G or Ozwald Boateng for the wardrobe! We thought we would get 6 takes out of 3 suits, each suit giving us a top half and a bottom half submersion.

However on the first take, and to everyone’s amazement, when Graham was lifted out of the water the material looked completely bone dry, even though it had been fully underwater. We couldn’t believe our luck, and quickly reworked the shoot order to squeeze in valuable extra takes.

Obviously the television set being thrown into the water had no electricity running into it. We had to track and rotoscope the glass screen in post production to enable us to put the shot of the flames in it. In later versions of the titles, the edit suite had the ability to use this matte to zoom back the last shot of the pretitles VT into the TV set as it crashed into the water.”

The Graham Norton Show

You can watch a ‘behind the scenes‘ video revealing more about the making of the sequence here.

The Graham Norton Show is a So Television Production for BBC.