The trouble was that instead of encouraging inclusivity, the only feeling of unity produced by these BBC1 "idents" (branding) seemed to be an almost universal sense of annoyance among the viewing public.
Yesterday, the new controller of BBC1 indicated the show was over for the dancers, who have become a between-programme feature of the corporation's flagship channel for more than three years. Asked about the future marketing of BBC1, the channel's new head, Peter Fincham signalled that fresh idents were in the offing. He said: "That is something we are looking at. They came on air in March 2002 and it may well be that the time is coming when we look at a new way of doing BBC1 idents."
The dancers were introduced at a cost of more than £700,000 as a replacement for the previous BBC1 symbol of a spinning globe, prompting the then Channel 4 chief executive, Mark Thompson, to complain that the BBC was "basking in a Jacuzzi of spare public cash". Mr Thompson is now director general of the BBC.
When the dancers were introduced they were greeted with howls of cynicism. "Only a publicly funded committee could have devised such a well-meaningly fatuous vignette," said one commentator in the London Evening Standard of the disabled basketball players. "If they play that ident 10 times a day for the rest of the year ... they can claim that they've fulfiled their obligations to provide several hours of ethnic and disability programming."
Changing the idents will be a way for Mr Fincham to stamp his authority on BBC1, which was named Channel of the Year on Saturday - partly because of the popularity of a series of programmes based on dancing.
Mr Fincham today outlines his vision for the future of Britain's most important television channel in The Independent's MediaWeekly, his first newspaper interview since taking on his new role.
Yesterday he addressed members of the broadcasting industry at the Edinburgh International Television Festival, revealing that BBC1 is to embark on one of the biggest productions in its programming history by making a landmark television series to mark the 150th anniversary of the publication of Charles Darwin's classic tome, On the Origin of Species.
The project is Mr Fincham's first major production commission and the controller said he had given the go-ahead for the series within days of taking up his post in March.
Mr Fincham said: "In almost my first week in the job I was presented with a proposal to make an enormously ambitious series, Origin of Species. This will be a series with the breadth of ambition of the best that BBC1 has done. It's The Blue Planet and more."
The series, which will run to at least eight parts, is being made by the BBC's Natural History Unit and will not be screened until 2009, the 150th anniversary of the publication of On the Origin of Species, in which Darwin promoted the theory of evolution. The classic treatise was published after Darwin returned from his round-the-world travels as a naturalist on board HMS Beagle.
The new controller also signalled he would not be bowing to pressure to make BBC1 "repeat-free" by the end of the decade, saying research had shown that such a process would cost £100m. He said that he was dissatisfied with the "docu-soaps" that were frequently being screened on BBC1 during the early evening, describing such shows as a "relatively passive experience" for viewers who now expected more from broadcasters.
He promised to put more resources into finding better comedy and improving comedy drama and he said BBC1 should avoid a mind-set of continually competing for ratings with its traditional rival, ITV1. "The notion that BBC1 and ITV1 are like blinkered horses in a horse race looking over their shoulders at each other is an out-of-date notion," he said. "The competition for eye-balls is much more complex."
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