Spitting Image creator Martin Lambie-Nairn dies aged 75

The designer's eponymous company was behind idents for the BBC, Channel 4 and O2.

Martin Lambie-Nairn, the graphic designer credited with creating Spitting Image and the Channel 4 logo, has died aged 75.

The designer, whose eponymous branding agency Lambie-Nairn helped produce some of British television’s most recognisable visuals, died on Christmas Day.

A statement from his branding agency ML-N said: “We are deeply saddened to announce the passing of Martin Lambie-Nairn on Christmas Day.

Spitting Image to return
(Avalon/Mark Harrison/PA)

“In a career spanning five decades, Martin was widely acknowledged as one of the leading graphic designers and creative directors of his generation.

“From his ground breaking identity for the launch of Channel 4 in 1982 and the rebranding of BBC News to his appointment as a Royal Designer for Industry and creating the original idea and concept for the TV series Spitting Image, Martin’s accolades and achievements are too numerous to list.

“His exceptional work, kindness and infectious creative spirit touched the lives of so many people.

“He will be hugely missed by everyone who had the privilege to work alongside him over the years.”

Lambie-Nairn’s design consultancy, Lambie-Nairn, created Channel 4’s original “blocks” animated logo in 1982, and the globe balloon idents used by BBC One between 1997 and 2001.

They also produced idents for BBC Two and more recently the bubble logo used by mobile phone company O2.

Idents describe a moving logo shown to identify a TV channel between programmes.

In 1981, Lambie-Nairn came up with the original idea for the satirical puppet show Spitting Image during a business lunch.

The show originally ran for 18 series between 1984 and 1996 and was watched by 15 million viewers in its heyday, before being rebooted for BritBox this year.

He received a credit from the showrunners which said the series was “based on an original lunch with Martin Lambie-Nairn”.

For 12 years, he was a consultant creative director at the BBC before moving on to other work in 2002.

Lambie-Nairn also oversaw a Blue Peter competition in 2012 to design the official emblem for the Queen’s diamond jubilee.

He was a fellow of the Royal Television Society and was an honorary doctor at both the University of Lincoln and the University of Northampton.

BBC News’s creative director Chris Cook tweeted: “This is very sad. Martin Lambie-Nairn was instrumental in building the @BBCNews brand as it still exists today. He was a brilliant designer and a thoroughly lovely man. Sleep well Mr.”

Mark Read, the CEO of advertising company WPP, said on Twitter: “I was very sad to hear this news. Martin Lambie-Nairn contributed so much to our industry and created some of the most iconic identities that have stood the test of time around the world.”

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