Helvetica, BBC ONE, Tuesday, 6th November 10:35pm


macrumors G3
Original poster
Mar 9, 2002
BBC said:
Helvetica is a shorter version of the feature-length film by Gary Hustwit about the most popular typeface in the world, which celebrates its 50th birthday this year. Why Helvetica? Because it is everywhere. Millions of people use it and read it everyday, on public transport, newspapers, shop fronts and, of course, their computers.

The film tells the story of how a typeface drawn by a little-known Swiss designer in 1957 became one of the most popular ways for us to communicate. It has been described as the Kate Moss of fonts - ultrathin, misunderstood and plastered all over the tabloids. The Museum of Modern Art in New York even staged an exhibition devoted to it.

Interviews with some of the big names in graphic design like Neville Brody, Rick Poyner and Massimo Vignelli (who used it in the American Airlines logo which has remained unchanged since 1966) help tell the history of this elegant, modern design. In the beginning it was prized for its quality of clarity and neutrality. It cut through the clutter of 50s advertising to convey the corporate image. Then it became almost the default font for governments, global corporations, bureaucracy and capitalism. One counter-culture designer recalls that “if you used it, it meant you were in favour of the Vietnam war.”

Though Helvetica has gone in and out of fashion it has never gone away. The film asks whether this is a symptom of globalisation or simply a reflection that it is the ultimate typeface. Or, as one interviewee puts it, "it seems to come from nowhere ... it seems like air, like gravity.” Love it or loathe it, it is a design masterpiece.
Finally the BBC broadcasts something worth watching, excellent.


macrumors Core
Mar 17, 2005
London, England
your quote is a little messed up, BTW

I like this part: "It has been described as the Kate Moss of fonts - ultrathin, misunderstood and plastered all over the tabloids." :D

but I'm not so sure I want to see a programme about a font. :p

Blue Velvet

Moderator emeritus
Jul 4, 2004
Essential watching for all those who have read anything anywhere in a public space. :p

Regardless of subject matter, supposed to be a good film. Does anyone know what's different, what's missing, from the longer version? I want to see the extras on the DVD. :D

BBC One as well... absolutely worth watching; learn something today about something that is all around us, almost all the time.


macrumors Core
Jun 16, 2004
Balls, too many Comic Sans posts already!:(

I was going to say:

I hope I've missed the Comic Sans episode!

Jaffa Cake

macrumors Core
Aug 1, 2004
The City of Culture, Englandshire
Thanks for mentioning it's on, iGav – I would have missed it otherwise.

The Sky+ has been set, and Miss Jaffa Cake is now laughing at me. I note from the description on the Sky channel thingy that this programme 'contains strong language', so clearly Comic Sans does rear its head at some point. :D


macrumors 68040
Nov 26, 2003
Note how the description on the BBC website is of course in… Arial.
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