Back in Leeds at our grungy studio behind the Advertising Agency, this sudden access to the ‘Big Time’, though for me an incredible break, was unfortunately a single ticket, it wasn’t something that Jane my new partner could get involved with as it didn’t come into her area of skill.
She was an excellent graphic and typographic designer, but that’s not was called for here. So as I worked on the titles and illustrated graphics for the show, Jane became got more and more disenchanted with our partnership, as in contrast I became more energized and immersed with the new project, which for her and for me had arrived out of the blue.
Though she was genuinely pleased for me, in the end my growing involvement with the show and the time it took from our shared partnership work pushed her over the edge, and all the way down the hill back to London. And that was the end of
‘Sunderland and Parnaby Design’.
The extraordinary thing about 3*2*1 and the cartoon character ‘Dusty Bin’, once the show was running, was that the two went hand in hand. For some extraordinary reason it entered the collective unconscious of the nation, where it still is decades later. Just everybody knew ‘Dusty Bin’; it became iconic. People either liked it or detested it, along with the show but for some reason it stuck in their heads.
In many ways the show and certainly the Bin was an icon of popular kitsch, and in truth for years after, once I got involved in the world of Cultural Heritage, I never mentioned that I created the character, I was too embarrassed. I thought if it came out in one of those elevated circles that it would undermine my professional status.
But that was wrong, it was just the opposite, a professional and inspired solution to a brief, which strange though it seems for a long time afterwards became part of the
Notwithstanding the ‘love it, hate it’ thing about the show, the first series rocketed to the top of the viewing tables and stayed there for the whole of the first series. The Bin appeared during the show in various forms and costumes as a mobile robotic character, much I think to the chagrin of the shows’ host the comedian Ted Rogers. Dusty Bin became the shows’ real star! And every week when the show titles started up, the bin was born again with another debut stage all to himself.
The music that Johnny Pearson composed was just brilliant.
As we’d discussed at that first meeting with him, the titles began with the usual station ident. And with the usual music sting behind it, ‘dan te dan dan darrr’, then the YTV chevron symbol shot off like a rocket, trailing stars into the sky which form the numerals 3-2-1.
where standing next to the studio stage door stands a lonely sad bent rusty old bin, with its’ lid off. The chevron flies straight in and explodes, blowing the contents out of the bin; an old clowns’ outfit including red nose, big white gloves and clown’s long yellow shoes, along with springs and lengths of corrugated tubing and other junk. In a second, the explosion magically fuses all the bits and pieces together with the bin, which then jumps to life and dashes in through the studio-door, onto the stage and into the spotlight; he’s a performer! Then after bowing, he pulls back the curtains behind him revealing the start of that weeks’ show.
A galvanized star is born!