BBC Radio 4 'On The Hour'

November 2008

Hour House

Chris Morris has worked with Framestore for a few years now, on a variety of projects that put their idiosyncratic talents to good use. The latest example of this is the long-awaited release of one of Morris's earliest large-scale projects, On The Hour, the Radio 4 satirical news programme.

Commissioned by Warp Records, and designed in close collaboration with Morris, the 2 x 4CD box set, comprises Series 1 and Series 2 of the original series, and was released on 24th November 2008.

Jam-packed with extras never before released, including the series pilot, Alan Partridge rushes, and a report about cattle rising from the dead that the Today programme put on their running order to broadcast, before someone double-checked and pulled it last minute, the box is a definitive collection of this material, and required a scrupulous, intelligent and cool craftsmanship for its design and packaging.

One of the most obvious difficulties that faced designer Sharon Lock when approaching the material was that no original reference material existed. When On The Hour was created, some 17 years ago, it was not made on the sort of scale that demanded a logo and the other wherewithal of design. Morris was keen to avoid using photographs, behind the scenes images and the other usual trappings of this sort of package, and he asked Sharon if she'd take up the challenge of creating it all graphically.

"I went through an enormous number of ideas and iterations of the design, before eventually settling on current idea," Lock says, "Trying to find a style that suited the idiom, whilst feeling contemporary, was the trick. How to get it to stand out on the shelves in the shops?"

Lock is well known for her astonishing eye for detail, here evinced in elements such as the sets outer covers, which have an amazing gloss finish zinging the colours out. Further gorgeous detail can be found within, with each box containing four pockets for the discs, and each having its own message that reads across the pockets. Each disc (of which there are eight in all) also has a bespoke design and all of the pockets have a little text surprise hidden within.

All of which creates an object which is a pleasure to hold and to own - a superb example of beautiful design and contemporary craftsmanship. Funny, too.  

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