A shot from the SS-GB Titles. A sepia tone background with a fuzzy outline of black gates, with a man stood between the two pillars

SS-GB Titles

Messages in the shadows: Framestore presents a twisting, turning title sequence for SS-GB, a major adaptation of Len Deighton’s 1978 alternate history novel, which premiered on BBC One in 2017.

Title Design
ss-gb title logo

The series - sneak peek of which was given at Berlinale on 14 February - is a complex thriller set in an SS-occupied London, in the early 1940s. Framestore’s William Bartlett worked alongside production company Sid Gentle Films and writers Neal Purvis and Robert Wade to direct and craft the series’ title sequence, drawing on his own significant experience with the medium to stylishly reference the many motives and allegiances at play in the show’s narrative.

ss and nazi symbols with text 'executive producers neal purvis robert wade' on the bottom centre
'and james cosmo' text on a background of united kingdom islands and barbed wire that is covered in red stains

Bartlett pitched several ideas to the team, at an early stage of production. Already familiar with Deighton’s novel, he wanted to give the story context, and reflect the ever-fluctuating suspicions and doubts of protagonist Douglas Archer, a lead detective at the SS-governed Scotland Yard.

The titles heavily reference the Battle of Britain, cut against iconic London skylines and German military insignia. Predominantly fashioned in sepia, the sequence is given a shot of vibrancy from inky, blood-red clouds, echoing the poppy fields modern viewers now associate with the portrayed war.

silhouttes of nazi soldiers pulling guns on citizens. the image is covered in barbed wire

Characters are woven into the sequence in an abstract manner, veiled in silhouette form and inspired by shadow theatre. Bartlett was able to capture key cast members on green screen as the series was filmed, allowing for greater creative scope and control in post. The entire piece was completed in VRay renderer for Nuke.

The resulting sequence is a directorial triumph for Bartlett, whose multiple stints as VFX Supervisor on the iconic James Bond franchise movie titles alongside long time collaborator Daniel Kleinman no doubt influenced the task at hand. Indeed, SS-GB writers Neal and Robert had, too, previously worked on Bond, making for a creative reunion of sorts on set.

Says Bartlett, ‘Titles are a fascinating genre, incorporating a mix of design and direction, rhythm and pacing, all contained within tight parameters. Every element of the sequence needs to play its part in giving a glimpse of narrative, whilst weaving together an overall visual. SS-GB was a prime opportunity to present my own take on a sequence, working with a brilliant and collaborative cast and crew.’

silhoutte of an actress holding a cigarette in her hand as photography film and barbed wire is juxtaposed on the background
silhoutte of a man wearing a fedora facing the camera as mathematics equations and barbed wire are juxtaposed in the background


Design and Direction (Framestore)
William Bartlett
Director (SS-GB)
Philipp Kadelbach
Executive Producer
Neal Purvis, Robert Wade
Senior Producer
Niamh O'Donohoe
Patrick Schweitzer
Junior Nuke
Matthew Thomas
Executive Producer (Sid Gentle Films)
Sally Woodward, Lee Morris