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The Good Life (1975) opening titles

Contributed by Florian Hardwig on Apr 30th, 2020. Artwork published in .
    The Good Life (1975) opening titles 1
    Source: https://www.youtube.com License: All Rights Reserved.

    The Good Life is a British sitcom produced by BBC television, starring Richard Briers, Felicity Kendal, Penelope Keith, and Paul Eddington. It ran from 4 April 1975 to 10 June 1978. The typeface used for the opening titles is named Fancy Condensed.

    Made at Face Photosetting, Fancy is a phototype adaptation of a face that probably originated at woodtype manufacturer DeLittle in York. It’s shown in their catalog from around 1940 [or rather 1966, see comments], in three numbered widths (but without a trade name); No. 161 (wide), No. 209 (medium), No. 283 (condensed, caps only). Face Photosetting’s Fancy covered all three widths, in solid and Outline variants. The medium width additionally came in a Rimmed variant.

    Fancy is similar in feel to Windsor Condensed or Windsor Elongated, but easily distinguishable by the perky R (cf. McCullagh or Robur) and the dangling bars in E and F. MPI Delittle (mpressinteractive, 2013) is an unimpressive all-caps digitization based on DeLittle’s No. 209. I’m not aware of any other digital interpretations.

    Glyph set of the regular-wide Fancy, from an undated Face Photosetting catalog.
    Scan courtesy of Mathieu Triay. License: All Rights Reserved.

    Glyph set of the regular-wide Fancy, from an undated Face Photosetting catalog.

    DeLittle’s No. 283 (equivalent to Fancy Condensed).
    Source: http://type.org.uk Scan: The Type Library. License: All Rights Reserved.

    DeLittle’s No. 283 (equivalent to Fancy Condensed).

    The Good Life (1975) opening titles 4
    Source: https://www.youtube.com License: All Rights Reserved.
    The Good Life (1975) opening titles 5
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    The Good Life (1975) opening titles 6
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    The Good Life (1975) opening titles 7
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    The Good Life (1975) opening titles 8
    Source: https://www.youtube.com License: All Rights Reserved.

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    4 Comments on “The Good Life (1975) opening titles”

    1. I’ve handled a DeLittle specimen and Type Library have done a great service reprinting one–they are huge! But magnificently printed. Their specimen book feels thirties but it’s far far newer than it looks–I saw it linked on David Shields’ website dated 1966, and flipped through thinking it must be a mistake (the price list is dated March 1966, but it’s hard to see)…until I got to the page with Helvetica on it. (A lot of the settings do feel older, though, including the calendars with 1940s dates-I checked, they’re correct-can they really have kept these huge formes together for a quarter-century? Or print a batch of specimen sheets and use them for the next two decades? I’d love to know who would know.) The one I saw (c. 1980, I understand) focused on the bicolour types and seemed more of an art object; this specimen is clearly more of a practical item.

    2. Oh, that’s amazing! Admittedly, I didn’t spend too much time trying to date the DeLittle specimen, as it’s largely inconsequential in this context. Some page designs (and faces) look like they’re from the 1890s or 1900s. I realized it must be a lot more recent than that – I spotted Perpetua and Gill AKA Art Sans, but missed Helvetica. My “around 1940” estimate was indeed based on the included calendar dates. When I saw those, I stopped. I couldn’t imagine this specimen to be a post-war edition. 1966? Wow. It’s strikes me as a cumulative catalog. I’d assume that the Fancy precursor is from around the same time as Windsor, plus or minus a decade or so.

      Apropos, Scarfolk’s recent parody titled “Surrender Hope (1975)” uses Windsor Elongated.

    3. Quite so. I’ve since found pictures of a 1928 specimen (price list for 1929 included) which show several matching pages, this one unchanged and this one partially reset. Doesn’t beat the successors to Christoffel van Dijck’s foundry, though, according to Lane, who printed the same standing types as specimens all the way from 1670 to the Enschedé specimen of 1768. 

      The specimen’s world seems entirely pre-war: no Beatles, no Sputnik, no references to televisions, even, just orchestral concerts at the Winter Gardens. That could be a stylistic choice of keeping a unified set of stock phrases all the types were printed in, though, as the Helvetica page has no contemporary references either, and besides the 1940s calendars there’s nothing totally anachronistic (no charabanc tours, for example, or references to the Empire).

      I’m not sure what pre-war DeLittle specimens are in public hands. An Australian museum has one they think dates from before 1938. St. Bride’s has one from 1954, according to the catalogue, as well as a copy of Face Photosetting Specimens of Delittle’s Wood Type.

    4. Face Photosetting Specimens of Delittle’s Wood Type

      Mmh … that’s sounds interesting! I need to pay them a visit, once this is over. I noticed that other faces from DeLittle appear in the Face catalog as well. I’ll have a closer look.

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