Spiekermann Presents
Typomania on BBC

Written by Typographica on March 23, 2004

Erik Spiekermann, founder of FontFont and FontShop and designer of Meta, Officina, and Unit, now publishes a personal blog. Among other delightful typographic curiosities is an ’80s-era BBC TV special called Typomania. Watch the bow-tied German articulate the details and value of typography for the layman. I love the part where he likens a straight-laced Mercedes 220 to Helvetica, and an old Citroën to the Metro type, organic and art nouveau. This is classic Herr Spiekermann, full of dry humor and simple wisdom.


  1. A programme about typography???. The BBC must have been great at that time. And hosted by Erik spiekermann. He looks like some sort of a gentleman. Did James Ivory seen that?
    (Just kidding, his work amazes me) This video is a must. Brilliant.
    Greetings from Spain.

  2. Hrant says:

    That BBC piece is very cute! I wonder if it sunk in. (BTW, I’m pretty sure a Dutch paper from the 17th century -I forget the name- was the first to commission a typeface, not The Times.)

    That Rotis “discussion” however heartily qualifies as “heavily edited”… I know because I was there! :-)


  3. jay says:

    Is that intro song a real song? if so, what is it, and who is it by?

  4. cos says:

    The song’s real. It’s by the Tom Tom Club (Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz of Talking Heads fame…). I forget its name, offhand…

  5. ben archer says:

    I think Tom Tom Clubs biggest hits in England at that time were ‘Genius of Love’ and maybe ‘Wordy Rappinghood’; although I was there at the time, I never saw the doco as I was probably out nightclubbing and dancing to the Tom Tom Club! Does anyone know if the BBC has this doco for sale from their archives? Or indeed, Hrant, what got lost from the Rotis ‘discussion’ once ‘heavily edited’ ? : )
    I would love a copy of this thing if anyone has a ‘spare’ copy…

  6. Hrant says:

    > what got lost from the Rotis
    > ‘discussion’ once ‘heavily edited’ ?

    Dissenting opinion, obviously!

    It’s his blog, so obviously he’s entitled to put up anything he wants, but representing it as some form of distillation of an ATypI discussion seems misleading.

    As for access to the ATypI archives, I’m not sure I’m allowed to make those public, and anyway it’s much more fun participating than just reading, so join up! :-)


  7. Hey Stephen, we have been more quicker than you to post that wonderful stuff from Erik Spiekermann.

    But more interesting, a 39mb version of the same movie is on the same server.

  8. paul says:

    I’d also like a higher-resolution version– it looks like the BBC isn’t offering it on DVD (near as I can tell), but I wonder if it’s going to be one of the publically available videos, or if they’re taking requests.

  9. paul says:

    Aha. Apparently it was part of a series called “Into Print” that no other information is avaliable on.

  10. John Butler says:

    Cool, it features the song “Call It Love” from Yello’s One Second album from 1987. Yello just happened to put out a brand new album (The Eye) that sounds a lot like One Second all over again.

    So the show was made in or after 1987.

  11. dory says:

    As for availability, I took my copy out of my local college library.

Post a Comment

Comments at Typographica are moderated and copyedited, just like newspaper “Letters to the Editor”. Abusive or off-topic comments are not published. We appreciate compliments, but don’t publish them unless they add to the dialog. Thank you!