A continuity announcement or station break is a message from the broadcaster which is placed between two different programmes. It commonly announces what shows are upcoming on the channel. It can consist of full video, a title card, or merely a voiceover. In modern times, continuity announcements have been made at the same time as end credits. Sometimes, these credits are visually "shrunk" on the screen to allow a visual segment to be laid over the top of the credits.
Secondarily, a continuity announcement can also be a voiceover, usually written and read by talent at the network or channel, rather than a production company, which establishes the narrative continuity of the programme about to be viewed. This usage is uncommon in the 21st century. However, the American experience of the Tom Baker era of Doctor Who — as well as the BBCA premieres of the David Tennant and Matt Smith eras have used narrative continuity announcements in various ways.
Doctor Who continuities Edit
Continuity announcements for Doctor Who are almost always included on the DVD releases of serials of the 1963 version of Doctor Who. Many fans have fond memories of long-gone BBC programme schedules, or of particular continuity announcers.
The North American editions of early Tom Baker stories tend to include the voiceovers of American Howard Da Silva, who famously offered a "linking narration" style of continuity announcement to PBS viewers. However, these tended to be rather intrusive – either obscuring on-screen dialogue or giving away yet-to-be-revealed plot twists.
There have also been rare occasions where actors on the programme acted as their own continuity announcers. Both Tom Baker and David Tennant were known to have announced an upcoming episode of theirs. This happened most recently before the debut broadcast of The End of Time, Part 2, on BBC One. In 2011, Mark Sheppard became the third actor to announce the premiere of an episode of Doctor Who in which he appeared, on a channel that had produced Doctor Who. He, as the narrator of Doctor Who: Rewind, invited viewers to watch the upcoming The Impossible Astronaut on BBC America.
Channel idents Edit
One of the most recognisable kinds of continuity announcement is the channel ident — a very brief video clip which displays the channel logo, and is usually required by law to occur at various regular intervals. However, the exact form of the ident is up to the individual broadcaster. This leads to great variety. Doctor Who-themed idents have been used on Doctor Who-themed evenings on BBC Two, for example. The most prominent examples, however, were probably the Tenth Doctor Christmas idents which aired during 2009 on both BBC One and BBC America.