Play for Today has been widely regarded as a prestigious vehicle for one-off dramas on topical issues. Based on accounts by producers, composers and graphic designers, this article will provide a historical analysis of the changing image of Play for Today through the close analysis of its seven title sequences. Focusing on how the different sequences invested the strand with a particular identity and prepared audiences for the plays that followed, it identifies two main modes of address. It argues that the Play for Today image was at its most startling during the periods 1971–3 and 1977–82 when the title sequences signalled to viewers that Play for Today would present important – often politicised – drama with a proximity to the news. Other sequences – during 1973–7 – sought instead to ‘seduce’ viewers by foregrounding the strand’s humanism and eclecticism.