Thousands still watching TV in black and white


Thousands of Britons have turned a blind eye to the trends for huge high-definition TVs and streaming programmes on tablets in favour of their old black and white set.

According to TV Licensing, some 9,356 people in the UK still have a licence to watch television in shades of grey, nearly 50 years after the first colour broadcasts.

But the number has reduced dramatically since 2000, when 212,000 people went without colour, while nine years ago, in 2006, 50,000 people stuck with black and white.

Jason Hill, spokesman for TV Licensing, said: "It's astounding that more than 9,000 households still watch on a black and white telly, especially now that over half of homes access TV content over the internet, on smart TVs.

"Whether you have the latest 4K TV or a black and white set from the 1970s, however, if you are watching or recording live television, then you do need a TV licence."

The first regular colour TV broadcasts in the UK were from the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in July 1967 as David Attenborough, then controller of BBC2, raced to beat networks in Germany to it.

Londoners account for the most mono licences with 2,222, while residents of Birmingham and Manchester trail with 429 and 313 respectively. The fee for black and white TV has been frozen at £49 until the BBC Charter Review next year.

Jeffrey Borinsky, a television and radio technology historian, said: "There are hundreds of collectors like myself who have many black and white TVs; some of them are purists who won't have this new-fangled colour TV in the house.

"We like the glow of valves, rich sound and wonderful warm smell of these old sets. It's simply pure nostalgia and the joy of seeing old equipment still working in the internet age.

"Older people who grew up with black and white still love it and don't see why they should throw away their perfectly good set to get colour they don't even want.

"Unfortunately even the youngest black and white sets are over 20 years old and very few people now mend TVs at all. In a few more years this group will have gone to TV heaven."