Historic TV moments

Almost 40 years since Neil Armstrong took “one small step for man; one giant leap for mankind” one in four UK viewers still rate the moon landing as the most iconic TV moment of all time.*

In an online survey commissioned by TV Licensing, 25 per cent of people questioned picked the first moon landing, which took place 40 years ago this month, as the most iconic historical moment broadcast live on TV. Young and old recognised the power of the historic footage, with 20 per cent of those under 45 choosing the moon landing as their most iconic moment, despite many not having been born at the time.

The moon landing came second after 9/11, which was picked by 35 per cent of the 2,000 adults polled. [See appendix for full top ten].

TV Licensing commissioned the research as part of its campaign to raise awareness of the need to be covered by a TV Licence when watching live TV, whether it’s on a TV set, computer or mobile phone.

A range of well-known figures have shared their most iconic TV moments with TV Licensing, including Alan Hansen, Gary Lineker, Sophie Raworth and Maggie Philbin.

John Humphrys, presenter of BBC Radio 4’s ‘Today’, recalled his memories of watching the moon landing. He said:

“I am not proud of this, but my daughter was due to be born on the day man landed on the moon so I faced a choice: hospital or home, watching the telly. I'm ashamed to say that the telly won. Still ... I was only 23 at the time and it's not as if she was my firstborn. She's forty now. I THINK she understands.”

Joanna Pearce, TV Licensing spokesperson, said:

“A lot has changed in the 40 years since Neil Armstrong first set foot on the moon, not least how we watch TV. A great example is that many people will have gathered round a computer - rather than a TV set - to watch the most recent event in our top 10, Barack Obama’s inauguration.

As TV evolves, it’s important that people understand when they need a TV Licence. No matter what channel you watch, or whether you watch on a TV set, computer or even a mobile phone, if it’s a live broadcast you’re watching, you must be covered by a licence.”

Iain Logie Baird, Curator of Television at the National Media Museum in Bradford and grandson of John Logie Baird (inventor of the first television), said:

“A large part of television’s power lies in how it is able to transmit vision and sound instantaneously. Moments like the Moon landing are ephemeral - they can be experienced only once in real time. This unpredictability unleashes a sense of mass anticipation: everyone is watching the same historic events unfold. Watching TV images from the moon was a completely new experience for viewers and still exerts a powerful hold over our collective imagination.”

What’s your most iconic historical moment broadcast live on TV?

Gary Lineker, BBC ‘Match of the Day’ presenter and former footballer

Moon landing, 1969

"I remember all the family huddled round the television and the excitement when that first step was taken. One of man's greatest achievements."

Alan Hansen, BBC ‘Match of the Day’ pundit and former footballer

World Cup Final 1970: Italy v Brazil

"I remember watching the World Cup Final in 1970, Italy versus Brazil, the fourth goal, and at that moment, knew that I wanted to be there myself, playing in games like that in a World Cup. I will never forget watching that game".

Sophie Raworth, Newsreader

September 11th 2001

“I'd just got home after a morning presenting BBC Breakfast when a girlfriend rang, shouted at me to turn on the television and hung up. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. The twin towers on fire, then crumbling live in front of my eyes. I stayed in front of the television for hours, transfixed and hardly moving. I couldn't take in what was happening or the horror of it all.”

Maggie Philbin, BBC radio presenter and former presenter of ‘Tomorrow’s World’

Moon landing, 1969

“I watched the moon landing on old black and white set with my Mum, Dad and younger sister Nickie. In 1969, it was the only set in the house, so we were all sat in front of it, my Dad passing round a tin of Quality Street, my Mum holding a glass of sherry ready to celebrate. Across the world, 500 million people did the same. It was an intimate, powerful, shared experience which was to inspire many future scientists and engineers.”

To find out more about TV Licensing and buy a TV Licence online, visit www.tvlicensing.co.uk/info.

- END -

Top ten iconic TV moments:

Order TV moment Percentage
1 9/11 (2001)  35%
2 Man sets foot on the moon for the first time (1969)  25%
=3

Funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales (1997)

Fall of the Berlin Wall (1989)

 8%
5 Obama election victory/ inaugaration (2008/ 9)  7%
6 John F. Kennedy assassination (1963)  5%
7 Nelson Mandela leaves prison (1990)  3%
8 England 1966 World Cup victory (1966)  2%
=9

Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer marry (1981)

Live Aid (1985)

 1%

Notes to editors

For more information, please call the TV Licensing press office on 020 7544 3144.

*All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2035 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 12th - 15th June 2009. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).

Who needs a TV Licence?

If you use or install television equipment to receive or record television programmes as they are being broadcast, you need to be covered by a valid TV Licence. Viewing television without a licence risks prosecution and a fine of up to £1,000.

Paying for a TV Licence:

A colour TV Licence currently costs £145.50. A black and white TV Licence currently costs £49.00.

TV Licensing aims to make it as easy as possible for people to buy a TV Licence, which is why there are many different ways to pay.

  • Over-the-counter – people can now pay at any of almost 20,000 PayPoint outlets across the country
  • Direct Debit - monthly, quarterly or annual Direct Debit payment schemes are available and can be set up online at www.tvlicensing.co.uk/directdebit
  • To find out more about paying in weekly instalments over the counter, online, by text message or over the phone on the cash payment plan, call 08457 289 289
  • Online – people are now able to pay online at www.tvlicensing.co.uk/pay by Direct Debit or with a debit or credit card
  • Debit or credit card over the phone - this facility accepts payment from a range of debit cards including Maestro, Delta and Connect
  • By post – send a cheque made payable to TV Licensing to: TV Licensing, Darlington, DL98 1TL

For more information about any of our payment options and concessions, to set up Direct Debit payments or to pay by debit or credit card please visit www.tvlicensing.co.uk or call 0844 800 6732.

  • To find out more about paying in weekly installments over the counter, online, by SMS or by phone on the cash payment plan, call 08457 289 289 or visit payment methods
  • Debit or credit card over the phone - this facility accepts payment from a range of debit cards including Maestro, Delta and Connect
  • By post – send a cheque made payable to TV Licensing to: TV Licensing, Darlington, DL98 1TL
  • BACS: Businesses can pay by BACS electronic transfer. Please phone 0844 800 5832 for more information

For more information about any of our payment options, to set up Direct Debit payments or to pay over the phone by debit or credit card please call 0844 800 6732.

General information about TV Licensing is available in other languages: