Generous tooth fairies, the messiah, and contacting a clairvoyant - top TV Licence excuses

"My son lost his tooth and the next day we found the TV under the stairs. We thought it was a present from the Tooth Fairy so didn't need a TV Licence," is one of the many hilarious, but flawed, real-life excuses given to TV Licensing in 2014 by people caught watching TV without a licence over the past year.

 

Between 94 and 95 per cent of homes across the UK are correctly licensed, but a small minority of people continue to offer TV Licensing decidedly dodgy excuses as to why they don’t have a licence when caught evading.

Excuses ranged from the departed, "My mum died. She had a payment card. I’m going to a clairvoyant to ask her where she put her card," to the anointed, "I don't need one because I'm Jesus Christ," and the Antipodean with serious time-zone confusion, "I’m Australian and I only watch Home and Away and Neighbours, and I don't pay for a TV Licence in Australia, so I shouldn’t have to pay it here. Australia is 12 hours ahead, so it's not live here."

One female evader decided she had other plans for the money her partner had set aside for the TV Licence telling an Enquiry Officer, "My husband gave me the TV Licensing money and I spent it on my new Kurt Geiger shoes," whilst another suggested their pet should be the one to buy a licence, "The TV belongs to my dog. He got it for Christmas. Ask him to pay."

Stephen Farmer, TV Licensing spokesperson, said:

We are effective at catching evaders but it’s not surprising a few of those caught will try and avoid taking responsibility. Fewer than two per cent of households only watch catch up TV, so the vast majority of homes still need a TV Licence. Some of the humour and originality in this year’s excuses provided a laugh for our Enquiry Officers and customer service centre staff, but behind every excuse is someone who has been caught watching or recording live TV without a licence.
We would much rather people buy a TV Licence, which they can pay for either in one go, or in smaller weekly or monthly instalments, than make a fanciful excuse and face prosecution and a fine of up to £1,000.

Consultant Psychologist Kerry Daynes explains why people make up excuses rather than tell the truth.

We tell little white lies all the time, usually to lubricate passage through our daily lives and often to make other people feel better. It is interesting that the more outlandish excuses have been judged by the evader as more socially acceptable, and therefore less embarrassing than the truth, whilst others may offer an extraordinary reason as a covert way of showing contempt. But even the most forgiving of people would struggle to be convinced by the one about the Tooth Fairy…

A BBC spokesman added:

At just £2.80 a week per household the BBC provides excellent value for money. Low evasion rates are effectively saving each licence fee payer £15. It means that programmes like EastEnders, Strictly, Sherlock, Doctor Who and Match of the Day can be watched by everyone - not a select few. Public support for the licence fee has risen by 22 per cent since 2004 and remains the most popular way of funding the BBC.

YouTube star and impressionist Scheiffer Bates and veteran comedian Phil Cornwell (Dead Ringers, Stella Street and I’m Alan Partridge) team up to bring the top TV Licensing Excuses to life by impersonating well known celebrities and characters. They can be found on YouTube at: www.youtube.co.uk/tvlicensing

 

TV Licensing - Top 10 excuses of the year

Excuse Location
1. My mum died. She had a payment card. I’m going to a clairvoyant to ask her where she put her card. Manchester
2. My son lost his tooth and the next day we found the TV under the stairs. We thought it was a present from the Tooth Fairy so didn't need a TV Licence. Carrickfergus
3. My cousin is not here anymore, she used to pay it for me. And now she has left me. She was also my wife. I’ve lost my cousin and my wife in one go. Unknown (via Customer Service Centre)
4. I don't need one because I'm Jesus Christ Bristol
5. I don't use my TV to watch TV programmes. I use it to hang my clothes so they dry. Crawley
6. My husband gave me the TV Licensing money and I spent it on my new Kurt Geiger shoes. Sheffield
7. I was told I didn't need a TV Licence because I haven't got a remote control. Cardiff
8. I couldn't afford to pay it as I had to get the cat neutered. Leicester
9. I’m Australian and I only watch Home and Away and Neighbours, and I don't pay for a TV Licence in Australia, so I shouldn’t have to pay it here. Australia is 12 hours ahead, so it's not live here. Glasgow
10. The TV belongs to my dog. He got it for Christmas. Ask him to pay. London
 

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