Prince Harry's girlfriend, a poorly goldfish and a "smart" TV - a year of top TV Licence excuses

"I am exempt from buying a TV Licence, as I am Prince Harry’s girlfriend," is one of the many hilarious, but flawed, real-life excuses given to TV Licensing by people caught watching live TV or BBC iPlayer without a licence over the past year.

Around 94 per cent of homes across the UK are correctly licensed, but a small minority of people continue to offer TV Licensing Enquiry Officers flimsy excuses as to why they don’t have a licence when caught evading.

Top excuses ranged from the fishy, "Sorry I can’t buy a licence because I’m giving CPR to my goldfish," to the coy "I am not paying for my licence now the BBC are showing porn. Gary Lineker in the nude on Match of the Day – disgusting!" to the frustrated football fan "I only watch Premier league football, and as I am a Newcastle fan, I no longer need a TV Licence."

Dozens of tenuous excuses were collected from towns and hamlets across the UK. A new father from Warrington had more pressing concerns telling an Enquiry Officer, "I can’t stop and talk, my baby daughter has just exploded in her nappy," whilst a woman from Coventry claimed her TV guide informed her about shows she couldn’t watch, "I only have the Radio Times you saw on my chair to remind me of what I’m missing, as I can’t turn the TV on." A frustrated customer from Queensferry also asked TV Licensing to remove a nearby railway bridge, improving his TV reception so that he might then pay "I refuse to purchase a TV licence as long as that bridge is there. I can’t receive a good signal so don’t see why I should pay for it. Get rid of the railway bridge and then I will buy one."

To accompany the ridiculous excuses, actor and comedian Kevin Eldon took on the task of composing a selection of ridiculous poems, to coincide with National Limerick Day (May 12). His poem 'Goldfish' reads:

"I'm sweating and my chest is heaving/ Your request for a fee's left me seething/ I couldn’t apply/ For a licence to buy/ Cos my poor goldfish had stopped breathing."

His tortured character 'Adrian Holt' reads out a number of literary creations in a series of videos, which are available to watch on TV Licensing’s YouTube channel from today.

Jason Hill, TV Licensing spokesperson, said:

We make every effort to find evaders and although excuses we hear can be ingenious, those we catch still need to buy a licence. We offer help to those struggling to buy and would much rather people buy a TV Licence in small weekly or monthly instalments, than face prosecution and a fine of up to £1,000.

A licence is needed not just for watching and recording live television but for watching or downloading BBC programmes on iPlayer.

A TV Licence costs £147 and can be bought online at tvlicensing.co.uk/info or by calling 0300 790 6071. You can also visit the TV Licensing website to find more information about when you don’t need a TV Licence.

TV Licensing – Top 10 excuses of the past year

Sorry, I can’t buy a licence because I’m giving CPR to my goldfish Female, Bonnyrigg
My tag interferes with the TV signal Male, Liverpool
I don’t watch the BBC [as the theme tune to EastEnders played out in the background] Male, Birmingham
I’ll pay it next year when the Rangers are back in the Premier League, pal Male, Glasgow
I have a smart TV and it’s that smart it can work without a licence Male, Paisley
I don’t need a TV Licence because when we got divorced a court gave her half of everything. So I got the TV and she got the licence. Go find her! Male, Edinburgh
I am exempt from buying a TV Licence, as I am Prince Harry’s girlfriend Female, East London
I am not paying for my licence now that the BBC are showing porn. Gary Lineker in the nude on Match of the Day – disgusting! Female, Croydon
[With reference to a flat screen TV showing the Simpsons]
Customer: It's not a TV, it's an LCD fire.
Enquiry Officer: And it's got Bart Simpson-shaped flames
Female, Magherfelt
I only have one leg, I shouldn’t have to pay Male, Leven

Excuses verses

Goldfish, by Kevin Eldon

I'm sweating and my chest is heaving
Your request for a fee’s left me seething
I couldn’t apply
For a licence to buy
Cos my poor goldfish had stopped breathing.

Divorce, by Kevin Eldon

My wife and I decided we’d be better off alone
In court the judge decided we should split the things we own
I got the dog she got the cats,
I got the rug, she got the mats
The telly went to me and the licence went to her
And then she moved away from here, to …Madagascar

Prince Harry’s Girlfriend, by Kevin Eldon

You’ve heard of Prince Harry, not Barry or Gary,
I’m talking Prince Harry, yes him.
Well he is my bloke, no joke, don’t choke
And I’m sorry but you must be very dim
Cos I’m practically royal, I’m his goil, yes, recoil
I know that that’s enough to make you scream
And so because of my position you’ve no choice in your decision
For one doesn't need a licence for one’s screen.

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