Thousands of black and white TVs still in use as BBC One in colour hits 50

As BBC One celebrates its 50th anniversary of colour television this week, TV Licensing has revealed that more than 6,500 UK households are still watching TV programmes on black and white TV sets.

According to the latest figures, London leads the way with 1,311 black and white licences, followed by Birmingham with 323 and Manchester with 245 monochrome licences.

Over the years the number of black and white licences has declined considerably across the UK. There were 6,586 black and white TV licences in force at the end of September 20191 - a fall of 575 compared to the same time last year. In 2000 this figure stood at 212,000.

The figures show that despite the rapid growth of smart TVs, smart phones and tablets to access TV content, a surprising number of households still appear to enjoy the nostalgia of monochrome TV sets. They remain popular with collectors, with vintage and portable TV sets regularly traded online.

Black and white TV licences – Top 20

1
LONDON
1311
2
BIRMINGHAM
322
3
MANCHESTER
245
4
GLASGOW
136
5
LEEDS
121
6
LIVERPOOL
108
7
BELFAST (NI)
79
8
NOTTINGHAM
78
9
OMAGH (NI)
71
10
SHEFFIELD
71
11
BRISTOL
64
12
BRADFORD
56
13
LEICESTER
55
14
COVENTRY
48
15
LUTON
48
16
DUNGANNON (NI)
47
17
EDINBURGH
41
18
NEWRY (NI)
39
19
CARDIFF
37
20
HUDDERSFIELD
37

Source: TV Licensing: Mono licences in force, 30 Sep 2019

A licence is still needed to watch live TV and stream BBC programmes on iPlayer on a black and white TV or monitor and costs £52. But, if they are used to download BBC programmes on iPlayer or to record any live TV, then a colour TV Licence is needed.

Paul Cooper, spokesperson for TV Licensing, said:

When BBC One launched its colour TV service in November 1969, there were only three channels available. Fast forward to 2019, and more than half (53%2) of TV households have in some way an internet connection to their TV and access to hundreds of channels.
Whilst only accounting for a very small proportion it’s interesting to know that some households still like to watch their favourite shows on a black and white telly.

BBC One launched its full colour service on 15 November 1969. The new service was also extended to ITV, bringing them in line with BBC Two, which had been offering colour programmes - including Wimbledon, the Olympic Games and The Eurovision Song Contest - since 1967 under controller, David Attenborough.

Programmes showing in colour on the 15th included Star Trek and Dixon of Dock Green, The Harry Secombe Show and Match of the Day, plus the feature film The Prisoner of Zenda.

To find out more about milestone moments from the BBC, including the 50th anniversary of BBC One in colour, visit www.bbc.com/historyofthebbc/anniversaries/november/colour-television-on-bbc-one

Radio_Times_Cover

Credit: Radio Times

References

1. TV Licensing: Mono licences in force, 30 September 2019.

2. 2019 Ofcom Media Nations report

General information about TV Licensing is available in other languages: