New figures released by TV Licensing show that after more than 50 years of colour transmissions, more than 7,000 black and white TV Licences are still in force across the UK, although numbers are steadily declining.
Only eight households in Halifax are still watching television via black and white TV sets, rather than enjoying modern classics like The Bodyguard, McMafia and Killing Eve, in full colour.
Despite an increase in the use of smart televisions, as well as tablets and smart-phones to access TV content, a surprising number of households are spurning 21st Century technology in favour of nostalgic monochrome TV sets.
According to this year’s figures, London leads the way with 1,768 black and white licences, followed by West Midlands with 431 monochrome licences and Greater Manchester with 390 monochrome licences.
Matthew Thompson, spokesperson for TV Licensing in the North of England, said: “Over half of the UK’s TVs now connect to the internet1, so it’s interesting that more than 7,000 households still choose to watch their favourite shows on a black and white telly.
“Whether you watch EastEnders, Strictly or Question Time in black and white on a 50-year-old TV set or in colour on a tablet, you need to be covered by a TV Licence to watch or record programmes as they are broadcast.You also need to be covered by a TV Licence to download or watch BBC programmes on iPlayer, on any device.”
The number of black and white licences issued each year has, however, steadily been declining. In 2000 there were 212,000 black and white TV Licences in force, but by 2003 that number had shrunk to 93,000. By 2015, the number had dipped below 10,000.
Paul Coleman, Associate Curator of Broadcast and Television at the National Science and Media Museum, said: “It looks like we’re seeing roughly a decrease of about 1,000 black and white TV licences per year in the UK at the moment, so the overall figure could drop below 1,000 within the next decade.
“Beyond that, I’m sure there will still be people who choose to watch a black and white televisions, maybe for nostalgia, or perhaps they like the style of the sets, which can look like pieces of furniture. Whatever their reasons, it’s testament to the longevity of the technology used that it’s still possible.”
A licence is needed to watch or record live TV, on any device including a laptop, tablet or mobile phone. You need to be covered by a TV Licence to watch or record live TV programmes on any channel or device, and to download or watch BBC programmes on iPlayer.