Is the search for the golden era of TV simply a black and white issue?

by Jeremy Miles

I am astonished to learn that 13,000 people in the UK are still watching black and white television. That’s the population of a small town. Maybe it IS a small town that has somehow fallen into a parallel world which, bizarrely, registers with the television licensing authority.Image

Whatever the truth, more than 45 years after colour telly made its debut on the then just three year old BBC2, there are currently 13,202 people in this country who still hold black and white TV licences.

The analogue signal may have been shut down but the innovations of the digital age like high-definition, 3D and massive state-of-the-art flat-screens seem to hold little sway with those for whom TV will be forever a memory of the mid twentieth century.

Of course some of these apparent refuseniks may simply keep a black and white set for reasons of nostalgia. Perhaps they watch most things in digital HD and are quite happy catching up on missed programmes using iPlayer with their computers and tablets. Maybe the old black and white box is simply part of a desperate bid to find their way back to the elusive golden era of TV. A halcyon world of Morcambe and Wise, The Two Ronnies and Dad’s Army – not unlike the festive schedules of the past few weeks actually.

Unfortunately even those watching exclusively on black and white still have to pay £49 for their licence which may be little more than a third of the current cost of the full colour licence but is still a hell of lot more than  they would have paid in 1967 when colour first came in and a you could get a black and white licence for a fiver.

The number of people with licences for black and white TVs has steadily declined, from 212,000 at the turn of the century to fewer than 50,000 in 2006. By the beginning of 2013, it had fallen to 13,202.