New figures released by TV Licensing show that after more than 50 years of colour transmissions, over 7,000 black and white TV Licences are still in force across the UK, although numbers are steadily declining.
In Northern Ireland, there are still 566 households 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 in Northern Ireland are spurning 21st Century technology in favour of nostalgic monochrome TV sets.
According to this year’s figures, County Antrim leads the way with 165 black and white licences, followed by County Tyrone with 157 monochrome licences.
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.
Karen Grimason, spokesperson for TV Licensing, said: “Over half of the UK’s TVs now connect to the internet, 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.”
Brian Bailie from On The Square Emporium in Belfast, a vintage and antiques treasure trove, said: “We stock a vast array of vintage and antique items in our Belfast store, including black and white TVs. It does come as a surprise to me that people still use these TVs in today’s digital age but retro items have made a big comeback and make great conversation starters.
“There is a sense of nostalgia with vintage items and I remember the TV from my childhood fondly. It had doors on it and broke down on regular occasions but it was a great source of entertainment.
“Back then, the TV schedule didn’t start until 11am, there was news at 1pm and then it went off-air until 3.30pm when kids programmes such as Blue Peter and The Magic Roundabout were on, so the TV offering really has come a very long way since then.
“I can’t say I personally miss my black and white TV but occasionally I’ll remove all the colour from my HD flat-screen because in monotone you can focus on the characters without being distracted by everything else on screen.”
n 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.
n Find when one is needed at www.tvlicensing.co.uk/info