Belfast Telegraph

More than 550 people in Northern Ireland still watch TV in black and white

Epzo (SHAUN DOOLEY), Graham (BRADLEY WALSH), The Doctor (JODIE WHITTAKER) - (C) BBC / BBC Studios - Photographer: Coco Van Opens
Epzo (SHAUN DOOLEY), Graham (BRADLEY WALSH), The Doctor (JODIE WHITTAKER) - (C) BBC / BBC Studios - Photographer: Coco Van Opens
The Little Drummer Girl - Becker (ALEXANDER SKARSGARD), Charlie (FLORENCE PUGH) - Credit: Jonathan Olley
The Strictly Come Dancing dancers - BBC - Credit: Guy Levy

By Michael Shiels McNamee

Over 550 people in Northern Ireland still watch television in black and white, new statistics show.

Figures released by TV Licensing, the BBC subsidiary responsible for collecting the television licence, show 566 households across the province still resist the allure of colour television.

Viewers tuning into monochrome sets save a considerable sum each year, paying out £50.50, compared to the £150.50 paid out for a colour TV licence.

Karen Grimason, spokeswoman 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.”

Co Antrim registered as the area of Northern Ireland with the most monochrome licences with 165, giving it the fifth most out of any region in the UK.

It is followed by Co Tyrone, where there are 157 monochrome television licences, placing it sixth out of the regions of the UK.

Brian Bailie from On The Square Emporium in Belfast, a vintage and antiques shop which stocks a number of black and white TVs, said it was a surprise there were still so many people using black and white TVs, 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," he said.

“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.”

Viewers in Northern Ireland join more than 7,000 across the UK still tuning into black and white sets.

The 2018 black and white TV index

London has the largest number of black and white sets at 1,768, followed by West Midlands with 431 monochrome licences and Greater Manchester with 390.

In total, 7,161 UK households have not switched over to colour transmissions, which started in 1967.

Regular colour broadcasts began on BBC2 in July 1967 with the Wimbledon tennis tournament – three weeks ahead of West Germany.

The number of black and white licences issued each year has been in steady decline since.

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.

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