Black and white TV viewing still on song in Wisbech

Dalek in black and white Dr Who programme

Dalek in black and white Dr Who programme - Credit: Archant

Wisbech is in the top 10 places in East Anglia for people who have a black and white TV licence and Ely is not far behind.

Black and white TV licences

Black and white TV licences - Credit: Archant

It may be hard to believe, but more than 9,000 people in the UK are still watching black and white TV.

Nearly 50 years after former BBC Two controller David Attenborough raced to broadcast colour TV in the UK ahead of his German television colleagues1, 9,356 black and white licences are still in force across the UK, with 10 licences in force in Wisbech and seven in force in Ely.

Despite the switchover to digital transmissions and an increase in the use of HD televisions as well as tablets and smart-phones to access TV content, some UK households are shunning the attractions of 21st Century technology.

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 place, but by 2003 that number had shrunk to 93,000 and in 2006 the number stood at less than 50,000.

Mark Whitehouse, spokesman for TV Licensing in East Anglia, said: “It’s astounding that more than 800 households in total across the West Midlands still watch on a black and white telly, especially now that over half of homes access TV content over the Internet, on smart TVs. Whether you have the latest 4K TV or a black and white set from the 1970s, however, if you are watching or recording live television, then you do need a TV licence.”

According to this year’s figures, London leads the way in black and white viewing, followed by Birmingham and Manchester.

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Some black and white TVs may require a colour licence if they can receive and record programmes in colour, for example when using a Personal Video Recorder (PVR) connected to a black and white TV.

The cost of a black and white TV Licence remains frozen at £49 until BBC Charter Review in 2016. A colour licence costs £145.50. A TV Licence is needed if you’re watching or recording programmes at the same time as they’re shown on TV, and can be bought online in minutes at

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