Colour TV turns 50 - but some viewers are still watching in black and white

It's 50 years since the first colour transmission on the BBC.

Friday, 30th June 2017, 3:39 pm
Updated Tuesday, 18th July 2017, 8:45 am
You wash-up, I'll go and warm up the telly...

The National B&W Index has been published to mark the golden anniversary of colour broadcasts on BBC Two, first aired on 1 July 1967.

However, new figures from TV Licensing show that more than 8,000 homes across the UK still watch TV in black and white.

It’s mainly larger urban areas which have black and white TV licences, with more than 1,500 homes in London watching in black and white, followed by 377 in Birmingham and 276 in Manchester.

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The stats do show that given that black and white receivers are no longer manufactured, TVs were built to last back in the day. However, overall, the UK has lost around 5,000 old-style televisions in the past four years, given that the total licences in 2013 stood at 13,000.

Indeed, almost 70 postcodes have dropped out of the monochrome chart since the start of 2016.

And BBC statistics indicate emerging technologies are changing the way many of us watch TV.

Fewer than 500 families had a colour TV set in 1967 when Australian John Newcombe defeated Germany’s Wilhelm Bungert to take the Wimbledon Men’s title.

But by 1968 most BBC Two programmes were in colour, and by 1977, sales of colour TV licences had overtaken black and white.

By 2016, more than nine million people tuned in to watch Andy Murray take the title, with BBC iPlayer recording the highest unique browser reach on record, with an average of 19.9 million unique browsers weekly across June 2016.

Mark Whitehouse, TV Licensing spokesperson, said: "It is striking that in an era of HD TV and spectacular true-to-life pictures, there are still more than 8,000 viewers, content to watch spectacular programmes like The Night Manager and Planet Earth in monochrome.

“Whether you watch 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," he added.