Twenty-one black and white TVs still in use Plymouth on 50th anniversary of BBC One in colour

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Authored by News Desk
Posted: Friday, November 15, 2019 - 12:37

As BBC One celebrates its 50th anniversary of colour TV (Friday 15 November), TV Licensing has revealed 21 households in Plymouth are still watching TV programmes only on black and white TV sets.

In Devon, Plymouth has the highest number of black and white licences in operation, Exeter has the second highest with 18 and Torquay has seven.  Other towns in Devon each have less than five black and white licences in operation.

Across the UK the number of black and white licences has declined considerably over the years. There were 6,586 black and white TV licences at the end of September 2019 - a fall of 575 compared to the same time last year. In 2000 this figure stood at 212,000.

The figures show that despite the rapid growth of smart TVs, smart phones and tablets to access TV content, a surprising number of households still appear to enjoy the nostalgia of monochrome TV sets. They remain popular with collectors with vintage and portable TV sets regularly traded online.

A licence is still needed to watch live TV and stream BBC programmes on iPlayer on a black and white TV or monitor and costs £52. But, if they are used to download BBC programmes on iPlayer or to record any live TV, then a colour TV Licence is needed.

Natasha Lee, spokesperson for TV Licensing in the South West, said: “When BBC One launched its colour TV service in November 1969 there were only three channels available. Now more than half (53%2) of TV households have in some way an internet connection to their TV and access to hundreds of channels.

“While the numbers only account for a very small proportion it’s interesting to know that some households in Devon still like to watch their favourite shows on a black and white TV.”

BBC One launched its full colour service on 15 November 1969. The new service was also extended to ITV, bringing them in line with BBC Two, which had been offering colour programmes - including Wimbledon, the Olympic Games and The Eurovision Song Contest - since 1967 under controller, David Attenborough.

Programmes showing in colour on the 15th included Star Trek and Dixon of Dock Green, The Harry Secombe Show and Match of the Day, plus the feature film The Prisoner of Zenda.

To find out more about milestone moments from the BBC, including the 50th anniversary of BBC One in colour, visit

For more information on TV Licensing go to

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