/ Technology

Do you own a black and white TV?

black and white tv

Around 8,000 people in the UK have a licence for a black and white TV. Are you one of them?

We were really surprised to discover that out of the 25.8 million TV licences that were in force in the UK in the 2016-17 financial year, 8,242 of those were for black and white TVs.

And it threw up a big question: how can you only watch TV in black and white?

Analogue TVs

It turns out that you can still use an analogue TV set, despite the fact that the switchover from analogue to digital was completed in October 2012 – although, you need a digital television converter box and a Scart cable.

The box connects to your aerial (which will have to have been upgraded to digital) and your old telly via a Scart lead, and gives you free-to-air digital channels on the Freeview platform.

It makes sense that you’d want to make the most of a perfectly good older analogue TV set. However, any black and white sets still in use must be pretty ancient.

We couldn’t find out exactly when manufacturers stopped making black and white tellies, but our (imperfect) collective memory reckoned the last ones must have been made in the 1980s or possibly the 1990s – if you know more precisely, please tell us!

Black and white TV

I shared this information on Twitter and got some interesting replies. One of my Twitter followers, who served as a Trustee of the BBC until April 2015, said:

If you are really keen to switch to black and white, you can still pick up TV sets on sites such as eBay. We had a look and found several, ranging from a 5.5-inch portable (accepting bids from a tenner) to a rather fabulous orange space-age number for £220.

So we’re intrigued. Are you one of the 8,000 who only has a black and white TV licence? As it costs only £49.50 a year compared to the annual fee of £147 for a colour set, we can see why it would be attractive. Do let us know if you’re one of the last hold-outs – and why.


I initially started reading this thread about TV licensing but it then deviated to a lot of technical stuff and and has further moved on to nostalgic reminiscing. So I thought I’d add that in the mid 1980’s I bought a very old “posh” B&W television in an auction. It had a wooden cabinet with two hinged doors. On the back was a large lever with the word FOCUS written beside it. When you moved it, the picture became sharper.

Viktor Bishop says:
17 June 2020

Max ruby
Black whale tv snoozy tea Penelope pitstop
London Town
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Grandfather dad father kids next door and his dad father

bill haylor says:
28 August 2020

I only watch 0ne programe for 30 minutes each day, so would prefer black and white cost