22 people in Portsmouth are watching television on black and white sets

Black and white TV
Black and white TV

DESPITE television technology advancements with screens as big as cinemas, Ultra HD and satellite dishes seemingly in every household, some people in Portsmouth are still watching television on black and white screens. 

According to new figures released by TV Licensing, after more than 50 years of colour transmissions, there are 22 black and white TV Licences still in force in Portsmouth (including Southsea). In Hampshire there are 109.

London leads the way with 1,768 black and white licences, followed by West Midlands with 431 monochrome licences and Greater Manchester with 390 monochrome licences.

Among counties in the south east of England, Hampshire had the third highest number of black and white viewers after Essex (140) and Kent (133), followed by Sussex (107) and Bedfordshire (84).

The top three towns and cities in Hampshire with the strongest preference for black and white viewing were Southampton (37), Portsmouth (12) and Southsea (10).

Nationally, 71, 611 households are still watching television via black and white TV sets, rather than enjoying modern classics like The Bodyguard, McMafia and Killing Eve, in full colour.

Despite an increase in the use of smart televisions, as well as tablets and smart-phones to access TV content, a surprising number of UK households are spurning 21st century technology in favour of nostalgic monochrome TV sets.

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 force, but by 2003 that number had shrunk to 93,000. By 2015, the number had dipped below 10,000.

Cody Want, spokesperson for TV Licensing London and south east, said: ‘Over half of the UK’s TVs now connect to the internet, so it’s pretty 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.’

Jeffrey Borinsky, a London-based television and radio technology historian, added: ‘There are hundreds of collectors like myself who have many black and white TVs. Who wants all this new-fangled 4K Ultra HD, satellite dishes or a screen that's bigger than your room when you can have glorious black and white TV?

‘Thirty years ago you could still buy black and white TVs, mainly small portables, for as little as £50 and it’s interesting to know that some of people still have them.’