TV licence fee is a lifeline for lonely elderly: Blaise Tapp

We all have abiding memories from our childhoods, vivid recollections which leave a warm fuzzy glow of nostalgia.

Friday, 7th June 2019, 4:39 pm
Updated Friday, 14th June 2019, 6:17 pm
Julie Goodyear alias Bet Lynch on the set of Coronation Street PA Photo/Phil Noble

The memory which defines my happy childhood is sitting in my grandparents’ front room watching their ancient television, while it blared out the opening strains of the Coronation Street theme tune.

Hearing those unmistakable first chords meant so much more than learning who was Mike Baldwin’s latest floozy.

We did more than just watch the box when we visited my elderly relatives on the south coast but sharing those special moments, which usually involved us falling about laughing at the size of Bet Lynch’s parrot earrings, still make me smile today.

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Television was a serious business, especially for my gran, who struggled to get very far out of her front door.

The box was her lifeline and, after her death, it became an increasingly important companion to my grandad, right up until he switched off for the last time at the ripe old age of 95.

It was my old grandparents who Tony Blair and his ministers had in mind when they first came up with the idea of free licenses for the over 75s some two decades ago.

When it was introduced, it was done to help ease the poverty that many who were born in the 1920s and 1930s faced and still face today.

The BBC has announced they will no longer be available to everybody aged 75 and over.

The corporation was due to take on the full cost of the free licences from next year and the bean counters worked out it would cost them £745 million each year, meaning that BBC2, Five Live and a host of local radio stations would be put at risk.

There are still millions of senior citizens, those who claim pension credit, who are eligible for the free licences and rightly so.

Poverty means much more than not having enough money to live on, it can mean millions of people, especially the elderly, face the scourge of loneliness.

Our friend in the corner of the front room can go some way to easing that agony.