20 black and white TV licences still in force in Exeter
NEW figures reveal fewer than 20 black and white TV licences are still in force in Exeter almost 50 years after colour transmissions started.
But the good old days of black and white television are still going strong in Bill Hambrook's front room.
Widower Bill, 70, who lives in St David's, has stuck with his black and white television while most fell by the wayside when colour TV arrived.
Bill is a monchrome fan – and not just because the annual licence only sets him back £49 compared with a colour licence for £145.50.
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He actually likes black and white television more than its colourful cousin. And his TV is so old it's not even clear what make it is.
Bill said: "I have had this old TV for more than 20 years now and it was second hand when I got it, but it works like a dream.
"The thing is you can repair it if needs be with a soldering iron, a screw driver and a bit of common sense. These new tellies are all sub-miniaturised, integrated circuit boards that no one can fix. You just have to throw them away and get a new one.
"My old TV is a 12-incher and its on its original tube – and if it goes I have a spare black and white telly stored away."
One reason that Bill's telly is still going strong is that he doesn't watch it a lot.
A former marine engineer, Bill prefers to use his skills making N-gauge railway models from scratch – and he is a noted trouble-shooter for fellow enthusiasts who come up against engineering problems.
He said: "The thing is I can't stand all these soaps, or X Factor sort of nonsense. I saw the original Coronation Street when it was all black and white and I didn't like that much.
"What I do like and what's worth the 48 quid is David Attenborough.
"I don't miss not seeing it all in colour, in fact for me it is actually better, clearer and sharper in black and white.
"I have a slight visual colour defect which means I have no colour vision at the top end of the spectrum, the blue end, but I can see down into the infra-red end.
"It was a great benefit when I was involved in photo reconnaissance and interpreting aerial photographs and it means I see black and white so much more sharply. I have a digi-box to give me all the channels I need but I had no intention of going over to colour.
"I like black and white, it suits me down to the ground — and saves me money."
The number of black and white licences issued each year has steadily been declining. In 2000 there were 212,000 black and white TV licences issued, but at the start of 2013, just 13,202 black and white licenses were in force across the UK.
Warren Carr, spokesman for TV Licensing in the South West, said: "It's remarkable that with the digital switchover complete, 41 per cent of UK households owning HDTVs and Britons leading the world in accessing TV content over the internet, more than 13,000 households still watch their favourite programmes on a black and white telly."