So when did this new colour service start for us in Britain? On the 1st of July 1967, the UK launched Europe’s first colour service with the Wimbledon tennis championships on BBC2. This was broadcast using the Phase Alternating Line (PAL) system, which was based on the work of the German television engineer Walter Bruch. PAL was based on NTSC but much improved, NTSC was dubbed “never twice the same colour”. For those who may be interested click here to read about the development of the colour shadow-mask CRT.
On 15th November 1969, colour broadcasting arrived on the remaining two channels, BBC1 and ITV, which were more popular channels than BBC2. Only about half of the national population was brought within the range of colour signals by 15th November, 1969. Colour could be received in the London Weekend Television/Thames region, ATV (Midlands), Granada (North-West) and Yorkshire TV regions. ITV’s first colour programmes in Scotland appeared on 13th December 1969 in Central Scotland; in Wales on 6th April 1970 in South Wales; and in Northern Ireland on 14th September 1970 in the eastern parts.
Colour TV licences were introduced on 1st January, 1968, costing £10 this was twice the price of the standard £5 black and white TV licence.
Initially the service only covered London, southern England, the Midlands and the north. Due to the lack of colour production facilities, the majority of early colour programming consisted of outside broadcasts and movies until the conversion of Television Centre. The initial service was live from Wimbledon, preceded for a few weeks by colour broadcasting of certain shows, colour Trade Test films and Test Card F with its centre photo of Carol Hersee, the daughter of the engineer who designed it. At this time it was estimated that the were 100,000 colour sets.
We had to wait a further two years until 15th November 1969 when all three channels in the UK broadcast colour. At this time it was estimated that the were 200,000 colour sets in circulation, it was not until 1975 that colour sets were finally outselling Black & White.