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Ricky Tomlinson calls to save free TV for older people

Ricky Tomlinson

By Royle appointment

The Royle Family actor stars in our new video alongside real people who'll be affected if free TV licences for the over-75s are scrapped.


Ricky Tomlinson is famous for playing Jim Royle, the loveable curmudgeon in BBC comedy The Royle Family – a character who famously couldn’t live without his television. It’s fitting, then, that Ricky should lend his support to Age UK’s Switched Off campaign, which aims to save free TV for older people in the UK.

With the BBC considering removing the right to free TV licences for the over-75s, Age UK research suggests more than two million older people whose main source of company is their beloved box would no longer be able to afford one. That's why we're calling on the Government to take back responsibility for funding TV licences for older people. 

Sign the petition

Join Ricky and the 115,000+ people demanding the Government takes back responsibility for funding free TV licences for over 75s. Help us reach our target of 125,000 signatures.

Ricky speaks

“I’m backing Age UK’s Switched Off campaign because I’m outraged that free TV licences for over-75s are under threat,” said the 79-year-old in February, when he added his name to our petition, which now has more than 115,000 signatures. “TV means the world to so many older people, especially those who are disabled and those who can’t get out and about like they used to. It is the only form of companionship for many who are lonely.”

Our new campaign video

“It’s only a TV – what damage can it do?” asks Ricky at the beginning of our new video, filmed at his local Age UK, Age UK Mid Mersey, alongside some of those who’ll be affected by this proposed change. And as these older people reveal, television represents far more than just a source of entertainment.

For some older people, TV provides information and insights into what’s happening outside their home and further afield. “Without the TV I wouldn’t know what’s happening in the world,” reveals one gentleman.

For others, it's a friend helping to stave off the pain of loneliness. “I put it on for company,” explains one woman. “It’s as if someone’s in the house with you, and you’re not on your own,” adds another. “It’s a godsend!”

And then there are those for whom the television is nothing short of their whole world. “TV is everything to me,” a lady reveals simply. “I’d be lost without it.”

"It's not just your TV you're taking away," says Ricky at the end of the video. "It's far bigger than that." He's right. That's why Age UK started the Switched Off campaign, and ask you to lend your name to a petition to protect this friend to so many older people.

What's the problem?

Want to know more about Switched Off? Here's the story behind Age UK's campaign, including the proposed changes and older people explaining how they'll be affected.

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Last updated: Nov 24 2023

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