UK's final analogue TV signal switched off: You have been watching, for the last 76 years...

Kunal Dutta witnesses the end of an era in Co Antrim

It began at 3pm on November 2 1936, with speeches by the BBC chairman and Postmaster-General from Alexandra Palace.

But the analogue television signal was switched off for good with considerably less ceremony yesterday, bringing an end to 76 years of broadcasting history.

The final blow came shortly after midnight as Olympic gold medallist Dame Mary Peters flicked a switch at the 1,176th and last working transmitter on the Divis Tower in Belfast.

The £630m switchover project that started five years ago in Cumbria officially ended in Northern Ireland. Thousands of Freeview viewers woke up yesterday with sets to retune, while anyone still using an analogue TV without a set-top box faced a screen full of "snow".

While those who updated their television years ago would not have noticed a change, traditionalists were nostalgic. Meta Turkington, 67, from Belfast spent the final night of analogue TV watching Ceefax with her son. "I watched the Queen's Coronation in 1953. We were the first people to have a black and white TV on our road," she told The Independent. "I'm an old fashion type and not into technology and have always been content with just a few stations. Why do we need so many more channels? I'm not even going to be able to watch anything until my son comes home tonight and retunes my TV."

As many as 4,000 digital sets have been installed in the last week and the helpline will stay open for another month to deal with latecomers. Gerard McCavanagh, 36, from Glengormley in County Antrim, was more sanguine. "I've had an analogue TV all my life. Now I suppose I'm going to have to buy a brand new TV – and that's the downside to all this. They're not cheap. But I guess things change and move on."

At least, he added, his daughter would grow up in a more united televisual world than he did. "I still remember Phillip Schofield and Gordon the Gopher suddenly saying 'Goodbye Northern Ireland' in the middle of Children's BBC," he recalled. "Then it'd cut to the news. But I'd always wonder what we were missing over here."

The Government hopes that the switchover will create space for the fourth generation of mobile phone services, or 4G, that could generate as much as £4bn for Treasury coffers when it is implemented next summer. Arqiva, the firm that managed the transmission switchover, will also handle that project.

Yet not everyone was sentimental. Vernon Woods, a 51-year-cab driver from Ballygomartin, North Belfast, had already switched. "I'll miss them TVs – but not for the programmes," he said recalling his time growing up on The Shankill Road. "When we were kids we used to find old televisions and take out the valves. I never forget you could smash the valves against the wall and they'd explode. The bang was horrendous. All this white powder would come out. And the massive magnet down the side of the TV – hours of fun."

The next challenge will be converting the UK to digital radio, with as many as 100 million analog sets consigned to the scrapheap once the conversion timetable is finalised next year.

Yesterday, within hours of the signal turning off, life was already moving on. Barry McNulty from Greencastle in County Tyrone tweeted: "In 20 years time when I'm telling the story about how I got the TV to work by using a coat hanger, everyone will think I'm crazy."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
Arts and Entertainment
William Pooley from Suffolk is flying out to Free Town, Sierra Leone, to continue working in health centres to fight Ebola after surviving the disease himself

music
Arts and Entertainment
The Newsroom creator Aaron Sorkin

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Berry (centre), the star of Channel 4 sitcom 'Toast of London'

TVA disappointingly dull denouement
Arts and Entertainment
Tales from the cryptanalyst: Benedict Cumberbatch in 'The Imitation Game'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pixie Lott has been voted off Strictly Come Dancing 2014

Strictly
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
    La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

    Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

    The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
    10 best high-end laptops

    10 best high-end laptops

    From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
    Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

    Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

    The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
    Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

    Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

    The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
    Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

    'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

    After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
    Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

    Homeless Veterans campaign

    Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
    Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

    Meet Racton Man

    Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
    Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

    Garden Bridge

    St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
    Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

    Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

    An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
    Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

    Joint Enterprise

    The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
    Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

    Freud and Eros

    Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum