AP Photo/David Goldman

Last night signalled the start of London's digital switchover as analogue BBC Two was turned off at Crystal Palace and 53 other transmitting stations.

The largest phase of the switchover process left millions without BBC Two signal, and despite extensive advertising, thousands of households resulted to phone helplines for assistance re-tuning their set.

The digital switchover will be completed in London on 18 April when the remaining analogue channels including BBC One, ITV and Channel 4 will be switched off.

The process will be complete for Britain as a whole by October this year, with two thirds of households already completing the switch and 2.5 milllion households in Tyne Tees, the eastern Meridian region in Kent, East Sussex and Northern Ireland to follow.


The scheme will mean that 98.5 per cent of the population will receive more than 40 extra digital channels like BBC Three and Four, ITV2 and E4. Many will also gain access to high definition channels.

Losing signal

The body responsible for the switchover, Digital UK, estimates that 200,000 homes have no digital TV set at all, while many others have older 'second' sets which will lose signal.

In this latest phase, up to a million sets lost BBC Two signal, with households across London and the Home Counties affected. But despite Digital UK's ongoing advertising campaign, emergency helplines were inundated with thousands of calls from households left unable to watch their TV.

How to get your channels back

For those who already have a Freeview TV or a set-top box, it's just a case of re-tuning your television, and you won't need to buy any new equipment. Instructions on how to do this can be found on the Digital UK website. If you don't have a digital television, you'll need a set-top box to be able to watch the Freeview channels.

Deborah Bain, London Manager for Digital UK, said: "Anyone who still hasn't switched to digital should prepare for 18 April when the last analogue channels will be permanently switched off. We urge everyone to get ready now – don't leave it until the last minute."

Those who record television should note that most video and DVD recorders will no longer be able to record one channel while you are watching another.

Digital UK says the Switchover Help Scheme is still welcoming applications for eligible older and disabled people to get help converting their television.

More stories