The TV licence dodger who left it on for the kitten!

“I don’t watch the TV, I leave it on for the kitten,” is one of the many hilarious, but flawed, real-life excuses given to TV Licensing in 2014 by people caught watching TV without a licence over the past year in Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire.

Between 94 and 95 per cent of homes across the UK are correctly licensed, but a small minority of people continue to offer TV Licensing decidedly dodgy excuses as to why they don’t have a licence when caught evading.

Excuses ranged from religious sects, “We belong to a religious sect. We only use our TVs to watch apparitions and receive messages from God”, to blaming pigeons, “a pigeon dropped a cigarette through a hole in the roof and burnt all my loft insulation”, and dogs, “the TV belongs to my dog. He got it for Christmas. Ask him to pay”.

One male evader had other uses for his TV, telling an Enquiry Officer, “I don’t use my TV to watch TV programmes. I use it to hang my clothes so they dry”, whilst another said, “I only use my TV as a table to eat my dinner off” and one evader didn’t even know he had a TV at all, “Oh, it’s a TV?! I thought it was a microwave”.

Martin Dyan, TV Licensing spokesperson for London and the South East, added: “We are effective at catching evaders but it’s not surprising a few of those caught will try and avoid taking responsibility. Fewer than two per cent of households only watch catch up TV, so the vast majority of homes still need a TV Licence. Some of the humour and originality in this year’s excuses provided a laugh for our Enquiry Officers and customer service centre staff, but behind every excuse is someone who has been caught watching or recording live TV without a licence.

“We would much rather people buy a TV Licence, which they can pay for either in one go, or in smaller weekly or monthly instalments, than make a fanciful excuse and face prosecution and a fine of up to £1,000.”