Gogglebox’s June Bernicoff, 81, joined a host of stars in signing an open letter to the next Prime Minister, in partnership with Age UK, asking them to save the free TV license for over-75s. Speaking out about the plan to ditch free licences, she insisted: “For many older people television is their only company in the evenings. It is a lifeline that keeps them involved, entertained and engaged and to take that away from them would be isolating and heartbreakingly unfair.” Meanwhile, Dame Helen Mirren, 73, also backed free TV licences for the over-75s.
“It’s just absolutely heartbreaking that so many older people are going to lose their fee licence, when television plays such an important role in their lives,” she said. “In many cases it acts as an important contact with the outside world.
“I would urge all those involved including the Government to do the right thing and carry on funding free licences for all over-75s,” she added.“The cost of which is surely a small price to pay for keeping so many vulnerable older people connected.”
The group of over 20 celebrities who have signed the open letter to the next Prime Minister also included former Strictly Come Dancing judge Len Goodman, 75, Sir Lenny Henry, 60, and Ben Fogle, 45.
According to Age UK, 83 per cent of those polled, equivalent to over 42 million people, believe the Conservative Party should keep its manifesto pledge to fund free TV licences until 2022.
The charity said the free TV licence has helped millions sustain their quality of life into late old age.
They found TV is the main form of company for 38 per cent of people aged 75 and over, with nine out of 10 in that age group saying they watch TV every day.
Charity Director Caroline Abrahams said: “I think many older people will be hugely cheered to see these household names supporting their cause and they will be hoping, as we do in Age UK, that our new Prime Minister listens and takes back responsibility for funding free TV licences for 75s, whether it’s Boris Johnson or Jeremy Hunt.
“The Government should never have outsourced this welfare entitlement in the first place but the new administration that is about to come into place at least has the opportunity to wipe the slate clean and right the wrong that’s been done to our older population.”
June shot to fame and earned her place in the hearts of the nation after she and her husband Leon Bernicoff joined the cast of Gogglebox when it first aired in 2013.
The couple were together for over 60 years and became fan favourites on the Channel 4 show.
Tragically, Leon Bernicoff died aged 83 in December 2017.
Following his death, June decided to depart Gogglebox.
In a candid interview with The Sun, she has since revealed she doesn’t watch as much TV since losing her husband.
“I don’t watch much TV these days, if I’m honest,” she told the publication. “I find it difficult.
“I’ve been reading a lot more, or listening to the radio, but I just feel restless when I sit down to watch it,” she added.
“I find myself getting up to make lots of cups of tea and I can’t settle.”
June also told The Mirror she can still her Leon’s “witty remarks” in spite of his absence, saying: “Leon was such a large figure… I can hear him saying things like, ‘Why have you got this nonsense on?’ when I’m listening to Classic FM.”