Dame Helen Mirren backs calls to save free TV licences for over-75s

By Keiran Southern, PA Los Angeles Correspondent

Dame Helen Mirren has backed calls to save free TV licences for over-75s, warning those who miss out could end up isolated.

The BBC announced the end of the universal benefit, saying it cannot afford to take on the financial burden from the Government.

From June 2020, the concession will only be made available to households where someone receives pension credit.

Dame Helen Mirren has called for free TV licences for Over-75s to be maintained (John Philips/PA)

The move sparked a backlash, with MPs among those demanding it be reversed.

Now, Oscar-winning actress Dame Helen has called for the BBC and the Government to “do the right thing” and reinstate the benefit.

In an open letter published in the Mirror, Dame Helen, 73, said: “It’s absolutely heartbreaking that so many older people are going to lose their free licence, when television plays such an important role in their lives.

“In many cases it acts as an important contact with the outside world.

“I urge all those involved, including the Government, to do the right thing and to carry on funding free licences for all over-75s, the cost of which is surely a small price to pay for keeping so many vulnerable older people connected.”

Dame Helen is said to be one of 20 celebrities who have added their names to the letter, asking the Government to stick to the Conservative manifesto promise to fund free TV licences for over-75s.

Others reportedly include Sir Lenny Henry, Angela Rippon and Amanda Redman.