CAN you imagine the furore if London had been blacked out without a television signal for two months in the way that south Durham, the Tees Valley and North Yorkshire has been since the fire at the Bilsdale mast on August 10?

There would be hell on, but the people up here are expected to accept the blank screens and the distorted images, and when they have the temerity to suggest they should get a licence fee refund because they are paying for a service they are not receiving, they have been scoffed at.

Yes, there are alternative ways to pick up programmes, and relay stations are increasingly reconnecting people, but so many – particularly those with older apparatus – have already been without a signal for a month, and it now looks as if it is going to be another month before a new mast is up, which will still leave 10 per cent of people in a not-spot.

It is not good enough. It is not fair that people should continue to pay for their licence and still not get programmes. And, as ever, it is the elderly and the most vulnerable who are on the receiving end.

We can put a man on the moon, we can use satellites to speak to the other side of the world, we can use navigational systems to locate our cars in the most remote of lanes, we can get live television pictures from wartorn Afghanistan, we can get up-to-the-second reports from the teeth of Hurricane Ida as it tore into America, and yet we cannot beam a television signal from a North Yorkshire hill into the homes of people within a 30 mile radius of it. It is quite incredible.