It is 50 years since colour television broadcasting began in Britain, with coverage of Wimbledon. This year, as the BBC celebrates 90 years of live broadcasting from Wimbledon, there will be more coverage than ever, but viewers may have to wait for ultra-high-definition, high dynamic range, wider colour gamut or higher frame rates.

Colour television broadcasting began in the United States in the fifties but for many years most programming continued to be in black and white. Even by the mid-sixties, only half of network programming was in colour.

Regular colour television began in Britain on 1 July 1967 with coverage of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships, shown on BBC Two.

David Attenborough, who was responsible for the channel at the time, seized the opportunity to become the first to broadcast in colour in Europe, just ahead of Germany, the Netherlands and France.

The channel initially broadcast in colour about five hours a week but by the end of the year 80% of programmes were in colour.

BBC1 and ITV began broadcasting in colour in November 1969 although only around half the population could receive the signals and there were only around 200,000 colour sets in use.

In 2017, the BBC celebrates 90 years of Wimbledon coverage since the first live radio broadcast from the tennis tournament. It is also 80 years since it was first covered on television.

Wimbledon has served the introduction of other new television technologies, including interactive services and multiscreen coverage.

This year there will be 15 live video streams in high definition available online, covering action from all the courts. Six of the streams will also be available through the red button on television.

However, it seems that viewers will have to wait to see Wimbledon coverage in ultra-high-definition, despite trials that began in 2013 with 4K coverage and tests of 8K with Japanese broadcaster NHK in 2015.

The wait and see approach is similar to that adopted with the introduction of high definition television. The BBC is no longer in a position to pioneer such services. It cannot afford to lead the market but it cannot afford to wait too long either.

Satellite operator SES says it is currently carrying 22 Ultra HD channels. Eutelsat is also carrying a number of services in 4K.

By 2025, Euroconsult forecasts that there will be over 1,100 Ultra HD channels available worldwide, out of a total of over 47,000.