"Everyone in Swindon will be affected and it will be the biggest change in broadcasting since the introduction of colour television," says Bill Taylor, the man leading the town to switchover to digital television in just under two years' time.

The analogue signals which have been used for more than 60 years will be switched off and around the UK. Switchover will take place gradually as each transmitter is converted to provide high-power digital signals, which will reach virtually all households, including those unable to receive Freeview today.

"We want to make sure that as many people are prepared and have done all they can to get ready for the switchover, which will happen in Swindon between April and June 2010," Bill added.

"Most households in the town currently receive their analogue signal from the Mendip transmitter and this will be switched off for good to make way for extra channels and services which everyone will be able to receive free through an aerial."

Swindon is part of the West television region and will follow hot on the heels of the West Country switchover which takes place next year. Most people can't fail to have seen the eye-catching television adverts from Digital UK with the friendly robot character Digit Al driving around the country in a pink van.

The campaign in Wiltshire is being spearheaded by Digital UK, the independent organisation providing help and advice with Bill at the helm.

In short, people will need to fit a digital device such as a set-top box or satellite alternative. If they don't, in two years time when analogue signals are stopped they will be without a picture and screens will be blank.

For millions of households, television is the central form of entertainment and eye on the world. But some fear that thousands of elderly people and low-income households could be left behind by the brave new digital world.

Mr Taylor said: "My mission is to make the transition as pain-free and smooth as possible. We recognise that for many elderly and vulnerable people, television is a lifeline and they need the most help. We will do all that we can to help".

Those over 75 and the severely disabled will be offered equipment and professional help with installation through the Government-backed Switchover Help Scheme.

"One of my biggest jobs over the next two years is getting in touch with all of the councils, charities and other organisations who regularly come into contact with elderly and vulnerable viewers.

"It's a mammoth task communicating with this key audience. We also want friends, neighbours, volunteers and family members to help older people to get a box and get it fixed up and sorted."

The price of a Freeview box has been tumbling for the past few years with the average one now costing about £25. Bill added: "If you've got more than one television in the house then you will need a solution for all of them, for example a box for each TV. We know this might be expensive for some, so we would advise spreading the cost."

For those who won't be able to receive a digital signal through their television aerial via Freeview, non-subscription satellite packages are available from electrical retailers. Alongside Sky's Freesat system sits a new BBC version, which for a one-off charge includes a fully-fitted satellite dish, box and many more free-to-air channels.

"When the switchover happens Freeview will be available to almost everyone.

"That's because to get digital television at the moment the signal is very low so it doesn't interfere with the digital-analogue system that's running in parallel.

"When switchover happens the power of the digital signal will increase enormously.

"And everyone who can't get it now will."