Macintosh or Windows? What exact version of the OS?
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Apologies mate, Windows 7 Home Premium, 4GB RAM, 1TB HDD.
You probably have a grayscale document. It's an easy mistake. If you have a channel or mask copied into the clipboard then the New dialogue will be set to create a grayscale document. The Color Picker dialogue and the Swatches panel still show colour when your document is grayscale. The Color panel will have a grayscale slider only, though. Check/change the mode in Image > Mode...
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Just tried your advice and it worked! Grayscale was selected don't know how but once it was set rgb voila! Thansk a ton mate!