You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Talking Pictures TV: Bringing the Past Back to Life in the U.K.

LYON, France – Since its launch in 2015, Talking Pictures TV has become the fastest-growing independent channel in the U.K. with a growing library of British film and TV titles that span five decades, according to founder Noel Cronin.

Noel Cronin attended the Lumière Festival’s International Classic Film Market (MIFC) in Lyon, France, where he took part in a roundtable discussion on distribution of heritage cinema.

His 24-hour channel offers feature films and TV series from the 1930s to the 1980s, reaching some 850,000 viewers a day and 2.6 million a week. Talking Pictures TV is available in the U.K. on the Sky digital satellite platform, Freeview and other satellite outlets.

Talking Pictures TV grew out of Cronin’s DVD distribution company, Renown Pictures.

“We acquired several old libraries – mostly B-features, but good ones,” Cronin explains. “We started to release them on DVD and they sold quite well. … We felt there was a gap in the market for nostalgia, classics, call it whatever you want, and there was.”

Talking Pictures TV was a natural outgrowth of the DVD business, Cronin adds. “Once you’ve released them on DVD, what do you do with them then? Having worked in distribution for many years, I just felt there was a niche there for the older person.”

Popular on Variety

The channel regularly acquires content from the likes of Fremantle, including Thames Television titles like “Hazell,” “Public Eye” and “Widows,” and from most of the Hollywood majors.

“We pride ourselves on the refreshing of our titles,” Cronin says. “I think it’s one of our successes. You’ll only see a film about three times a year.”

Among the titles currently airing on the channel are Desmond Davis’ 1964 drama “Girl with Green Eyes,” starring Rita Tushingham and Peter Finch; Zoltan Korda’s 1951 “Cry the Beloved Country,” with Canada Lee and Sidney Poitier; Werner Herzog’s 1979 “Nosferatu the Vampyre”; and John Schlesinger’s 1962 film “A Kind of Loving,” starring Alan Bates and June Ritchie.

Series like “Gideon’s Way,” from ITV, and “Scotland Yard” always do very well with viewers, Cronin adds. “‘Gideon’s Way’ is so good. It’s good acting and well written.”

Also popular are the 1953 feature film “Colonel March Investigates,” starring Boris Karloff, which combined the first three episodes of the British TV series “Colonel March of Scotland Yard,” and the “The Invisible Man” TV series that aired on ITV from 1958 to 1959.

The company does a lot of restorations of its own titles, Cronin adds. “Anything that we can do to preserve their quality and their life.” Cronin has often sought specific titles for the channel only to discover that they’re gone, no longer in existence.

In view of Talking Pictures TV’s more mature audience, the company subtitles all of its content for viewers who are hearing impaired.

The channel has also had positive effects on many older viewers, including some in senior care centers who have withdrawn into themselves, Cronin says.

“One of the most interesting things we found is that we get a lot of mail from rest homes, care homes, and the stories are always the same. The people that sat there, didn’t talk, didn’t move, didn’t do anything – they put the channel on and they start talking to each other, and the staff say it’s fantastic. They’re happy again. It jolts the memories. Maybe it was a car or a hair style – I think a time when they were happy.”

More Film


    Laemmle Theatres Arthouse Chain No Longer Seeking Buyer

    Los Angeles-based arthouse chain Laemmle Theatres has stopped seeking a buyer, four months after putting itself on the sales block amid slow sales. Greg Laemmle, president of the 81-year-old exhibitor, announced the development Thursday. He told Variety that discussions with an unidentified buyer had reached an advanced stage but fell apart and that there has [...]

  • Morgan Freeman Lori McCreary Gary Lucchesi

    Film News Roundup: Morgan Freeman's Revelations Teams With Gary Lucchesi for Production Venture

    In today’s film news roundup, Morgan Freeman, Lori McCreary and Gary Lucchesi are teaming up; Zolee Griggs, Sara Rue and Ed Quinn are cast; and “Clementine” finds a home. JOINT VENTURE Morgan Freeman and Lori McCreary’s Revelations Entertainment is teaming with former Lakeshore Entertainment president Gary Lucchesi for a joint production venture. Lucchesi will develop [...]

  • 'When Lambs Become Lions' Review: A

    Film Review: 'When Lambs Become Lions'

    “For us, ivory is worthless unless it is on our elephants,” says Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta in a televised statement, shortly before several vast hauls of severed elephant tusks — ornately piled like sacred shrines — is ceremoniously set ablaze. It’s a confiscated collection that, Kenyatta tells his audience, is worth $150 million, literally going [...]

  • Shannon Hoon

    Live Nation Productions Boards Danny Clinch-Helmed Blind Melon Doc 'All I Can Say'

    Live Nation Productions and Double E Entertainment have signed on as executive producers of “All I Can Say,” the documentary film featuring footage shot entirely by the late Shannon Hoon of Blind Melon. The film’s title is taken from the opening lines of Blind Melon’s instantly recognizable 1993 smash, “No Rain.” Culled from Hoon’s archives, the [...]

  • Tom Hanks stars as Mister Rogers

    How Mr. Rogers Influenced the Pacing of 'A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood'

    Fred Rogers was an icon to many. Everyone who met him and knew him says, “He really was like that.” He spoke in a soft voice and he was kind. He believed in doing good to others. He spoke to children in “Mister Rogers Neighborhood” in a soft voice, helping them to process complicated emotions [...]

  • Dowdle Brothers

    The Dowdle Brothers Tackle New 'Friday Night Lights' Movie (EXCLUSIVE)

    John Erick and Drew Dowdle, aka the Dowdle brothers, have boarded Universal Pictures’ reimagining of “Friday Night Lights.” Both will do a polish on the script, with John Erick directing and Drew exec producing. Sources tell Variety that the movie is not a sequel to Universal’s 2004 film starring Billy Bob Thornton, nor is it [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content