This Father-daughter Duo Runs a TV Channel Showing Only Classics

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By: ScreenGawk Staff | Published: Feb 08, 2024

A father and daughter from the U.K. have seen a TV network, which started in their own home, become one of the nation’s fastest-growing channels, reaching millions of viewers.

A mother and son share popcorn as they sit on their couch and watch TV

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Noel Cronin, a 74-year-old, accompanied by his daughter Sarah, is behind Talking Pictures, a network that’s garnered popularity for its lineup of classic movies and TV shows.

Launch of the Network

Noel Cronin has been involved in the film industry for five decades, buying and selling the rights to classic shows (via The Daily Mail).

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Noel Cronin pictured in his home office holding a large movie reel

Source: @Classicbritcom/X

In 2015, after pitching the idea of a channel dedicated to older movies and TV shows to various networks without any luck, he and his daughter Sarah decided to launch Taking Pictures TV.

Family and Friends Call Noel Mad

When Noel initially told friends about the idea of starting his own TV network, many were quick to suggest it would be unsuccessful.

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“Everyone said, ‘You’re mad, no one wants to watch black and white anymore,'” said Sarah, 31. “But they were wrong,” they said during an interview with The Daily Mail.

Movie Station Run from Noel’s Shed

Talking Pictures is run from a shed in the back garden of Noel’s home in the small English village of Chipperfield.

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Noel pictured alongside his daughter Sarah at their home in England

Source: @MCUK_Official/X

Noel prefers to do things the old-fashioned way. Each morning, he will set up the day’s schedule by choosing titles one by one from his electric library and writing the lineup down on a sheet of paper.

Buying Rights, No One Cared About

According to his daughter Sarah, Noel’s passion for preserving older films is crucial to the network’s success.

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A man shows little emotion as he watches a show on television that he’s not interested in

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“He was very clever in the 1960s and 1970s,” she said. “Buying the rights to features no one else was particularly interested in.”

Growth During the Pandemic

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Talking Pictures began to see significant growth, and now the channel is one of the fastest-growing across the United Kingdom.

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A group of people stand side by side wearing face masks during COVID-19

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Millions of viewers tune in weekly to watch classic reruns of ’80s cop shows, Alfred Hitchcock movies, and pieces forgotten to time like Sydney Poitier’s “Cry.”

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Watching Cult Classics with Talking Pictures

Talking Pictures is available on British cable services such as Sky and Virgin, YouTube, and the national free-view service.

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Even the former Queen of England tuned in to enjoy reruns of the popular show “Laurel and Hardy” when she was too ill during the Christmas period of 2016.

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Preserving for Future Generations

Sarah believes the success of the network continues as there’s a large audience that craves classic shows and films.

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A small family gathers on their couch and watches television together

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“But the big broadcasters stopped showing them,” she said. “It was as if streaming, TV-on-demand, and box-sets would render the oldies obsolete. We disagreed as we knew there was an audience who would otherwise be ignored.”

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Sometimes Newer Isn't Better

According to Noel, his fascination with the older generation of filmmaking stems from the idea that it doesn’t need special effects to be entertaining.

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“What I like are films which don’t rely on a car chase, big booming special effects, or a scantily-clad lady,” he said.

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Audience Love the Drama

“Our audience, they don’t want to know about who’s on a beach in a bikini snogging who, you know? What do they care?” Sarah said (via CBS).

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A group of friends gather together on a couch and watch a movie with the lights off

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“They want a good drama and, you know, and I think that’s something we did really well in the ’50s and ’60s. Good scripts — not all the time, not all the time, obviously — but good scripts, you know, really good editing, lighting where you’re thinking about it, and a good story.”

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Talking Pictures Preserves History

Noel and Sarah believe their overall success comes from a strong community of movie enthusiasts who have followed their journey over the years.

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A couple enjoy popcorn on their couch as they watch a movie

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“It’s a community as well. You know, everybody that watches us has probably followed our journey and kind of feels part of our story. One big family, we are,” she said.

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Hoping to Continue the Good Work

While there are several TV shows and movies they’ve been unable to obtain, Noel and Sarah are hopeful that they’ll be able to preserve as many classic films and shows as possible.

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A collection of VHS tapes is pictured on a small white table

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Speaking of films stored away in vaults, Sarah says, “It’s a tragedy because they are pieces of history which should be preserved — and as we have proved, there’s an audience longing to see them again.”

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