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Father-Daughter Duo Run UK’s Biggest Home-Run TV Channel For Classic Films

Noel Cronin and Sarah Cronin-Stanley attract millions of viewers with their nostalgic content

A dad and daughter run their own TV channel showing classic films from an office in their garden – and get six million viewers a week.

Noel Cronin, 74, and Sarah Cronin-Stanley operate the biggest home-run independent television station in the UK – only airing vintage programs and movies.

Talking Pictures TV launched in 2015 and now gets millions of young and old viewers for its nostalgic content – including romance, horror and comedy.

Based from their home in Hertfordshire the channel airs some of the “rarest and greatest gems” from British film history – 24/7.

The father and daughter duo say they hope to maintain the history of British cinema and classic TV.

A dad and daughter run their own TV channel showing classic films from an office in their garden – and get six million viewers a week. PHOTO BY JOSEPH WALSHE/SWNS 

Its celebrity’s fans include the late Queen Elizabeth who used to watch Laurel and Hardy on the channel – and saw Noel later awarded a British Empire Medal.

Archivist Noel has worked in the film industry since 1962 as a producer and editor.

His daughter says she was inspired by her father and developed a passion for film early in her youth.

Sarah said: “It’s all about saving film history, celluloid and TV history. Young people are also fans of the vintage and that is encouraging.”

One of their most popular shows is The Footage Detectives, where broadcaster Mike Read joins Noel on the quest to track down old films, footage and programs.

A dad and daughter run their own TV channel showing classic films from an office in their garden – and get six million viewers a week. PHOTO BY JOSEPH WALSHE/SWNS 

During Covid times the channel had almost six million viewers a week – and Sarah says the numbers haven’t dropped since then.

The channel is free to watch and does not run on subscription because they want it to be “accessible to everybody” and is funded through advertising.

It was launched in 2015 on Sky but later also became available on Freeview, Freesat, and Virgin Media.

They also launched a free online catch-up service last year, have 95% of their content subtitled and were the first independent channel to have a red button feature on free view.

Talking Pictures TV has a predominant viewing audience of over 65 – but also has developed a significant youth following too.

Noel admits he likes to “structure the channel in the old-fashioned television way” and is not a fan of the modern instant gratification of streaming services today.


He said: “I would play one episode on a Wednesday, and then the following on the next Wednesday.

“Everything is immediate now, but we play the old-fashioned way; I would be very unhappy to play things in stripes, day after day

“We are against this trend in current television – I’m horrified when I hear someone watches a whole series in just one day!

“I like chocolate but I don’t eat the whole box in one sitting!”

Leading up to their ninth anniversary, both Sarah and Noel said community and their relationship with their viewing audience lay at the heart of the channel.

He said: “It is all about the rapport with our audience – we share the same thoughts and ideas by and large – a love of a time era that people enjoyed, which is perhaps a happier time in their life or time they got married and so on.”

Sarah said: “Everybody feels a real part of the station and has supported us along the last nine years.

“It isn’t some great big commercial outlet – our viewers write to us, we get thousands of emails, have a big interaction on social media and hold events where we can meet people and the stars.

“It adds to the community feel to bring back a lot of celluloid to the TV.

“The amount of letters we get in where people tell us the channel has changed their life – there are a lot of hungry people out there, and we help them feel like they are not alone.

“We also get hundreds of Christmas cards – it’s so lovely. I mean, how many TV stations can you ring up and just have a chat?”

Despite popular belief, Noel admits they “do not have satellites in the garden”.

The technical side of the channel runs from a transmission hub in Chiswick.

But the planning and acquisition is done from the TV’s office at their garden studio.

Noel explained how he came to acquire film cans back in the day through extensive work in the film industry, which led to setting up the channel.

He said: “When I was in distribution selling films to TV stations, I was buying old black and white films.

“After a couple years of enquiring lots, I tried to sell them.

“The smaller stations weren’t that interested, saying we don’t play black and white after 4 pm in the afternoon – this was back in 2001 roughly – so they didn’t appeal to a youthful audience.

“I had acquired a vast library at this point and I thought they were wrong and wanted to do something about it – so the only way to do it is to play them ourselves!”

Sarah said: “Our house was full of cans of film, and our home was used a couple times to film – I have always been around it and production has always been a big part for me.”

Sarah began a career in acting then as a runner, subsequently worked for production companies looking after archives, and distribution and then became a producer for Sky, making documentaries too.

She runs all the events including cinema showings and the DVD sister company where Talking Pictures produces their own productions and films from the archive onto DVD.

The pair receive a lot of the canisters of film from the public.

Sarah explains: “A large percentage we can’t use for content or copyright, they belong to Disney, etc.

“But it is interesting to see what we do get and technically what it ok or what might be OK to play.

“If we buy a license – it costs us a lot of money, so you negotiate.

“Sometimes you pay a bit more for something because you want to try it, but obviously we’ve got to stay in budget.”

Noel says his taste in films and programs is “broad and narrow”, and he likes “anything that is pleasant”.

But admits he does not like modern programming.

He explained: “I try and watch things and I’m just bored with them.

“They are so formulaic – I know what is going to happen next, and in that, you are left disappointed.”

Produced in association with SWNS Talker

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