TCM Movies UK To Shut Down: Farewell To Classic Cinema

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It’s the end of an era for the British television landscape: Turner Classic Movies (TCM) UK, widely known as TCM Movies and a cornerstone for film enthusiasts, is preparing for its final act.

This dedicated channel, which has showcased the rich filmographies of Turner Entertainment and Warner Bros., is set to close its curtains on July 6, 2023, marking a poignant farewell for UK’s classic movie lovers.

This sombre news comes amidst a backdrop of global uncertainty for TCM. Across the Atlantic, the future of the American TCM channel hangs in the balance following recent layoffs announced by Warner Bros. Discovery.

As the UK prepares to say goodbye to its beloved classic film channel, the struggle to preserve its American counterpart underscores the ongoing challenges and importance of maintaining the legacy of classic cinema worldwide.

All is not lost, however – as some of TCM Movies’ library will switch over to the free-to-air channel, Quest (see full details below).

TCM Movies UK Logo

Launched in 1999, TCM Movies (UK) emerged after its predecessor, TNT, discontinued its film programming to become a general entertainment channel. The channel saw significant growth in reach when it took over TNT’s space on various platforms on July 1, 2000​.

Unlike other versions of Turner Classic Movies and other Turner channels in the UK, TCM Movies UK was free-to-air for a long time (though it was never available on Freeview).

​In January 2004, the channel transitioned to an encrypted format when it joined Sky’s subscription packages​.

Throughout its lifespan, TCM Movies has continuously adapted and evolved. In 2009, the channel underwent a graphical makeover and introduced a new logo to appeal to a younger audience. This initiative was complemented by the addition of several new films to the channel’s catalogue.

TCM Movies provided a unique viewing experience for classic film lovers, featuring films from different periods of cinema history.

The channel was not just a broadcaster of old films – it was a curator, offering films with historical, artistic, and cultural significance.

From Gone With The Wind to The Wizard of Oz, classic westerns, the “Friday Film Club” with its selection of masterpieces, and more – TCM Movies brought classic Hollywood into British living rooms.

TCM Movies UK website
(Photo: TCM Movies UK)

In addition to its standard offerings, TCM Movies launched an HD version of the channel on September 4, 2012, concurrently with the standard definition version beginning to broadcast in 16:9 widescreen​​.

The channel also introduced a one-hour timeshift channel, Turner Classic Movies +1, in 2013​.

TCM Movies is currently available on Sky (Channels 315 on both Sky Q and Sky Glass / Sky Stream), and on Virgin Media (Channel 415). It used to be available on BT TV, but was removed in 2021.

TCM Movies UK Shutting Down

On July 6, 2023, TCM Movies UK will be closed.

The announcement came as a shock to the classic film community. The official channel announced this on social media:

“TCM Movies is closing in the UK and Ireland. On July 6th, we’ll be riding off into the sunset one last time. Thank you for joining us on our journey and for loving classic movies just as much as we do.”

The channel also posted a short goodbye clip:

This news signals the end of an era, as the channel that has been a mainstay of classic film lovers in the UK and Ireland prepares to fade to black.

However, in their message, the channel also shared that “Quest will continue to show your favourite films.”

The UK-based channel Quest, already known for its factual, lifestyle, and entertainment programming, will be stepping up to fill the shoes of TCM Movies, ensuring that classic film lovers still have a destination for their favourite films.

Quest Freeview channel logo

Quest, which Warner Bros. Discovery also operates, is available for free on the Freeview platform (Channel 12).

Quest is also available to stream on the Discovery+ streaming service.

The channel used to air factual shows – but will now also include classic films, from the TCM Movies archives.

US TCM Channel Also In Danger

The closure of TCM Movies in the UK parallels developments across the Atlantic.

In the US, the future of the American TCM channel has also been uncertain following layoffs announced by Warner Bros. Discovery. However, unlike in the UK, efforts are being made to save the American TCM.

Prominent filmmakers Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, and Paul Thomas Anderson have engaged in discussions with David Zaslav, the CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery, about the future of the network.

Steven Spielberg
Steven Spielberg (Photo: Deposit Photos – Denis Makarenko)

The trio, who are key parties of the Film Foundation (a non-profit dedicated to the preservation and restoration of classic cinema), have expressed their commitment to ensuring that TCM’s programming remains untouched and protected.

The efforts to preserve TCM in the US highlight the cultural significance of these channels and the importance of their mission to maintain the legacy of classic cinema.

Alas, in the UK, TCM Movies is going away (barring any last-minute changes… we’ll keep you updated).

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27 thoughts on “TCM Movies UK To Shut Down: Farewell To Classic Cinema”

  1. Its the reason I paid for my sky subscription. I’m not old but loved the old westerns on there with simple plot lines as so many modern films just don’t have the same timeless quality to them as the old studio films. Very sad day and just hope Quest carries them non stop as putting the occasional film on at an obscure time just won’t cut it

  2. What a shame, what will i do on a late wet winters afternoon with out a classic TCM western to watch. Yes, you guessed right, i am an old fart but my money seems as good as any ones, just ask sky, subs keep going up/content keeps falling.

  3. Over the last few years TCM’s film catalogue has fallen well below standard, showing the same film sometimes relentlessly day after day and the quality of most of the others well below par apart from a few well known ones.I remember when TNT [then known] showed basically only MGM movies from all era’s some forgotten classics such as Sitting Target with Oliver Reed, The Carey Treatment with James Coburn, Coma with Michael Douglas, Get Carter , The Maltese Falcon , Key Largo and many other classics , now we in the UK only have Talking Pictures left to show classic movies

  4. I think this is an outrageous decision.
    Sky , Disney and all the following better take notice as us sentimetalist
    Who loved every thing TCM gave us through the years will never forget you have let this happen.
    So sad.

    • Dude, how much do you spend with those entities?

      The audience is dying out. The money the channel generates isn’t worth the management time and attention.

      My wife in her 70s cares, but no-one I know under 70 will care or notice. The market has moved to streaming, so it wouldn’t surprise me if “TCM” would be a £2PCM advertisement supported uplift on one of the streaming packages.

  5. Really sorry to hear that TCM Movies UK is closing. I have enjoyed watching the classics that can never be replicated in modern day cinema. All the great actors, film directors, producers, filmatograhers, costume designers etc who for their hard work and exellence they all contributed to making each piece of work unique and rememberable. I know that some of TCM’s library will be available on Quest but it is a great shame that TCM Movies UK cannot be saved. Too many channels over the years have met the same fate which is a loss to everyone who enjoys quality tv.

  6. I thought the content on TCM UK was pretty poor compared to its US,Spanish and French counterparts. The content was dominated by low budget westerns and it was no tribute to the golden age of Hollywood.They also reversed from HD back to SD,I don’t know of any channel that did that.However jobs will be lost and that and is tough for those individuals so best of luck to those people in the future.

    • I’m watching TCM UK on Virgin now Billy and it is definitely HD, although the +1hour is shown in SD. Anyway, the loss of this channel is very sad.

  7. No no no
    Can’t believe it
    The only channel I watch with any regularity and can hear properly!!!!! The real stars of cinema
    Have to go back to buying DVDs. Which I can fund by giving up BBC and sky packages

  8. If they can save it in the USA why can’t they save it here in the UK? And why is it closing there is no explanation as to why it is closing.

  9. It’s a total shame that t.c.m is to close, and again we say to a company that was special to a lot of well knowing people, and most importantly to a lot of old classic movies. Movies that would of been losted and forgotten about and some would of never been seen, I hope that a lot of important people in the movie or film world would try and do there very best and save the classic movies to be showing now and in the future and for generations to see ..

    • That was the main goal of TCM in the very beginning—to preserve and teach, how creative black and white was and is in the history of cinema.
      I too, am saddened, disappointed and angry that the film industry has forgotten.
      I thought one of the reason’s we have TCM, is to educate the younger generation, and how cinema has evolved.
      Rita Z.

  10. I was part of the team that launched the UK/European versions of TNT and Cartoon Network in 1993, back when it was solely owned by Ted Turner. I went on to be Director of Programming until about 2000,and was there through the Warner and then AOL mergers. Such a shame. I know lots of older people will be very upset. It was a great job. I created “Western Week” and a ton of seasons. I learnt so much about the film histories of the MGM and Warner libraries. We also interviewed lots of really interesting movie people. RIP

  11. Not surprised, they couldn’t afford their ‘glorious’ HD bills it were only sooner or later the same would happen towards their SD bills. What a shame.


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