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).
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).
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.
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, 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.
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).
For more TV news, be sure to Subscribe to our free newsletter.