CBS has announced that it’s daytime drama ‘Guiding Light,’ Television’s longest-running drama will broadcast its final episode on Friday, Sept. 18, 2009. At the time of its final broadcast, the series will have spanned 72 years and more than 15,700 episodes on both television and radio.
“This is a terrible day for Soap fans,” said Sara Bibel, Fancast’s resident Soap expert. “It’s devastating for the numerous viewers who watched ‘Guiding Light’ at some point over the past 72 years. It was a tradition passed on from generation to generation in some families.”
Created by Irna Phillips, the show debuted on NBC radio on January 25, 1937 as the 15-minute radio serial ‘The ‘Guiding Light.’ It made the switch to 15-minute episodes on CBS Television on June 30, 1952, although it continued to air concurrently on radio with the actors playing parts on both shows until 1956, when the radio show ended.
The series first started broadcasting in color in 1967, and a year later, the show expanded from 15 minutes to 30 minutes. In November 1977, the show expanded to a full hour. The series is credited by The Guinness Book of World Records as “The Longest-Running Television Drama.”
“‘Guiding Light‘ has achieved a piece of television history that will never be matched; it has crossed mediums, adapted its stories to decades of social change and woven its way through generations of audiences like no other,” said Nancy Tellem, President, CBS Paramount Network Television Entertainment Group. “This daytime icon will always be an indelible part of CBS’s history, with a legacy of innovation and reputation for quality and excellence at every step of the way. While its presence will be missed, its contributions will always be celebrated and never be forgotten.”
If ‘Guiding Light,’ which has won a whopping 69 Daytime Emmys, can get the axe, what does that say about the state of Daytime Soaps on TV?
“There is this sense that the industry is dying,” says Bibel. “We are now down to seven soaps and there is a fear that every network intends to get rid of all of them. With ratings down and the economy tanking, more may soon follow.”