CBS has set an end date for its long-running soap opera Guiding Light. The ongoing serial is set to end after 72 years and more than 15,700 installments on television and radio. It’s listed in The Guinness Book of World Records as “The Longest-Running Television Drama,” a record that’s not likely to be beaten.
Light began as a 15-minute network program in 1952 and expanded to a half-hour in 1968. It became an hour program in 1977 and has continued at that length ever since.
Like all soap operas, Light’s ratings have been in decline for some time. Light and CBS’ other venerable soap, As the World Turns, have both been outshined by less expensive daytime options like Judge Judy and Dr. Phil.
Awhile back, CBS and producers tried to modernize Lights by integrating digital cameras as well as cut costs by downsizing crew sizes and production schedules. The changes weren’t a big hit with many viewers and apparently they weren’t enough to save the venerable series.
In a statement, Barbara Bloom, Senior Vice President, of CBS’ Daytime Programs, said “We thank the cast, crew and producers — past and present — who delivered this entertainment institution, the beloved characters and the time-honored stories to our audience every day for seven decades. It’s been a privilege to work with such an extraordinarily talented group of people.”
Though CBS has cancelled the series, there may still be hope. Procter & Gamble, the owner of the show, is exploring other possibilities for keeping it alive — including online or a cable outlet.
Brian T. Cahill of P&G’s TeleNext Media said, “We are working hard to find the show a new home, and we are exploring all our options to continue to bring loyal fans the characters and stories they love.”
For now, it looks like the series finale will be broadcast on Friday, September 18, 2009. CBS has yet to announce what will fill Light’s daily timeslot but possibilities include a revamped version of game show $25,000 Pyramid or talk shows led by Valerie Bertinelli, Leah Remini or T.D. Jakes.