Doctors has been axed by the BBC after 23 years amid falling ratings and rising costs, with the final episode set to air next year.
The cast and crew of the iconic soap were reportedly called into a meeting with channel bosses on Wednesday where they learned the tragic news, after a bid to move the show to a primetime slot failed to draw in audiences.
Revealing the news in a statement, the BBC said: ‘We have taken the very difficult decision to bring daytime drama Doctors to an end after 23 years.
‘With super inflation in drama production, the cost of the programme has increased significantly, and further investment is also now required to refurbish the site where the show is made, or to relocate it to another home.
‘With a flat licence-fee, the BBC’s funding challenges mean we have to make tough choices in order to deliver greater value to audiences.
It’s over! Doctors has been axed by the BBC after 23 years after struggling with falling ratings and rising costs
‘We remain fully committed to the West Midlands and all of the funding for Doctors will be reinvested into new programming in the region.
‘We would like to thank all the Doctors cast and crew who have been involved in the show since 2000.
‘We know the crucial role Doctors has played in nurturing talent, and we will work to develop new opportunities to support skills in scripted programming.
‘The final episode will screen in December 2024 and we are working closely with BBC Studios to give it the finale it deserves.’
Doctors has faced a challenging year on screens after first debuting in its famous lunchtime slot in 2000.
Cast and crew were thrilled in February 2022 when bosses promoted it to a primetime slot on BBC Two after axing Holby City.
However, ratings failed to improve, and after just eight weeks the soap was moved back to its usual lunchtime scheduling.
In the wake of the cost of living crisis and ‘super inflation in drama production,’ BBC bosses have been forced to make significant cuts to their flagship series.
The channel has struggled to keep up with the big-budget dramas from rising streaming services, as well as the decision to freeze the licence fee for two years.
This has also included Saturday staple Casualty, which is set to have its usual number of episodes cut.
Set in the fictional town of Letherbridge in the West Midlands, Doctors follows staff at an NHS doctor’s surgery and a university campus surgery, as well as their personal lives.
When it first debuted only 41 episodes of the show were ordered, but after its positive reception it was tuned into a continuing soap opera.
As of 2022, Doctors’ was drawing in an annual average of 1.6 million live viewers in its daytime broadcast.
The soap’s longest serving cast member is Adrian Lewis Morgan, who joined as Jimmi Clay in 2005.
Doctors was also renowned for its involvement of hundreds of extras and guest stars each year.
Big names who have appeared on the soap include Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Denise Welch, Jodie Comer and Eddie Redmayne.