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World's longest running soap ends

Kim Zimmer and Robert Newman from Guiding Light
Zimmer and Rogerson had been in the show for more than 20 years

The world's longest running soap opera has been screened for the last time, having been on air in the US for more than 70 years.

Guiding Light first appeared on NBC radio before moving to television in the 1950s, but viewing figures had declined in recent years.

It featured many actors who went on to be major stars, including Kevin Bacon, Calista Flockhart and James Earl Jones.

The final episode ended on an upbeat note before the screen faded to black.

All the characters were gathered together in a park for a picnic before the show's long-running on-off couple, Josh and Reva, finally declared their undying love and drove off in a pick-up truck.

The actors playing the characters, Kim Zimmer and Robert Newman, had both been in the show for more than 25 years.

Guiding Light began life as a 15-minute daily drama on NBC radio in 1937 before moving to television in 1952.

It initially focused on Rev John Ruthledge and the community in a fictional suburb of Chicago called Five Points, but the recent show revolved around the lives and loves of three families in the fictional mid-western town of Springfield.

Guiding Light first shown on TV (30 June 1952)
Guiding Light was first shown on television in 1952

The show won dozens of awards in its seven-decade span and ran up more 15,700 episodes, each ending in a cliffhanger.

CBS said it had broken new ground with its coverage of social issues such as cancer, alcoholism and teenage pregnancy.

"No show in daytime or prime time, or anytime, has touched so many millions of viewers across so many years as Guiding Light," said CBS Senior Vice President Barbara Bloom.

But the BBC's Los Angeles correspondent Peter Bowes said that in the increasingly competitive world of daytime TV, Guiding Light had struggled to win an audience.

The Associated Press news agency said the show would be replaced by a new edition of the game show, Let's Make a Deal.



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