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Last Updated: Monday, 14 June, 2004, 09:16 GMT 10:16 UK
ER star leaves amid 'age dispute'
Alex Kingston
Kingston said she had become "deeply unhappy" on the show
Actress Alex Kingston is to leave hit US TV hospital drama ER, saying producers saw her as one of "the old fogeys who are no longer interesting".

She told the Radio Times the producers decided not to renew her contract. She said it was "a shock and upsetting".

Kingston described suddenly feeling "very old" on set, adding: "Does it mean that I'm the geriatric being pushed out because she's too old?"

NBC said her character had "run its course" over time.

She plays icy surgeon Elizabeth Corday in the popular long-running NBC drama.

Kingston, 41, former wife of actor Ralph Fiennes, said she had also become "deeply unhappy" on the show and was aware she was being used less.

The show "definitely seems to be taking a different tone", she told the magazine.

Radio Times cover
Kingston tells the story to this week's Radio Times
"I understand it needs to keep reinventing itself in order to keep going, and apparently I, according to the producers, the writers, am part of the old fogeys who are no longer interesting. In that respect it's a shame," she said.

"It's fine to have young med students, but you need to have figures of authority, people of different ages, races, shapes and sizes.

"The classics are all on their way out. And what happens when they've gone, which will be very soon?"

Kingston has also suggested her $150,000 (81,000)-per-episode salary could have counted against her.

"I know for a fact that the newcomers aren't getting much at all," she said.

Like countless other characters on long running series, storylines run their course over time
Statement from ER executive producers
"I don't think any of the American networks knew how phenomenally successful Friends and ER would ever be and the power that those actors could command.

'Financial feelings'

"But in today's climate, I think it's going the other way. Studios and producers make their contracts watertight and are much tougher in negotiating.

"I'm sure there must have been some financial feelings behind the decision not to renew my contract."

ER's executive producers said: "Alex Kingston has been an integral part of ER for the past eight years. She is a gifted actress and a true professional.

"Like countless other characters on long running series, storylines run their course over time. The situation with Alex Kingston's character Dr Elizabeth Corday is no exception.

"We wish Alex all the best in her future endeavours and hope to have the opportunity to work with her again in the near future."

Kingston also refuted a suggestion by director Quentin Tarantino that British actors "plundered" Hollywood once they became successful.

"For a start, it's not the Brits at the moment, it's the Australians," she said. "Brits just get to play the villains. I think it's always been that way.

"The Brits have always come over to Hollywood, since the 40s. It's to do with their talent, and there are plenty of British people who come over and have to go back disappointed."

Kingston has been in ER since the fourth series, which aired in the US from 1997. The show is now into its 10th series.

Kingston said she was returning to the UK to do a film before returning to shoot the beginning of the next series of ER.

She has remarried, to Florian Haertel, and has a daughter, Salome.

Below are a selection of your views on this story.

It is very sad to see Alex Kingston go, I think that she provided a very necessary link to old characters like Mark Greene, Romano and most importantly for me, Benton. She is also a classy actress, and their recent attempt at trying to pair her off with various suitors is an embarrassment. I wish her the best of luck.
Satya Bosman, Melbourne, Australia

Unless I missed something, the words "old fogey" and reference to her being too old where Alex's characterizations of her non-renewal, and not quotes by the show. Quite frankly, I had become bored with her storylines and don't have any issues with the show's decision. The producers got it right, "her character [not her presonally], ran its course." She needs to not take it so personally and move on! She has no right the the job!
Arthur Lundberg, Cleveland, Ohio, USA

Getting rid of Alex is a BIG MISTAKE ... she's great!!!
Robin Hanania, Hanover Park, Il Du Page County

I have been watching ER since it started, and even though I do not think Alex is "too old" to be on the show...her character has gotten boring this past year. Thats too bad, she's a very good looking woman...didn't even know she was over 40.
Mark, Chicago, USA

Alex Kingston should breathe a sigh of relief that she has been freed to really exercise her acting muscle. She deserves better than to be wheeled in occasionally to engage in some irrelevant banter with the irritating Neela. And isn't this just typical of film / TV's attitude that women over a certain age should disappear into purdah, whilst expecting us to believe that 20-year old females regularly have relationships with men 30 years their senior.
Katherine, London

Which hospital anywhwere is run by under 30's? Akex Kingstons character is believeable, but since her storyline with DR Greene, she has been put on the back burner...I say get rid of that annoying ginger med student, and keep Dr Corday on the payroll.
Ateeqe, London

She is one of the best actors on the set - she is believable and she gives the whole programme a sense of realism. What are they thinking about when getting rid - I assume we will have to endure some half-talented teenager who constantly overacts now.
Peter T, Liverpool, England

I am so sad to hear this - Corday has been a great character to watch and has had some storylines that really tugged on the heartstrings. As the last series ended, I really didn't care who was injured in the car - the newer characters don't have the depth. ER needs to have more episodes and storylines about character that viewers feel that they have got to know and have empathy with. Alex will continue to be a success, with or without ER - just as shame it's the latter.
Leigh, Maidenhead

How interesting is it that in our hospitals here the average age of a nurse is 42 and that there is a real shortage of young professionals entering the health system. It just confirms how far removed a television series can be from reality.
Massimo, Sydney, Australia

I've been a fan of Alex Kingston's ever since she was in Grange Hill back in the 1980s and she's always been a fine actress who doesn't deserve to be cut from ER. In any case, this isn't really about her and her abilities, this is about the failure of a long-running series to innovate. If ER continues to become a conveyor belt for talent - using actors in their prime then dropping them - then I predict its imminent demise. The scriptwriters have dropped the ball here, not the actors.
Dave Waters, Bristol, UK

What a waste for the show and I have to agree with earlier comments, the show has been going down hill for a while.The overlong Abby and Carter romance (in fact everything with Abby in it at the moment), the weak and dull med students etc. There are amazing episodes and I will continue to watch it. I would not like to be seen by a 25 year-old doctor and I hope that they change their minds and keep a brilliant and talented actress but since she is so good, the world is her oyster!
Gillian, Wokingham, Berks, UK

I personally don't think Alex was sacked because of her age...what about Laura Innes (Kerry Weaver) who is 44, or Maura Tierney (Abby) who is almost as old as Alex at 39. Both are still integral parts of the show. In my opinion they're referring to the fact that the character has gotten old, which is completely true. Elizabeth was a great character, fiery and fun to watch, but she's lost a lot of that in the last few years. And now it seems she has no storyline, apart from seducing countless men and having her daughter age twice as fast as she should do! I honestly think it's the lack of storylines, not her age. Alex is a great actress, and she deserves storylines. Now at least she can get something where she will have that. The last I had heard, Alex was planning to leave anyway, so this really doesn't come as a surprise to me. What is a surprise is the way in which the whole thing's being portrayed. I will miss the character of Elizabeth, but we've already lost the Elizabeth I liked the best. And Alex will get a better deal out of it so I think all will be good in the long run.
Jo, Surrey, UK

Alex Kingston was one of the only "class acts" still left of the show. I am shocked, appalled and very disappointed that she is being axed from the show. I don't think that the producers every fully utilized her this highly talented actors. I will miss her presence on the show. It's an unfortunate loss for ER fans.
Amy, Fairfax, Virginia - USA

It is a shame that ER is losing one of their regulars, especially one as gifted as Ms Kingston, whose journey through the show has entertained us all. However it does get to a point where the character has been down every avenue which they can and expanding their story arcs further would go against the character they've molded in the last 7 years. We've seen in the last season Corday has been left in the backround with little to do but hopfully Elizibeth Corday's swansong will leave us with closure to her character and hopefully with a possibility of a return.
Rob Powell, Newcastle, England

How old are the producers and writers? People in television are afraid of maturity. The show is beginning to reflect the shallowness of current programming anyway. It's time to get out before it gets cancelled anyway. Go girl! Be happy and creative elsewhere.

Paula, Fairview, Canada

Well, this probably seals it for me. I will probably completely wean myself off ER. Alex Kingston was one of the few people I still liked on that show. Her character was rarely well-used (never cared for the Dr. Greene romance), but they squandered a great opportunity of having her relationship with Dr. Romano evolve from one of animosity to real compassion to possibly something more. But when they killed off Dr. Romano in the worst possible way....well, it doesn't surprise me. The writers of ER no longer know what to do with great talent and great characters. Look how they've wasted Goran Visjnic. Just as well, I suppose. I'm beginning to like Without a Trace (which airs opposite ER) more and more, so now I can watch that show...or I can get a life. :)
Jane, Birmingham, USA

To be honest, ER hasn't been the same since Peter Benton left. Stories have got daft, the action just moves too quickly and the writing and characters just aren't as good as they used to be. Alex has probably done herself the world of good by leaving ER before it dragged her career down with it.
Ian Trembirth, Nottingham, England

I happen to like Alex Kingston's character. It's just too bad they have not done with much with her since Anthony Edwards left the show. They have this "rotating door" in which they have younger generations of doctor coming on the show. That's fine and everything but why not keep the older & more experienced doctors to show them what to do? The past few years ER has gone downhill since some of its original stars have left. I hope this is the last season for the show - it's getting to be an "old fogey".
Robin Powell, St. Hubert, Quebec, Canada

I wonder where those producers get their ideas of who is too old to be on the series. Elizabeth Corday could have been given a LOT more importance. I must say that I have enjoyed watching her over the years, and I am very disappointed to see her go. Maybe the entire series has run its course. Why not drop it entirely?
Lileonie, Geneva, Switzerland

I think she is a beautiful woman who has a lot of talent. They need to give her a storyline worth keeping her around for. There are so many things that she can experience as a woman in her 40's that the younger cast couldn't.
RRH, Olathe, USA

Just like in all business, this is a trend that we will see more and more of. Is it right? No, but I agree that economics play a huge part in the "review" of the actors and their usefulness in the show (look at what happened with The Practice). What's unfortunate is that the show tends to suffer for a number of reasons. Skilled actors leave, replaced by newer (cheaper) ones who are not as good and the authenticity of the show is diminished (as one person pointed out - we don't have that many under-40 physicians checking us out at the 'real' hospitals - THANK GOD!). The only way the public can send a message to the network, is to change the channel when the show comes on (again, that's what happened to The Practice - it's no longer on!).
CeeJay , Boston, USA

I think the show's ratings will go down since Alex Kingston and some others will be leaving the show next season. ER producers are aiming for a younger audiences now and it stinks.
Fulgencio, San Antonio, TX, USA

It's a real shame they've dumped Alex Kingston - she added more than a touch of class to the show. She will be missed.
Christian Towers, London, UK

Who cares ? It's only a TV program.
Mike Raven, Buffalo NY, USA

I agree with Ms. Kingston, the show needs an authority figure and 40 is not old. You can't riddle a show of this stature with young twenty and thirty-somethings and expect for it to seem realistic. I'm 31 and work in a hospital and you see all ages, races and genders. This is just another bit of discrimination in Hollywood. If Ms. Kingston were a man would she have been fired? I don't think so.
Tori Spencer, Addison, Texas; USA

I liked all the original cast. Every time one of the original is not on any more, I feel the show loses something - my interest, for one. Is Noah Wyle going to be kicked off? What about Sherry Stringfield? The storyline of Elizabeth could go on and on, as a young widow with a child. There are lots of single Moms in the US who go to school and have love affairs.
J Smith, St. Ann, USA

I think Alex Kingston is a exceptionally gifted actress and she should be praised for her work as Dr. Elizabeth Corday-Greene on ER and they should keep her until the series finale!
Paniz, Toronto, Canada

Thats completely wrong, i can't believe she is 'too old' at 41. Maura Tierney is 39 now, does that mean we'll lose another fantastic actress/character, and what about Laura Innes? I'd much rather watch the establised characters than the new ones with no depth. Good luck to Alex in whatever she does next!
Ali, England

I felt a bit sorry for her until I scrolled down the page and saw her fee per episode!
Paul Franklin, london uk

ER is an adults' programme - I love watching it, however I must agree that too many young people hogging the story lines will devalue the show. It may become a Melrose Place style program, and then many adults (those over 21) may switch off! Elizabeth Corday is one of the most interesting characters - I can't believe that the writers can be that short-sighted in respect of her storyline prospects.
Melissa Harris, Wimbledon, UK

I think this highlights how fickle showbusiness is in general. In America they seem to get rid of characters who have "out-lived" their roles, like Alex Kingston, whereas in England we bring back the so-called old fogeys to boost ratings, like Dirty Den! Surely if the producers and writers came up with more original story lines this problem wouldn't exist in the first place!!!
Victoria, Westminster, UK

Poor love. 80 grand an episode for only 7 years and now she has to move on to something else equally well-paid. I mean, she does pretend to be a doctor for God's sake; this is important work. Ah, it's a cruel old world.
Simon Hall, Taipei, Taiwan

ER has been going down ever since they started to remove the heart of the characters. Dr. Corday was one of the last remaining characters with a quality actress on the show. She had been moved to side storylines more and more in the past season...which made it less fun to watch. I look forward to seeing Alex Kingston in new roles and will rather stay loyal to acting excellence than a series that has lost its character.
Julie, Montreal, Canada

ER Is an amazing show, and surrived the losses of George Clooney and Dr Greene who carried the show. I'm sure it will survive the loss of a minor character.
Tom Williams, London

I am extremely upset. Alex was my favorite on the show along with Maura. I am probably not going to watch the show anymore. Good luck with all you do, Alex! Your faithful fan Sarah
Sarah, United States

I've been an avid fan of ER since the beginning and always find it very disappointing when characters that have become favourites are axed. I think Dr Corday is an integral part of the programme and should be able to carry on being one of the best loved characters. The amount of money that she is paid shouldn't be an issue as it is clearly money well spent.
Jo, Brighton, UK

So doctors retire at 40 now? It is hardly realistic to portray a hospital staff consisting solely of under 40s. How many of us can say we always receive medical treatment from shiny-eyed under 30s with perfect teeth? Also, this seems to be going against the current trend for "mature" actors taking central roles - see Law and Order, Prime Suspect etc. So she gets 150 grand an episode - so what? How much did George Clooney command before he left? If Alex leaves, this means we will be left with Frank as almost the only remaining representative of the over 40s!
Eri, UK

If Ms Kingston is too old to appear in the show, then I am definitely too old to watch it!
Annis, UK

ER is one of the few shows I have watched since it first began and I think it's done some amazing things. To have the likes of George Clooney, Alex Kingston, Erique la Salle, Anthony Edwards, William H Macey etc all contributing to its history is fantastic. People forget the amazing work that the show continues to do (live episodes, the recent Africa stuff, stars like Ewan McGregor). I agree with Alex Kingston's sentiment that there is a need for authority figures in the show and she is a real loss, especially considering the very real void left behind in terms of strong willed and experienced surgeons. The least they should try and do is bring back Anspaugh more regularly.
MJ, London, UK

Whilst not being an "old fogey", since the wonderfully well done plotline around Mark Green's death, Elizabeth Corday has become a shadow of her former prominence, only appearing for little moments on surgical consults and the rather comically poorly scripted efforts to pair her off with someone. I will miss Alex, though she should maybe be glad they don't drag out the role any further.
M Dunlop, Aberdeen, UK

I think Alex Kingston should be grateful. Being a surgeon is a very stressful job, and more so when surrounded by cameras and crew. There are a lot of surgeons working under similar stressful circumstances in urban hospital situations (Holby City for example) who would relish the chance to move on to a more relaxed working environment, perhaps to a private hospital in the countryside. She should think of them before complaining, and consider herself lucky to earn so much when the nurses who help her earn so little.
Loomy van Hoogstraten, Goteborg, Sweden

Hopefully soon we will se more of Alex Kingston on our TV screen and in films - So she will be freed from ER which has got over sensationalised and just slightly unbelievable. Move on Alex, your beautiful, talented and smart - The acting world is surely your oyster.
Jenny, Hertford

I think that after the deaths of Doctors Greene and Romano, Corday's character seemed to get deliberately sidelined. Such a shame because the new wave of ER medics like Pratt, Morris and the wishy-washy Neela don't add a lot to the mix. Although I kind of hark back to the Doug Ross/Carol Hathaway era of the show, I still feel that Elizabeth had a lot to contribute and added a necessary gravitas to the show. Just look at how she shined in her scenes with Don Cheadle a few years back. Has there been anything to compare with this in the latest series?
David Brown, Purley, England

If Alex leaves then nearly all the main characters will be med students - nice to look at - but not so interesting to watch. If you think about it, who's going to train all these over-confident doctor-wannabes when you get rid of all the doctors?? The writers need to think of more interesting plot lines, not get rid of the characters that got us hooked to ER in the first place.
Amy, Peterborough

For me, ER has been on the slide for some time. There are occasional good episodes in amongst the very ordinary, and the sub plots are becoming less and less interesting.
Charlie Churchill, London

It's to bad that Alex Kingston will be leaving. I always enjoyed her character. I have worked in a hospital setting as a Radiographer and in a truly authentic hospital setting everyone is not YOUNG!!!! I always felt that she was a main character. I imagine it's just like every other profession in that they want 50 years of experience with someone who is 20 yrs of age. It's a sad fact, but it's the nature of the beast. Good Luck Alex......your destined for much better parts in the future.
Geri, New Jersey,USA

These people are nuts to get rid of the Corday character but I do hope they don't choose to drop a helicopter on her like they did with the other good character with one arm (I forget his name). There's no chance of a comeback from something like that unless you "do a Bobby" (Dallas).
John, London, UK

The Corday character was one of the best on the show. Where in the world could the ER producers have come across any information that was different? My suspicion is that they didn't, and Ms. Kingstons comments about there being a financial factor are likely correct. What a shame! ER has been steadily declining, and now, this adds one more brick to the sinking dinghy. ER was one of a handful of shows over the last decade that could actually qualify for "must see TV" for me. It was one gem out of the landslide of garbage and crap that Hollywood produces each year. Now, that is gone as well.
Jim Richins, Layton, Utah, United States

Alex Kingston's character has not run its course, any more than anyone's life is completely settled by the age of 40. I'm very disappointed that she's leaving. I think we can safely say that it's the imaginations of the producers and writers which have run dry, which tells us more about them than about Kingston or Corday. Kingston's a great actress, and ER was lucky to have kept her for so long.
N Wainwright, Chicago, IL, USA

I don't think Alex Kingston is one of ER's "old fogeys" at all. I think her character is great on the show. Perhaps the writers need to think of different story lines for the characters. They bring new people in almost with every new season and it is good I think that some of the older members of the cast remain. I have watched ER from the very beginning and each of the characters bring something individual to the show, whether they are new or "old".
Amanda, Reading, UK

It's quite a shock - some of the new characters aren't particularly interesting, to be honest! It's also quite sad - they could really still do a lot with Kingston's character - but, clearly, the producers aren't interested in that side!

It's an interesting comparison with the likes of Casualty, where Charlie, up until recently, was still developing as a character! I guess all we can hope for is that the show still is as strong as always - I guess it's part and parcel of the dynamics of a long-running show that popular characters move on.....
Luke, Hamilton, Lanarkshire

I think she was one of the actors that gave the show a little bit of class.
John Smith, London

One less reason to watch ER. It gets less interesting and the acting more inferior as the series continues.
Letitia McRAe, Nottingham

How ridiculous! Her character is one of the best in the show I think - the age issue is just nonsense, as if viewers really care about that sort of thing in a hospital drama! It's hardly realistic to have a hospital staffed by under 25s is it!! Keep her in the show!!
Nicky Parker, Bristol UK

Alex Kingston's character had featured in major plots, in the past couple of years. I believe that her character had played out and it has now fallen into the background. Many of the other characters, who featured prominently in those same plots have moved on now. Maybe it is time for Ms. Kingston to count herself lucky...look at her bank balance and move on, without complaint. Life changes. We have to change and adapt too!
Pat van der Veer, Liverpool, England

I love ER and think that Elizabeth is a great character. The show has such a wide range of people and that makes it more attractive to watch, I think it'll be a real shame if they try and fill the screen full of young med students, cause that isn't what the show's about. I shall definitely miss her when she leaves, she has been a strong determined amusing character who shall be sadly missed.
Helen, Southampton

ER has lost the plot. Too many young people with no souls and too much on the Abby and Carter affair that killed it for me. When they had the older actors it was more interesting and you could may believe it was true . Now the programme has lost the plot.
billie, england

After watching ER from series one and seeing the characters develop i feel that Elizabeth Corday still has a lot left, as she said, you need figures of authority and once their gone do they just expect the hospital to be run by medical students? If Doctor Carter leaves as well it doesn't leave many authority figures. There's still a lot more which can be done with her character.
Scott Taylor, Leicester, England




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