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Last Updated: Monday, 15 May 2006, 09:24 GMT 10:24 UK
West Wing ends seven-year TV run
Actor Martin Sheen
Martin Sheen played a Democratic president in a fictional White House
The final episode of acclaimed political drama The West Wing has been screened in the US, ending the programme's seven-year run on TV.

Martin Sheen has bowed out as President Josiah Bartlet after serving two terms.

Viewers saw the outcome of the battle between characters played by Alan Alda and Jimmy Smits to be his successor.

The show won Emmy Awards for best TV drama in four successive years and has the record for most Emmys in a single season, with nine in its first year.

Set in the West Wing of the White House, the programme followed the administration of the fictional Democratic president.

The cast and writers of The West Wing at the Emmy Awards in 2001
First shown in the US in 1999
Follows a fictional Democratic White House administration
Won 24 Emmy Awards
Won a record nine Emmys for its first season
NBC dropped it after ratings dropped to half the audience of its heyday
Broadcaster NBC decided in January to drop the drama because ratings had declined.

At its peak, it was among the most popular shows on US television with audiences of 17 million, and was frequently praised by critics.

But the current season made its debut with 7.6 million viewers in a new Sunday night slot.

The West Wing's use of intricate terminology, delivered during punchy back-and-forth dialogues between the characters, could also baffle viewers unfamiliar with the finer points of US politics and law.

Actor John Spencer, who played chief of staff Leo McGarry, died last December after a heart attack.

In a sad coincidence, his character had also suffered coronary failure - but in the programme, McGarry recovered and returned to politics.

This final series of The West Wing had to be rewritten in order to fill the gap left by the death of the popular actor.

Actor Rob Lowe
Rob Lowe reprised his role as Sam Seaborn as the show ended
Former cast members agreed to return to the show as it approached its final episodes.

Rob Lowe reprised his role as Sam Seaborn, who had been the deputy communications director.

Lowe had left in 2003, with a dispute about his salary rumoured to be to blame.

Mary-Louise Parker and Emily Proctor - who is now one of the stars of CSI: Miami - have also come back to The West Wing.

The programme's creator, Aaron Sorkin, left the show after its fourth series in 2003, with NBC bringing in a new team of writers.

Sunday's last edition saw the inauguration of a new leader to replace President Bartlet.

Viewers in the UK must wait approximately three months to see it as digital channel More 4 has only shown 10 episodes of the 22 in series seven.

Fans say goodbye to The West Wing
13 May 06 |  Entertainment
Lowe returns for West Wing finale
02 Mar 06 |  Entertainment
Final closure of The West Wing
23 Jan 06 |  Entertainment
Political drama West Wing is axed
23 Jan 06 |  Entertainment
Tributes paid to West Wing actor
19 Dec 05 |  Entertainment
West Wing's Leo dies at age of 58
17 Dec 05 |  Entertainment

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