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Last Updated: Thursday, 26 October 2006, 14:19 GMT 15:19 UK
Axe falls on ITV drama Bad Girls
Scene from Bad Girls
Bad Girls won a National TV award for most popular drama in 2001
ITV prison drama Bad Girls is being axed after eight series, the broadcaster has confirmed.

A spokeswoman said the show, set in Larkhill women's prison, was being shelved "to keep ITV refreshed and relevant for the modern audience".

"It has been terrific show for us over the years, performing consistently in the peak-time schedule," she added.

A pilot of the programme, which has been on air for seven years, is being developed for the US market.

Falling ratings

Bad Girls tackled a raft of hard-hitting storylines, including rape, child abuse, murder and drug addiction.

The final series, which drew to a close last month, featured a Muslim prisoner whose husband was a suspected terrorist bomber.

At its peak five years ago, the show attracted audiences in excess of eight million, but the most recent series saw viewing figures fall below five million people.

The drama's future came into question earlier this year when ITV's director of television Simon Shaps asked "should we be planning to announce Bad Girls comes to end this series?" in a leaked e-mail.

The production company behind the show, Shed Productions, said at the time it was "bullish" that another series would be commissioned.

Chief executive Eileen Gallagher said: "I'd hate to lose Bad Girls because it's my favourite show - it was our first show - and it's got a massive, loyal fanbase."

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