Page last updated at 09:27 GMT, Wednesday, 9 December 2009

As The World Turns, long-running US soap, cancelled

Anthony Herrera and Zsa Zsa Gabor in As The World Turns
Stars including Zsa Zsa Gabor have appeared in the soap

US show As The World Turns, one of the world's longest-running daytime soap operas, is being cancelled after 54 years, broadcaster CBS has announced.

The show, which has helped to launch the careers of stars like Meg Ryan, will end in September.

The announcement was made on the day the show's 13,661st episode was aired.

It is the last daytime drama made by a media subsidiary of Procter and Gamble, set up in 1933 to promote its detergents in the first "soap operas".

Barbara Bloom, of CBS, said: "The almanacs will show As The World Turns as a pioneer of the format, a hallmark for quality with its numerous Emmys, the launching pad for many television and film stars and a daytime ratings powerhouse for parts of three decades."

Actress Eileen Fulton, meanwhile, who has played Lisa Grimaldi on the show for 49 years, said: "It's a hell of a Christmas present."

Ratings for the show, which also featured Oscar winner Marisa Tomei and Oscar nominee Julianne Moore, have dropped to about 2.5 million viewers from 6.5 million in 1993.

The series, which began in 1956, followed the lives of families in the fictional Illinois town of Oakdale.

In 1988, it introduced the first gay male character on a daytime television programme in the US.

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