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18th Oct 2023

BBC axes major soap after 20 years where countless big names started out

Steve Hopkins

The BBC said the costs of putting on the show has ‘increased significantly’

Doctors has been axed after 23 years with the BBC saying it has made the “very difficult decision” to bring the show to an end.

Showrunner Kate Oates has promised the medical drama – which has regularly taken the lunchtime slot since 2000 – will get the finale it deserves.

The final episode will air in December.

In a statement on Wednesday, the BBC said costs were behind the decision: “With super inflation in drama production, the cost of the programme has increased significantly, and further investment is also now required to refurbish the site where the show is made, or to relocate it to another home.

“With a flat licence-fee, the BBC’s funding challenges mean we have to make tough choices in order to deliver greater value to audiences.”

The corporation added that it remains “fully committed to the West Midlands” and promised all of the funding for Doctors “will be reinvested into new programming in the region”.

“We would like to thank all the Doctors cast and crew who have been involved in the show since 2000.

“We know the crucial role Doctors has played in nurturing talent, and we will work to develop new opportunities to support skills in scripted programming.

The announcement posts was flooded with responses from people who had worked on the show.

Debbie Howard wrote: “Such sad new guys. So sorry to hear this for all the cast and crew. I learned so much directing this show. Love to you all.”

David Claridge added: “So sad. This has been an invaluable entry way for crew, writers and actors and will be greatly missed.”

Doctors follows the story of those who work in the NHS doctor’s surgery and nearby university campus surgery, as well as their families and friends, in the fictional town of Letherbridge.

The drama was known for its huge host of guest stars, with series producer Peter Eryl Lloyd once estimating that they have over 800 guest stars on the drama in one year.

Fans had long suspected the show might be cut when it went on its usual summer break even earlier this year.

In June, the BBC confirmed the show would be off air again until September 4, leading some fans to complain that it was “getting earlier every year” and was “madness”.

TV sources told The Sun of the ‘”seismic” effect the end of the show will have on the industry: “Doctors has ticked along fairly quietly around the 1.3million viewers mark for years now without any word of cancellation, but the news will still come as a shock.

“A full cast and crew meeting was held today where the news was shared and then a lunch was laid on in the Drama Village café.

“Some of the cast and crew have been there since the soap first began and it really felt like a job for life, plus the soap is such a central pillar for the entire community – it employs so many contractors and freelance and is known to be a real rung on the ladders for British acting talent. While the impact on viewers might not seem huge, in terms of the industry this is seismic.”