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‘Guiding Light’ To End 72-Year Run

CBS’ daytime drama Guiding Light is ending its 72-year run, with its final episode scheduled to air on Friday, Sept. 18.

Guiding Light has achieved a piece of television history that will never be matched; it has crossed mediums, adapted its stories to decades of social change and woven its way through generations of audiences like no other,” said Nancy Tellem, President, CBS Paramount Network Television Entertainment Group, in a statement. “This daytime icon will always be an indelible part of CBS's history, with a legacy of innovation and reputation for quality and excellence at every step of the way. While its presence will be missed, its contributions will always be celebrated and never be forgotten.”

CBS will retain the one-hour slot; the network won’t return the hour to affiliates. However, program distributors may still get a crack at producing the hour. Sources say CBS is looking at both talk and game shows to fill the slot, including a remake of $25,000 Pyramid from producer Michael Davies and Sony Pictures Television. Sony last tried to revive Pyramid, with host Donny Osmond, in 2002.

The one-hour serial was created by Irna Phillips. It debuted on NBC Radio on January 25, 1937, as a 15-minute radio serial called The Guiding Light. It moved to television on June 30, 1952, remaining a 15-minute serial and concurrently airing on radio with the actors playing parts on both shows. The radio serial ended in 1956.

The series was first broadcast in color in 1967, and it expanded from 15 minutes to a half-hour in 1968. It didn’t become a full hour until November 1977.

Guiding Light has won 69 Daytime Emmy Awards, including three for Outstanding Daytime Drama Series.

In 2008, in an attempt to cut costs, the show premiered a new daytime production model, using permanent sets inside its New York City studio and shooting approximately 20 percent of outdoor scenes in Peapack, N.J. The directing and editing were done digitally and nearly simultaneously, eliminating the need for expensive production suites.

Guiding Light is television’s longest-running drama, according to The Guinness Book of World Records.

Paige Albiniak
Paige Albiniak

Contributing editor Paige Albiniak has been covering the business of television for nearly 25 years. She is a longtime contributor to Next TV, Broadcasting + Cable and Multichannel News. She concurrently serves as editorial director for entertainment marketing association Promax. She has written for such publications as TVNewsCheck, The New York Post, Variety, CBS Watch and more. Albiniak was B+C’s Los Angeles bureau chief from September 2002 to 2004, and an associate editor covering Congress and lobbying for the magazine in Washington, D.C., from January 1997-September 2002.