Procter & Gamble soap-opera bubble to burst

The giant company whose pioneering sponsorship of TV gave the world the phrase “soap opera” will soon be out of daytime shows, it emerged today.

Procter & Gamble will lose its last show in the US after CBS decided to end a long-running favourite “As the World Turns”.

The final episode will be broadcast next September, its 54th year.

It is the second daytime drama CBS has cancelled in a year, after “Guiding Light.” They were the last two produced by a subsidiary of Procter & Gamble, the company for which the term “soap operas” was created because it used the shows to hawk products like Ivory soap and Duz laundry detergent.

Daytime dramas have been fading as a genre in the US for years with more women joining the workforce and the increased number of channels offering alternatives like news, talk, reality and game shows.

In tough economic times, paying casts, producers and writers proved prohibitive to networks when there were cheaper alternatives.

The cancellation will leave CBS with only two daytime dramas: “The Young and the Restless” and “The Bold and Beautiful”. ABC has three soaps left and NBC one.

Through the years, actors Marisa Tomei, Meg Ryan, Parker Posey and James Earl Jones have appeared on “As the World Turns”. The show follows families in the Illinois town of Oakdale.

“It’s a hell of a Christmas present,” said actress Eileen Fulton, who will mark 50 years playing the character Lisa Grimaldi on the show. Her character has been through nine marriages and Fulton was hoping for a 10th before the signoff.

Brian Cahill, senior vice president and managing director of the P&G subsidiary TeleNext Media, said the company is actively seeking a new outlet to carry the show.

TeleNext said the same thing about “Guiding Light”, which went off the air in September, but has been unable to find a new home. Keeping the show alive online has been discussed, but the cost may prove prohibitive.

Procter & Gamble first began producing soap operas in 1933 with the radio show “Ma Perkins”, and has made a total of 20 such programmes in its history.

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