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The West Wing is axed

The West Wing

Story by Jack Foley

AWARD-winning political drama The West Wing has been axed by US TV network NBC and will end its seven-year run in May.

A ratings slump since its move to Sunday nights on American TV has been blamed for the decision.

The news comes in the wake of the death of West Wing actor, John Spencer, who suffered a heart attack in December – although NBC entertainment president, Kevin Reilly, maintained that the decision had been taken prior to Spencer’s passing away.

He said: “There’s a point where you look at the ratings and you just say, ‘it’s time.’”

The West Wing featured Martin Sheen as fictional US president Josiah “Jed” Bartlet and co-starred the likes of Rob Lowe and Jimmy Smits during its run.

It became one of the most successful shows in US TV history, attracting healthy audiences and winning the best TV drama Emmy four years in a row.

It also holds the record for most Emmys won by a single series – nine trophies for its first season.

At its peak, the show regularly came in the top 10 of US TV shows but the current season made its debut with 7.6 million viewers – down 10 million viewers from its best.

As part of the wind-up of the show, NBC plans to screen a one-hour retrospective that will include a tribute to Spencer.

The West Wing will then air for the last time on May 14 – just four days before it also pulls the plug on hit comedy, Will and Grace.