Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Switching Off A Guiding Light

Here's a shock opening : I don't know what I'm talking about in this post.

Not for the first time, I'd hear you say if I was listening to you.

Five days after I was born, a new soap started on American tv and incredibly it's still running to this day. But not for much longer as after 72 years in total and 57 years on tv, the plug is being pulled on the show.

On June 30th 1952, Guiding Light moved from radio to tv and is the longest running drama in tv history. By comparison, it was another 8 years before Coronation Street started on UK tv and Ken Barlow was only 45.

Despite all my years watching American tv both when there and when back home in Leeds, I've never seen this show. It's so old that it invented the term 'soap' as it was owned by Procter & Gamble.  How's that for useful trivia.  Bring it up at your next cocktail party.  Go on, you know you'll want to.

So I know nothing about Guiding Light.  Nothing. Nada. Zip.  Wouldn't know a star from it if I fell over him or her.  But for a show to last for 57 years on American tv is truly amazing.  For the last few years it had to be down to sentimentality as it was only getting about 2 million viewers and in the US, those figures spell cancellation.  Well really only if you drop a few letters, add a couple and move the rest around a lot.

Maybe there will be petitions to save it.  Protests aimed at P&G executives. Sit down demonstrations outside CBS studios. But somehow I doubt it.  Unlike Star Trek, a daily soap isn't 'glam'.  If it was, it would have better viewing figures and be on Fox. 

I hope something is done to mark it's passing as in a nation where anything over 50 years old is thought of as antique, then 72 year old Guiding Light should be regarded as a national treasure. 

A bit like a younger William Shatner.


ruth said...

With a tagline of "There is a destiny that makes us brothers, none goes his way alone. All that we send into the lives of others, comes back into our own."
I think Guiding Light should be allowed to slip away peacefully in its old age.

Mind you, since 1966 it has apparently been set in the fictional Springfield, Illinois so perhaps The Simpsons have long since taken it over.

rhymeswithplague said...

That's a funny line about William Shatner.

When I was a boy, my mother listened to soap operas on the radio, and each of them were fifteen minutes long. Her day started with Guiding Light at 11:00 a.m. in our Central Time Zone, followed by Helen Trent at 11:15, and one I can't recall at 11:30, and Our Gal Sunday ("Can a girl from a little mining town in the West find true happiness with a titled and noble Englishman?") at 11:45. After a half-hour break for the noonday news and the Stamps-Baxter Quartet singing gospel music, the soaps returned for most of the afternoon. The only ones I can think of just now are One Man's Family and Young Widow Brown.

You stirred up old memories today.

Thank you.

When TV came along, Mama's favorite was As The World Turns. She didn't care for most of the others.

Daphne said...

I'd never heard of it - - and now it's gone. You have, I point out, blown your own cover: you usually portray your age as being about 132 and yet now you tell us there was television in existence when you were born.

jay said...

Wow .. well, I've never heard of Guiding Light, much less watched one, but that's an impressive record! Good heavens - could it be that it's been running longer than The Archers??

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