ITV has confirmed that it is dropping police drama The Bill after 27 years on air.
According to The Guardian, the decision comes after last year's revamp and move to a 9pm slot failed to alter sliding ratings.
The show, which is based in fictional station Sun Hill, switched from two weekly shows at 8pm to a single 9pm episode last July. It was the first time that the programme had aired in a post-watershed slot, which encouraged "darker, grittier and more hard-hitting" storylines.
However, ratings fell to an average of 3.5 million, a significant drop from the 7 million who tuned in in 2002. It currently employs 19 main cast members, including Simon Rouse (DI Jack Meadows), Alex Walkinshaw (Inspector Dale 'Smithy' Smith) and DS Stevie Moss (Lucy Speed).
The broadcaster claimed that the decision to axe the flagship series was part of a rethink of the drama schedules rather than for financial reasons. ITV will focus in the future on short run shows such as Collision and Above Suspicion.
"The Bill has been a fixture on our screens for more than 25 years and has been the home of some of the UK's best serial drama storylines, and a great showcase for terrific scriptwriting and fine acting talent," said ITV director of television, channels and online Peter Fincham.
"But times change, and so do the tastes of our audience. While The Bill will come to an end in 2010, we will continue to invest more in drama programming than any other commercial broadcaster in the UK and viewers can look forward to a wide range of high quality drama on ITV1."
Ta TW for the sig.