Procter & Gamble and CBS Television are taking Guiding Light off the air after seventy-two years. It now joins The Edge of Night, Search for Tomorrow, Another World, and other once-great Procter & Gamble soap operas...that are no more.
I've never watched a single episode of Guiding Light, but when the longest running soap opera in history goes down, we all have to stop what we are doing and pay attention. Times have changed and daytime dramas are struggling to keep their audiences.
Perhaps Guiding Light will now join the other fallen, broken-down Procter & Gamble soap operas that are being rerun on AOL Video, but.... wait, Proctor & Gamble abruptly yanked all of those without warning in 2009! It was bad enough when they ended The Edge of Night's television run in 1984, but to do the same cruel thing again in 2009 by abruptly taking them off the internet was very disappointing.
I hope that Guiding Light fans will get angry and not let their show go off the air without a fight. I would like to see those fans running through the streets screaming and crying--as I wish I had for The Edge of Night, even though it was pretty bad in its last years.
Once a soap opera ends, it is gone forever...and Procter & Gamble may or may not let you see it again. (Guiding Light and Another World are currently available on Hulu.com, but for how long?)
Guiding Light began as a fifteen minute radio drama on NBC in 1937. It moved to CBS Television in 1952, but the radio show continued to air until 1956. The television show went from black & white to color in 1967, was expanded to a half hour in 1968 and to a full hour in 1977. Guiding Light will air its last episode on Friday, September 18, 2009, after more than 15,700 episodes on radio and television combined! It is the longest-running daytime drama in the Guiness Book of World Records and has been awarded sixty-nine Daytime Emmies.
For more information:
Radio episodes from Guiding Light are available at the Internet Archive
Here is a clip of an episode of Guiding Light from April 9, 1953. You can watch this episode on full screen at the Internet Archive.
While we are on the subject, here is a short Youtube video comprised of promos for The Edge of Night. (The visual quality is not very good.) These promos are from the last four years of its run, and they convey the basic essence of the show. It was like Suspense but in a soap opera format.