After seven seasons, a
record 24 Emmy Awards and two Golden Globes, fictional White House
drama The West Wing has been given the axe.

NBC yesterday announced its decision to pull up stumps on the award
winning show, whose fast paced dialogue and detailed Washington-speak
had excited the hearts and minds of politicians and hacks around the
world ever since its debut back in 1999.

Back in its early days, the rumour ran that come 10.30 Tuesday night
anyone still working at Victoria’s Parliament House would literally
drop what they were doing, sit themselves in front of the box and watch
fictional Democrat President Jed Bartlett – played by liberal actor
Martin Sheen – fight those pesky and amoral Republicans in Congress.

Even though the show was often criticised for its warm and fuzzy
liberal bias, it still remained a beacon of US patriotism – even when
the story lines were often a direct attack against the real life Bush
administration and its policies.

The show’s seven season run will wind up in the US on 14 May with
the Presidential elections, and the announcement of the new US
President – a battle between the Republican candidate, played by Alan
Alda, and Democrat candidate, played by Jimmy Smits.

The show’s creator and writer, Aaron Sorkin, left the show at the end
of the fourth season and commentators have criticised it ever since for its
use of action and intrigue rather than the speedy, politically-dense
dialogue that fans came to know and love from their political pin-up
boy Sorkin. The unexpected death of John
Spencer late last year, who played Chief of Staff and the new
Vice-President nominee Leo McGarry, didn’t help, although NBC say
they’d made the
decision to axe the show before his death.

Over the past three years the show’s US ratings have slowly dropped
off, to the point that this last season, it wasn’t even pulling in half
the viewers it
was at its peak. But for those unlucky enough not have seen the show
first time around, the ABC will soon be screening the whole thing from
the beginning – ad-free.