Hospital soap Holby City will come to an end next year after 23 years on screen, the BBC has announced.
The Casualty spin-off, created by Tony McHale and Mal Young, debuted in 1999, following the lives of staff at the fictional Holby City Hospital, the same hospital as Casualty.
A statement from the broadcaster said: “We are incredibly proud of Holby City but it’s with great sadness that we are announcing that after 23 years, the show will end on screen in March of next year.
“We sometimes have to make difficult decisions to make room for new opportunities and as part of the BBC’s commitment to make more programmes across the UK, we have taken the difficult decision to bring the show to a close in order to reshape the BBC’s drama slate to better reflect, represent and serve all parts of the country.
“We would like to take this opportunity to thank the amazing team at BBC Studios and all the cast and crew who have been involved in the show since 1999.
“Holby has been a stalwart with audiences, delighting millions of viewers each week and winning hundreds of awards with a compelling mix of cutting edge medical stories and explosive personal stories.
“We look forward to working with the team over the coming months to ensure that when it ends, Holby goes out on a high.”
Former Holby star Joe McFadden, whose character Raf Di Lucca died in 2017, tweeted: “Such sad news about the end of #HolbyCity – it kept so many people in work for so long. My thoughts are with friends in the cast and crew”.
EastEnders star Danny-Boy Hatchard tweeted: “Such a shame Holby is coming to an end. Sending big love to all the actors and members of staff who work on the show.”
Earlier this year the BBC announced it would move some of its key departments and staff outside London to make the corporation more reflective of the UK as a whole.
It announced it would launch two new soap-style drama series – one from the North of England and another from one of the nations – over the next three years.
Holby City is filmed in Elstree, Hertfordshire, just outside London.
Leslie Ash, Patsy Kensit, Jane Asher, Robert Powell, Adrian Edmondson, Alex Walkinshaw and Jemma Redgrave are among the stars who have appeared in the show over the years.
In April, EastEnders star Davood Ghadami exited the soap to join Holby City as Eli Ebrahimi, a consultant cardiothoracic surgeon.
He tweeted: “I’ve only had the privilege of being part of @BBCHolbyCity for a couple of months but its already very clear that its a great big family not a workplace.
“It will be sorely missed. Lets go out with a bang.”
Actress Niamh McGrady, who played Mary-Claire Carter until 2015, tweeted that she “can’t believe this news”.
She added: “I’m so incredibly proud of my time on the show and I send so much love to the current cast and crew.
“Holby you will never be forgotten.”
Equity, the actors’ union, said it was “very disappointed” by the move, describing it as a “blow to the cast who have worked extremely hard over the years and worked loyally through the pandemic”.
Its statement added: “Our members will be severely impacted by the loss of work and we urge the BBC to continue to work with Equity on any measures to assist our members.
“We will continue our discussions with the BBC as this cannot be a cost saving exercise and budgets for scripted content have to protected. The BBC must honour their public commitment to repurpose their budgets to other productions and particularly outside London and the South East.”