Hit sitcom The Big Bang Theory is coming to an end after 12 years.
CBS network and producer Chuck Lorre confirmed the news in a joint statement which read: “We are forever grateful to our fans for their support of The Big Bang Theory during the past 12 seasons.
“We, along with the cast, writers and crew, are extremely appreciative of the show’s success and aim to deliver a final season, and series finale, that will bring [it] to an epic creative close.”
According to Entertainment Weekly, the series is ending because lead star Jim Parsons – who has appeared in 257 episodes since it began in 2006 – was ready to call time on his character, Sheldon Cooper.
Deadline adds that everyone involved on the sitcom was "summoned" to Lorre's office after a table read where he threw it over to Parsons who announced the news. Lorre reportedly tried to unsuccessfully change his mind over the weekend, offering up to a $50m deal for a further two seasons.
“It is hard (really impossible, actually) to really accept that this is a picture of the first of the final 24 episodes we will shoot for," Parsons wrote on Instagram.
He expressed “intense gratitude” for the crew, writers and his fellow castmates: “I will miss all of you and all of this more than I can say and more than I can know at this time.”
His co-star Kaley Cuoco told her followers she was “drowning in tears” over the news.
The show, which also stars Johnny Galecki, Simon Helberg, Kunal Nayyar, Mayim Bialik and Melissa Rauch, has been one of the most watched shows in the US throughout the past decade. In its 12-years, the series won 10 Emmy Awards and received a further 52 nominations.
CBS was attempting to negotiate a deal that would have seen The Big Bang Theory continue for another two seasons, with Parsons set to earn almost $1m per episode.
Young Sheldon – a prequel focused on the younger version of his character – is returning for a second season in September. Parsons is expected to stay on as its narrator.
The series finale is set to air in May 2019 bringing its overall episode count to a staggering 279 making it the longest-running multi-camera series in TV history.
E4 airs The Big Bang Theory in the UK.
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