07/03/2012 15:32 | By Lorna Cooper, editor, MSN TV

Skins: Channel 4 axes teen drama

It's goodbye to E4's long-running teen drama Skins; with ratings languishing, the axe has finally fallen.

The cast of teen drama, Skins (© Channel 4)

The cast of teen drama, Skins

It's the end of the line for multi-award winning teen drama, Skins. Channel 4 has swung the axe on the Bristol-based series created by father and son team Bryan Elsley and Jamie Brittain (who was 19 years of age at the time Skins launched in 2007). However, special farewell episodes are planned for next year.

A Channel 4 spokeswoman said: "Skins is a brilliant show which has defined a generation and will go down as a truly iconic, game-changing piece of television but after seven series it is time for E4 to make way for the next generation of the bold, the new and the innovative."

After a disappointing fifth run, E4's controversial series returned for an explosive sixth dosage of clubbing, drugs, school and sex back in January.

Beginning of the end

In retrospect, 2011 wasn't a good year for the people behind Skins. The American version proved too controversial, and was axed after only a couple of episodes.

Meanwhile, here in the UK, series five wasn't ecstatically received by fans - as evidenced by less than stellar overnight ratings. It opened to a solid overnight average of 1.1m viewers (including timeshift viewing on E4 +1). However, the finale was seen by just 630,000 (incl +1); a loss of over 40% of its launch audience.

In addition the new cast - including the likes of Dakota Blue Richards, Alex Arnold, Sean Teale, Freya Mavor and Jessica Sula - polarised fans. Some were enamoured with them, others weren't.

Previous series of Skins included the likes of Nicholas Hoult (A Single Man) and Jack O'Connell (This Is England), and launched the careers of Kaya Scodelario and Slumdog Millionaire star Dev Patel.

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However the recasting of principal players, long a feature of Skins, may have been one rotation too much. Little wonder many questioned whether it would have the wow factor of previous series.

It's telling, perhaps, that series six launched to its lowest ever overnight average of 524,000 (including viewing on E4 +1).

Over five years in, and it seemed as if the writers were running short of the kind of fresh ideas that made the first couple of series so watchable.

In this day and age, it's perhaps difficult to appreciate just how groundbreaking Skins was when it first premiered. However, in its prime, it was a groundbreaking show for young people, devised by young people and played by young people.

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