Shameless: when TV shows overstay their welcome

There can often be commercial pressure to keep a hit show going, even if no artistic reason. So when is enough enough?

The title of Paul Abbott's Shameless ironically alludes to public attitudes towards the welfare state – attitudes which Abbott hoped to challenge through his warm portrait of a northern family underwritten by Westminster. It's a word frequently used by right-wing pundits and newspapers to describe dependents on generous state-aid, so it's fitting that on the same day the Conservative party was announcing yet another crackdown on government handouts, Channel 4 and Abbott revealed that the show will end next year after 11 series.

This is clearly the right decision. In recent years, the franchise and its title have begun to suffer from an unintended irony – with viewers who responded to the crackle of characterisation and dialogue in the show's first seasons, starting to feel that dramatist and channel had

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