United Kingdom

ITV axes Birds Of A Feather as Pauline Quirke flies the nest

Popular comedy Birds Of A Feather has been axed by ITV after Pauline Quirke ruled out appearing in future episodes.

Co-stars Linda Robson and Lesley Joseph, who play Tracey Stubbs and Dorien Green in the sitcom, had hoped last year's Christmas special would convince TV chiefs to commission a new series.

But despite attracting an audience of 7.9 million, ITV has decided against ordering more episodes after Ms Quirke, who played Tracey's sister Sharon, decided not to take part in the special.

It comes amid surprise at the recent dismissal by Ms Robson, 63, of claims about a falling-out with Ms Quirke, 61. 

 Popular comedy Birds Of A Feather has been axed by ITV after Pauline Quirke (pictured with Lesley Joseph and Linda Robson) ruled out appearing in future episodes

Ms Robson – who has known Ms Quirke since they were ten years old – described the reports as 'a load of old codswallop', but sources on the show insist the rift – which was first reported by The Mail on Sunday in February – is genuine.

'Without Pauline, the view is that there is no Birds Of A Feather,' said a source. 

'You cannot have Tracey without Sharon, and there is no way Pauline will be going back. Things are bad between her and Linda.

'Linda and Lesley gave it a go but, despite the figures being good, ITV won't be recommissioning it.'

Sources close to Ms Robson and Ms Joseph claim that Ms Quirke and her husband Steve Sheen, who acts as her manager, wanted to negotiate a better deal to appear in the show.

Ms Robson and Ms Joseph had hoped they could keep the sitcom going by replacing Ms Quirke's character with a younger lookalike.

Linda Robson (pictured with Ms Quirke) and Lesley Joseph, who play Tracey Stubbs and Dorien Green, had hoped last year's Christmas special would convince TV chiefs to do a new series

Ms Robson insisted in an interview earlier this month that she and Ms Quirke remained close, even though her friends briefed the MoS earlier this year about the bust-up between the pair.

After the rift was revealed, it was alleged that matters became so heated at one point that childhood friends Ms Robson and Ms Quirke had to be separated by crew members during filming at Teddington Studios in West London.

One source said: 'They will never speak again. It is desperately sad, but also staggering that Linda would pretend they are friends. They are not.'

Birds Of A Feather, which tells the story of two sisters whose husbands are jailed for armed robbery, ran for nine series on the BBC between 1989 and 1998 and was revived by ITV in 2014.

Neither Ms Robson nor Ms Quirke responded to requests for comment last night.

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