Geordie Shore bosses were reportedly plunged into a state of panic after two original cast members threatened to quit the MTV programme over a pay dispute.
The show returns for its 24th series early in the New Year, but talks over a follow-up hit a stumbling block after the pair – who have been around since the show debuted – refused to sign contracts. The matter left producers concerned for the show's future, after another OG in Charlotte Crosby departed following filming the new series.
It reportedly prompted "urgent crisis talks" behind closed doors – not helped by the fact viewing figures have fallen repeatedly for the past seven series. At its series 12 peak, the show drew in an average 1,195,000 viewers per episode, but this had dwindled to just 131,000 by series 22.
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A source told the Sun of the latest issue: "At least two of the cast were unhappy that they weren't getting more money to film another series, especially after all these years of the show being such a big success for MTV and its parent company, Paramount."
They continued: "As well as being a huge hit in the UK, it's streamed all over the world, so they felt that their pay should reflect that and they should get a salary rise. The powers that be told them that wasn't going to happen, so the stars in question called their bluff and said they would walk.
"The top brass were really nervous because they've already lost a key player in Charlotte, who had been there since day one. They didn't want to lose any more OGs as that could threaten to entire future for the entire show. When long-running series like this lose their biggest names, it's all downhill from there."
The source also told the publication, however, that a resolution appears to be in place following frantic discussions, with the cast members in question "holding out" successfully" for a better fee to "come back". It follows reports that Gaz Beadle is considering a return to filming after splitting from his model wife, Emma McVey in October – although he denied the claims on social media.
Last week former star Ricci Guarnaccio admitted that there's "probably not that many series left" in a now-deleted video in which he encouraged his ex, Vicky Pattison, to return. Speaking to the camera, he said: "Vicky Pattison why don't you get the muzzle off your face, put your big girl pants on and give MTV a call and let's get you on the next series of Geordie Shore and give the fans what they want."
He continued: "There's probably not that many series of Geordie Shore left and I know your management have got you absolutely whipped where you are not allowed to have a conversation about me or even Geordie Shore, the channel and the show which gave us all everything.
"It will only be right before the show ends for me and you to at least have one mature conversation. So, you're a big girl now, everyone's matured and everyone's grown up so let's give the fans what they want next series."
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