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The Bill is a long running Britishmarker police procedural television series, unusual among police dramas in that its focus is on the lives and work of one shift of police officers, rather than on any particular aspect of police work. The series is produced by Talkback Thames, its name originating from "Old Bill", a slang term for the police and Geoff McQueen's original title for the series. It originated as a one-off drama, entitled Woodentop in August 1983. However, ITV were impressed to the extent that The Bill started as a series in October the following year. Woodentop starred Trudie Goodwin as WPC June Ackland of the fictional Sun Hill police station in London, who later became the last remaining original cast member.

The series has come under attack by the Police Federation, which accused it of portraying the police as a racist organisation; however, relations are now on better terms to the extent that the executive producer met with the Metropolitan Police Commissioner to discuss the editorial relationship. Uniquely for a British television series, The Bill uses authentic police uniforms and equipment.

The Bill's theme tune, "Overkill", used in one form or another since ''The Bill'''s beginning as a series in 1985, was controversially replaced in 2009 as part of an overhaul of the series. ''The Bill'' causes occasional controversy, particularly with its story lines. For example, a 2008 episode that featured a fictional treatment for [[multiple sclerosis]], and another in May of the same year that resulted in [[litigation]] by [[Member of Parliament#United Kingdom|MP]] [[George Galloway]] for [[defamation]]. The series has also faced more general criticism concerning the levels of violence it portrays, particularly prior to 2009, when it occupied a [[watershed (television)|pre watershed]] slot. In spite of the controversies, ''The Bill'' has beaten several other popular series to a [[List of Awards of The Bill|series of awards]], including a [[British Academy of Film and Television Arts|BAFTA]] and the title of "best drama" at the [[Inside Soap Awards#2009|Inside Soap Awards]] in 2009, the latter being the series' fourth consecutive win. Throughout its history, ''The Bill'' has always been broadcast on [[ITV]] (later renamed ITV1 with the network's expansion into [[digital television]]). It is now repeated on [[ITV3]], part of [[ITV plc|ITV's]] digital network, as well as on digital channels [[Alibi (TV channel)|Alibi]] and [[Watch (TV channel)|Watch]]. The Bill used to air twice a week in two half hour formats on ITV. This was later changed and The Bill aired twice a week in two one hour formats. As part of the major overhaul in July 2009 this changed again and The Bill currently airs once a week in a one hour format. == History == {{Main|History of The Bill}} The concept of ''The Bill'' was originally conceived by [[Geoff McQueen]] in 1983, then a relatively new television writer, as a one-off [[Dramatic programming|drama]]. McQueen had originally titled the production "Old Bill". It was picked up by [[Michael Chapman]] for production company [[Talkback Thames]], who retitled it "Woodentop" as part of Thames' "Storyboard" series of one-off dramas and aired on [[ITV]], a [[United Kingdom|British]], free to air, commercial television channel under the title ''[[Woodentop (The Bill)|Woodentop]]'' on [[August 16]], [[1983]]. "Woodentop" starred [[Mark Wingett]] as [[Constable#United Kingdom and the Commonwealth|Police Constable]] [[List of The Bill characters (A-D)#Jim Carver|Jim Carver]] and [[Trudie Goodwin]] as Woman Police Constable [[June Ackland]] of [[London]]'s [[Metropolitan Police Service|Metropolitan Police]], both attached to the fictional [[Sun Hill police station]]{{cite book|last=Tibballs|first=Geoff|title=The Bill: The Official History of Sun Hill|publisher=Carlton|date=November, 2003|pages=10|chapter=Introduction|isbn=9781844426676|language=English}}. Although originally only intended as a one-off, "Woodentop" impressed ITV to the extent that a full series was commissioned, first broadcast on 16 October, 1984 with one [[Watershed (television)|post-watershed]] episode per week, featuring an hour-long, separate storyline for each episode of the first three seasons. The first episode of the full series was ''Funny Ol' Business - Cops & Robbers''{{cite web|url=|title="The Bill" Funny Ol' Business - Cops & Robbers (1984)|publisher=Internet Movie Database|language=English|accessdate=2009-11-13}}. With serialisation, the name of the show changed from "Woodentop" to ''The Bill''. 1988 saw an increase to three episodes, each of thirty minutes, per week. Almost ten years later, in 1998, ''The Bill'' returned to hour-long episodes, now twice-weekly, at which point the series adopted a much more [[Serial (radio and television)|serialised]] approach. When [[Paul Marquess]] took over as Executive Producer in 2002, as part of a drive for ratings{{cite web|url=|title=The Bill: Changing Times|publisher=ATV Networks|language=English|accessdate=2009-11-13}}, the series was revamped as a soap with many veteran characters written out, leading to the [[Sun Hill fire 2002]]. Marquess stated that the clearout was necessary in order to introduce "plausible, powerful new characters". As part of the new serial format, much more of the characters' personal lives were explored, however, as Marquess put it, the viewers still "don't go home with them". The change also allowed ''The Bill'' to become more reflective of modern policing with the introduction of officers from ethnic minorities, most notably, the new [[superintendent]], [[Adam Okaro]]. It also allowed coverage of the relationship of homosexual Sergeant [[Craig Gilmore (The Bill)|Craig Gilmore]] and PC [[Luke Ashton]], a storyline which Marquess was determined to explore before rival [[Merseybeat (TV series)|Merseybeat]]. In 2005, [[Johnathan Young]] took over as executive producer{{cite web|url=|title=Johnathan Young|publisher=Internet Movie Database|language=English|accessdate=2009-11-13}}. The serial format was dropped and ''The Bill'' returned to stand-alone episodes with more focus on crime and policing than on the personal lives of the officers. 2007 saw the reintroduction of episode titles, which had been dropped in 2002. In 2009, ''The Bill'' moved back to the 9pm slot it previously held and the theme tune, "Overkill", was replaced as part of a major overhaul of the series. == Broadcasting and production == ''The Bill'' is set in and around [[Sun Hill]] police station, in the fictional "Canley [[London Borough|Borough]] [[Basic Command Unit|Operational Command Unit]]" in East London. Filming for the series takes place all over [[London]], mainly in [[South London]] and particularly the [[London Borough of Merton]], where the Sun Hill set is located. Locations used when the show is filmed on a [[housing estate]] are: * Cambridge Estate, in Kingston, south-west London {{cite web|url=|title=British Television Filming Locations|last=Whitley|first=David|publisher=travel.nine|language=English|accessdate=26 November 2009|location=Worldwide}} * High Path Estate, in South Wimbledon, south-west London (approx. 10 minute walk from the Sun Hill set) * Phipps Bridge, [[Mitcham]] {{cite web|url=|title=Filming in Merton|publisher=Merton Council|language=English|accessdate=26 November 2009|location=United Kingdom}} * [[Roundshaw Estate]] opposite Mellows Park in [[Wallington, London]] {{cite web|url=,46|title=Metropolitan Police Federation Constables Branch Board|publisher=Metropolitan Police Federation|language=English|accessdate=26 November 2009|location=United Kingdom}} * Sutton Estate, which includes Durand Close in [[Carshalton]], where a housing block regularly used by ''The Bill'' for filming was demolished in November 2009{{cite web|url=|title=Sad Goodbyes as Sutton Estate is Demolished for Revamp|last=Fender|first=Leanne|date=21.11.09|publisher=Surrey Comet|language=English|accessdate=26 November 2009|location=United Kingdom}}. Scenes are often filmed in [[East London, England|East London]], most notably the [[London Docklands]]{{cite web|url=|title=The Bill Answers the Call of the Dark Side|last=Virtue|first=Rob|date=06.08.09|publisher=wharf|accessdate=2009-10-27|location=London}}, with other scenes filmed in [[Tooting]]{{cite web|url=|title=The Bill Filming in Tooting|last=Broadway|first=Tooting|date=12.11.08|accessdate=2009-10-27|location=London}}, [[Greenwich]]{{cite web|url=|title=Greenwich Council Filming|publisher=Greenwich Council|accessdate=2009-10-27|location=Greenwich}} or [[Croydon]]{{cite web|url=|title=Filming in Croydon|last=Truman|first=Peter|date=2009-01-27||accessdate=2009-10-27|location=Croydon}}. When filming ''The Bill'', some scenes are re-enacted indoors with microphones surrounding the actors and the extra sounds being "dubbed" on later. Some of the more aggressive scenes are also filmed indoors either for dubbing or safety reasons{{cite web|url=|title=The Bill Behind The Scenes|date=02.04.09|publisher=ITV|accessdate=2009-10-26|location=London}}. When filming scenes involving [[police car]]s, a camera is attached to the outside of the car which feeds back images to a computer in the back of the vehicle. This technique was used to film the new opening titles of ''The Bill''{{cite web|url=|title=How The Bill Is Filmed|publisher=ITV|accessdate=2009-10-26|location=London}}. The sirens used in the series are added later in the dubbing suite as ''The Bill'' does not have permission to use sirens while on location, however{{cite book|last=Tibballs|first=Geoff|title=The Bill: The Official History of Sun Hill|chapter=The Chandler Years|isbn=9781844426676|accessdate=November 10, 2009|language=English}}, the police uniforms used in the series are genuine, again making ''The Bill'' unique amongst police dramas{{cite book |last=Silver |first=Rachel |year=1999 |title=The Bill: The Inside Story: Behind the Scenes of Britain's Top Police Drama |publisher=HarperCollins |location=London |id=ISBN 978-0-00-257137-1}}. ''The Bill'' is unique amongst police dramas in that it takes a serial format, focussing on the work and lives of a single shift of police officers, rather than on one particular area of police work. Also unique is that ''The Bill'' adapted to this format after several series, whereas comparable series started with the serial format. ===In the United Kingdom=== ''The Bill'' has been shown on the [[ITV]] network (branded [[ITV1]] in England and Wales since 2001), a free-to-air commercial network. With the ITV network's expansion into [[digital television]], it is now shown on [[ITV 3]], particularly a repeat of the most recent episode, which is especially aimed at viewers in [[Scotland]] after the series was cancelled there as a result of a dispute with Scottish ITV franchisee, [[STV]]{{cite web|url=|title=The Bill Airing on ITV 3|last=Holmwood|first=Leigh|date=2009-07-21||accessdate=2009-10-26|location=London}}. With the rise of digital television, ''The Bill'' has become increasingly available within the [[United Kingdom]]. Repeats are currently broadcast on commercial digital TV channels [[Watch (TV channel)|Watch]] and [[Alibi (TV channel)|Alibi]] (formerly UKTV Drama). As of 2009, ''The Bill'' airs on ITV1 at 9pm every Thursday evening for one hour{{cite web|url=||publisher=ITV|accessdate=2009-10-27}}. The series used to air on [[Scotland|Scottish]] channel [[STV]], however on 5 July 2009, the [[News Of The World]] reported that ''The Bill'' was to be cancelled in [[Scotland]]{{cite web|last=Mulholland |first=James |url= |title=STV | THE BILL | Scottish|Scottish Showbiz |publisher=News Of The World |date= |accessdate=2009-07-22}}. The final episode of ''The Bill'' shown on STV, "Conviction: Judgement Day", aired on 23 July 2009 at 8pm. After being cancelled in Scotland, ''The Bill'' was the subject of legal proceedings between [[ITV]] and [[STV]]. ITV allege that STV are due them money for opting out of showing programmes like ''The Bill'' and are currently preparing to sue STV for £38 million{{cite web|url=|title=£38m dispute set to reach court after ITV refuses offer of opt-out|last=Murden|first=Terry|date=20.10.09|publisher=The Scotsman|accessdate=2009-10-31|location=Scotland}}. [[STV]] has now submitted a counter-claim that [[ITV]] are due them over £30 million in unpaid advertising revenues and they have warned that more claims are likely {{cite web|url=|title=STV set to sue over ITV's broadcasts over the Border|last=Thomas|first=Nathalie|date=07.11.09|publisher=The Scotsman|language=English|accessdate=2009-11-18|location=Scotland}}. ===Outside the UK=== ''The Bill'' has been broadcast in over 55 different countries{{cite web|url=|title=The Bill will be cutback to one episode per week|date=23 January 2009|publisher=STV|language=English|accessdate=2009-11-09|location=Edinburgh}}: * In [[Australia]], the series is very popular where it is shown on [[ABC1]] *On satellite and cable in [[Australia]] and [[New Zealand]], older episodes are broadcast on [[UKTV (Australia and New Zealand)|UKTV]]. *In [[Belgium]] the series is broadcast on [[één]]. *In [[Denmark]] the series was retitled "Lov og Uorden" (Law and Disorder). Two episodes of the series are broadcast every afternoon on [[TV 2 Charlie|TV2 Charlie]]. *In [[Republic of Ireland|Ireland]] the series is broadcast on [[RTÉ]] television {{cite web|url=|title=RTE Secures Neighbours Deal|last=Oatts|first=Joanne|date=09.10.07|publisher=Digital Spy|language=English|accessdate=01 December 2009|location=United Kingdom}}, first starting in the early 1990s on [[RTÉ Two]], in the early 2000s RTÉ began broadcasting it on [[RTÉ One]] at 5:30pm each weekday, splitting hour long episodes into 2 part half hour episodes, RTÉ discontinued this in 2009 moving the show to Monday Nights on RTÉ Two. RTÉ shows episodes from 2005. An hour long episode is shown once a week. Fans of the show and TV critics in Ireland have nicknamed it as the "Old Bill", as viewers in Ireland can watch the same episodes as the UK, on [[UTV]]. *In [[Sweden]] the series was retitled "Sunhillspolisstation" (Sun Hill Police Station) by broadcaster [[TV4 (Sweden)|TV4]]. It is now broadcast daily on [[Kanal 9]] in the early afternoon with a repeat early the following morning. ==Theme tune and title sequence== ''The Bill'''s original [[theme music]] was known as "Overkill" and gained iconic status in spite of the various re-workings it has seen. It was first heard in the series one starting episode ''Funny Ol' Business - Cops & Robbers''{{cite web|url=|title="The Bill" Funny Ol' Business - Cops & Robbers (1984)|publisher=Internet Movie Database|language=English|accessdate=2009-11-13}}. It was replaced in 2009 as part of a major overhaul of the series, however, producers still claim that the new theme tune contains "subtle echoes" of "Overkill"{{cite web|url=|title=Who nicked The Bill's theme tune?|date=23/07/09|publisher=The Guardian|language=English|accessdate=2009-11-02|location=London}}{{cite news|url=|title=The Bill's theme tune to be axed|date=03/07/09|publisher=BBC News|language=English|accessdate=2009-11-03|location=London}}. The original opening sequence to ''The Bill'' consisted of a two police officers (a WPC and a PC) walking down a street interspersed with images of Sun Hill. In the second series this changed to a [[police car]] (in this case a [[Rover]]) racing down a street with its siren and blue light on. The car would screech to a stop and the camera would zoom in on the blue light. Various clips were then shown from the series of the characters in action, often chasing suspects. The original end titles simply showed the feet of two police constables pounding the beat (always 1 WPC and 1 PC){{cite book|coauthors=Gauntlett, Hill|title=TV living: television, culture, and everyday life|publisher=ebrary, Inc|date=2000|pages=297, 298|isbn=041518486X|url=|accessdate=28/10/09}}. The original title music was composed by Andy Pask and Charlie Morgan {{cite web|url=|title=The Bill original ending credits|publisher=TheDoctor001|accessdate=2009-10-27|location=London}}. In 1997, the opening credits changed, although the theme tune remained the same. The opening credits still showed a police car racing down a street with its sirens blaring, this time overtaking a [[routemaster]] bus before screeching to a halt. It then changed to show clips of the various actors in the series, with each clip interspersed by the image of the flashing light. The end credits remained the same and the title music was still put together by Andy Pask and Charlie Morgan{{cite web|url=|title=The Bill 1997 credits|date=2009|publisher=forten78|accessdate=2009-10-27|location=London}}. In 1998, the opening credits changed again. This time there was no police car racing down the street, the opening credits still had the police siren wailing but this time various police procedural images such as someone being shown into a police cell were shown along with police stripes being flashed across the screen. Also gone were any clips of the actors. The theme tune was revamped with a [[jazz]] feel as it was mainly played by a saxophone{{cite web|url=|title=The Bill 1998–2001 Opening Credits|date=2009|publisher=TheBillTitles|accessdate=2009-10-27|location=London}}. The end credits also changed, showing various parts of the police uniform including the [[Metropolitan Police]] badge with police stripes at the bottom of the screen. The music for this version was arranged by Mark Russell{{cite web|url=|title=Mark Russell|publisher=IMDB|language=English|accessdate=2009-11-03|location=United Kingdom}}{{cite web|url=|title=1998–2001 Closing Credits|last=Leitch|first=Lyn|publisher=lynleitch|accessdate=2009-10-27|location=London}}. In 2001 the opening credits were changed to show the faces of all the police officers on ''The Bill''. In the background the police siren is still wailing.{{cite web|url=|title=The Bill 2001–2002 Opening Credits|date=2009|publisher=TheBillTitles|accessdate=2009-10-27|location=London}}. Designed by company "Blue", the end credits were revised to feature items of police equipment, accompanied by a new arrangement of the theme music by Miles Bould {{cite web|url=|title=Miles Bould|publisher=IMDB|language=English|accessdate=2009-11-03|location=United Kingdom}} and Mike Westergaard {{cite web|url=|title=Mike Westergaard|publisher=IMDB|language=English|accessdate=2009-11-03|location=United Kingdom}}{{cite web|url=|title=The Bills Closing Credits 2001–2002|date=2008|publisher=lynleitch|accessdate=2009-10-27|location=London}}. The 2003–2006 opening titles featured generic police images such as a police car and a police uniform. The wail of a police siren can still be heard in the background. The end credits also changed this time to feature a preview of the next episode. The background to the end credits, designed by company "Roisin at Blue", is simply a police shade of blue, with a new arrangement of the theme music by Lawrence Oakley {{cite web|url=|title=The Bill 2006 Opening and Closing Credits|date=2006|accessdate=2009-10-27|location=London}}. In 2007, the opening credits again changed to focus more on scenes involving police officers. In the sequence, the wail of the police siren is still heard and the sign identifying the building as Sun Hill police station is included{{cite web|url=|title=The Bill 2007–2009 Opening Credits|date=2009|publisher=TheBillTitles|accessdate=2009-10-27|location=London}}. The closing credits follow a police car on patrol and the music is again arranged by Lawrence Oakley {{cite web|url=|title=The Bill 2007–2009 Closing Credits|date=2009|publisher=TheBillTitles|accessdate=2009-10-27|location=London}}. In 2009 the programme underwent a major overhaul, moving to a post watershed slot to allow for grittier story lines and to enable ITV to cut its cost in the light of the [[Financial crisis of 2007–2009|recession]]{{cite news|url=|title=The Bill cut to one episode a week as ITV seeks to reduce costs |last=Allen|first=Nick|date=23 Jan 2009|publisher=Daily Telegraph|accessdate=2009-10-28|location=London}}{{cite news|url=|title=The Bill is slashed to one episode a week|date=23/01/09||accessdate=2009-10-28|location=London}}. As a result, the credits were again changed, with the old theme tune replaced and the addition of incidental music{{cite web|url=|title=The Bill introduces incidental music|last=McMahon|first=Kate|date=02.07.09|publisher=Broadcast Now|accessdate=2009-10-27|location=London}}{{cite web|url=|title=The Bill Opening Credits 2009|date=2009|publisher=BroadcastnowTV|accessdate=2009-10-27|location=London}}. The new closing credits follow a police car on patrol and the music is now by Simba Studios{{cite web|url=|title=The Bill Closing Credits 2009|date=2009|publisher=TheBillTitles|accessdate=2009-10-27|location=London}}. ==Episodes== {{Main|List of The Bill episodes}} When ''The Bill'' was first commissioned as a series by ITV, it started with twelve episodes per year, each an hour long with a separate storyline. In 1993, the format was changed, and ''The Bill'' was broadcast year round, with three episodes per week, though of only thirty minutes each. Sources differ on when the show was switched back to the original, hour-long format in which the series is currently broadcast: a 2003 BBC report suggests 1998{{cite news|url=|title=The Bill prepares for live birthday|date=30 October 2003|work=BBC News|accessdate=01 December 2009}}, while Tibballs' ''Official History of Sun Hill'' states 2001. ''The Bill'' is currently in its twenty-sixth series, with 2370 individual episodes broadcast as of 5 November, 2009{{cite web|url=|title=''The Bill'' (1984)- Episode list|publisher=Internet movie Databse|language=English|accessdate=26 November 2009}} ===Live Episodes=== ''The Bill'' has broadcast two live episodes. The first was in 2003 to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the pilot, ''Woodentop''{{cite news|url=|title=Production - TX - The Bill's live challenge|last=Tate|first=Stephen|date=5 November 2003|work=Broadcast|accessdate=01 December 2009}}. The second was in 2005 to celebrate the fiftieth birthday of ITV{{cite news|url=|title=ITV plans live Bill for 50th|date=27 July 2005|work=Broadcast|accessdate=01 December 2009}}. '''2003''' The live episode in 2003 was episode #1818, originally broadcast on 30 October 2003 at 8pm, and produced with a crew of 200 staff including seven camera crews. It was reported to be the first live television broadcast of a program where filming was not largely confined to a studio. [[Detective Constable]] [[Juliet Becker]] and Constable [[Cathy Bradford]] are being held hostage by a man called Mark. As they are being held hostage in a carrier in the station yard, Juliet Becker raises the custody suite alarm. When the rest of the station arrive outside, Mark makes it known that he intends to kill Juliet Becker just as the police get permission to break into the carrier only to find that Juliet has been stabbed. She is rushed to hospital, but attempts to resuscitate her fail. The episode was watched by around 11 million viewers. '''2005''' The live episode in 2005 was episode #349, broadcast on 22 September 2005 at 8pm. In this episode, it was revealed that PC [[Gabriel Kent]] had assumed a false identity. It is revealed that he has been operating under his brother's name and is, in fact, David Kent. In this episode the "real" Gabriel Kent arrived in Sun Hill to meet his mother, Sergeant [[June Ackland]]. In this episode, Sun Hill police station is hosting a reception party and, as the police arrive, they are taken hostage by a distraught father whose son was killed by a stolen car. A struggle ensues in which a shot is fired, alerting others in the building the incident. After an evacuation of the station, Superintendent [[List of The Bill characters (M-P)#Amanda Prosser|Amanda Prosser]] encourages PC Dan Casper to attempt to overpower the man. As he does so, both Casper and the real Gabriel Kent are shot. The real Gabriel Kent is rushed to hospital where the false Gabriel Kent threatens him in order to keep the identity switch a secret. == Cast == {{Main|List of characters of The Bill}} ''The Bill'' has a large regular cast to support the number of episodes that are produced each year. Working on ''The Bill'' has become something of a rite of passage in British acting, with 174 actors having formed part of the series' main cast since the series began{{cite web|url=|title=The Bill Current Cast List|coauthors=The Bill|date=2009-10-23|publisher=ITV|accessdate=2009-10-26|location=London}}. Likewise, a number of cast members from the series have appeared in other roles [[List of regular The Bill actors who have appeared in other roles|within the series]], and in other British [[soap opera]]s and dramas. All ranks listed are those held by the character currently or at their time of leaving the series ===Notable cast members=== There are numerous actors who have either appeared on ''The Bill'' for some considerable length of time, or on whose careers ''The Bill'' has made a significant impact. The following is a concise list of the most notable, an expanded version is available at [[List of characters of The Bill#Notable cast members|List of characters of The Bill]]. * '''[[Billy Murray (actor)|Billy Murray]]''' appeared in The Bill for 5 years playing '''[[DS Don Beech]]'''{{cite web|url=|title=DS Don Beech (Character)|publisher=Internet movie Database|language=English|accessdate=2009-11-16}}. The character was a corrupt police officer, notably having murdered DS [[John Boulton]], forcing Beech to go on the run, sparking the "[[Don Beech scandal]]". Since leaving ''The Bill'', Murray's career has included a stint on [[EastEnders]] as [[Johnny Allen (EastEnders)|Johnny Allen]]{{cite web|url=|title=Character - Johnny Allen|work=EastEnders|publisher=BBC|accessdate=2009-11-12}} and two films, [[Rollin' With The Nines]] and [[Rise of the Footsoldier]]{{cite web|url=|title=Billy Murray (I)|publisher=Internet Movie Database|language=English|accessdate=2009-11-16}}. The character also spawned ''[[Beech on the Run]]'' and ''[[Beech is Back]]''. * '''[[Tony O'Callaghan]]''' played Sergeant '''[[Matt Boyden]]''' for 12 years from 1991–2003{{cite web|url=|title=Sgt. Matthew Boyden (Character)|publisher=Internet Movie Database|language=English|accessdate=2009-11-16}}. Boyden was shot dead by his daughter's boyfriend so she can profit from insurance money to fund her drug habit{{cite web|url=|title=The Bill Bios|language=English|accessdate=2009-11-17}}. This was the storyline that formed the basis for the opening episode of spin-off [[M.I.T.: Murder Investigation Team (TV series)]] {{cite web|url=|title=Interview with Tony O'Callaghan|publisher=Daily Record|language=English|accessdate=19 November 2009|location=United Kingdom}}. Tony O'Callaghan has also appeared in [[The Magnificent Evans]], [[Family Affairs]], [[Holby City]], [[Doctors (2000 TV series)|Doctors]] and [[Shameless]]{{cite web|url=|title=Tony O'Callaghan (I)|publisher=internet Movie Database|language=English|accessdate=2009-11-17}}. * '''[[Christopher Ellison]]''' played DCI '''[[Frank Burnside]]''' for 5 years{{cite web|url=|title=D.I. Burnside (Character)|publisher=Internet Movie Database|language=English|accessdate=2009-11-17}}. Burnside made many enemies both at Sun Hill and with the villains, indeed Chief Superintendent Pearson tried to frame Burnside in a corruption inquiry {{cite book|last=Tibballs|first=Geoff|title=The Bill: The Official History of Sun Hill|publisher=Carlton|date=2004|pages=31|isbn=1-84442-667-X|accessdate=20.11.09|language=English}} Since leaving ''The Bill'', Ellison has enjoyed a guest stint as [[Len Harker]] in [[EastEnders]]. Ellison has also appeared in [[Minder]], [[Casualty (TV series)|Casualty]], [[Judge John Deed]] and voiced a ''[[Doctor Who]] audio adventure''{{cite web|url=|title=Christopher Ellison|publisher=Internet Movie Database|language=English|accessdate=2009-11-17}}. The character spawned spin off ''[[Burnside (TV series)|Burnside]]''. * '''[[Mark Wingett]]''' played DS '''[[Jim Carver]]''' from 1983 to 2005{{cite web|url=|title=DC Jim Carver (Character)|publisher=Internet Movie Database|language=English|accessdate=2009-11-17}}. After his marriage to [[June Ackland]] collapsed and he built up gambling debts, the character left Sun Hill{{cite web|url=|title=DS Jim Carver|publisher=The Bill Bios|language=English|accessdate=2009-11-17}}. Since leaving, Wingett has also appeared in [[EastEnders]], the British version of ''[[American Chopper]]'' and ''[[Spartacus]]''. * '''[[Eric Richard]]''' played Sergeant '''[[Bob Cryer]]''' from 1984–2001{{cite web|url=|title=Eric Richard (I)|publisher=Internet movie Database|language=English|accessdate=2009-11-17}}, the character leaving when he was accidentally shot by then PC [[Dale Smith (The Bill)|Dale Smith]]{{cite web|url=|title=Sergeant Bob Cryer|publisher=The Bill Bios|language=English|accessdate=2009-11-17}}. Prior to appearing in The Bill, Richard appeared in a number of TV programmes including [[Open All Hours]], [[Made In Britain]] and [[Shoestring]]. * '''[[Kevin Lloyd]]''' played DC '''[[List of The Bill characters (E-L)#Alfred "Tosh" Lines|Tosh Lines]]''' from 1988–98, the character was written out as having accepted a position in the [[Coroner]]'s Office{{cite web|url=|title=DC 'Tosh' Lines|publisher=The Bill Bios|language=English|accessdate=2009-11-17}} after the actor was sacked for turning up drunk. The actor died a week after his dismissal{{cite web|url=|title=Obituary: Kevin Lloyd|last=Hayward|first=Anthony|publisher=The Independent|accessdate=2009-10-31|location=Britain}}. * '''[[Jeff Stewart (actor)|Jeff Stewart]]''' played PC '''[[Reg Hollis]]''' from 1984–2008. In 2008, the character was written out with the character resigning after being traumatised by the death of colleagues in a bomb blast{{cite web|url=|title=PC Reg Hollis|publisher=The Bill Bios|language=English|accessdate=2009-11-17}}. After learning of his axing from the show, Stewart attempted suicide on set by slashing his wrists {{cite web|url=|title=Sacked Bill Star Reassures Fans|date=11.01.08|publisher=British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)|accessdate=2009-10-31|location=London}}. Stewart has not been on television since. *'''[[Graham Cole|Graham Cole]]''' played PC '''[[Tony Stamp]]''' from 1984–2009. The character was written out as part of the 2009 revamp after producers felt that he didn't fit the new show. Cole's last episode was shown on November 5, 2009 and his departure means ''The Bill'' has no original characters remaining{{cite news|url=|title=PC Tony Stamp to leave The Bill|date=5 June 2009|publisher=BBC News|language=English|accessdate=2009-11-17|location=London}}{{cite news|url=|title=The Bill collars 4m for stalwart's low key farewell|last=Deans|first=Jason|date=6 November 2009|publisher=The Guardian|language=English|accessdate=2009-11-17|location=London}}. *'''[[Trudie Goodwin|Trudie Goodwin]]''' played Sergeant '''[[June Ackland]]''' from 1983 to 2007, appearing first in ''[[Woodentop]]''{{cite web|url=|title=My arresting career|date=March 17, 2005|publisher=The Age|language=English|accessdate=2009-11-17|location=Canberra}}. The character retired in 2007 after her on-screen relationship with DC [[Jim Carver]] came to an abrupt end. When Goodwin left The Bill in 2007 she was not only the longest serving cast member in the history of ''The Bill'', but also held the world record for the longest time an actor has portrayed a police character{{cite web|url=|title=Cops and Clobber|date=08.03.07|publisher=The Guardian|language=English|accessdate=2009-11-09|location=United Kingdom}}{{cite web|url=|title=In pictures: The Bill's june Ackland|date=9 March 2007|publisher=BBC News|language=English|accessdate=2009-11-17|location=London}}. *'''[[Alex Walkinshaw]]''' has played '''Inspector [[Dale Smith (The Bill)|Dale "Smithy" Smith]]''' since 1999. Walkinshaw made three "one off" appearances in the series prior to becoming a regular cast member and has made appearances in several other British soaps and serial dramas{{cite web|url=|title=Alex Walkinshaw|publisher=Internet Movie Database|language=English|accessdate=2009-11-17}}. *'''[[Simon Rouse]]''' has played Superintendent '''[[Jack Meadows]]''' since 1990, though the character only became a regular role in 1992. Aside from ''The Bill'', Rouse has had small appearances in a number of other British television series including ''[[Robin of Sherwood]]'', ''[[The Professionals (TV series)|The Professionals]]'', ''[[Casualty (television)|Casualty]]'', and ''[[Minder (TV series)|Minder]]''{{cite web|url=|title=Simon Rouse|publisher=Internet Movie Database|language=English|accessdate=2009-11-17}}{{cite news|url=|title=My Yorkshire: Simon Rouse|date=09 June 2009|publisher=Yorkshire Post|language=English|accessdate=2009-11-17|location=York}}{{cite web|url=|title=The Bill's DCI Jack Meadows|last=Graham|first=Alison|date=05 November 2008|publisher=Radio Times|language=English|accessdate=2009-11-17|location=London}}. ==Ratings== ''The Bill'' has become a popular drama in the [[United Kingdom]] and in many other countries, most notably in [[Australia]]{{cite web|url=|title=It's a fair cop, guv: Australian fans of The Bill|last=Rogers|first=Margaret|date=01/01/05|publisher=Journal of Australian Studies|language=English|accessdate=2009-11-01}}{{cite web|url=,23739,25141610-5003422,00.html|title=ITV to cut UK television shows, The Bill goes weekly|last=Murray|first=David|date=March 05, 2009 ||accessdate=2009-10-28|location=Canberra}}. The series attracted audiences of up to six million viewers in 2008 and 2009{{cite news|url=|title=The Bill to move to weekly slot|auhtor=Unknown|date=23/01/09|publisher=BBC News|accessdate=2009-10-28|location=London}}. Ratings peaked after the overhaul of the show which brought about the [[Sun Hill fire (2002)|2002 fire episode]], in which six officers were killed{{cite news|url=|title=Fire boosts The Bill's ratings|date=23 April, 2002|publisher=BBC News|accessdate=2009-10-28|location=London}} and the 2003 live episode attracted ten million viewers- forty percent of the UK audience share{{cite news|url=|title=Live Bill episode nears 10m mark|date=31 October, 2003|publisher=BBC News|accessdate=2009-10-28|location=London}}. Immediately following ''The Bill'''s revamping and time slot change, it was reported that the programme had attracted 4.5 million viewers, 19% of the audience share, however, it lost out to the [[BBC]]'s ''[[New Tricks (TV series)|New Tricks]]''{{cite news|url=|title=ITV1's new-look The Bill drew 4.5m viewers last night but lost out to BBC1's New Tricks|last=Holmwood|first=Leigh|date=24/07/09|publisher=The Guardian|language=English|accessdate=2009-11-04|location=London}} with the ''[[Daily Mirror]]'' later reporting that ITV's schedule change was behind a two million viewer drop in ratings{{cite news|url=|title=Black Thursday- 2m fans go as ITV switches Corrie & Bill |last=Cummins|first=Fiona|date=22/10/2009||accessdate=2009-10-28|location=London}}. In the late 1990s, when ''The Bill'' aired on Tuesday and Thursday at 8pm, the ratings varied between 7 and 10 million viewers per episode. In comparison to this, ''[[EastEnders]]'', which aired on [[BBC1]] at 7.30pm on Tuesday and Thursday attracted on average 14.95 million viewers per episode, whereas, in the same period (October) in 1999, ''The Bill'' was averaging approximately 18 million viewers over both its Tuesday and Thursday episodes, compared with ''[[D.I.Y. SOS]]'', which aired at the same time on BBC1, averaged 8 million viewers{{cite web|url=|title=Weekly Top 30 Programmes|date=1998|publisher=Broadcasting Audience Research Board|language=English|accessdate=2009-11-04|location=United Kingdom}}. In 2001, prior to [[Paul Marquess]]' appointment as executive producer, ''The Bill'''s ratings had dropped to approximately six million viewers and advertising revenues had fallen, in part due to the ageing demographic of its viewers, leading ITV to order a "rejuvenation" which saw the series adopt a serial format. In 2002, ''[[The Independent]]'' reported that ''The Bill'''s Thursday episode was viewed by approximately 7 million people, a fall of approximately 3 million viewers in the space of 6 months. After the cast clearout resulting from the Sun Hill fire in April 2002, BBC News reported that The Bill attracted 8.6 million viewers, the highest figure for the year to that point, and by October 2003, the program had around 8 million viewers each week.

In 2005, The Bill was averaging around 11 million viewers, in comparison to Coronation Streetmarker, which was attracting around 10 million viewers.

In 2009, The Daily Mirror reported that The Bill was to be moved to a post-watershed slot to allow it to cover grittier storylines. It was reported that it is the first time in British Television that ITV have broadcast a drama all year in the 9pm slot. The changeover happened at the end of July 2009. Before the move, The Bill was averaging 10 million viewers between the two episodes each week. BARB reports that the week 12–18 October 2009 saw 3.78 million viewers watch The Bill .


The Bill has achieved a number of awards throughout its time on air, ranging from a BAFTA
to the Royal Television Society Awards and the Inside Soap Awards, particularly the "best reccuring drama" category, in which it has won six times, of which four were consecutive.

Impact and Legacy

The Bill is Britain's longest running police drama .

It has been compared to Hill Street Blues due to the similar, serial, format that both series take. However, The Bill has seen little direct competition on British television in the police procedural genre over its twenty five year history, though the BBC has twice launched rival series. The first was Merseybeat, which ran from 2001 but was cancelled in 2004 due to poor ratings and problems with the cast. The second, HolbyBlue, launched in 2007, was a spin off of successful medical drama Holby City (itself a spin off of the long running Casualty). It was scheduled to go "head to head" with The Bill, prompting a brief "ratings war", however HolbyBlue was also cancelled by the BBC in 2008, again, largely due to poor ratings.

When The Bill started, the majority of the Police Federation were opposed to the programme, claiming that it portrayed the police as a racist organisation, however, feelings towards the programme have now mellowed to the extent that Executive Producer Johnathan Young met with Sir Ian Blair, then Commissioner of the Met in 2006 and it was decided that the editorial relationship between the Police and the programme was sufficient. However, Young stressed that The Bill is not "editorially bound" to the police.

Despite better relations with the police, The Bill has still not been without controversy. The Bill has been repeatedly criticised for the high levels of violence portrayed in its scenes, especially prior to 2009 when it occupied a pre- watershed timeslot. Specific story lines have also come under fire in the media, such as that surrounding a gay kiss in 2002, as well as an episode broadcast in March 2008 which featured a fictional treatment for multiple sclerosis, leading the MS Society to brand the plot "grossly irresponsible". In May of the same year, George Galloway, MP issued legal proceedings against The Bill for defamation after an episode, viewed by six million people, which featured a corrupt MP who smuggled antiques out of Iraqmarker before the war, which Galloway alleged was a portrayal of him.

The series has also been criticised by the tabloid press for the replacing of the iconic theme tune as part of a revamping effort.

Spin-offs and related series

The Bill has spawned several spin-off productions, related series in the German and Dutch languages, as well as a series of documentaries.

A crossover episode with the German series SOKO Leipzig was produced, in cooperation with the ZDFmarker, in which characters from The Bill, including Jack Meadows appeared alongside the cast SOKO Leipzig. The episode was broadcast under the title "Soko Leipzig: The Bill – Entführung in London" (German title). It was broadcast both in Germany and the UK on November 12, 2008, and September 4, 2009.

Bureau KruislaanBureau Kruislaan was a Dutch series based on The Bill. It was produced by Joop van den Ende for VARA from 1992 to 1995. In the last year, the show received a nomination for a Gouden Televizier Ring, a Dutch award for the best television programme.

Die WacheA German version of The Bill, entitled Die Wache, which utilised scripts from the series was produced for RTL Television from 1994 to 2006.

BurnsideBurnside lasted a single series of six episodes, the first of which debuted on 7 July 2000. The series focused on the newly promoted DCI Burnside as a member of the National Crime Squad. It was created and produced by Richard Handford. A DVD was released in Australia 8 October 2008 and features all of the episodes in a 3-disc set.

Beech On The RunBeech on the Run is a one-episode spin-off that continues the story of ex-DS Don Beech, living in Australia with associations to crime to fund his life of luxury. However, Claire Stanton is hot on his tail – determined to bring him to justice.

Beech Is BackThis sequel to spin-off Beech On The Run debuted in 2001. It lasted only six episodes and was more of a break away from the regular Bill (it was shown in that timeslot) than a complete spin-off. Beech is Back again focused on dodgy ex-DS Don Beech, still on the run from Claire Stanton who wants him brought to justice for the murder of her boyfriend DS John Boulton. None of the episodes were given a title, with each being part of a single six part serial.

MIT: Murder Investigation TeamIn 2003, ITV launched MIT: Murder Investigation Team. The first episode investigated the drive-by shooting of Sgt. Matthew Boyden, who had been at Sun Hill for eleven years. The first series consisted of ten one-hour episodes. The second series was filmed in 2004, but not shown until mid 2005, and consisted of four ninety-minute episodes. It featured Eva Sharpe (Diane Parish) from The Bill, who had transferred to MIT. The series was created by Paul Marquess. The second series was produced by Johnathan Young.

The Bill UncoveredA series of documentaries entitled The Bill Uncovered were produced to reflect the stories of select characters and events (broadcast on ITV 2 and ITV 3):

  • The Bill Uncovered : Des and Reg (2004) – The story of the unusual friendship between PC Des Taviner and PC Reg Hollis and intercut with clips from Des's first day at Sun Hill to his death in a Sun Hill cell.
  • The Bill Uncovered : Kerry's Story (2004) – The story of PC Kerry Young, who met her death outside Sun Hill.
  • The Bill Uncovered : Jim's Story (2005) – The story of DC Jim Carver – from his first day at Sun Hill (in the pilot "Woodentop").
  • The Bill Uncovered : On The Front Line (2006) – Cyril Nri, who played Ch. Supt. Adam Okaro recounts the extraordinary events that have surrounded Sun Hill over his time in charge. Only shown in Australia – a planned UK broadcast was cancelled.

DVD releases

UK (Region 2)The originals:
In the United Kingdommarker, series 1 to 3 have been released on DVD individually, as well as collectively in a box set.

Note: The episode numbering system for the first three series is exclusive to that series.

DVD Series Episodes Years of Series Release Date
Series 1 and Woodentop
6 June 2005
Series 2
17 October 2005
Series 3
28 May 2007
Series 1–3
19 November 2007

Half-hour format:
Series 4– comprised of volumes 1, 2 and 3 have been released on DVD.

Note: From series 4 the numbering system will apply to the whole of the half-hour format, when the series began airing continuously through the year.

DVD Title Episodes Year of Episodes Release Date
Series 4 – Volume One
30 June 2008
Series 4 – Volume Two
2 March 2009
Series 4 – Volume Three
11 May 2009
Series 4 – Volume Four
15 March 2010

U.S. (Region 1):
The first series of The Bill has also been released in the United Statesmarker. However, no further series are currently planned for release.

DVD Series Episodes Year of Series Release Date
Series 1 and Woodentop
5 June 2007


A series of six novelisations of The Bill were published between 1985 and 1992, by Thames/Methuan Publishing (under the Mandarin imprint). Each book was written by John Burke , and adapted from television scripts by Geoff McQueen, Barry Appleton, Ginnie Hole, Christopher Russell, Lionel Goldstein, Al Hunter, Nicholas McInnery, JC Wilsher, Jonathan Rich and Robin Muckherjee.

All the novelisations were published in paperback editions. The first two books were also published in hardcover editions.

Novel Title Year Published Episode Cover Photo
The Bill 1
Adapted select episodes of Series 1 (1984) PC Jim Carver chasing a suspect
The Bill 2
Adapted select episodes of Series 2 (1985) Sergeant Bob Cryer in civilian clothing
The Bill 3
Adapted select episodes of Series 4 (1988) Sergeant Bob Cryer and Inspector Christine Fraser in Sun Hill station carpark.
The Bill 4
Adapted select episodes of Series 5 (1989) DC "Tosh" Lines and DC Mike Dashwood
The Bill 5
Adapted select episodes of Series 5 (1989) DS Ted Roach
The Bill 6
Adapted select episodes of Series 6 (1990) Inspector Andrew Monroe and DI Frank Burnside

See also


External links

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