Crime drama series The Bill was a very long running UK police soap drama series about the coppers working at Sun Hill police station in London.
The action was focused almost solely on life at the station and on the streets and cases featured both the uniformed cops and the detectives.
The show began life as one off pilot called Woodentop (broadcast 16 August 1983) about a young PC (Carver who stayed with the series years) facing his first day on the beat. Initially the episodes were hour long and once weekly but as the showed gained in popularity it moved to half hourly and twice weekly in July 1988 and with a third weekly episode introduced in 1993. By this stage the show was on all year round and was basically a soap.
In 1998, seeming unsure of its direction, it went back to hour long episodes (and twice weekly) and began introducing some elements of the cops home lives into the equation. In 2002 there was widespread shock when many favourite characters were written out.
The character who probably made the most lasting impact on the show was that of tough detective Inspector Frank Burnside who garnered the ultimate accolade of his own spin off show called simply Burnside. In May 2003 another spin-off series was launched called MIT (Murder Investigation Team) whose first case was to investigate the murder of long-standing regular Sgt Matthew Boyden. There was a dutch version of the show called Bureau Kruislaan which ran from 1992-1995. Die Wache was a popular German version of the series that ran from 1994-2006 and also utilised quite a lot of actual Bill scripts.
On 30 October 2003 to mark the 20th anniversary of the series a live hour-long episode of the ongoing drama was broadcast. A second live episode aired 22 September 2005 as part of the celebrations marking ITV’s fiftieth anniversary. In November 2008 there was an intriguing two-part cross-over with popular German crime drama series SOKO Leipzig.
The final two part episode was called Respect and the final scene featured all 17 of the then current cast members. The final line “come on. Let’s do it.” was a nod to the very first line from Woodentop with Jim Carver telling himself “OK Carver, let’s do it.”
UK / ITV – Thames – Talkback – Pearon / 2425 episodes / Broadcast 16 October 1984 – 31 August 2010
Creator: Geoff McQueen / Theme Music: Andy Pask, Charlie Morgan / Executive Producers: Lloyd Shirley (1984–1987), Peter Cregeen (1987–1989), Michael Chapman (1989–1998), Richard Handford (1998–2002), Chris Parr (2002), Paul Marquess (2002–2005), Jonathan Young (2005–2010)
Important cast members have included:-
ERIC RICHARDS as Sgt Bob Cryer
TRUDIE GOODWIN as WPC June Ackland
TONY SCANNELL as Det Sgt Ted Roach
MARK WINGETT as Jim Carver
KEVIN LLOYD as DC Alfred ‘Tosh’ Lines
NULA CONWELL as Viv Martella
PETER ELLIS as Ch Supt Brownlow
CHRIS ELLISON as Det Insp Frank Burnside
JOHN ILES as Det Con Mike Dashwood
JAYE GRIFFITHS as Det Insp Sally Johnson
JOHN SALTHOUSE as D.I. Roy Galloway
COLIN BLUMENEAU as Pc Francis ‘Taffy’ Edwards
JEFF STEWART as PC Reg Hollis
GARY OLSEN as PC Dave Litten