Saturday, 23 September 2017

1709.23 OLD BILL

Classic TV is something I enjoy. One classic show is enjoying a little bit of a revival on one of our digital channels. It was a particular favourite of mine  back in the day.

Back in 1983 ITV screened a one off play called "Woodentop" , a police drama set in London which chronicled PC Jim Carver's first day of duty. Being well received a series was commissioned and the title was changed to 'The Bill'.


"The Bill" was a procedural drama that was groundbreaking in it's use of a single hand-held camera giving it a realism that had not been seen before (but has been used so often since). Set in Sun Hill Police Station within the fictional London borough of Canley the show followed officers through their duties and covered everything from lost property to serial killers. I never missed an episode and even created a fan web page back in the day.

PC Jim Carver & WPC June Ackland 

The iconic theme music is a British institution with everyone instantly recognising it. 

Unfortunately, as happens with a successful TV show, some of the Television executives wanted to tweek the format. The show went a bit 'soapy' for a while (apparently to attract a more female demographic) towards the end with relationships and shock storylines introduced. Death tolls for serving officers became beyond belief and the cast became a bit too beautiful.

Carnage as cast members are killed off. 
There was an attempt to rein it in and to return to a more procedural format but for TV land the damage was done and in 2010 after 28 years on the air the final episode was broadcast.

The final dedication as Sun Hill Police Station closed for good. 

The show spawned 2 spin off shows which were short lived and there's always a rumour of a revival. In August this year there was a revival of sorts. Digital channel 'Drama' started showing every episode every weekday from the start. Since there are 2425 episodes this is going to take a long time! It's great to revisit and I'm enjoying it all over again.

Some of the original cast as they are today. 

It's great to see some (before they were) famous faces as guest stars.

Before they were famous?
How many can you name? 
I, as many fans must do can still hope for a proper revival of this once great televisual institution but until then I'll happily settle for the re-runs. 

Pictures copyright Fremantle Media and UKTV. 

Supplemental 1711.04;

Since writing this post I've been happily recording and watching my daily dose of vintage TV. Sadly the digital TV channel, Drama, decided to go back on it's intention and are missing out seasons 5-13 to move onto the episodes that have been on the rerun list for many years. Some say they never had the rights but the official statement is that ratings were low so they're moving to 'fan favourites'. Personally I don't buy the official line but whatever the reason I'm one disappointed fan.

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