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Good Show But Needs To Improve To Retain It's Fans
I have been watching The Bill since it started back in 1983. It is always hard commenting on a long running show because most shows have their good and bad patches.
The early Bill episodes were fantastic. Unlike the 21st century Bill, the early Bill focused entirely on the officer's work lives-you never got to see their private lives except in rare cases where their work impacted on their private lives. There were several different stories within each hourly episode usually split between the beat officers, C.I.D. cases and the politics of being a copper in the Met Police. The stories focused on all ranks from the constables to the Chief Superintendent. The first Chief Superintendent was Charles Brownlow, a man more interested in politics and PR and ensuring that justice was seen to be done. The first head of C.I.D. was Detective Inspector Galloway, a short tempered and stern cop who didn't think twice about shouting at his men but who was a good copper underneath. The early Sergeants were Alec Peters, Tom Penny and Bob Cryer. Bob Cryer was a veteran copper who the officers looked up to-he didn't suffer fools gladly but would support his men through and through. The constables included Jim Carver, a naive young probationer whose heart was in the right place but ended up putting his foot in it on occasion. Each of the early episodes were self contained.
In the 80's the Bill switched to a half hour format. Whilst there were some good stories, half an hour doesn't allow for much character development and at times, investigations seemed rushed. It would not revert to an hourly show until 1998.
There have been many memorable characters at Sun Hill Police Station. After D.I. Galloway left, he was replaced by D.I. Burnside, a copper who did whatever he could to achieve a result and would happily rough up a suspect to ensure justice was done. Other great D.I.'s include D.I. Deakin, a veteran old school copper and the intense D.I. Cullen. Let's not forget the old school copper Chief Inspector Conway whose job was mainly desk based but who got his hands dirty when necessary. Conway was killed off in 2002 when a petrol bomb was thrown into his car.There have been three bosses in the series, first there was Chief Superintendent Brownlow. He left in 2000 and was replaced by Superintendent Tom Chandler who seemed the right man to lead Sun Hill but who left in 2002 after he shot himself dead after being caught up in a scandal. The current boss is Superintendent Adam Okaro who is set to clean up Sun Hill and isn't afraid to go out on the streets with the troops.
The current Bill is far different to the early episodes. The show is now more of a soap and there are not really any self contained stories. The show, in my opinion, has suffered due to it's heavy emphasis on the officers private lives and the constant sexual liasons between officers. Another thing that has not helped The Bill is the constant axing of popular characters such as the crooked D.S. Beech, the intense D.I. Cullen and Supt. Chandler. Whilst their replacements have on the whole been good, The Bill needs to take more time to listen to it's fans and to give newer characters a chance before axing them.
Where does The Bill go from here? I definitely think it needs to tone down on the officers private lives and have less sex and more police work. It needs to give new characters a chance to find their feet before deciding they need to go. And it needs to be bold and have the odd self contained story as well.
All in all, The Bill is a decent enough programme which can steadily improve it it takes note of the above points. I hope it continues for a long time.
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