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A few years ago I would not have hesitated to state that this was beyond the
shadow of a doubt the most wonderful and high quality show on television.
The realistic and hard hitting nature of the show, the believable dimensions
of genuine police work that were incorporated into the script, the strict
attention to police procedures and protocol in the show and the wonderful
and comprehensive portrayal of the characters all made this show a pleasure
to watch. The storylines were, more often then not, very intriguing and
interesting and the script was second to none. Characters such as DI Frank
Burnside, DS Ted Roach, DCI Jack Meadows, DCI Kim Reid and several others
provided the show with an intriguing and very gripping dimension and the
acting was superb and also second to none. It stood in a category of its own
as a police drama and was far better than the American (and even British)
police dramas in the same genre
Unfortunately, in recent years, the show has taken a dramatic turn for the worse and now would have to be categorized as one of the worst shows that is presently on TV. For some reason that I'll never quite understand, the TV executives decided that they had to dumb down the show and all of its characters to a primitive soap level and make a perfectly good show into a sleazy and pathetic joke. Now the scripts are appalling, quite a lot of the acting weak and disjointed (probably because good actors are being provided with pathetic scripts), the storylines thoroughly boring and there is almost no serious police work at all in the show. It is exceedingly painful to watch for the reasons outlined above and it unfortunately cannot even be taken seriously as a TV show. Every aspect of the show has become so juvenile and pathetic and I would now have to concede that the American TV police dramas are now much better than the present format of `The Bill' ever could be. It is a disappointing turnaround for such a wonderful show. Whatever happened to high quality television?
I wrote a review a couple of years ago regretting the direction the programme had taken. I note that several other readers have also commented on The Bill's headlong descent into pantomime soap-opera. I cannot believe that many of the show's long-time fans (which included the eminent historian Andrew Roberts) now bother to watch. Very occasionally I steel myself to tune in for part of an episode but end up watching through my fingers. My most recent visits coincided with the police station being blown up for the second time in five years, the exposure of yet another psychopathic deranged serial-killer police officer, Superintentent Okaro's entire family being wiped out and the poor man going doolally and a regular character being held hostage for the umpteenth time. Not to mention yet another series regular being involved in a relationship with a criminal and struggling with divided loyalties. Enough already! Let Sun Hill join Dock Green and Newtown in that great police beat in the sky.
'The Bill', along with the BBC's medical shows 'Holby City' and 'Casualty' has been transformed from a popular drama series into a straightforward soap opera. The clearest sign of this is the steady replacement of the old cast over recent years with refugees from 'East Enders', 'Coronation Street' and 'Brookside'. The problem with this is that instead of the old format where crimes would be investigated each week with characters' personal lives providing occasional subplots, the two have become merged. Each crime in Sun Hill now involves one of the regular's wife/lover/child/brother etc. Long lost friends and relatives appear out of the blue to be gunned down or abducted. Like Holby City in particular the plots have become ever more sensational and ludicrous. Several of the cast who were to be written out perished in a fire at the Police Station-started by one of the other characters!This character is still in the show and his crime has now been quietly forgotten. Another character was kidnapped and murdered by a female serial killer who was so over the top she practically foamed at the mouth.The Superintendent went mad and shot himself, but not before getting another of the characters pregnant. Every regular is having an affair with or secretly fancies one of the others. At least three of the regular characters are seriously deranged, one is a drug addict and another a complete crook. Some of the characters, including the new ones are engaging and well acted-my interest in the show always revives when Suprintendent Okaro, Inspector Gina Gold or DCI Jack Meadows are involved and actually carrying out police work. The Bill's revamp has apparently increased its audience significantly, but can it avoid sinking under the weight of its increasingly top-heavy and absurd plotlines?
The Bill was compulsory viewing for its first decade or so, but its
relatively-new executive producer and his team of gossip-writers have
conspired to reduce it almost to farce, presumably driven by a desire
to attract those who habitually switch off after the serial soaps.
That is sad enough, but even sadder is the fact that even its degraded form, The Bill remains one of the better current offerings on television, purely for the two or three minutes per episode now devoted to the original concept.
Perhaps we should be grateful for those few minutes, which those attracted to the programme for other reasons may ignore while making or taking bets on which of the Sun Hill staff will soon have a child kidnapped, or prove to be corrupt, have a serious problem with alcohol or drug abuse, turn out to be either adopted or the parent of a long-lost illegitimate child, become unfaithful or a bigamist, go mad or murder several colleagues.
If only we'd known.
I have followed this series from its earliest episodes and have rarely found it hard going until recently. Although it still delivers good entertainment, the show has lost much of its grittiness (although in many ways it is probably more realistic).Up until the recent dramatic changes (the bombing of Sun Hill and resultant death of many of the main characters)there was little shown of the violence, blood etc that is part and parcel of real police work. The show has suffered considerably for those of us who remember the good old days of Burnside, Tosh Lines et al. Serialising the episodes is not in itself a bad thing, for that makes it more believable than the old concept that each case was tied up in the half hour - or one hour episode, it does however mean that much of the crispness of the show is lost in the process. For the undedicated, the focus on private lives (and romances in the station)turns it very much into a "soap" and less of a serious show. I am still recovering from the first time Jim kissed June - it was a bit like watching someone kiss his sister! I suppose that the Old Bill is gone for good, but it still is good entertainment - and I suppose this is what we watch TV for.
Created by Geoff McQueen, The Bill began life in 1983 as the pilot
'Woodentop', which centered on PC Jimmy (Mark Wingett)
on his first day at fictional Sun Hill. Other characters included WPC June
Ackland, PC Taffy Morgan and Sgt Wilding.
The following year it returned, slightly changed and with McQueen's
title of The Bill. For its first three years it had three series of one
episodes, before it went into a half hour format in 1988, a format to stay
for ten years.
Many say that the show was at its best in the nineties (my favourite era was 1995-2000) with the familiar 'plodding feet credits', great detective storys and such characters as DI Frank Burnside, Insp Andrew Monroe, DC Liz Rawton, PC Vicky Hagen, DS Don Beech and many other greats.
Although the show went through some changes from 1998, including a revert back to hour episodes, and some delving into personal lives, the show changed beyond all recognition in 2002, when new producer Paul Marquess killed off much of the cast and took to a permanant serialised format. For many fans of the show, that was the end of The Bill...
I used to always love the bill because of its great script and
characters, but lately i feel as though it has turned into an emotional
type of soap. If you look at promotional pictures/posters of the bill
now you will see either two of the officers hugging/kissing or
something to do with friendships whereas promotional pictures of the
bill a long time ago would have shown something to do with crime. This
proves that it has changed a lot from being an absolutely amazing
Police drama to an average type of television soap. When i watch it i
feel like I'm watching a police version of Coronation Street or
something similar. I have to say i still like the bill as I'm
interested in Police work and that type of thing but i really miss the
greatness that The Bill used to have. I want to rate it as 2 out of ten
because you have to admit it has been totally ruined by the people who
took the bill over.
As for the script and characters they have both gone downhill, most of the great characters are gone now (although a few still remain i think) and I'm not saying that the newer characters are poor or anything because they definitely aren't, its just that they lack the tough looks, personalities and script lines that all of the old characters used to have because most of the new ones are at the moment involved with silly relationships and family trouble.
Overall being one of the only Police programs on television these days, The Bill will always be a crappily interesting thing to watch, but like i say it has lost a lot of its uniqueness (if thats the right spelling) and would now be classed as a terrible, unreal television soap.
Recommended to watch for a good laugh over the stupidity of the police officers involved - 2/10
THE BILL is very hard to come by in the States, and even when it was running
on CBC-Windsor, it was impossible to see it this far from the border. No
cable CBC around here (do not have it anyway). I got hooked around seven
years ago; it was aired one episode per day starting with 1988 episodes,
which I viewed from Detroit. Eventually the station ran them all again in
At very first I avoided it. I never, for example, watched HILL STREET BLUES, which I thought THE BILL would be like. Wrong! Straightaway I was hopelessly hooked, even arranging my day so I could be home in late afternoon.
Keeping in mind that I have not seen an episode newer than perhaps 1995, I thought (think) THE BILL was an excellent programme, calling it my "soap opera." Some friends thought my being so devoted to a "cop show" was out of character, and perhaps yes, but it was the exotic setting . . . yet more: The stories' construction, occasionally running three tales in a mere half-hour, the dialogue, the character development and interactions, all for the most part top notch. I picked up a lot of obnoxious British lower-class slang, too. One also notes how most of the outdoor scenes are uncharacteristically sunny and warm, but surely that cannot be London?
The cheek: I once wrote offering to do a part for nothing if I could depict an obnoxious North American who gets punched out by D.I. Burnside. (P.C. Loxton would be unacceptable.)I was never favoured with a reply.
I have seen negative comment in this forum and else-where that THE BILL is turning into a real "soap," but cannot comment. All I can say to my mates over here is that British "prime time" drama as represented by THE BILL is as good as anything done in the States -- but without the bigger-than-life, distracting, razmatazz. To coin the proverbial phrase, Good Show.
I can honestly say that I have never missed an episode bar one, the episode with Honey in the casino about four years ago. During this time I have seen the highs and lows and yes some very 'soapy' episodes. I agree wholeheartedly with people who say it has been at a definite low from about 2002, maybe even a little before that, but even in it's more trashy period it retained my interest. I have cringed at many of the story lines from around 2002 onwards, but while a lot of silly stories were going on there were still some good characters. Gabriel Kent and Cathy Bradshaw were not one of these! I have to say that within the last half a year to a year the show has gone through a dramatic about turn and now more concentration on the very real pressures that the British police have to endure has ensured that an air of quality has returned. if you have stayed away for a few years then now is definitely a good period to return to it. There are characters that stand along side the best of the past, such as Gina Gold, Sam Nixon (gorgeous as she is!), DI Manson, plus there's still a crop of the old stalwarts such as the wonderfully flawed Reg Hollis. I hope the show's producers can keep this current good period going, and if they have to raise the ratings in future, to find a good solid talking point of a storyline, rather than resort to Tabloid style cheap ratings grabbers. These attempts to tempt people in may initially bring in a lot of people who like that kind of thing but they will lose many more of the more discerning audience. May this show go on and on...please!
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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