The Bill (TV Series 1984–2010) Poster

(1984–2010)

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Long running British TV Police Drama
cwpaul704 May 2003
Created by Geoff McQueen, The Bill began life in 1983 as the pilot 'Woodentop', which centered on PC Jimmy (Mark Wingett) Carver 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 original title of The Bill. For its first three years it had three series of one hour 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...
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Plot Mislaid
bancrows25 October 2004
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.
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This was once a high quality and wonderful TV series but no longer
president24200727 January 2004
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?
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Unrecognisable from the original "Bill"
Imnozy3 September 2003
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.
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The Bill RIP
Mark Hone2 August 2005
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.
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1/10
Used to be a great police program but has turned into a bad unrealistic soap
Josh-SY-UK25 October 2006
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
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Yes, THE BILL made me into a pathetic television junkie.
gmr-47 September 2000
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 sequence.

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.
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The Bill is back to it's best!
Simon D.5 May 2006
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!
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Good Show But Needs To Improve To Retain It's Fans
Big Movie Fan11 December 2002
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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10/10
The Bill: A Way of Life
Tom_10128 March 2010
Warning: Spoilers
The Bill was essentially a cultural fountain from which a beautiful rainbow-haze of socio-introspection emerged, inspiring such famed derivatives as Cop Land, The Departed, The Godfather 3, and most recently of course, The Wire.

With multi-faceted characters and story lines that have been described as '4-dimensional Shakespeare', The Bill grabbed you by the collars from episode one and just would not let you go.

The show covered, anticipated, and even occasionally caused all the major global events between 1984 and 2010. The most famously prescient moment being episode 19 of series 5, which aired on the eve of the second Gulf War. Detective Jim Carver's misguided - and ultimately career ending - drugs raid on Craig 'Fun Boy' Richardson's flat in the Jasmine Allen Estate in early 2003, was widely viewed as a predictive allegory for the coalition's failure to find weapons of mass destruction following the invasion of Iraq several months later.

However, it was the work the Bill did to try and highlight some of the lesser-known problems experienced by police officers that won it the most praise. This was sympathetic drama covering such sensitive areas as helmet-phobia, under-uniform cross-dressing, in-van homosexuality, lost truncheons, casual drunken bestiality (regretted), siren aversion syndrome (SAS), groin chaffing caused by chasing suspects while wearing an overly starched uniform and many, many more issues that still trouble, disturb, haunt and excite officers to this day.

The last word should go to one of The Bill's most famous fans, Nelson Mandela: "…it is no exaggeration to say that I would not have made it through the dark void of loneliness that summed up my last years of incarceration on Robben Island if it wasn't for the heart-warming, casual buffoonery of Reg Hollis."
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Not as good as it once was but still good
walfordqueen6 November 2005
The Bill was very good a few years ago however at the moment it is suffering from a dose of over-sensationalism. The show has always featured unrealistic happenings for years now and it's always had a dose of sensationalism however it seems to be extracting the urine from it's fans at the moment. The scenes aren't as deep or as meaningful, the stories aren't as top notch and there's an explosion every other week. However the show is still interesting and good to watch but it needs to get back to the people outside the station committing crimes rather than focusing on villainous coppers or the coppers love lives. Overall entertaining to watch but not a patch on what it used to be.
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good show gone crap
dankru1 October 2005
I am now 25 and religiously watched 'The Bill' since I was about 8 years old. I loved the show. It probably was a bit biased in showing cops as virtual angels but it was tightly scripted with good solid acting and was not too soapy.

But ever since the changes made in the late 1990s I have not been able to watch this pile of drivel. The pathetic unbelievable plots are a joke. The characters are a bunch of sissies and it is more like an episode of 'Home and Away' than 'The Bill'. I cannot believe my mum still loves this show; but I know even she struggles to enjoy it.

So thanks to the morons who changed a great show into a pile of crap. If I ever get cable TV it will be to watch the old episodes, not the rubbish on today.
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What a mess it is
bcjj12 December 2003
What a mess it is!!!! This was one of the best shows on television, but this new crop of kids (producers - writers) who can't keep their fingers out of things have totally ruined it. The early short human stories, which not always had a happy ending and often left things to you imagination were fantastic. This over the top kill a cop every 2nd episode soap opera rubbish is just that unimaginative RUBBISH. And if the cops on the beat were like these you would want to do away with them. So Producers realise you have ruined a great show and bury it. It is taking up the time slot that even a totally pathetic show could redeem.
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Needs to move to a later timeslot to have it's full lasting impact
davideo-28 December 2003
STAR RATING:*****Unmissable****Very Good***Okay**You Could Go Out For A Meal Instead*Avoid At All Costs

The Bill has been a consistently entertaining show for a very long time now (that it's lasted 20 years bears testimony to this).The everyday exploits of a group of Metropolitan police officers as they enforce the law on the tough,uncompromising streets of London was (and still is) an inspired and ingenuitive angle on which to base a soap opera.

But in recent years,it would appear to have ditched it's American-cop-show-ish,the-bad-eggs-always-get whats-coming-to-them kind of image where the featured case always gets wrapped up in under an hour,in favour of a grittier,uglier feel where everything is not as peachy and rosy as everyone would like it to be.To some,this may have caused the show's quality to decline.To others,it may well have been the making of it.I would lean toward the latter way of thinking.

Some may argue that each episode seems to feature even more sensationalist stories than the last.I can see where this school of thought may stem from,but I would plead in the show's defense that it is based on the lives of police officers,who do a job where,by it's very nature,one day is never the same as the next.I actually think it's a clever and engaging angle to explore the character's personal as well as professional lives,and every so often to interwine the two together,as this lifts the show with some depth and substance.

I can't say the show is entirely without it's faults.Some of the stories are far-fetched,contrived and do occasionally employ one or two shock tactics.That's not to mention a lot of over-acting from a lot of the modern cast members.All I'm aware of is that I still find it gripping,riveting viewing after all this time and it's certainly done well to last as long as it has.The trouble is,now it's a lot more aware of itself as a show and wants to cast a realistic perspective of policing in modern day Britain,it can't afford to be restrained in any way.Despite the gritty,hard-nosed feel of the storylines and characters,I still have yet to see any truly explicit sexuality or even an f word.These are things dirty cops,in films or TV shows,are going to run in to and if seeing these reality based themes included in it means shifting this show from it's 8.30pm timeslot to,say,10.00,then that is what I'd suggest the programme schedulers do.

I'm not trying to say these things would boost the show's quality in any way,I'm just saying it would make it a little more realistic.And this show's main problem at the moment is it's limitations.****
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Wots all this then?
beni hill20 January 2000
Oh dear, oh dear. The Bill used to be a straight down the line police procedural drama. Lately it's turned into a soap. Dave Quinnan getting married in "the first ever Bill wedding?" - do me a favour. It was good to see Loxton and Garfield again but that episode was the worst ever. When they went back to the one hour format in 1999 the first few stories were sharp but now they've begun to lose the plot. I know it has to be paced when it's a one hour show but recent episodes have struggled to fill the hour - nowhere near as tight as it used to be. The upside is that Frank Burnside is making more regular appearances. For me the best years were 1987-92. Move along, now - nothing more to see here.
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What I think of 'The Bill'. *SPOILER FOR FANS OUTSIDE THE UK*
street-525 October 1999
Warning: Spoilers
Hello, My name is Sophie, and I'm a 12 year old girl who absolutely loves The Bill. I think that since I started watching, which was in 1995, The Bill has become better and better, and since changing to a one hour, twice weekly, format, the script writers have had more time to develop the story lines, particularly in June this year, when we had a four part story, in which we saw the return of Rosie Fox, played by the talented Caroline Catz. In this we saw Eddie have an affair with Vicky and Jess Orton, while investigating a fire at a club, and on top of this he was doing a covert operation with Area Drugs. We had a lot of exceptionally brilliant acting, and brilliant writing from Elizabeth-Anne Wheal, who wrote it. Rosie Fox eventually got her own back on the Evil Eddie, with the fantastically delivered, last line, "Gotcha". Well Done The Bill, you people RULE!!!!!!
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9/10
Excellent sow - Almost as good as "Softly Softly Task Force"
Justin-Fog-895-1067857 February 2018
I'm a fan of BritCrime shows, and have been ever since I first saw "Softly Softly Task Force". I have seen a lot of British crime drama shows since, but there are some that have become all-time favourites. There's "Softly Softly Task Force" (former "Z Cars"), there's "Taggart", and now I discovered "The Bill". It's a well written, well-performed procedural police drama that shows realistic police work, and its quality is much higher than any American or German police crime drama show I know. Although there's a lot of dialogue and not too much action, the dialogue is highly dramatic and very well written. This show has become one of my favourite police drama shows and I hope to see a DVD release of every series produced. I'm hooked and I can't help but keep watching. "The Bill" won't reach my favourite police drama, "Softly Softly Task Force", but it comes close. I think it's a real cult classic and it's a pity they cancelled the show. I highly recommend it to any TV nostalgic and fan of high quality BritCrime TV.
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5/10
re-summarized
dtroyhester11 November 2016
Sounds allot like a wondrous trill of a epic witch hunt to track down dead end thrives I don't think that I'd like it. I watched this over lengthened jack pot office low budget film that had this young man jumping though hoops to get paid for his day job. He did exemplary work but was suspicious of his colleges plotting behind his back. Even though he had his suspensions he was still unsure of any plan until the sly move was made in order to change who he was as a person took place. He prayed that it would be over and things would bounce back after the event was over but things got worse. While he was praying they we're preying to pounce even further. Therefore he thought it'd be in his best interest to take his own leave of absence- let the 'waters' cool.
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8/10
Patrolling the streets of Sunhill
Maddyclassicfilms21 May 2016
Warning: Spoilers
The Bill was created by Geoff McQueen. The series ran from 1984 to 2010. When I was in high school, this was a series me and my friends watched all the time, us girls all loved Smithy and there were so many gripping story lines. The series has been rerun for a while now here in the UK and if you have never seen it you should check it out. If you're a fan and miss it, give it a rewatch.

The series was at it's best from 1984 to around 2002, after that too many beloved characters left and the series became more of a soap opera than a gritty police series. Even at it's worst though The Bill was still a must watch series, the characters and stories meant it was difficult to give up on the series all together.

The series is set in the fictional borough of Sunhill in London.The episodes focus on the cases of the uniformed officers and the CID teams. Many episodes will follow one team entirely, some episodes have split story lines following officers from both uniform and CID teams.

My personal favourite episodes are the ones mostly featuring uniformed characters , many of my favourite characters (Smithy, Gina Gold, Vicky Hagan, Reg Hollis, June Ackland, Roger Valentine and Tony Stamp)are among these characters, plus I find the uniformed cases to be more interesting.

The CID focused episodes are very good too though and often have long running story lines that pop back up every few episodes.

There have been so many characters in this over the years that everyone will have different favourites. Characters that the majority of fans love include, Reg Hollis, Tony Stamp, Jack Meadows, Mickey Webb, Tosh Lines, June Ackland, Smithy and Bob Cryer.

One of the great things about this series is the relationship between characters, be it romance or friendship.

Reg Hollis and Des Taviner are so funny together and it was nice to see Reg have a really close friendship with someone for once. So sad how that one ended.

I love the friendship between Mickey Webb and Jack Meadows, they are sort of like father and son and they are always there for one another. The scene between them by Mickey's mums grave when Jack learns about Mickey's attack is so moving and beautifully performed by both actors.

The will they wont they relationship between Samantha Nixon and Phil Hunter is great to watch. Hunter the tough badboy and Sam the driven Sergeant.

There were many bad officers too such as the corrupt Don Beech, working under his colleagues noses for years. There are some downright scary ones too Gabriel Kent, Cathy Bradford and Superintendent Chandler are three of the most evil and insane characters ever seen on TV. Gabriel's long running torment of poor June is unforgettable.

Another good thing The Bill does is make you change your first impressions concerning certain characters. Neil Manson is a good example, starting off as a man seemingly only after good statistics and concerned with looking good, you come to realise he is actually a good man and just wants things to be done by the book. Jim Carver starts off as likable but then you come to despise him for his treatment of June and his descent into gambling. Cathy Bradford starts off as a strong character who won't stand for nonsense from criminals, she turns into one of the most frightening and deranged TV characters ever.

A great series that I wish would be brought back, if they focused less on the private lives of the characters and a bit more on the cases this would no doubt be as successful as it used to be.
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7/10
Best show ever!
sammy14049 November 2012
I've been a fan of the Bill for ever. Since i first saw it I've been in love with it. I first watched it when Cass Rickman was in it and thought the story line was awesome. How they chase down criminals and still have enough time to gossip around the station and have affairs and relationships Over the years I've had over 40 favorite's cast members. I love them all. There's so many story lines that you will love. But i quit watching it 3 or 4 years before it finished. because all of my favorite's cast members had left. There's also a lot of hot cops. Which i like, and old and loving characters that made the show. And because it's British its not racist.
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Great Series!
pgrandrup8 September 2011
I loved this show. Quite a few years ago it aired on one of the US channels - I think it was on late at night - every night. Myself and my Mom got hooked. We were on a story line where they were about to catch a rapist terrorizing one area, but when we tuned in to watch them FINALLY reveal who it was it didn't come on. The network had pulled it from the lineup with no warning and it never came back. Don't you hate when they do that! Overall a very exciting series though. I'd love to watch the whole thing but it's been on for years so it would be a lot of videos to buy. As a rule I find British drama and comedy programs very good - and worth watching. But some British shows didn't even air once a week during their original run so they have limited episodes.
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Live cop shop serves up a TV treat
idiosyncratic_anomaly4 November 2003
Two decades on from its launch and last Thursday night (30 October 2003) witnessed The Bill's first foray into live drama with a special live-to-air episode in celebration of the show's 20th anniversary.

During the last 10 years, greater proliferation of television channels in the UK and the audience fragmentation which ensues, has inevitably meant that for any terrestrial television serial to survive in a prime time slot, the screen has to keep moving. And, while Britain's most enduring police drama may ordinarily be renowned for its car chase sequences and location shoots in and around London - thereby depicting a gritty, social realism of modern policing - the logistics of a live broadcast dictated that this episode's action be primarily concentrated to a select number of studio sets, thereby posing a dilemma for programme chiefs in maintaining audience interest. Clever direction, however, using multiple mobile camera units, coupled with shorter-than-usual scenes, enabled the drama to build pace despite these limited confines.

When the programme makers behind TV's Coronation Street "went live" some three years earlier, there was little by way of a plot, while numerous actors fluffed lines and a small number of technical glitches were in evidence. Contrast this with the polished professionalism of The Bill and its powerful script, witnessing the murder of DS Juliet Becker (Rae Baker) and marking the reappearance of the wayward Des Taviner (Paul Usher). In the episode's closing stages, the apparent killer of PC Gary Best's father was also seen to fall to his death from the station roof, possibly the first time a major stunt of this nature has been performed live on television. And, for any who doubted the programme's "live" status, the script even included a cheeky reference to the birth of Sir Paul McCartney's daughter which was prominent in that day's news.

For the viewer, this episode was a triumph, seemingly passing off flawlessly with fine performances all round from a word-perfect cast. This was testament to its 40 per cent audience share. Indeed, if ever two actors were worthy of greater recognition, they are Mark Wingett (Jim Carver) and Trudie Goodwin (June Ackland).

I raise my glass to all at Sun Hill. It's clear there's still plenty of life left in the old woodentops yet.
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British drama at its best
Chris Gaskin30 October 2002
Warning: Spoilers
POSSIBLE SPOILERS

The Bill is one of the best programmes on TV at the moment and is British drama at its best.

The recent storyline involving Chandler shooting himself was one of the best in recent months. I liked the DS Beech storyline as well, especially the episodes filmed in Australia. The Bill is more like a soap these days, but is still, if not better now.

A lot of familiar faces have left over the last couple of years, including some of my favourite characters. These include Cryer and Burnside. Pity these can't come back. At least Reg Hollis is still in it. Sun Hill wouldn't be the same without him.

Many guest stars have appeared in this over the years, especially ex and current EastEnders stars. These include the Watts clan, Leslie Grantham, Anita Dobson and Letitia Dean. Some ex EastEnders are now in the Bill for good including Roberta Taylor who plays Gina Gould. There is even an ex EastEnder directing some episodes now, Susan Tully. Todd Carty has just joined the cast too, but we won't see him until early Spring 2003.

Along with the soaps I watch and 60's police drama Heartbeat, this is my favourite programme on TV at the moment.

Rating: 5 stars out of 5.
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Long running, quality drama (Spoiler alert)
Stevebarry20009 November 2000
Warning: Spoilers
If you watch The Bill outside the UK, I won't give too much away about a very recent storyline which we've just seen here, but DS Beech has a major part to play. Internal Corruption, Prostitution and murder are just smaller elements of perhaps the most dramatic situation Sun Hill have ever encountered.

I've been watching it on & off since it started, and never could count it as one of my favourites, particularly since UK Gold seem to devote 12 hours of its Saturday schedule showing re-runs. However, the recent story hooked me straight back in and now it's unmissable.
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A TV production's view of London Metropolitan Policing
tgmw17 July 2000
The series has produced some fine actors over the years however, it is now becoming a "soap" and seems to be drifting away from the storylines that have made it into such a "must see" series. I think that it is now time for the series to finish before it becomes another "Coronation Street" or "Ramsay Street"
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