The Bill

The tough south London police serial began life as a one-off drama called Woodentop in 1983, centering around newly recruited police constable Jim Carver (Mark Wingett), as he got to grips with his new job. Future wife WPC June Ackland (Trudie Goodwin) also appeared in the pilot and the pair went on to star in the drama, when it transmitted the following year under its new name The Bill, in separate hour-long storylines. Since then, The Bill has undergone several transformations. In 2002, it became more of a character-driven police’soap’before returning to more serious crime-led storylines in 2005. Set in the Sun Hill district of the fictional London borough of Canley, The Bill has had plenty of memorable characters over 22 years on screen. Just think of corrupt copper DS Beech (Billy Murray), hard as nails DCI Burnside (Christopher Ellinson), tough but fair Sergeant Bob Cryer (Eric Richard), heroic failure DC’Tosh’Lines (the late Kevin Lloyd), and old-fashioned DS Ted Roach (Tony Scannell). Then there are the dramatic plots. Melvin was killed by a terrorist car bomb, a hitman went after Ackland, Martella was shot by a raider during a routine inquiry, Carver was arrested for murder, Gilmore and Ashton shared the first pre-watershed gay kiss and the whole of CID were dramatically suspended to investigate Beech’s corruption. The Bill saw the start of a new era when original star Jim Carver left the show in 2005, while DI Manson found himself facing a double murder charge. More recently the show has gone international, shooting a two-part special in Romania with Sam Nixon and Phil Hunter on an undercover mission to expose a human trafficking operation. The shape of things to come? Possibly, but one thing is certain – the perennial plod drama is as popular as ever and, as sure as bent coppers continue planting evidence, The Bill will carry on delivering quality primetime TV.