Golden Opportunity (The Bill)
|"Golden Opportunity (Episode 008)"|
|The Bill episode|
|Episode no.||Series 18
|Directed by||Steve Finn|
|Written by||Declan Croghan|
|Original air date||16 April 2002|
"Golden Opportunity" is an episode of the long-running police procedural television series, The Bill, broadcast on 16 April 2002. The episode is significant in the show's history, as it features the events of the first Sun Hill Fire, which resulted in the death of six officers. The episode attracted 8.6 million viewers, and was the first of the few times computer generated imagery had been used on the show. The imagery was used because producing a real explosion and fireball ripping through the station corridors was not possible.
The events that lead up to the Sun Hill fire begin in Loose Cannon (Episode 002) when DS Vik Singh and DC Danny Glaze investigate a series of arson attacks in and around the Jasmine Allen Estate. Vik immediately suspects them to be racially motivated, after an Asian newsagent is attacked twice and several of the homes that are arson attacked belong to Asian families. He attempts to inform DCI Jack Meadows, but Meadows fails to believe his theory. That night, whilst in the pub, Vik is confronted by a pair of White Supremacist racists, who taunt him and hurl abuse at him. As such, when they leave the pub, Vik catches one of the two men, Jeff Simpson, and beats him over the head with a baseball bat. Danny manages to step in and stop the attack, but Vik's actions are enough to spark a race war in Canley. And with a previously planned racist march about to go ahead, his timing seems worse than ever. As threats of payback and revenge begin to haul in, and groups of both Asian and White racists begin to litter the streets, Danny realises that Vik's actions are the cause of the recent trouble. Vik realises that Simpson is behind the trouble, and tries to confront him and persuade him to stop.
Later that afternoon, Superintendent Tom Chandler cancels a community meeting in order to visit a hotel and have sex with DC Kate Spears. However, after backlash from the community, he decides to send Chief Inspector Derek Conway to the meeting in his place. The meeting goes successfully, but after returning to his police car, DC Mickey Webb watches on in horror as a masked man on a motorbike pulls up to the side of Conway's car and throws a petrol bomb through the open window. It kills him instantly. Danny has no choice but to inform Meadows of Vik's indiscretions, and after confronting Simpson one last time, Vik decides to resign from the job rather than be sacked. Meanwhile, the tension on the street begins to increase as PC Tony Stamp finds himself the victim of a petrol bomb attack. Conway's former colleague, Inspector Andrew Monroe, organises a memorial fund for Conway's family and encourages the relief to pay a small donation towards his funeral costs. On the day of the collection, however, PC Des Taviner is broke, and is unable to contribute. Feeling bad, he believes he has struck gold when he confiscates £200 of drug money from a local youth, and decides to pay it towards Conway's fund - claiming he won it on a gambling bet. However, he is astonished when PC Reg Hollis discovers that the notes he gave are fakes.
That night, a group of racist thugs begin hurling petrol bombs at the front of the station in an attempt to scare the police into giving in. With members of CID celebrating a result in their office, it is left to the uniform officers to keep the situation under control. Des decides to man the yard - and is successful when he catches a youth climbing over a wall, and manages to confiscate a petrol bomb he has in his backpack. However, he realises that he still needs to dispose of the fake money he gave Monroe - and in an attempt to disguise his actions, he throws the petrol bomb into Monroe's office, hoping to shift the blame onto the rioters outside. However, unbeknown to him, the decorators who are in the process of refurbishing the station have left all their equipment in Monroe's office - including two gas canisters. As Des throws the petrol bomb, the ensuing explosion engulfs the whole station. As the decorators had accidentally locked two fire doors, the officers in the CID office had no chance of escaping, and thus were killed instantly. The only witness to Des' crime is PC Sam Harker, but he is killed in the explosion, unable to give his evidence. When questioned, mentally unstable station decorator Harry Fullerton confesses to starting the fire, much to Des' dismay. He also coughs to killing Derek Conway, but then DC Danny Glaze and Des frame a local racist thug, Jeff Simpson. The truth over Des' involvement does not come out until over a year later, and his ensuing arrest results in his death in police custody.
Eight regular cast members were removed as a result of and in the events leading up to the fire:
- Ch. Insp. Derek Conway (Ben Roberts, 1988-2002) - Died in Episode 005
- Insp. Andrew Monroe (Colin Tarrant, 1990-2002) - Died in Episode 008
- PC Di Worrell (Jane Wall, 1999-2002) - Died in Episode 008
- PC Ben Hayward (Ben Peyton, 2000-2002) - Died in Episode 008
- PC Sam Harker (Matthew Crompton, 1997-2002) - Died in Episode 010
- DC Paul Riley (Gary Grant, 2000-2002) - Died in Episode 008
- DC Kate Spears (Tania Emery, 2000-2002) - Died in Episode 008
- DS Vik Singh (Raji James, 2000-2002) - Resigned in Episode 006
Several new cast members were introduced as a result of the fire, including one actor returning to the series. All ten new characters were introduced onto the opening credits in Episode 013, despite nine of them not yet appearing on screen:
- Insp. Gina Gold (Roberta Taylor, 2002-2008) - Debuted in Episode 021
- PC Gary Best (Ciarán Griffiths, 2002-2005) - Debuted in Episode 020
- PC Kerry Young (Beth Cordingly, 2002-2004) - Debuted in Episode 025
- PC Luke Ashton (Scott Neal, 1997-1999, 2002-2003) - Returned in Episode 022
- DC Ken Drummond (Russell Floyd, 2002-2005) - Debuted in Episode 021
- DC Eva Sharpe (Diane Parish, 2002-2004) - Debuted in Episode 012
- DC Brandon Kane (Pal Aron, 2002-2004) - Debuted in Episode 022
- DS Phil Hunter (Scott Maslen, 2002-2007) - Debuted in Episode 029
- DS Samantha Nixon (Lisa Maxwell, 2002-2009) - Debuted in Episode 038
- FDO Roberta Cryer (Moya Brady, 2002-2003) - Debuted in Episode 033
- Tibballs, Geoff (2006). The Bill: The Official Case Book. Carlton. ISBN 1844421732.
Beech is Back (2001)
Fatal Consequences (2003)