The Bill (series 1)

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The Bill (series 1)
Thebillseries1dvd.jpg
Series 1 (Australian DVD Cover)
Country of origin United Kingdom
No. of episodes 11
Release
Original network ITV
Original release 16 August 1983 –
22 January 1985
Series chronology
Next →
Series 2

The first series of The Bill, a British television drama, produced by Thames Television, consisted of eleven episodes, broadcast between 16 October 1984 and 22 January 1985.

Background[edit]

This series was commissioned to be shown on the ITV network following the success of the pilot one-off play Woodentop, originally broadcast a year earlier, on 16 August 1983, as part of the Storyboard series.

Commissioned during September 1983, with the aim of production commencing within six months, the series would be called "The Bill", similar to "Old Bill" - creator Geoff McQueen's original title for Woodentop.

Filming began in March 1984, running until June that year. The series was due to contain a total of twelve episodes, but only eleven were completed, due to industrial action by technicians at Thames Television.

The first series was transmitted on the ITV network at 9.00pm on Tuesdays, with a break in episodes of four weeks during December.

Originally scheduled for transmission on 23 October 1984, Episode 3, "A Friend in Need", was not shown that evening as industrial action by technicians at Thames Television prevented the ITV network from receiving programmes made by the company. This episode was instead shown in February 1985, two weeks after the transmission of Episode 11 "The Sweet Smell of Failure".

Artichoke Hill - Sun Hill Police Station Set & Location Filming[edit]

Whilst Wooodentop used a traditional three-wall set built at Thames Television's studios at Teddington, for the series, Sun Hill Police Station was created by converting the premises of a two-storey former cigarette packing company on the corner of Artichoke Hill and Pennington Street, in Wapping, East London.

The police station was significantly smaller than subsequent versions, with almost-all of the interior offices being seen on-screen - Only the original packing/warehouse area alongside the rear yard not featuring. Production offices doubled with some of the sets, with the canteen being used by cast and crew, and notably Chief Superintendent Brownlow's office actually being that of producer Michael Chapman. When shooting was taking place upstairs, the production team were unable to continue typing or to take phone calls.

Located in the shadow of the towering wall that surrounded the then-disused Tobacco Dock, and alongside the cobbles of Pennington Street, the nondescript 1950's building was very much in an East-End setting. Fronting onto the short stretch of road called Artichoke Hill, road signs were simply covered with those reading Sun Hill when exterior filming was taking place.

The use of real buildings instead of traditional sets within TV studios was very unusual at that time, with Channel Four's "Brookside" being one of the few others then to do so. Hand-held video cameras allowed the actors to move from within the building directly onto the street - Something that was just not possible with traditional studio-based production and created a new degree of realism for the viewer.

Many of the crew enjoyed the autonomy of working at Thames' East London outpost, however transport links to the area were then very poor and many of the Teddington-based staff disliked the cross-city journey from West London. This remained a constant at Artichoke Hill, and may have been a factor in the choice of a West-London location when the filming base was forced to move for Series 3.

Cast[edit]

Although the series is a continuation of the one-off play, a number of casting and character changes were made.

The character of Sergeant Wilding changes name to Sergeant Cryer, and is recast with Eric Richard replacing Peter Dean. Since transmission of "Woodentop", Dean had secured the role of Pete Beale in "Eastenders", following the re-casting of the original choice, Leslie Grantham, as Den Watts.

Robert Pugh who had appeared as DI Galloway decided shortly before production was due to begin that he did not want to commit to a series and the role was recast with John Salthouse.

The senior uniformed officer character of Inspector Deeping is replaced with Chief Superintendent Brownlow, played by Peter Ellis. Ellis had auditioned originally for one of the CID characters, but was felt to be too old.

PC Morgan’s name is changed to PC Edwards, although still played by Colin Blumenau.

Original casting was the responsibility of Keith Andrews and there is a strong link between some of the original male cast appearing in successful plays at The Royal Court Theatre in London during early 1983. John Salthouse and Eric Richard took the lead roles in the Martin Allen play “Red Saturday” and Gary Olsen, Mark Wingett and Robert Pugh all appeared in “Welcome Home”.

Episodes[edit]

No. Title Directed by Written by Episode notes Guest stars Original air date
1 "Woodentop" Peter Cregeen Geoff McQueen Originally broadcast as part of the Storyboard series Colin McCormack and Dawn Perllman 16 August 1983 (1983-08-16)

It's the first day on the job at Sun Hill police station for probationary constable Jim Carver, but by no means an uneventful one. On his first 'puppywalk' with female constable June Ackland, they discover the body of an elderly woman who has died in the bath. Later, whilst on patrol with constable Litten, Carver gives a young suspect a clip around the ear, causing his supervising sergeant to call in a favour with Inspector Galloway to appease the boy's father, who as it turns out, was quite content with Carver's actions in the first place.

First appearances of PC Jim Carver, WPC June Ackland, PC Taffy Edwards, PC Dave Litten and DI Roy Galloway, Only appearances of Insp Sam Deeping and Sgt Jack Wilding
2 "Funny Ol' Business - Cops and Robbers" Peter Cregeen Geoff McQueen TBA Sarah Webb, Paul Cooper and David Gooderson 16 October 1984 (1984-10-16)

Carver is still getting used to life at Sun Hill, as he continues to raise his popularity level amongst the other officers. Meanwhile, Brownlow has ordered the uniform relief onto the streets of Sun Hill, to lower the increase of crime in the area. Carver attempts to get into Brownlow's good books by capturing a car thief. Meanwhile, Galloway is desperate to get some results on a breaking and entering spree. When flying squad detective Frank "Tommy" Burnside arrives asking Galloway for help, after one of his snouts is arrested, it soon becomes clear that there's history between him and Cryer.

First Appearances of Sgt Bob Cryer, Sgt Tom Penny, DS Frank "Tommy" Burnside, Ch. Supt Charles Brownlow, WPC Viv Martella, PC Reg Hollis, PC Yorkie Smith, PC Robin Frank and Sgt. Alec Peters'
3 "A Friend in Need" Peter Cregeen Barry Appleton First appearances of DS Ted Roach and DC Mike Dashwood James Wilby, Perry Fenwick, Peter Lovstrom, Stanley McGeagh, Malcolm Rogers, Meera Syal and Esther Freud 23 October 1984 (1984-10-23)
When a spate of bomb hoaxes begins to threaten peace and harmony in Sun Hill, Brownlow becomes eager to find the hoax callers and stop chaos from breaking out. Meanwhile, Galloway bets Cryer he is the perfect man to solve the case, recruiting Roach and Dashwood to help him. Cryer gives Carver the responsibility of showing a newly qualified officer, Higgins, the ways of Sun Hill - but a run-in with a local drunk who later accuses Carver of stealing his wallet leaves every officer on the uniform relief wondering if Carver is capable enough to do the job without bringing the social aspect into disrepute.
4 "Clutching at Straws" Christopher Hodson Barry Appleton TBA Bruce Payne, June Brown, Tim Barker and Albert Moses 30 October 1984 (1984-10-30)
When a gang of thugs use violence to extort money from local youths, Brownlow takes a hands off approach - and claims that he would rather play golf than try to save the residents of the 'dump' of an estate. However, Carver is determined to improve the situation on the estate, by proposing the re-opening of a local youth club, whilst getting to the bottom of who is attacking the loyal youth. Meanwhile, Cryer and Galloway investigate a series of attempted child abductions involving young girls. Little do they know that their prime suspect - Simon Doleman - was talking to Carver just hours before - and has since been on a violent rampage, even attempting to rape his own mother.
5 "Long Odds" John Michael Phillips Geoff McQueen TBA Sean Bean and John Lyons 6 November 1984 (1984-11-06)
Litten's day goes from bad to worse, when he gets on the wrong side of both Galloway and Cryer. Attempting to earn some brownie points, he goes to the governor to identify the suspect in a series of armed robberies. As Roach and Dashwood go off in pursuit of the robber, they find themselves at the scene of a post office raid. Roach enters the building before armed backup arrives, and Dashwood realises what danger Roach is putting himself in, and goes in hot pursuit. But is he already too late? Meanwhile, Edwards pursues a mugger into a derelict building, but is left trapped when the floor collapses beneath him.
6 "It's Not Such a Bad Job After All" John Woods Barry Appleton TBA John Savident, Edward Brayshaw and Geoffrey Bateman 13 November 1984 (1984-11-13)

The discovery of a body of a teenage suicide leaves a bitter taste in Ackland's mouth, and finding herself being drawn into a seedy world of pornography, drugs and prostitution, Ackland considers leaving Sun Hill for good after the situation is made by worse by Galloway, who gives her a hard time over calling him out of bed on a Sunday morning. When it is discovered that the girl was three months pregnant at the time of her death, Galloway goes all out to make sure the investigation doesn't drag the girl's name through the mud, and her parents are protected from finding out what their daughter was really like.

This episode contains full frontal nudity in the scene at the pornographic film set
7 "The Drugs Raid" John Woods Barry Appleton First Appearance of PC Tony Stamp (uncredited) Liz Smith, Norman Beaton, Roland Oliver, Cy Town and Mark Heath 20 November 1984 (1984-11-20)
Under pressure from local residents to flush out drug dealers on the local estates, Galloway asks one of his informants to go undercover when he learns that a disused cinema in the centre of the borough is now being used as a drugs den. As he and CID prepare a raid on the premises, his informant is stabbed and killed by a gang leader. A guilty Galloway then receives further bad news when Carver and Edwards reveal that the suspect they pursed with the cartel of drugs managed to get away - driving a car with diplomatic plates. Brownlow struggles to find common ground between Galloway and the home office.
8 "A Dangerous Breed" Christopher Hodson Barry Appleton TBA Trevor Martin, John Bleasdale and John Hasler (uncredited) 27 November 1984 (1984-11-27)
Litten is up for promotion, and he is desperate to prove himself to Galloway. When Lord Barstow-Smythe's valuable necklace is stolen, Galloway orders Litten to investigate, while he attends court to give evidence in a murder trial. However, Litten's determination to succeed looks set to be his downfall, when he makes a bargain with a mystery caller who makes a promise to return the necklace. Litten is soon lured into a web of traps, including two young youths who are set up for a crime they didn't commit. Can Litten save face, and himself, before Galloway discovers his mistakes?
9 "Rough in the Afternoon" Christopher Hodson John Kershaw TBA James Marcus, Godfrey James, Bernard Kay and Tip Tipping 4 December 1984 (1984-12-04)
Litten finds himself for the high jump when he allows a man to take a car from the police pound that does not belong to him. Meanwhile, Carver and Edwards are called out to a domestic, where they discover that a custody battle between two warring parents has spiralled out of control. Ackland is tasked with consoling the boy's mother, leaving CID on the hunt for a desperate, violent father who has abducted his two-year-old son. Desperate to right his mistakes, Litten tracks the car down, only to find that all of the gear inside has been nicked – along with a second car parked next to it.
10 "Burning the Books" Peter Cregeen Barry Appleton TBA Brian Croucher, James Faulkner and John Woodnutt 8 January 1985 (1985-01-08)
CID are on the trail of a thug who has stolen an important briefcase. Investigating further leads them to the Arthur Daley of Sun Hill and an old adversary of Galloway's. Realising that this is his chance to nail his toughest adversary, Galloway endures on a mission to stop chaos from breaking out, with a factory fire and a pornography business getting in the way.
11 "Death of a Cracksman" Christopher Hodson Barry Appleton TBA Kate Williams, Pam Ferris and Colin Spaull 15 January 1985 (1985-01-15)
Alfie Mullins is a non-returned prisoner, not a dangerous prisoner as reported. He is an old-fashioned safe-cracker who, just as he is returning to the prison, is approached by one of a gang of thieves who want Alfie to open a safe they pinched. Whilst they are talking, Alfie is suddenly killed. Galloway decides to investigate and the uniform officers retrieve the safe. But unknown to them, they have brought an explosion waiting to happen to Sun Hill.
12 "The Sweet Smell of Failure" John Michael Phillips Barry Appleton TBA Leonard Fenton, Linal Haft, Wolfe Morris and Jack Le White 22 January 1985 (1985-01-22)
A tip in a counterfeit perfume case leads Carver and Ackland to two old-age pensioners who have a reputation of stealing things going as far back as WW II. After bringing them in for questioning, Carver and Ackland are led on a wild goose chase by the old couple. But it soon arises that they are not the real culprits. Can Ackland and Carver work together to find the real thieves?

DVD releases[edit]

The series was first released on DVD on 6 June 2005, in the United Kingdom, before being made available as part of a three-season box set on 10 May 2006 in Australia. It was later released on 5 June 2007 in the United States, and was made available as a separate season in Australia on 3 August 2011. The above DVD artwork is taken from the most recent Australian release. It features an image of PC Reg Hollis. The British artwork features a collage image featuring PCs June Ackland and Jim Carver, and DI Roy Galloway. The American artwork adds Sgt. Bob Cryer and Supt. Charles Brownlow into the image.[1] The original Australian three-season box set features a sole image of Sgt. Bob Cryer.

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.amazon.com/The-Bill-Complete-First- Series/dp/B000OCXNP8/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1333632508&sr=8-5