March 27th, 2010 at 12:03am
Some very sad news has just crossed my desk. ITV have announced that they are cancelling long-running UK drama The Bill after 26 years on the air (27 if you count the original show Woodentop). The move is understandable seeing as the show is only bringing in half the ratings that it was in 2002, but is disappointing all the same.
The Bill was revamped last year and moved to a later timeslot in the UK, allowing the storylines to become more serious. Of late, I think this has worked really well in terms of production quality as the show seems to be getting better every week, however for the first month or two after the change it really was a pale imitation of The Bill and felt more like a CID-centric spinoff series as uniformed officers almost didn’t exist and certainly didn’t have any useful role. I believe that the new format would be rating well if the first few episodes hadn’t been such a let-down in comparison to the six-week storyline which led up to it.
I also think the show’s producers erred by replacing Inspector Gina Gold with Inspector Rachel Weston. With all due respect to actress Claire Goose who is a fine actress in her own right, her character had a cardboard personality in comparison to Roberta Taylor’s character, and detracted from the show. She made a good Sergeant, but Gold should have been replaced by Sgt. (now Inspector) Dale Smith straight away rather than in the revamp. Certainly these aren’t the only things which contributed to the ratings decline, but I feel that they were the important bits in recent history.
On the bright side, the show has about half a year left, so this should be plenty of time for the producers to write a decent ending. They’d better not take the Third Watch approach though and have the station burnt down (again) as it has survived fires more times than I care to count and it would not do the series justice. There is already talk of the series potentially moving to BBC, but I can’t see it happening as it would be very difficult to move a show to another station after such a length of time. I’ll be very surprised if Sun Hill Police Station doesn’t close in the final episode, especially given the timeslot giving the show much more freedom to go out with a bang.
My only hope from all of this is that it speeds up the release of the show on DVD. Currently only a very small number of early seasons have been released and it would be great to see the rest of them released. I’d also love to purchase one of their police cars but I’d imagine that I would have to remove the word “police” from the side of it in order to register it in Australia, which would defeat the purpose of owning it.
Anyway, the show will finish up in autumn in the UK, so we should see the final episodes here in summer. I’m not looking forward to the end, but I am looking forward to seeing how the show’s stories evolve between now and then.
Thanks to MediaSpy for the news