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:: The Bill: Seasons 1-3

The successful UK police drama ‘The Bill’ has just released its first three series on DVD to the public. After an almost unbelievable 22-year history on television, those who missed out or have forgotten where the show began, are taken on nostalgic journey through ‘The Bill’s’ humble beginning.

The collector’s edition comes in a leather DVD wallet, which includes 12 discs (35 episodes from 1984-1987) and a book that identifies the characters and outlines the episodes included.

‘Wooden Top’ the first episode in the series actually evolved as a stage play. Its adaptation to screen proved popular with television audiences and decades later the show is still going strong. ‘Wooden Top’, however, is clearly different and stands out from the rest of the episodes. It doesn’t begin with the theme music that we all know and Geoff McQueen, (the writer), appears to be finding his feet on where the characters stand with each other.

Some of the characters we see on today’s series of ‘The Bill’ are introduced to audiences in the pilot episode. PC Jim Carver (played by Mark Wingett) and WPC June Ackland (played by Trudie Goodwin) are some of the more likable and lasting spirits. Almost unrecognisable today, in ‘Woodentop’ PC Carver plays a young probationer who believes strongly in old school police morals and being a social worker instead of a punisher. His conflict with PC Dave Litten outlines their clear difference in beliefs and policing style. The onscreen chemistry between PC Carver and WPC Ackland keeps viewers wondering what is happening. In later series, we see the two getting married and eventually separated too!

One of the more amiable characters is Sergeant Bob Cryer. In the first three series he guides the younger police officers through some difficult times. WPC Ackland looks to him for support when she is confronted by the harsher aspects of the job. In discovering a suicide and then attending the post-mortem on the same day, she wants to resign, but Sergeant Bob Cryer gives her some wise words of advice. WPC Ackland also struggles with being one of the few women at Sun Hill Police Station and is concerned about turning into a ‘hardened cow’. Some of the other staff treat her differently, but she always is striving to prove she is on equal footing.

The difficult but respected DI Galloway (one the ‘superstar’ detectives) particularly gave WPC Ackland a tough time. DI Galloway was clearly the boss everyone wanted to please and he was driven by his career. His family life suffered as a result and his friends were numbered. His short temper proved for good drama though and he was perhaps a larger part of ‘The Bill’s’ earlier success.

As one of the longest longing and most-successful police shows ever made, it is not hard to see why this is so. It was unique and ground-breaking in its approach to crime drama. The use of hand held camera to build suspense and construct a documentary feel worked all too well. ‘The Bill’ was also only seen from the police officer’s perspective. A crime was never seen planned, only if a detective went undercover did we see the inner workings of the criminal’s mind. This also gave us glimpses into the characters personal lives and the struggles they were having at work and also at home. We saw how they dealt with the more unforgiving aspects of working as a police officer, but we saw the ups of the job as well.

Apart from tight acid-wash jeans, fluoro hair and daggy clothes, the first three series of ‘The Bill’ are entertaining and exciting. The show’s razor sharp approach to police drama and sense of humour in the characters is definitely worth a look.

DVD Extras

Super Wallet packaging
Special Edition Identi-Kit Booklet