After twenty seven years on screen, one of the UK’s best loved television police drama shows, The Bill, was axed this month. The director of ITV1 said the decision to axe The Bill was due to the changing tastes of their audience, and that money which was once spent on The Bill would be put into brand new drama programmes.
For fans of The Bill, this news was devastating. Throughout the run of The Bill, viewers watched as it went from a simple police drama to a more gritty show with hard hitting storylines and a glimpse into the personal lives of the police officers. Over the years, The Bill boasted a stellar cast, not to mention some very early appearances by today’s biggest stars, including Hugh Laurie, Sean Bean, former Spice Girl Emma Bunton, Russell Brand, James McAvoy and Keira Knightley.
It was the series regulars that nestled their way into the hearts of the nation though. Since the first episode in 1983, the characters in The Bill were the reason so many people tuned in. To bid farewell to the long running show, let’s journey back with a look at the top five best characters from The Bill.
1) Sergeant June Ackland – played by Trudie Goodwin
“Auntie June” was the Bill’s best loved character, not to mention one of the longest serving. Whenever you think of The Bill, June Ackland is one of the first characters who springs to mind, even though she left the show in 2007. Sgt. Ackland was for the most part a background character who cared about everyone and worked very hard. She really came into her own though, when she embarked on a relationship with DS Jim Carver. The two had a turbulent relationship though, which ultimately ended because he couldn’t keep his personal demons in check. June later got involved with psycho cop Gabriel Kent, who tried to make her believe he was her son, but when the truth was revealed June lost all faith in kindness and became somewhat cynical. June ended her time on the show after meeting a new man and deciding to settle down and retire with him.
2) Inspector Dale “Smithy” Smith – played by Alex Walkinshaw
Smithy is something of a legend in terms of The Bill. Everyone loves him, and for good reason too. He joined the cast in 1999, but left to join SO19. He returned two years later as Sergeant Smith and his no-nonsense attitude led to people thinking that he was both racist and homophobic. Nothing could be further from the truth though. Smithy was fiercely dedicated to his career and worked his way up the ranks to Inspector.
3) PC Cass Rickman – played by Suzanne Maddock
Cass Rickman was the life and soul of Sun Hill police station. The lovable scouser was everyone’s friend and a very skilled police officer. Rickman became good friends with PC Kerry Young and Front Desk Officer Robbie Cryer, though her best friend was PC Nick Klein. Cass was also a little bit plagued by PC Sam Harker’s crush on her and she found it hard to give him the brush off as it was not in her nature to be cruel. Sadly, in one of the most heartbreaking storylines I can remember, Nick Klein slowly realised he was in love with Cass but it happened too late. After Cass went missing, Klein was frantic when he couldn’t find her. Sadly, PC Rickman was the final victim of Sun Hill’s serial killer.
4) PC Nick Klein – played by Rene Zagger
My own personal favourite. PC Klein, as well as being a police officer, was the kind of guy who liked to have fun. He liked women and occasionally dabbled in drug taking when out clubbing with Cass. Sadly, after Cass’s death, Nick went into a downward spiral of cocaine abuse. He got into debt and tried to keep up his habit by borrowing money from his colleagues and when he got really desperate, stealing from them. His fellow officers were slow to realise what was going on but when he got involved with Sergeant Boyden’s cocaine addict daughter, things started to unravel. When the truth came out, he was sent to rehab and returned to the station a shadow of his former self. He worked very hard to rebuild his reputation though, which he did spectacularly by giving evidence after witnessing a shooting by a wanted villain. To stay safe, he has to leave the station and went into the Witness Protection scheme.
5) PC Dave Quinnan – played by Andrew Paul
PC Quinnan was a real, old school police officer. He saw his job as a way to protect and serve the community by keeping the bad guys off the streets. He had good friends in the form of PC Tony Stamp, and PC George Garfield. After Quinnan was stabbed on duty, he spent a lot of time in hospital where he began to fall for Garfield’s nurse girlfriend Jenny. Their fondness escalated into a full blown affair and when the truth was revealed, Garfield left Sun Hill. Quinnan married Jenny but his love life became further tangled when he had a fling with PC Polly Page – who had had a crush on him for a long time. His marriage failed after the infidelity and he was later transferred to SO10, leaving behind a devastated Polly Page.
Honourable mentions for great characters from The Bill go to Superintendent Tom Chandler, DCI Jack Meadows, PC Reg Hollis, and Sergeant Bob Cryer. The Bill will be very sadly missed, but the characters will never be forgotten.