UK's ITV cancels police drama "The Bill" after 27 years

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Friday, March 26, 2010

British television network ITV announced today that it will cancel long running police drama The Bill. The Bill is one of the United Kingdom's longest running drama series, having premiered the pilot episode, entitled "Woodentop", in 1983.

The series has suffered from declining ratings despite an overhaul in 2009 which included a move to a post-watershed time slot. In a statement, ITV announced that the cancellation was part of a "creative rethink" and that the money saved from the cancellation would be put towards shorter-term dramas. ITV's Peter Fincham said that "The Bill has been a fixture on our screens for more than 25 years and has been the home of some of the UK's best serial drama storylines, and a great showcase for terrific scriptwriting and fine acting talent. But times change, and so do the tastes of our audience." Fincham went on to explain that the decision to cancel the series was a "creative decision" rather than one intended to cut costs.

Ninety people are currently employed on the production team for The Bill and production company Talkback Thames announced that there was a possibility of a "significant number of redundancies", but the company is entering into consultation with employees. The current series will end later in 2010 and ITV will not be recommissioning it. Investing in shorter-run dramas, ITV announced that, inter alia, a new short series written by Anthony Horowitz is forthcoming.

Reaction

Talkback Thames chief executive, Lorraine Heggessey, said: "We are incredibly proud of what the show has achieved. It is a credit to everyone who has worked on The Bill that the series will be signing out on a creative and editorial high with both critical and industry-wide acclaim and a loyal fan base who have supported the show throughout." Several actors from the series offered their views on the cancellation. Mark Wingett, who played Jim Carver in the series for 21 years told the BBC: "It hurts. It's a great, great shame. I think moving the slot was an unwise decision. It kind of got lost." Also, Graham Cole, who portrayed PC Tony Stamp in the series for over 25 years called it "a very, very sad day", going on to say that he was "devastated for the actors and the crew."

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