Page last updated at 15:42 GMT, Friday, 26 March 2010

ITV axes The Bill after 27 years

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The Bill will end this autumn following ITV's decision to drop the long-running police drama after 27 years.

"Times change, and so do the tastes of our audience," said Peter Fincham, the channel's director of television.

The move follows a major revamp that saw the drama relaunched as a weekly programme in a post-watershed slot.

Producers Talkback Thames said they were "devastated" by a decision that "may result in a significant number of redundancies" for the company.

"We are incredibly proud of what the show has achieved," said CEO Lorraine Heggessey.

Eric Richard who played Sgt Bob Cryer: 'People thought I was a real policeman'

"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."

Actor Mark Wingett, who played PC Jim Carver in the show for 21 years from the pilot episode in 1983, said: "It hurts. It's a great, great shame. I think moving the slot was an unwise decision. It kind of got lost."

He added: "By axing this programme it's another area of expertise that we have lost. Loads of people in the industry - trainees, script writers, producers - cut their teeth on programmes like The Bill, if not The Bill itself."

Creative decision

ITV said it would invest the money it spent on the programme - first seen on the channel in 1983 - on new peak-time drama commissions.

Fincham said The Bill had been "the home of some of the UK's best serial drama storylines and a great showcase for terrific scriptwriting and fine acting talent".

Alex Walkinshaw and Sally Rogers in a recent edition of The Bill
The Bill celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2008

"Thanks to a superb production team, it's been one of the great institutions of television drama," he continued.

Set around the fictional Sun Hill police station in London, The Bill began life as a one-off drama entitled Woodentop.

ITV was impressed enough to commission a weekly series that eventually became a thrice-weekly soap.

The channel insisted the move to axe the show was a creative decision and was not done to cut costs.

"Whilst The Bill will come to an end in 2010, we will continue to invest more in drama programming than any other commercial broadcaster in the UK," said Fincham.



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