ITV axes 'The Bill'

Long-running police drama The Bill is to be axed by ITV after more than a quarter of a century, it was announced today.

The show - set in the fictional Sun Hill - was given a major revamp last year to win back viewers but audiences have fallen steadily in recent years.



ITV said today that the series was being axed to reflect the changing tastes of viewers, but pledged to continue investing in "high-quality drama".



The move, which will see the show end this year, was said to be a creative decision rather than simply to save costs.



Audiences have slipped from around seven million viewers five years ago to under four million in recent months.



Peter Fincham, ITV director of television, said: "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.



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



"But times change, and so do the tastes of our audience. This is reflected in the mix of what ITV1 will offer as a channel, with an increased focus on new and varied drama commissions for the 9.00pm slot.



"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 and viewers can look forward to a wide range of high-quality drama on ITV1."







At one stage The Bill was being screened three times a week. Last year ITV bosses refocused the show to create a one-hour episode screened after the 9pm watershed.

The format of The Bill has been tweaked a number of times since it launched as a series in 1984.



Initially there were just 12 hour-long self-contained episodes and by 1988 the programme was switched to three half-hour shows per week.



A decade later the drama - which created well-loved characters such as June Ackland, Reg Hollis and Jim Carver - returned to 60-minute shows but twice a week. Then in 2009, it dropped to just one hour.



ITV1 has been concentrating on shorter run dramas such as this year's Collision which drew more than seven million viewers when it was screened over five nights.



The broadcaster has pledged to maintain its drama budget and has said it will increase investment in brand new drama commissions in peak time.



Future new commissions include a serial in development from novelist Anthony Horowitz, who created the Alex Rider books and also wrote both Collision and Foyle's War.



Other new ITV dramas include updated versions of The Prisoner and A Bouquet Of Barbed Wire, plus Wild At Heart, Midsomer Murders and Lewis continue to perform well.



ITV1 scored the top five best-performing new dramas in 2009 with Whitechapel topping the list with nine million viewers.







Over the years The Bill experimented with two action-packed live episodes. It has also seen some of its best-known characters killed off in major storylines.

Earlier this month it was shortlisted for a Royal Television Society award in the Best Soap/Continuing Drama category. It was beaten by EastEnders.



The show was rooted in a one-off drama Woodentop in 1983, which so impressed ITV bosses they developed it into a series with the same central characters, Pc Carver (Mark Wingett) and WPc Ackland (Trudie Goodwin).



MP David Davies, who has worked as a Special Constable with the British Transport Police, said today he felt The Bill reflected police work more accurately than shows such as Police, Camera, Action!



Davies said: "I think it did a better job than some of the programmes that you see at the moment, because they're heavily edited. Police, Camera, Action! that sort of thing, they send somebody out with a camera and every two minutes something incredibly exciting is happening.



"I actually remember thinking the first time I went out in uniform, is it going to be two minutes or ten minutes before the first fight, and fairly often nothing very much happened at all.



"And I think The Bill got that over slightly better. But even still, in order to keep people interested it had to inject rather more action than day-to-day policing.



"My experience, which isn't as extensive as a regular serving police officer, is that you go days without anything happening and then suddenly it all happens at once, but is over in five minutes, and television never seems to convey that very well.



"But television is television, isn't it? They've got to have drama and action every two minutes to keep people entertained."

Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Arts and Entertainment
80s trailblazer: comedian Tracey Ullman
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Stephen Tompkinson is back as DCI Banks
tvReview: Episode one of the new series played it safe, but at least this drama has a winning formula
Arts and Entertainment
TV
News
Graham Norton said Irish broadcaster RTE’s decision to settle was ‘moronic’
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Attenborough with the primates
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Former Communards frontman Jimmy Somerville
music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade
radio The popular DJ is leaving for 'family and new adventures'
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Public Service Broadcasting are going it alone
music
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne as transgender artist Lili Elbe in The Danish Girl
filmFirst look at Oscar winner as transgender artist
Arts and Entertainment
Season three of 'House of Cards' will be returning later this month
TV reviewHouse of Cards returns to Netflix
Arts and Entertainment
Harrison Ford will play Rick Deckard once again for the Blade Runner sequel
film review
Arts and Entertainment
The modern Thunderbirds: L-R, Scott, Virgil, Alan, Gordon and John in front of their home, the exotic Tracy Island
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift won Best International Solo Female (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Shining star: Maika Monroe, with Jake Weary, in ‘It Follows’
film review
Arts and Entertainment

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith arrives at the Brit Awards (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Boleyn's beheading in BBC Two's Wolf Hall

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Follow every rainbow: Julie Andrews in 'The Sound of Music'
film Elizabeth Von Trapp reveals why the musical is so timeless
Arts and Entertainment
Bytes, camera, action: Leehom Wang in ‘Blackhat’
film
Arts and Entertainment
The Libertines will headline this year's festival
music
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Dean Anderson in the original TV series, which ran for seven seasons from 1985-1992
tv
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

    Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

    Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
    Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

    What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

    Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
    The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

    Setting in motion the Internet of Things

    British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
    Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

    Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

    Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
    Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

    Cult competition The Moth goes global

    The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
    Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

    Pakistani women come out fighting

    Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
    Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

    Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

    The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
    LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

    Education: LGBT History Month

    Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
    11 best gel eyeliners

    Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

    Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

    Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

    The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
    Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

    Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

    After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
    Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

    Climate change key in Syrian conflict

    And it will trigger more war in future
    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
    Is this the way to get young people to vote?

    Getting young people to vote

    From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot