The Bill re­mem­bered

Some 33 years on from its de­but, stars Trudie Good­win and mark wingett tell us how the ITV cop show changed tele­vi­sion…

TV Times - - Nostalgia - Judy Ewens

The Bill mon-fri / drama / noon

It has been over 10 years since Trudie Good­win and mark Wingett worked to­gether on ITV cop drama The Bill. But time hasn’t dimmed their happy mem­o­ries of star­ring in the pop­u­lar, long-run­ning po­lice drama, which is be­ing shown from the very be­gin­ning on the Free­view chan­nel Drama this week.

Both are orig­i­nal cast mem­bers, ap­pear­ing in the pi­lot episode Wood­en­top in Au­gust 1983, and played two of the show’s most iconic char­ac­ters – WPC, then Sergeant, June Ack­land, and Pc, later De­tec­tive Sergeant, Jim Carver.

Here, the for­mer TV cop­pers chat to TV Times about their time on the beat…

The Bill ran for 26 years. Why do you think it lasted as long as it did?

Trudie: Ac­tu­ally, the first series wasn’t mas­sively suc­cess­ful and, nowa­days, it would have been taken off. But they stuck with it and that al­lowed it to get over its teething prob­lems and im­prove.

mark: We all got bet­ter – the writ­ers, di­rec­tors and ac­tors.

Trudie: Once view­ers got to know the char­ac­ters, they started to look for­ward to see­ing them. There was al­ways a comedic strand through each episode, which usu­ally in­volved Pc Reg Hol­lis [played by Jeff Ste­wart] and peo­ple loved him.

It also had some quite hard-hit­ting sto­ry­lines…

Trudie: We did an episode on ho­mo­pho­bic crime and did a lot on pros­ti­tu­tion. Paul O’grady was on the show, play­ing a trans­ves­tite for quite a few episodes. Back then, those sorts of is­sues weren’t be­ing

cov­ered in other TV dra­mas.

mark: We’re talk­ing more than 25 years ago now, and it didn’t al­ways show the po­lice force in a favourable light. In fact, in some ways, it was quite sub­ver­sive.

What are your abid­ing mem­o­ries of mak­ing the show?

Trudie: I re­mem­ber the fun we had, not just among the ac­tors, but with the crew as well. You had to have a sense of hu­mour, be­cause you were out on the streets film­ing for long hours in all weath­ers.

mark: It is def­i­nitely the peo­ple. At least once a day we would all be in hys­ter­ics. I did 787 episodes and, be­cause the sub­ject mat­ter was of­ten quite dark, you needed to have a gal­lows hu­mour.

How did you feel when your char­ac­ters be­came lovers?

Trudie: It was quite dif­fi­cult, be­cause we had been work­ing to­gether for years and June and Jim hadn’t been ro­man­ti­cally in­volved in any way, and then sud­denly they were. It was all a bit strange. I think we made it work as best as we could, but it wasn’t easy.

mark: We weren’t too keen to start with – that’s when it be­came more like a soap opera.

When did you de­cide to leave?

Trudie: When the sto­ry­lines be­came too sen­sa­tional. The bot­tom line was when, out of nowhere, June had a son [Pc Gabriel Kent, played by Todd Carty]. It was so lu­di­crous and com­pli­cated! [It was later re­vealed that Gabriel was ac­tu­ally June’s son’s adop­tive brother].

mark: The end for me was when it stopped be­ing The Bill I knew. How do you feel about be­ing for­ever linked to the series?

Trudie: I’m ab­so­lutely fine with that. It gave me and my kids a very nice life­style, and I thor­oughly en­joyed it. It was a re­ally lovely job.

mark: I don’t mind at all; it is part of my his­tory.

The Bill was quite sub­ver­sive

Mark Wingett

Civvy street: Out of uni­form 33 years later

Sun Hill: The cast when they were still in law en­force­ment

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