When The Bill first started on television, my late Father used to love seeing the opening credits which appeared over two police officers, one male, one female, walking along a street. The camera was on their feet, and all you saw was these two pairs of police feet plodding along.
Well, The Bill has gone a long way since then, not all for the better. Some of the story lines are so incredible as to be just stupid. How many times now has the police station caught fire/been bombed/under siege? The site is clearly jinxed.
The other change is the personnel, with some well-loved characters leaving, some by choice, some not. These days the young officers seem more concerned with their love life than the cases they have to deal with. I miss Supt Brownlow, Chief Inspector Derek Conway, Station Sergeant Bob Cryer, and Sergeant June Ackland, all long-serving members of the Sun Hill force.
I’m glad DCI Jack Meadows is still with us. He’s been at Sun Hill for many years, despite a somewhat chequered career at times.
But the only one still at Sun Hill who has been there right from the beginning is PC Reg Hollis. Still a PC after all this time. One hesitates to say it, but he is the Benny from Crossroads, the David from Heartbeat; the lovable but slightly irritating one. But that’s unfair. Reg is intelligent, experienced, brave, and has a lot of successes under his belt.
I’ve been a long time getting to it, but I was distressed to read today that Reg, actor Jeff Stewart, has been told that his contract will not be renewed. And even more distressed to learn that, when Jeff got this news, he attempted suicide on the set by cutting his wrists in his dressing room.
Having been in The Bill since it began 24 years ago, one can understand how he must have felt. He is sure typecasted, and would have trouble getting other work, but I think it’s more than that. The programme has become his life, and he simply doesn’t want to leave it.
Thankfully, the attempt was unsuccessful. Jeff was taken to hospital, and has been since discharged.
Let’s keep some degree of reality in the programme. Let’s keep PC Hollis. My message to ITV and the company making the programme is – Keep Reg in The Bill.