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Area Cars are large 5-dr hatchbacks used in pursuits from The Bill's beginning in Woodentop to the end in Respect: Part 2. They are fast for speed and stable in handling, making them the perfect pursuit vehicle. They can only be driven by specialist Area Car Drivers, who must pass an advanced driving test in order to undertake Area Car duties. As the most powerful vehicles in the fleet, Area Cars feature in many of the shows most memorable chase scenes.
From 1984 to 1997, the Area Cars featured prominently in the title sequences:
- 1984-1991 - the opening title sequence began with the Rover 3500 ACL863W driving toward the camera in traffic until only the roof light is visible, after which various clips of the characters are shown interspersed with views of the blue light.
- 1991-1992 - A new version of the opening sequence featured one of the two-tone white/black Ford Sierras (registration number unclear in the shot) driving past the camera at night in the rain about half way through the theme tune.
- 1993-1997 - The opening sequence reverted to the original format with the Area Car driving towards the camera. In this version, the most famous of all The Bill area cars, K923ARX, was used, driven by PC Stamp with PC Ackland.
- 1997-1998 - The last version of the "classic" title sequence featured the Vauxhall Vectra P737OPP. Two different versions were used concurrently, one where the Area Car is seen in daylight and the other at night.
- All versions of the opening sequence after this time featured only library footage, not actual actors and vehicles used in The Bill.
Most of the Area Cars used in the series production were normal filming prop cars, but the production team did have two genuine police cars bought especially for the show from the real Metropolitan Police, both Ford Sierras. One was F161RUL, which did not actually appear in many episodes, the other was K923ARX. Some sources claim that the two cars were one and the same, it having been repainted and accessorised to resemble a newer model; however this may not be true - on the DVLA Vehicle Enquiry site, both of these cars are shown as separate vehicles which have been on the road concurrently - at the time of writing this information, F161RUL was still in use with a valid MOT until April 2020, whilst K923ARX has been not been taxed and tested since 2005 when it went into a private museum collection and still makes public appearances at some automotive events. It is also illegal to register a car with a registration number issued after the car's year of manufacture, further evidence that these claims are untrue.
Area Car Drivers[edit | edit source]
- PC Steve Loxton (1990-1997)
- PC Tony Stamp (1987-2009)
- PC Mike Jarvis
- PC Vicky Hagen (1998-2001)
- PC Des Taviner (2001-2003)
- PC Gemma Osbourne (2002-2003)
- PC Yvonne Hemmingway (2003-2006)
- PC Roger Valentine (2004-2010)
- PC Will Fletcher (2006-2008)
- Sergeant Callum Stone (2007-2010)
- PC Kirsty Knight (2010)
Area Cars Used in The Bill[edit | edit source]
- 1984-1991: Rover SD1
- 1990-1997: Ford Sierra
- 1997-1998: Ford Mondeo
- 1997-2004: Vauxhall Vectra
- 2004-2010: BMW 5 Series E39
- 2010: BMW 5 Series E60
Gallery[edit | edit source]
Damages[edit | edit source]
- In The Chase, Steve Loxton and Reg Hollis pursue a Ford Capri used in a petrol station robbery during which the area car collides with another car driven by a member of the public. This episode was first shown in 1991, when Ford Sierras had already replaced the Rover SD1 area cars, but the production team obviously didn't want to write-off one of the new motors so one of the older Rovers was used instead, although some of the interior driving footage was filmed in the Rover and some in a Sierra - if you watch carefully during the chase scene, you can see the two different vehicles from the rear seat camera position. Another interesting note is that whilst the real police used Rover 3500 models, the one used in this episode (A794 UJD) was only a 2600, and some of the others used were 2300s.
- In The Short Straw, during a pursuit of the murderers of WDC Viv Martella, a suspect shot at the Ford Sierra Area Car, smashing the window. Driver PC Steve Loxton and passenger WPC June Ackland were unharmed but the suspect car crashed and exploded, killing both occupants.
- In Urgent Assistance PC Tony Stamp accidentally knocked over a pedestrian in a Vectra Area Car (P610TUY). The car was undamaged but the man hit by the car died.
- In The Morning After whilst backing out, PC Vicky Hagen, driving a Vectra Area Car (V874FNP), collided with PC Polly Page's Panda Car, as this one was backing out. Minor damages were done to tail lights but no one was injured. The blame was laid with Vicky.
- In Value Judgement PC Vicky Hagen first dented the Vectra Area car (V874FNP) after avoiding a head-on collision by hitting a parked car. She later tried to stop a child being abducted but crashed the car into a ditch. The car's chassis was badly bent, writing off the car. PC Hagen was not injured.
- In Episode 159, PC Des Taviner went crazy when he thought Sgt. Sheelagh Murphy had gone to New Scotland Yard to tell Supt. Adam Okaro that Des started the Sun Hill Fire in 2002. After driving the Vectra Area car (either Y721JNP or P966XHG) into a chemical warehouse pushing the car of a suspect who was robbing pensioners and the warehouse exploded. The car was destroyed and PC Reg Hollis, who was also in the car, suffered severe injuries but survived. The driver of the other car died and PC Des Taviner escaped.
- In Episode 225, PC Tony Stamp accidentally ran Sergeant June Ackland over in a BMW 5-series Area Car (LY53GUF).