The Bill started as a one-off drama for ITV's Thames Television series Storyboard; which was a short season of one-off dramas from Thames Television, the company behind some of ITV's most important dramas in the 1970s and 1980s. Five of these dramas were picked up as a full series including a police drama entitled Woodentop; this pilot show starred Mark Wingett as P.C. Jim Carver and Trudie Goodwin as W.P.C. June Ackland on Carver's first day on the beat at Sun Hill police station. It was originally devised by Geoff McQueen, and it impressed ITV so much that they decided to make a series out of it.
It's the first day on the job at Sun Hill police station for probationary P.C. Jim Carver, but by no means an uneventful one. On his first 'puppywalk' with W.P.C. June Ackland, they discover the body of an elderly woman who has died in the bath. Later, whilst on patrol with P.C. Litten, Carver gives a young suspect a clip around the ear, causing his supervising sergeant to call in a favour with D.I. Galloway to appease the boy's father, who as it turns out was quite content with Carver's action.
(Episode Cast: in credits order)
- Mark Wingett as Jimmy Carver
- Gary Olsen as P.C. Litten
- Trudie Goodwin as W.P.C. Ackland
- Peter Dean as Sgt. Wilding
- Jon Croft as Ins. Deeping
- Robert Pugh as Det. Ins. Galloway
- Colin Blumenau as P.C. Morgan
- Chris Jenkinson as Duty Sgt.
- Richard Huw as Duty P.C.
- Paul McKenzie as Winston Summers
- Gary Hailes as Reg Taylor
- Colin McCormack as George Taylor
- Dawn Perllman as First Neighbour
- Maryann Turner as Second Neighbour
- Derek Parkes as Caretaker
This episode was repeated on October 30, 2003 by ITV1 in celebration on The Bill's 20th Anniversary.
This episode was released in the UK on VHS by Thames under the name 'The First Ever Episode - Woodentop VHS. It was also included in UK Thames VHS 'Originals VHS Series' along with Funny Ol' Business - Cops & Robbers. Lastly, the episode was released on the Series 1 DVD Boxset released by Network in the UK in 2005. The Series 1 DVD Boxset was released in North America in 2007.
- The pilot episode Woodentop screened as a part of Thames Television's Storyboard series. Thames comissioned a further 12 episodes (that would become Series 1) a month after broadcast due to the programme's potential to appeal to a mass audience.
- "Woodentop" is a derogatory slang term for uniformed police officers, usually used by CID detectives to refer to their uniformed colleagues. In return, the "Woodentops" dub CID the "Superstars", a reference to their superiority complex.
- First appearance of Mark Wingett as P.C. Jim Carver. Other characters to later appear in The Bill are W.P.C. June Ackland (Trudie Goodwin) and P.C. Dave Litten (Gary Olsen).
- P.C. Taffy Morgan (Colin Blumenau) also appears in the series, but his character is renamed P.C. Francis 'Taffy' Edwards.
- The character of D.I. Roy Galloway is played by Robert Pugh, but is played by John Salthouse in the series. Pugh would later appear as a guest character in the 1995 episode Powerless.
- P.C. Reg Hollis is mentioned in this episode. Contrary to popular belief, his voice is not heard over the radio. The Duty PC attempts to contact Hollis using the call sign Oscar 375. In the series, Reg Hollis' call sign is O/SO 171.
- Jon Croft who plays Inspector Sam Deeping also played H.H.J. Barnwell in the 1998 episode Bang Bang, You're Dead as a guest star.
1984 Episodes /
Series 1 (1984-85) Episodes