I’ve been watching a lot of The Bill from 1990/1991 recently. UKTV Play had a load of it up there, and then the series I was watching suddenly said it was going at the end of May. The next series will go at the end of June. Each ‘series’ has about 100 episodes, which I can’t realistically watch all of in a month, so I am picking out those that sound interesting.
It used to be the case that whenever you looked up a British actor you’d find they’d been on The Bill. But I keep being surprised at how many regulars were on it, playing different characters, before they were regulars.
And it’s nice and simple. Maybe because I’m comparing it to Line of Duty where everyone was bent and everything was high stakes and guns were all around the place. Nothing that awful goes on in 1990/1991, most of the time, and if you need a police officer with a gun, you send Cryer out with one. Job done.
There are some things that have changed a lot. There was an episode about someone who was HIV+ and it dealt with all the prejudices people had against them (ie assuming he was gay and you can catch it just by being in the vicinity of him). These days, in this country, it’s not really a thing any more. And there are a lot of episodes where they’ll arrest someone just for having drugs for personal use.
And then there’s the mental health. I’ve just been watching the Phil Young arc, which is desperately sad (he kills himself in the end). I’ve missed bits of it from having skipped episodes, but he clearly needed help. But as Cryer pointed out, you can’t help someone who doesn’t want help – and it wasn’t as if people didn’t try and help him. But it was amusing how split the senior officers were on the subject of stress and even whether it existed, never mind whether any of the officers were suffering from it.