The 16th October is a date etched on the hearts and minds of The Bill fans everywhere. On the 16th October 1984 the first ever episode of The Bill aired on British television following the success of its pilot Woodentop one year previous.
For fans of The Bill in living in Australia the date: 16th October also marks another anniversary. It was on this date in 2010 that Australia waved a tearful farewell as the final episode of The Bill aired on ABC1. That wasn’t the end of the story of The Bill in Australia however…. nor was it the beginning; here’s the story behind the show down under.
The Bill started in the UK with a pilot episode written by Geoff McQueen called Woodentop on 16th August 1983. However, it wasn’t until 1986 that the show first reached the shores of Australia. Woodentop didn’t get its airing then, rather fans of the show had to wait for Foxtel to rescreen repeats in August 1996. The first ever episode of The Bill shown in Australia was, Funny Ol Business; Cops And Robbers.
Starting two years behind the UK on the ABC network, the weekly number of episodes shown would quite often mirror that of the UK starting with weekly one hour episodes before moving twice and thrice weekly, although quite often it would be different nights shown, Saturday night being favoured by ABC. It took two and a half decades to gradually catch up and as the shows credits rolled for one final time it was only a matter of a few weeks behind the UK.
Over the years The Bill has been aired in over 55 countries around the world but it was with Australia that the show had its strongest links. Viewers in Australia flocked to their screens to watch the show on ABC whilst The Bill took Australia to its heart introducing an Australian police officer to Sun Hill’s ranks and sending a rather more dubious officer on the run.
Bent cop Don Beech fled the streets of Canley to Australia in the year 2000 (UK air date) after killing fellow officer John Bolton and burying him under several foot of concrete. Distraught, Boulton’s lover Clare Stanton who had actually been brought into Sun Hill to keep tabs on Don’s dodgy dealings followed him out to Australia with the aim to get justice for John. The episode was widely reported and watched not only because of the Sydney Opera House in the background but also because it lead to the The Bill spin off series: Beech Is Back.
Throughout the series officers have dealt with many Australian nationals living in Canley dealing with incidents from shop lifting to murder. But the most memorable Australian national to pass through the front office wasn’t a member of the public but actually a police officer.
PC Cameron Tait to Sun Hill in January 2003 (UK). Played by Daniel Macpherson, Cameron was a young officer from Sydney who had moved to Canley to take up his fatherly responsibilities. During his eighteen month stay Cameron mooned at his neighbours, became entwined with PC Kerry Young, punched PC Gabriel Kent and dealt with the death of Sgt Sheelagh Murphy’s baby. The episode in which he returned to Sun Hill Police Station will be forever etched on the memories of viewers and Gina Gold alike!
it is not the end of the story, that will continue for many years to come. At the time of writing we believe at least two television channels currently hold rights to air the show. Furthermore, DVDs of the earlier series have been released alongside books and other memorabilia still available to buy throughout Australia and the rest of the world, albeit mainly on internet auction sites now.
The disclaimer (to avoid angry people leaving us angry messages): There has been very little information on this subject available and therefore we have had to make do with the little information we have found. One source of information has been from a now deleted internet blog, which we have now no way of verifying the information that has written. So although we believe what is written was correct to the authors knowledge we cannot guarantee its sources or accuracy. If you are able to share more accurate dates then please contact us with a friendly message, thanks.