UKTV’s video-on-demand service UKTV Play has secured exclusive rights to police procedural drama The Bill following a deal with Fremantle. The weekly drama followed the lives of policemen and women working at the fictional Sun Hill Police Station in East London.
The show, which ran for 26 years from 1984 to August 2010, was renowned for giving stars who are now successful their first break. Celebrities including actress Keira Knightley, entertainer and author David Walliams, actor Sean Bean, singer Emma Bunton and comedian Russell Brand all appeared as extras on the show.
Series 1-5 of The Bill will start streaming on May 1st at 10am, with a further series being made available at the start of each month.
The Bill was originally conceived as a one-off drama by television writer Geoff McQueen, who had originally titled the production Old Bill. It was picked up by Michael Chapman for ITV franchise holder Thames Television, who retitled it Woodentop as part of Thames’s “Storyboard” series of one-off dramas and was broadcast on ITV under the title Woodentop on 16 August 1983. Woodentop starred Mark Wingett as PC Jim Carver and Trudie Goodwin as WPC June Ackland of London’s Metropolitan Police, both attached to the fictional Sun Hill police station.
The drama impressed ITV to the extent that a full series was commissioned, first broadcast on October 16th 1984 with one post-watershed episode per week, featuring an hour-long, separate storyline for each episode of the first three series. In 1988 The Bill moved to half-hour episodes.
The deal for UKTV Play was negotiated by acquisitions manager Charlie Charalambous with Fremantle, who said: “The Bill is wildly popular on UKTV Play so I’m delighted we’ve been able to secure the back catalogue, bringing more of The Bill to fans.”
Jamie Lynn, EVP Head of EMEA Distribution, International at Fremantle, added: “We’re delighted to support UKTV to bring more classic episodes of The Bill to UKTV Play at a time when we know audiences are looking to rediscover some of their favourite TV moments.”