There is a long-standing tradition that any cast or crew member who leaves the programme is given a personalised wooden policeman's truncheon engraved with their name, the dates they worked on the programme, and the wording "The Bill: Sunhill - SO - Division of Talkback Thames".
The UK police rank system is organized thus: Police Constable (PC), Sergeant, Inspector, Chief Inspector, Superintendent, Chief Superintendent. (detectives are Detective Constable, Detective Sergeant and so on.) Then for the most senior ranks, in the Metropolitan Police: Commander, Deputy Assistant Commissioner, Assistant Commissioner, Deputy Commissioner, Commissioner; in the rest of Britain's police forces: Assistant Chief Constable, Deputy Chief Constable, Chief Constable.
René Zagger (PC Nick Klein) has an elder brother who is a policeman. When René Zagger won his part on the series, his brother invited him to spend a week with Essex Constabulary.
The closing title sequence during the 1980s and 90s was famous for showing just two pairs of feet, belonging to a male and a female police officer, walking away from the camera along a cobbled street. This sequence was parodied in Hot Fuzz (2007) when Nicholas Angel and Danny Butterman were pounding the beat.
In November 2006, thieves stole editing machines and master tapes from the shows studios in Merton, South West London. Posing as a worker and wearing a high-visibility jacket, one of the thieves followed a real worker into the studios and took the equipment, walked out with it and was driven off in a getaway van. Two episodes (468 and 469) were dropped from the schedules in late December 2006, and it is rumored that the stolen tapes contained scenes from these episodes. These scenes were re-filmed and the episodes aired in May 2007, titled as The Bill: Blood Money (2007) (episode 468) and The Bill: To Honour and Obey (2007) (episode 469).
Burnside (Christopher Ellison) was originally called Tommy when he guest starred in series one and two, but when he appeared as a regular character from 1988 onwards his first name was changed to Frank. This was because there was a real-life Tommy Burnside serving in the Metropolitan police at the time.
Three different buildings served as the location for the fictional Sun Hill police station, where the series is set. The first - used for seasons one and two (1984-1986) - was in Wapping, East London. Production on season three was halted and the show was forced to move due to a lengthy strike at a nearby newspaper plant, when actors in police uniforms were mistaken for real police. The second location - used for season three (1987) and 1988-89 - was in Barlby Road in West London. The show was forced to move again in 1989 when the owners of the site wanted to redevelop the area. As the show was running continuously at this point production could not stop, and the move was explained in storylines as the station being renovated. The new site was a disused warehouse in Merton, near Wimbledon in South London, which was used for over twenty years until the series ended in 2010.
The actors' white shirts are washed with a black sock at first so that there isn't too much glare on screen.
When filming on location, the show did not have permission to use sirens. These were dubbed in later.
The format of the show still follows Geoff McQueen's original guidelines: the story is told through the eyes and by the actions of the Police, as such any given scene will always have one or more police officers in it.
In July 2009 the series was relaunched having undergone significant changes to provide viewers with a more immersive experience. Given a later time-slot at 9pm, the series was intended to be darker, grittier and more hard-hitting drama which would dig deeper into characters to tell stronger and more challenging stories. Now shot in high definition, the series also started using incidental music for the first time and featured new title credits and theme music. ITV announced that it was going to become the first drama on British television that would run all year round in the 9pm slot.
Jeff Stewart (PC Reg Hollis) was the last original cast member to leave the series. His character's resignation was announced in The Bill: Lucky Lucky Lucky (2008) which aired in May 2008, although his last appearance was in The Bill: Heat on the Beat (2008) which aired in March. Trudie Goodwin left in March 2007, after playing WPC/Sgt. June Ackland since 1984. Mark Wingett (PC/DC/DS Jim Carver) left the series in February 2005, but returned briefly for Goodwin's leaving storyline. Peter Ellis (Chief. Supt. Charles Brownlow) and Eric Richard (Sgt. Bob Cryer) left in 2000/01, although both returned briefly for guest starring spots, as did Larry Dann (Sgt. Alec Peters).
Space was so tight in the building used for the set of the first Sun Hill station that Chief Superintendent Brownlow's (Peter Ellis) office doubled as producer Michael Chapman's office, and the canteen set was the actual canteen used by cast and crew.
When the show ended in 2010, Simon Rouse was the longest serving cast member - he had played DCI/Supt. Jack Meadows regularly since 1992. He also made several guest appearances as the same character between 1990 and 1991 before joining the regular cast. Other long serving cast members include Alex Walkinshaw (PC/Sgt./Insp. Dale Smith - 1999 to 2001, and 2003 to 2010) and Chris Simmons (DC Mickey Webb - 2000 to 2003, and 2005 to 2010). Long serving cast member Graham Cole made his final appearance in November 2009 after playing PC Tony Stamp since 1987, although he had appeared in the series since 1984 as an uncredited extra.
The show has traveled abroad four times for special episodes. In 1999, The Bill: Foreign Body (1999) took DCI Meadows and DC Skase to France in pursuit of a murder suspect; Claire Stanton followed Don Beech to Australia in The Bill: Beech on the Run (2001) in 2001; in 2006 DS Hunter and DS Nixon went to Romania to investigate human trafficking in episodes The Bill: 446: A Little Holiday - Part 1 (2006) and The Bill: 447: A Little Holiday - Part 2 (2006); and to mark the 25th anniversary of the series in 2008 since the pilot episode Storyboard: Woodentop (1983), a crossover with SOKO Leipzig (2001) took the show to Germany in The Bill: Proof of Life: Part 2 (2008).
A special live episode (The Bill: 162: Fatal Consequences (2003)) was broadcast on the 30 October 2003 to celebrate twenty years of the show since the pilot Storyboard: Woodentop (1983). In a shock move the character of DC Juliet Becker (Rae Baker) was stabbed to death by a drunken man (played by Charles Dale), having only been in the show for four months. On the 22 September 2005 a second live episode (The Bill: 349: The Anniversary - Part 2 (2005)) was shown to celebrate the 50th birthday of ITV, the network that broadcasts the show. The storyline involved the armed siege of Sun Hill police station by the distraught father (Stuart Laing) of a boy killed by a car thief.
The police uniforms used in the series are genuine and are locked away for security reasons every night, with no complete uniform being locked in any one cupboard.
The producers of the show clear all new regular police character names with the Metropolitan police service to ensure there are no current serving officers with the same name. However if a person with the same name were to join the service at a later date, the show would be entitled to continue using the name.
Rick Wakeman was offered the chance to write the theme tune either for this series or for Lytton's Diary (1985). He chose the latter, believing that it had the best potential of the two to be a long running series. It ran for two seasons.
David Tennant, who played Steve Clemens in "Deadline" (#11.128) later married Georgia Moffett, who played recurring character Abigail Nixon, on 30 December 2011.
The series was highly influential in popularizing the use of hand-held video cameras in UK television drama, something which was still relatively rare in 1984.
Melanie Gutteridge (PC Emma Keane) has played two different characters: Annette Flemming and PC Emma Hinckley.
The final edition, part two of "Respect", was transmitted on ITV1 on Tuesday 31st August 2010 (27 years after the pilot Storyboard: Woodentop (1983) aired on Tuesday 16th August 1983). The episode bore a closing caption over a shot of Sun Hill Station: "Dedicated to the men and women of the Metropolitan Police Service, past and present."
Jaime Murray, daughter of actor Billy Murray (D.S. Don Beech) made two guest roles in the series in 2001 and 2002 as two different characters.
Frank Burnside (Christopher Ellison) would later go on to have his own spin-off series Burnside (2000) which lasted only 6 episodes and Don Beech (Billy Murray) also had his own spin-off Beech Is Back (2001) that also lasted only 6 episodes.
Although her character Abi Nixon was 14 when she first appeared in the series, Georgia Moffett was actually 18 in reality.
The format of the show still follows Geoff McQueen's original guidelines - the story is told through the eyes and by the actions of the Police, as such any given scene will always have one or more police officers in it.
In one episode, PC Yvonne Hemmingway quotes "Oh! My God!, They Killed Kenny!" which was the regular catchphrase of Stan Marsh in South Park (1997).
Original cast members Peter Ellis (Chief Superintendent Brownlow) and John Salthouse (Detective Inspector Galloway) both appeared as policemen in An American Werewolf in London (1981).
Episode titles were dropped in 2002 when the show became serialized under new executive producer Paul Marquess. The last episode to have an on-screen title was The Bill: Set in Stone (2002). A six-part storyline followed which had no on-screen titles but is referred to as "Quinnan" parts 1-6 by fans, as this storyline marked the departure of long-term character PC Dave Quinnan (Andrew Paul). Subsequent episodes were numbered, beginning with The Bill: 001: Down a Blind Alley (2002). These numbers did not appear on-screen but were given on the show's official website. This numbering system remained in place for five years until The Bill: 489: The Last Stop (2007), which was the final episode of original character Sgt. June Ackland (Trudie Goodwin). Episode titles returned in 2007, resuming with The Bill: Sweet Revenge (2007), marking a shift away from serialization towards standalone episodes and multi-part storylines.
In the early years of the show, the location of Sun Hill was given as the real London borough of Tower Hamlets. At some point later on the location was changed to the fictional borough of Canley, which corresponds to the real borough of Tower Hamlet on maps.
The song that could had be heard in Trudie Goodwin's final scene as Sgt. June Ackland at the end of 489 (#23.19) is "Wires" by Athlete.
A 10 year old Keira Knightley who played child burglar in Swan Song (#11.39) would later go on to play Gwyn, daughter of the legendary outlaw Robin Hood in the 2001 TV Movie "Princess of Thieves" - and as Elizabeth Swan in the "Pirates of the Caribbean" films.
Alex Kingston whom later went on to achieve fame as Dr. Elizabeth Corday in "ER" and as River Song in "Doctor Who" played three different characters in the series: As Dr. Howard, DS Lisa Holm and Maggie Fisher.
In Episode 098, there is a scene where PC Reg Hollis stumbles upon Sgt. Matt Boyd embracing Abi Nixon who is 15 and is underage. Abi unbuttons her blouse, briefly revealing a white bra underneath. Georgia Moffett was actually 18 at the time when it was filmed and was 19 when it was broadcast on 20th March 2003.
The series was only Georgia Moffett's second acting after playing recurring character Nicki Davey in Peak Practice (1993) 3 years earlier. Episode 063, in which Georgia Moffett made her debut as recurring character Abi Nixon, was broadcast 8 months after the birth of Georgia Moffett's son Tyler.
After appearing in an episode in 1991 Gary Love returned to the show in 2010 but this time he was behind the camera, he directed 4 episodes.
Natalie Roles (DS Debbie McAllister) had played a policewoman before. She had the small role of undercover space policewoman Lt. Chloe Vincent in Space Precinct (1994) in the episode Space Precinct: Predator and Prey (1995), which her character is killed during an undercover as a nightclub dancer.
416 is the only call sign to be given to characters who will die: Ken Melvin, Sam Harker, Gabriel Kent.
The 2 part 1998 episode Tainted Love (#14.79 and #14.80) was named after the 80s song "Tainted Love" by Soft Cell.