One of British television’s most iconic shows is being axed by ITV after 26 years on air.
Cop series “The Bill,” made by TalkbackThames, will bow out this fall — costing some 90 jobs.
TalkbackThames CEO Lorraine Heggessey said she was “devastated” by the decision to cull “The Bill,” whose title is based on London slang for the police: Old Bill.
She said, “We are devastated that after 26 successful years on ITV, ‘The Bill’ will be coming to an end. One of the show’s strengths has been its ability to evolve over the years.”
“The Bill” first aired in 1983 as a one-off drama called “The Woodentops.” It bowed as an early evening weekly police procedural the following year, went twice weekly in 1988 and added a third episode a week in 1993.
By 2009 it had moved to a once-weekly hourlong airing Thursdays at 9 p.m., Blighty’s watershed hour that traditionally marks the start of riskier, more mature programming.
During its time on air “The Bill,” set in the fictional London Sun Hill police station, has featured appearances from many of Blighty’s best-known actors, including Kiera Knightley, Alex Kingston and Hugh Laurie.
TalkbackThames declined to say what impact the loss of the commission would have on its bottom line, but it is certain to be significant.
ITV’s program topper Peter Fincham said the demise of “The Bill” would enable the web to refresh the range of drama it offers auds.
“Times change, and so do the tastes of our audience,” he said. “This is reflected in the mix of what ITV1 will offer as a channel, with an increased focus on new and varied drama commissions for the 9 p.m. slot.”