What to say if you liked it
Britain’s best police drama rinses away all the soap for once for a near-faultless action-packed live episode
What to say if you disliked it
Running, gasping, shouting actors rush through a back-of-the-envelope plot
What was good about it?
• The joy of playing Spot The Mistake. We’re nitpickers, you see. We noticed the gunshot sound effect came in too early, wobbly camerawork, Jo caught standing still and then suddenly breaking into purposeful walking, a microphone in shot, Terry fluffing his lines, a soundman appearing in shot, SO19 being called CO19
• Gabriel’s water cooler moment
• The Keystone Cops-style running around
• The stunt when the real Gabriel Kent plunged over the bannister
• The end of Superintendent Amanda Prosser, possibly the worst ever character to darken Sun Hill nick, with her Sloaney voice and total incompetence
• Gina The Inebriated Inspector (the most authentic character in The Bill since Bob Cryer) getting back into the action following her suspension
• The moral of the story, blaming Tony Blair for creating the villain – Jeff Clarke, an unhinged veteran of the Iraq War whose son has been run down and killed, who is now out for revenge against the boy driving the stolen car. Terry Perkins sympathised with his anger about the Iraq War, saying: “No-one admitted the got that wrong. Weapons of mass destruction – it was a pack of lies. They all got away with it.
• Ghastly Gabriel issuing threats to the near-dead real Gabriel
• Ramani De Costa wasn’t in it
• Sheelagh laughing at Jack’s “Evening all” quip
• Sun Hill didn’t burn down
What was bad about it?
• The lousy car accident stunt. Zane and Phil clambered out as if they’d hit a brick wall at 90mph yet the car merely hit a pile of sand while doing about 20mph
• PC Dan Casper’s whining after getting shot
• The mysterious light display in the sky
• Reg Hollis wasn’t in it, even though he’d organised that awful (but true to life) celebration to mark Sun Hill’s 50th anniversary
1 Gabriel Kent getting more psycho than ever – shoving the Sun Hill Sniper to his death, hiding incriminating evidence (in the toilet cistern, as usual), scaring the living daylights out of Steve the wimp and stonewalling that stroppy woman from MIT. What a long way actor Todd Carty has come since he cheeked teachers as Tucker Jenkins or handled bananas as Mark Fowler.
2 Michael Medwin (he was in Shoestring, you know. And The Army Game) playing the most clichéd Cockney old geezer ever. “Gawd bless ya, yerr a good ‘un.”
3 The eclectic playlist at the Christmas party stretching from Rachel Stevens and Keane.
4 Andrea looking like Cruella De Ville at the party
5 The death of the not-boverred Shirley so that her guardian angel – Yvonne ‘the human Malteser’ Hemingway – could do some excellent being-sad faces
6 The Kerry Young Memorial Fund. We hope the proceeds go to building a memorial statue comprising two fat lips to stand outside Sun Hill nick
7 Irene Radford v Gina Gold – the thoughest two birds we expect to see this Christmas
8 Phil Hunter’s libido getting him into trouble again
9 Gormless Gary Best getting something right for once
The Bill, ITV1 (22-23 February 2005)
1 – The explosion and fire at Sun Hill. Full marks for special effects (although it was all very similar to the last blaze to destroy the nick all those years (two) ago).
2 – The demise of boring Ken Drummond (he died wearing an especially loud shirt which looked as if it was on fire before it actually was). We’re less pleased about the deaths of Andrea “You’re a disgrace to the uniform” Dunbar and Marilyn Chambers.
3– Ghastly Gabriel letting Andrea burn so he can keep his evil deeds a secret
5– The hilarious scenes of Superintendent Okaro running about like a bull in a china shop, bashing into people and generally panicking and the hilarious scene of the police car being nicked by a prisoner
5– Smithy’s authentic wheezing
Bottom 5 lowlights of The Bill, ITV1 (22-23 February)
1 – The criminal overuse of TV Drama clichés: the skinhead racist, the stroppy villain, the old woman handbag theft victim, the pack of wild journalists, the beam that trapped Andrea in the fire, the comment about the burning copshop (“It’s like a scene from Beirut out there”), Reg placing the engagement ring on the dying Marilyn just before her bedside monitor went beeeeep, the cleaner’s vertigo
2 – The overblown melodrama of the Jim/June split. “If you took a knife and stuck in through my heart, you couldn’t have hurt me more,” moaned Jim in between opening his eyes very wide to look really wild
3 – Nasty Nazi Colin – “They meet at their mosques and temples and plot to takeover this country.”
4 – June Ackland falling for creepy Roger Valentine’s therapeutic massage seduction technique
5 – The total lack of party scenes in which Sun Hill officers dance to Kylie, get drunk, snog each other and get pulled by villains in disguise