The Bill is a British police procedural television series, first broadcast on ITV from 16 October 1984 until 31 August 2010. The programme originated from a one-off drama, Woodentop, broadcast in August 1983.
In its final year on air, The Bill was broadcast once a week, usually on Tuesdays or Thursdays, in a one-hour format. The programme focused on the lives and work of one shift of police officers, rather than on any particular aspect of police work. The Bill was the second longest-running police procedural television series in the United Kingdom, and among the longest running of any British television series. The title originates from "Old Bill", a slang term for the police.
Although highly acclaimed by fans and critics, the series attracted controversy on several occasions. An episode broadcast in 2008 was criticised for featuring fictional treatment for multiple sclerosis. The series has also faced more general criticism concerning its levels of violence, particularly prior to 2009, when it occupied a pre-watershed slot.
The Bill won several awards, including BAFTAs, a Writers' Guild of Great Britain award and Best Drama at the Inside Soap Awards in 2009, this being the series' fourth consecutive win.
Throughout its twenty-seven-year run, the programme was always broadcast on the main ITV network. In later years, episodes of the show were repeated on ITV3 on their week of broadcast. The series has also been repeated on other digital stations, including Gold, Alibi, Watch, Dave and Drama.
In March 2010, executives at ITV announced that the network did not intend to recommission The Bill, and that filming on the series would cease on 14 June 2010. The last episode aired on 31 August 2010.
On 9 August 2017 UKTV announced Drama will rerun The Bill from the very beginning airing 14 August 2017 at 12noon.