UKTV Play is streaming The Bill in its entirety. Yes, that’s right, all 2425 episodes of the classic ITV police series that was set in east London’s fictional Sun Hill Station and ran between 1984 and 2010.
Many of the recurring cast became household names (Eric Richard as Sgt Bob Cryer and Trudie Goodwin as Sgt June Ackland spring to mind), but the classic series also provided early roles for stars who’ve gone on to conquer the big AND small screen, like Doctor Who star David Tennant, who made an appearance as kidnapper Stephen Clements in 1995.
Emma Boston, general manager, UKTV Play, said: “The Bill has always had a cult following among viewers, but we’ve been surprised at how it’s regularly topping our most-watched lists.
“Over the years, the series has become known for giving so many famous actors their first break – which gives an added dimension to our viewers’ enjoyment of The Bill it seems.”
But which other mega stars made early starts to their on-screen careers in The Bill?
EMMA BUNTON: long before The Spice Girls, Emma played a troubled teenager in 1993 episode Missionary Work.
DAVID WALLIAMS: The comic star, Britain’s Got Talent judge and children’s author appeared in a 2002 episode, playing an animal rights activist who takes part in an anti-vivisection march
ALEX KINGSTON: E.R. and Doctor Who star Alex featured in a 1998 episode.
JOANNE FROGGATT: Golden Globe winner Joanne made her TV debut on The Bill in 1996 and soon after was cast in Coronation Street. Her glittering career was well underway.
KEIRA KNIGHTLEY: Hollywood star Keira kicked off her acting career playing 10-year-old troublemaker Sheena Rose in 1995 episode Swan Song.
JAMES McAVOY: The X-Men and Chronicles of Narnia star was just 18 when he appeared on The Bill as a teenager with a LOT of attitude.
SEAN BEAN: Lord of the Rings star Sean committed fashion crimes as well legal misdemeanours when he played Horace Clark in The Bill in 1984.
RUSSELL BRAND: Comedian and actor Russell was a cocky young teenage thief when he appeared in The Bill in 1995, aged 18.
RAY WINSTONE: The guv’nor Ray played Simon Fielder in The Bill in 1991, then played Jack MacKenzie in it in 1995. Let’s just say, both were known to the police…
And the list doesn’t end here. Other notable stars who’ve been in The Bill include Meera Syal, Rik Mayall, Roger Lloyd-Pack, Catherine Tate, Ralf Little, Darren Day, Les Dennis, Liz Smith, Denise Van Outen, Roger Daltrey, Pauline Quirke, Paul O’Grady, Lorraine Kelly and Michelle Collins.
All pictures courtesy Fremantle Media UK