Reaching A Verdict

Reviewing The Bill: 1990-92

By Edward Kellett published by Devonfire Books

Human beings have an innate desire to connect, to find common ground, and to share experiences. Fandom, the fervent devotion to a particular book, television programme, movie, or any cultural artifact, serves as a vibrant manifestation of this desire. For many, becoming a fan is an immersive quest for knowledge and understanding. Fans eagerly consume supplementary materials, scouring interviews, behind-the-scenes footage, and ancillary content in their pursuit of a deeper understanding of the subject matter. In doing so, fans also contribute to the ever-expanding tapestry of the fandom, enriching the collective experience for all involved. If you are a fan of the British television series The Bill, and any of the above resonates with you, then Edward Kellett’s study, Reaching A Verdict – Reviewing The Bill: 1990-92 is an absolute must.

In this sequel to his acclaimed first volume, which covers the show’s history from 1983 to 1989, TV historian Kellett leaves no stone unturned in his investigation of what was a testing period. During this time, the writers explored longer storylines in their quest to unlock the full potential of the half-hour format. Rather than purely stand-alone stories, the show featured occasional two-part episodes and, later in 1990, a gripping six-episode hunt for the Canley Fields serial killer that unfolded over several months, kept viewers totally absorbed.

As The Bill entered a new decade, the programme makers once again faced the challenge of finding a new location for Sun Hill police station. However, this time they had to do so without a break in the gruelling filming schedule, ensuring that new episodes of ITV’s bi-weekly ratings smash were in constant production.

Like its predecessor, the book is organized into sections, each covering a specific year, followed by smaller chapters delving into particular episodes, characters, and writers, all written with pin-sharp accuracy and great insight. Kellett’s analysis not only centres on the show itself but also places it in the context of the contentious policing era during its production, transforming this publication into not just a television programme study but also a valuable time capsule of that period.

The Bill during this period featured memorable episodes and surprisingly mature content for an 8 pm series and these are explored in depth in Kellett’s easy style that reflects both his understanding and his passion for the project which is both astonishing and impressive. You may not be a die-hard fan of the show, but if you have an interest in the development of television programmes, this is a thoroughly entertaining, informative and eye-opening read.

Reaching A Verdict – Reviewing The Bill: 1990-92 opens with a Foreword by producer Tony Virgo and an Afterword by legendary writer J.C. Wilsher. Both this and Edward Kellett's first volume are available directly from the publisher and both are highly recommended.

Published on May 10th, 2024. Written by Laurence Marcus for Television Heaven.

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