Monday 14 August 2017

Carrying On with ... The Bill

There has been a bit of publicity around the ITV police drama series The Bill recently. The Drama Channel are, from today, showing the entire series from the very beginning again. Following a successful pilot with "Woodentop" in 1983, a full series was commissioned and began broadcasting in weekly hour long episodes from October 1984. The Bill would become and remains one of the most successful home grown, long running drama series, lasting until 2010 even if it had gone through many changes in the intervening years. 

Over 2000 episodes were produced and the actors who appeared became household names. The show also featured many familiar faces before they were famous with the likes of David Tenant, Keira Knightley and Sean Bean making early appearances. However for the purpose of this blog, I'm not interested in those that became Hollywood stars or big names in current television. Given that The Bill ran during the 1980s and 90s, it's almost a certainty that it featured many a familiar Carry On face. So let's take a look back at some of the well-known Carry On actors who turned up in Sun Hill over the years. 

I must start with the most prominent of all The Bill actors to have starred in the Carry Ons. Larry Dann was a series regular as Alec Peters from the very first episode in 1984 through until 1992. Larry appeared in four Carry Ons during his career - an early part as a school boy in Carry On Teacher, followed by roles in Behind, England and most (in)famously Emmannuelle, playing Theodore Valentine. 

Carry On favourite Carol Hawkins has made four separate appearances in The Bill during the 1990s as characters Mrs Giles in 1991, Mrs Sterry in 1995, Mrs Rose in the 1997 episode Downfall and finally a character called Lynn Archer in the 1999 episode Foreign Body. Carol is known to Carry On fans for her starring roles in Abroad and Behind as well as two episodes of the ATV Carry On Laughing series. Linda Regan, who appeared in Carry On Again Christmas for Thames Television and then the 1976 film, Carry On England, played no less than five different characters in The Bill over a decade between 1988, when she played Burnside's girlfriend and a barmaid in 1998.

Another actor to appear on five separate occasions is Don McCorkindale. Don was a recruit in the very first film, Carry on Sergeant in 1958 and then played Tubby, one of Peter Gilmore's gang in Carry On Cabby. In The Bill, Don played Potter in a 1990 episode called Angles, Sergeant Masters in the 1992 episode A Friend in Need and also guest starred in 1996, 1998 and 1999. In the series five episode N.F.A (1989), acclaimed character comedienne Betty Marsden played Mrs Foster-Adams. Betty, best known for being part of the Round The Horne team on radio, played Mata Hari in Carry On Regardless and Terry Scott's wife Harriet Potter in Carry On Camping.

Patricia Franklin, who played roles in Carry On Camping, Loving, Girls, Behind and England, also cropped up in The Bill no less than five times. First appearing as a Neighbour in the 1990 episode Lies, Patricia would go on to appear in two episodes in 1993, play a Cafe Owner in the 1997 episode Confidence and Mrs King in Bad Chemistry the following year. Legendary actor and personality Peter Jones appeared in The Bill as Mr Greg Montieth in the 1998 episode S.A.D. It would be one of his last acting roles. Peter, a longtime panel member with Kenneth Williams on Just A Minute played cameo roles as the Chaplain in Carry On Doctor and the Brigadier in 1976's Carry On England.

Another actor to be invited back to The Bill more than once was Liz Fraser. Liz is well-remembered for starring roles in Carry On Regardless, Cruising and Cabby as well as a cameo role in Carry On Behind. In The Bill she played Mrs Lister in 1989 in the episode Suffocation Job and then five years later was back in Sun Hill for the part of Grace Walsh in Good Days. Fellow veteran Kenneth Cope first appeared in The Bill in 1992 for one episode playing P.C Derton. Over a decade later he was back for a special two part story in 2006 in which he played Jimmy Hastings. Cope is best known for roles in Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased), Coronation Street and two Carry Ons - At Your Convenience and Matron.

Kenneth's co-star in Carry On At Your Convenience, Jacki Piper, has made two appearances in The Bill. She first played Mrs Leston in the 1991 episode Turning Back The Clock and then six years later turned up again as Mrs Cox in Accomplice. We all remember Jacki for her four Carry Ons. As well as Convenience in which she played Myrtle Plummer, Jacki also played June in Up The Jungle, Sally Martin in Loving and Sister in Matron. And last but not least is one of my favourites, the late great Patsy Rowlands. Patsy guest starred in just the one episode back in 1995 but it's actually one I remember from original broadcast. I was so used to seeing Patsy playing comedy that it was quite a shock to see her in what was actually a really serious, sad story. The story centres around a family of hermit barricaded into their own home with Patsy playing Rachel Armfield and Annette Badland playing Pearl. 

One final Carry On connection before i go. Peter Butterworth's son Tyler Butterworth has appeared in four episodes of The Bill between 1995 and 2004, including a two part episode in 2002 in which he played a character called Kelly. I'm sure his dad would have been very proud.

I loved The Bill when I was younger, although after writing this piece I can't get the bloody theme tune out of my head! While the series was great, the coppers of Sun Hill will never match those new recruits from Carry On Constable in my eyes...

Do check out my interview with the lovely Ben Peyton who played PC Ben Hayward. You can read that here

And while I'm at it, The Misty Moon Film Society will be hosting a special The Bill Reunion event on Saturday 9 September at the Cinema Museum in London. You can find out more about that here.

You can follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan on Facebook and on Instagram

No comments:

Post a Comment