The Bill is a police procedural television series that was broadcast on the ITV network from 16 October 1984 until 31 August 2010. The programme originated from a one-off drama, entitled Woodentop, which was 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. At the time of the series' conclusion, The Bill was the longest-running police procedural television series in the United Kingdom, and was among the longest-running of any British television series. The series was produced by Thames Television. The series name originated from "Old Bill", a slang term for the police. This was also Geoff McQueen's original title idea for the series, before he eventually decided on "The Bill".
Although highly acclaimed amongst fans and critics alike, the series attracted controversy on several occasions. An episode broadcast in 2008 was criticised for featuring fictional treatment for multiple sclerosis, and another episode in the same year resulted in litigation, submitted by MP George Galloway for defamation. The series has also faced more general criticism, concerning the levels of violence it portrays, particularly prior to 2009, when it occupied a pre-watershed slot. During its time on air, The Bill won several awards, including BAFTAs, a Writers' Guild of Great Britain award and the title of "best drama" at the Inside Soap Awards in 2009, the latter 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 UKTV Gold, Alibi, Watch and UKTV G2. 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 ever episode of the series was aired on 31 August 2010.