Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Say what I mean... and mean what I say...

So it's goodbye to The Bill... After twenty-seven years.

You can officially colour me gutted.

I've been watching since Woodentop first aired in 1984.

Whilst TB has been one of my favourite programmes over the years, it has
been so much more in this household. In one of those "not a lot of
people know that" type stories, let me try to put into perspective what
TB meant to my family, and explain why its loss for some of the behind
the scenes, blink and you'll miss 'em crowd extras and walk on bit parts
is something of a disaster.

When my father passed away in 1976, I was still a schoolgirl. My mother
therefore fell back upon the only thing she was trained for. Acting. I
didn't think of school fees and all that jazz in those days, hey I was a
confused (and somewhat angry) child. "I, Claudius" was the first, but
you can trace my growing up through the television and filming work my
mother did, she kept me at that school, paying the extortionate fees...
until I was 18 and had staggered somewhat unsuccessfully through my A

Acting is a precarious profession at best. Work cannot be relied upon.
Fortunately for my mother and me, my mother believed in consummate
professionalism, it would have never occurred to her not to turn up on
time to do the work she was hired to do, even though sometimes it was
deathly dull. The nature of the acting world meant that my school fees
and general living expenses came about in the most fantastical ways.
Michael Cimino's "Heaven's Gate" paid my year's school fees and sorted
out the flat roof over the study in 1981... I could bang on at length
about the various films and televisual highlights which kept the wolf
from the door until I started full time work in 1985.

Then along came The Bill. Suddenly, something of a sea change took
place. Suddenly my mother's agents were asking her if she had done The
Bill lately, suddenly there was almost a guarantee of work. Something
almost unheard of in the industry. Through the late 80s, 90s and up to
2004 when my mother really retired from work, The Bill kept her in a
reasonable living. Where money was tight, she would get a walk-on or
crowd work and somehow bills would be paid and the wolf wouldn't be
licking paint from the door again.

The list of stars who got their breaks in TB either in the regular cast,
or as guests, is endless.

Now all that has gone. Almost three decades of virtual job security,
chucked away... and for what? Darned if I know... I only know this. It
is a very sad day for British Television.

Thank you, "The Bill"... for all the times I've laughed, all the times
I've cried... and for the amazing friends I've made along the way
because of you... and thanks to all those friends for putting me back
together when I somewhat lost the plot after my marriage collapsed. The
second time in my life I've been somewhat... angry.

TB maybe gone... but not likely to be forgotten...

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