for the police
in British english
(one of many, many nicknames for law officer
s), a contraction of the more common nickname "Old Bill
". By association The Bill
is the name for a long-running television
drama series about the police.
Set in Sunhill, a fictional inner-city area of east London with all the problems to be expected of such an area, it is a standing joke that the Sunhill police station has the best crime clear up rate in the UK: after all, they always seem to solve even the most bizarre of cases. In its earlier years (mid-1980s) it was quite a uniquely British police programme, steering away from the Starsky and Hutch-style of cop show that British producers had been apeing for a decade or so (The Professionals, The Sweeney etc). Today with the ever-present drive for increased ratings it sometimes falls into cliché, but fortunately it's never stooped to the level of the traditional low-down camera angle shot of the speeding squad car flying down an alley, sweeping aside a pile of cardboard boxes.
The Bill is made by the Carlton TV company and networked across the UK via the ITV network. Sometimes more like a soap opera than a traditional "cops and robbers" show, The Bill nevertheless (or perhaps that's why) manages to regularly stay one of the top ten programmes broadcast in Britain. Some of the long-term stars of the show have become household names and the programme tends to be as fondly regarded as Hill Street Blues was in the US. It's never produced the same kind of catchphrases though!