Our 6 Favourite The Bill Title Sequences

The journey of each episode of The Bill starts before the first line is even spoken. Here are our favourite opening themes...

The Bill Theme

The title sequence, featuring the iconic 'Overkill' by Charlie Morgan and Andy Pask as well as the many facial expressions of Bob Cryer, is one of the best remembered in British television.

It was changed a total of 12 times over the show's 26 year run, ranging from huge revamps to small tweaks visible only to the most eagle-eyed fans. The many manifestations of the opening credits have been ingenious, offering viewers an insight into a different aspect of Sun Hill every time.

But which was the best and why? Here are our favourite six versions, ranked in ascending order...

The Bill Series 18

6. SERIES 17 (2001)

The siren is there, but that's just about the only thing that remains from the original classic title sequence, and shots from the show are replaced with fractions of the casts' faces side by side. The flashing lights are completely gone, but a blue filter over the sequence acts as a nod to the classic motif.

These credits edge The Bill closer to the final slick, prime time drama identity it reaches in its final series. It also matches the serialisation of the episodes during this era, in which PC Quinnan is the subject of one of The Bill's first multi-episode story arcs when he has an affair with Polly Page.

Despite this clever change, the traditional police imagery that makes the other versions of the title sequence so recognisable is almost completely absent.

The Bill: Series 19

5. SERIES 19 (2003)

After the Sun Hill fire, the station is rebuilt and so is the title sequence.

These opening credits contain a checkerboard of generic police shots not featuring the cast. The hectic nature of this version may be slightly disorientating, but it sets the viewer up for a fast-paced and dramatic half hour - appropriate for series 19, in which the introduction of the deranged Cathy leads to a year of obsession, murder, and abduction.

The Bill: Series 14

4. SERIES 14 (1998)

The series 14 credits remove every trace of the actors, replacing them with generic shots of police show tropes including an interrogation room, police hats, and a Computer Aided Dispatch map.

This move is an acknowledgement of the fact that, after 14 series and multiple cast departures, The Bill's story is about more than just individual character drama. The producer, Tim Key, says that the show is essentially about "the police walking the streets of London". Generic shots remind us what's at the core of The Bill and the world of its police force, and the affection for all the classic tropes shown in this version of the opening credits makes it an accurate representation of the show as a whole.

The Bill: Series 12

3. SERIES 12 (1996)

The shots of the cast include slightly more light-hearted clips: Conway is walking through a door instead of shouting, and a couple of police officers giggle together in an office. These less intense scenes reveal a warmer, more upbeat side of The Bill - something that's easy to forget amid the tears, violence and death, but is extremely important to any fan of the show.

This version of the credits reminds us that, despite the action and the adrenaline, we can't forget the tenderness of the characters and their relationships. This is a perfect title sequence for a series that features slightly more mellow storylines, like when the Sun Hill team try to figure out the new computer system in episode ten.

The Bill: Series 9

2. SERIES 9 (1993)

Some of the changes made in 1991 are undone, and the area car returns to its rightful place at the beginning of the title sequence. The shot of Sergeant Cryer shouting remains from the 1991 revamp but this time he sticks around a little longer - long enough for us to realise that he seems to be saying "I don't give a toss what you're talking about!" In fact, even though they're interspersed with the flashing blue light motif as in 1991, all of the episode clips are longer. That's why this version, with its attention to the passionate acting and brilliant characters that makes The Bill so compelling to watch, is one of our favourites.

The Bill: Series 23

1. SERIES 23 (2007)

This revamp contains an affectionate nod to the original 1984 titles while at the same time including elements from many other different manifestations of the sequence, and that's why it's our winner.

This is the final change before the dramatic 2009 overhaul, and it eases fans into Series 24's heavily London-based sequence with shots of The Gherkin. It's still close enough to the original to be warmly familiar, as the iconic walking feet are back - it's only for a brief moment but it's long enough to make any loyal viewer feel nostalgic.

True to 1998's message, this version includes traditional police imagery and reminds us that at its core, The Bill is a classic crime story. This is also the last time we ever hear the iconic theme music, as it's gone completely by 2009. These credits encompass everything we love about Sun Hill, past and present.

AND FINALLY...

Here's the opening sequence that started it all.

The Bill Title Sequence - The Original

Which version is your favourite? Tell us in the comments below.

You can watch The Bill on Drama weekdays from 11am.