Dramatic Television Outside The U.S.

A lot of the original shows found in other countries are patterned a lot like soap operas, airing daily or several times weekly.

The themes of these shows often reflect the culture and customs of the country of origin and are thus too indigenous for export to other nations, but a few shows have caught on in various countries either in the original format or re-made for local consumption.

One of the most popular shows in the U.K. is a soap-opera-like police offering that probably comes close to the U.S. classic series “Hill Street Blues” with a touch of the Jack Webb show “Adam 12.”

“The BILL” (named for the distinctive hat worn by rank and file police in England) has been on for 20 years and was recently re-cast and re-vamped as a full fledge serial offering.

Sporting a cast of some thirty-odd (that’s both a literal and figurative phrase) characters, this show is based on the lives, loves and criminal happenings around a Borough police station known as Sun Hill. It’s rated by real policeman in England as being the most authentic show about police work. You need to even get hep to British police lingo to fully understand the banter during a given episode. Banjo for example, is slang for forcing open a door. A black rat is a traffic patrol officer, a factory is a police station and a BLO is a Borough’s Liaison Officer.

The most recent casualty of the show is long time police officer Cathy Brandford, played by Connie Hyde, who is a full fledge loony-tune now suspect in the death of an officer’s wife. Cathy attitude can be summed up in one of her most famous lines: “I can get away with anything. I’m a police officer.”

Her work on the show came to a close just before the end of 2003. Hyde says of her character: "I've gone from a pole dancer in an early episode to a madwoman, it's been a good old journey. She started to get a bit obsessive really - looking at people a bit too long and standing a bit too close. Then it developed into her making things up for attention, the HIV, a pregnancy, manipulation of other people, the Tanya Kane incident and Sandra Malik. Basically it's anyone who gets too close to Brandon- they haven't got long to live!”

Kim Tiddy plays one of the newest officers at Sun Hill, Honey Harman who was characterized as "a bit of a bungalow- nothing upstairs," by one of the old time sergeants on the show.

The cast is quite diverse with Nigerian born actor Cyril Nri (who plays Superintendent Adam Okaro and Thusitha Jayasundera who comes from Sri Lanka and plays Detective Sergeant Ramani De Costa.

Besides airing in England, The Bill has also found an audience in Australia, Canada, The Netherlands and Germany. Commissioned by ITV, produced by Thames Television with distribution by Fremantle.

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