The Bill – Good Will Visit

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In later years Sun Hill nick would become a hotbed of tangled interpersonal relationships and corruption.  But in 1988 things were much simpler.  Back then, if the boys and girls in blue had personal relationships they had the good grace not to let it interfere with their work whilst rotten apples were few and far between.

True, the likes of Ted Roach were happy to bend the rules, but there’s no sense that he was actively fitting up suspects.  Even Frank Burnside, briefly glimpsed during the 50 minute series and shortly to return as the new DI, was on the side of the angels.  The series made capital out of his reputation for corruption several times, but nothing was ever proved (although you could always argue that he was simply good at concealing it!)

The introduction in this episode of PC Ramsey (Nick Reding) helps to shake up the relief.  Ramsey, transferred from Barton Street, brings with him an unsavoury reputation and is viewed with suspicion and mistrust – at least to begin with – by the others.  Ramsey didn’t stay at Sun Hill for too long (about six months) and it’s interesting to observe that over time his rough edges were smoothed down, leaving him as just another member of the team.  The Bill would make capital out of bent coppers later on, but back in 1988/89 it was a storyline that seemed to be off-limits.

Ramsey’s first appearance – driving a flash car very fast (and parking in the Chief Super’s space no less) – is a non-verbal signifier of his attitude and his brusque manner when asking June and Yorkie for directions also helps to quickly define his character – he’s a self-contained unit, not interested in making friends unless (like Ted Roach) they can further his career.

His interview with Chief Inspector Conway (Ben Roberts) helps to fill in some of the blanks.  Conway regards Ramsey as a bent copper, although Ramsey counters that he was cleared.  Conway doesn’t see it that way – in his view (one shared by Ramsey’s previous Chief Super) Ramsey was clearly guilty, although when we discover what his crime was – cheating at cards – it doesn’t seem too bad, but it was serious enough for Ramsey to be busted down from plain clothes to uniform, a clear humiliation for him.

It doesn’t take long before Ramsey makes himself comfortable, demanding bribes from local traders, such as Leslie Fisk (Tony Portacio).  But his actions quickly catch the attention of Bob Cryer, which sets up a nice dramatic tension – Cryer now knows that Ramsey’s a wrong ‘un, so he’ll be watching him like a hawk ….

Ted Roach continues to rampage around the building.  Now he’s acting DI, Ted spends his time giving Mike and Jim a very hard time.   Ted forces Mike and Jim onto the streets where they tangle with a couple of Asians.  One of them launches himself at Jim with some flashy kung-fu moves, but the ever resourceful Jim throws a bin at him, which does the trick!

Mix in another subplot concerning Alec Peters and some sailors and you’ve got a typically dense episode of the series.  The arrival at Sun Hill of a well-drilled squad of sailors (responsible for smashing up a bar) is a nice comedy moment, as is Conway’s acid response when he discovers exactly what Alec has done.  “How can you board one of her majesties frigates in sight of traitor’s gate, of all place, without permission?”

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