Saturday, 7 May 2011

Fond memory of London's dark underbelly

Here's something slightly different, which nevertheless may be of interest.

I've had my attention drawn to one of my episodes of The Bill, which I wrote way back in 2000.

Some devoted fan (LOL – there must be some of them out there) has put the whole thing up on Youtube, divided into five viewable segments. I'm not sure whether it's legal or not, but while it's there I'm more than happy to let folks check it out.

It was an episode called Protect And Survive, and those interested can find it here:

It's not totally inappropriate to mention it on this blog as this particular installment of the long-running cop show concerned a deranged killer, Craig Ronson, who escapes from a high security prison and spends the next night targeting police officers around his native Sun Hill.

We deliberately went for as dark and menacing an atmosphere as we could, having made a conscious decision that this story should be an out-and-out thriller rather than a police procedural case-file. It involved a prolonged night shoot, and made use of some very eerie and rundown locations in and around south London.

The press reaction was generally pretty good. All seemed unanimous in their belief that this was a particularly brooding and scary episode. One red-top – I can’t remember exactly which one – reckoned that it was too violent to be screened before the nine o’clock watershed, but personally I thought that an exaggeration. It opened a lot of doors for me professionally, that's for sure.

It’s seems a long time ago, of course – and it would be more tightly written and edited now, but in my opinion it’s the best of my Bill episodes, and I’m quite chuffed that someone else liked it enough to seek to immortalise it in this way.

Pictured is Craig Ronson, the cop-hating mass murderer who was at the heart of the tale. Mark Lewis was the actor, and what a chilling performance he gave.

For those interested in trivia, this was also the debut episode of DC Mickey Webb (played by Chris Simmons), who became one of the show’s most popular characters. If I remember rightly, Mickey was initially going to be called Harry Webb, and we were well into pre-production for this episode when someone thankfully remembered that this was Cliff Richard’s real name – so we had to change it quickly


  1. I clearly remember this episode, with the palpable tension of June apparently facing the demented Ronson (in fact Craig's brother Colin), and having to be saved by the injured Quinnan and Smithy. Craig's actual appearance when he wipes the floor with several of Sun Hill’s finest is also chilling. My (somewhat tremulous) thanks!

    1. Glad it still gives you chills, Stephen. But it's amazing how quickly things recede into history. Not many folk I chat to have any memory of this now.

  2. That's what comes of A) constant repeats on UK Drama, Gold et al, and B) having little to do with one's days! Besides Mark Lewis' performance was terrifying enough to stick in the memory for life.

  3. Yeah, it was pretty eye-catching.