Friday, February 22, 2008

Burdens of The Bill

Writing for The Bill must be a good job. I'm sure it's well-paid and you also get to spend time with real police officers in order to make your scripts as authentic as possible.
The downside is that you're forced to write some really clunking dialogue.

In order to explain points of law to viewers, senior and long-serving police officers will often stand around reminding each other of things they would have learned in the first week at Police Training College.
Take this from last night's episode:
Inspector Gould: Clever boy, using kids under the age of 10 - below the age of criminal responsibility.
DC Perkins: And any kid under 14 is only going to get a caution.

Secondly, in the opening minutes of an episode, officers often have to remind each other of things that happened only 'yesterday' but that happened last week for the viewer.
So you get this kind of thing (not from an actual script):
PC: Guv! I've just had a visit from Wayne Harris.
DCI: Wayne Harris? He was the drug dealer you arrested yesterday for beating up his ex-girlfriend who's been having an affair with his brother but we had to release him because Joe Clark who runs the cafe on Acton Road gave him an alibi?
PC: Yeah, but DC Carter discovered that Clark's got form for drug dealing and once shared a flat with Harris on the Jasmine Allen, so you asked Mickey Webb to set up an obbo on Clark's cafe.
DCI: OK. Bring Harris back in.

But this kind of stuff may be as helpful to the actors as the viewers. With several units shooting several different stories concurrently, it must be a nightmare for the regular cast. One former cast member said he had to keep asking the director in every scene what frame of mind he was meant to be in because he had lost all track of which story they were shooting.
Like real police work, it's a nasty job but someone has to do it.


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