15:30 26 March 2010
Almost 30 years after it first hit our screens, 'The Bill' has been axed.
The long-running cop drama will end in the autumn, ITV has announced.
The move, which was said to be a creative decision rather than simply to save costs, follows a recent shake up to the format that saw it relaunched as a weekly drama and moved to a post watershed slot in order to accomdate a grittier and darker feel.
However, the channel has decided to axe the show after 27 years to shift its focus to other projects.
The money which was to be spent on new episodes of the programme will now go on new peak time dramas.
"Times change, and so do the tastes of our audience," said Peter Fincham, director of television at ITV.
"This is reflected in the mix of what ITV1 will offer as a channel, with an increased focus on new and varied drama commissions for the 9.00pm slot."
Set around London's fictional Sun Hill police station, 'The Bill' began life as one-off drama 'Woodentop' in 1983.
However, following its success, ITV commissioned a weekly series, which eventually grew into three installments each week.
Producers of the soap,Talkback Thames said they were "devastated" by the decision, and that it may "result in a significant number of redundancies" at the company.
CEO Lorraine Heggessey said: "We are incredibly proud of what the show has achieved.
"It is a credit to everyone who has worked on 'The Bill' that the series will be signing out on a creative and editorial high, with both critical and industry-wide acclaim and a loyal fan base who have supported the show throughout.
ITV boss Fincham said: "'The Bill' has been a fixture on our screens for more than 25 years and has been the home of some of the UK's best serial drama storylines, and a great showcase for terrific scriptwriting and fine acting talent.
"Thanks to a superb production team, it's been one of the great institutions of television drama.
"While 'The Bill' will come to an end in 2010, we will continue to invest more in drama programming than any other commercial broadcaster in the UK and viewers can look forward to a wide range of high-quality drama on ITV1."
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