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Exclusive: Johnathan Young (Executive Producer, 'The Bill')

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Johnathan Young (Executive Producer, 'The Bill')
Since joining The Bill show in May 2005, executive producer Johnathan Young has headed up some of the show's most notable storylines of recent years, including five-parter 'Witness' earlier this year, and most recently 'Closing The Net'. Now into its 25th year, The Bill continues to produce controversial and powerful drama following the lives and loves of the police force in the fictional London borough of Sun Hill. DS caught up with the show's executive producer Johnathan Young about what's to come for the ranks of The Bill.

The Bill celebrates its 25th anniversary later this year, what plans do you have to mark the occasion?
"We've got some fantastic plans for a strong two-part storyline that we'll be airing in November, but it's far too early to reveal anything too much at the moment! It's quite a departure for us, though, and is something we haven't tried before. In fact, from a production point of view, I think it might be a TV first."

You've lost quite a few key cast members over the past few months. Do you have any fresh blood in the pipeline?
"PC Emma Keane (played by Melanie Gutteridge) was killed in an explosion as part of our recent three-part 'Frontline' storyline, but I think the last character to leave was PC Lewis Hardy in November, so we don't have a massively quick turnaround at all. Because we film three months ahead of the episodes airing, viewers won't yet have seen our four new PCs - PCs Leon Taylor (Dominic Power), Arun Ghir (Abhin Galeya) and Millie Brown (Clare Foster) will be on screen mid-June and PC Mel Ryder (Rhea Bailey) will be on screen at the start of July. Sun Hill also gets a new sergeant in August when Sergeant Rachel Weston (played by Claire Goose) joins the ranks. She's definitely one to watch!"

The Bill seems to have become stigmatised for its gathering of ex-soap actors...
"We cast actors who are right for the part and the character and as you can see from the actors who have just recently joined us, they have really varied backgrounds and experience. The Bill is tough to work on as we film six days a week, so it requires actors who are able to withstand the rigours of such intensive filming. If an actor has already experienced EastEnders or Coronation Street then they tend to have a better understanding of what is required, but it isn't always the case. A lot of our former cast go on to work in the soaps too - look at Billy Murray (DS Don Beech) and Scott Maslen (DC Phil Hunter) who have both gone on to appear in EastEnders."

The Bill likes to tackle controversial and 'live' issues in its episodes relevant to 'life today'. What's next on the to-do list?
"Our aim is to be as realistic as possible and to show what kind of real-life situations cops today have to face. We don’t actively look for “issues” but we do talk to cops every day about the things that concern them, and then we try to represent it in a fair and balanced way. We don't sensationalise a story or issue, because we want to keep the focus on the reality of a situation. At the start of July Sergeant Smithy (Alex Walkinshaw) goes undercover to reveal a gun-running gang, which continues the story we began in our 'Witness' eight-parter which aired at the start of January. It tackles the subject of how the guns get onto the streets."

Sergeant Smithy / DC Stevie Moss
"[They] feature in the 5-part special 'Gun Runner' storyline (airing start of July). Smithy goes undercover in a dangerous gun-running world. Stevie poses as his girlfriend, and finds herself strangely attracted to Smithy’s undercover character, Lawrence. Sparks fly as Smithy leads the team to break the arms-dealing gang."

DC Jacob Banks / and DI Sam Nixon
"Banksy and Sam work closely together on a rape and murder case, but Banksy struggles to keep professionally focused when he comes up against his high-powered, defence solicitor wife (Naomi, played by Kim Thompson). At the trial, Sam is ripped apart on the stand, but how does she bounce back and catch the killer?"

Sergeant Callum Stone / PC Sally Armstrong
"Stone fights to contain the hot-headed Sally. Whilst investigating a case, Inspector Gina Gold (Roberta Taylor) orders Sally not to jump into the Thames to save a suicidal mother, but Sally throws her warrant card on the bank and dives in regardless... is she heroic and brave or a reckless cop with a death wish? When Sally crashes her car off duty, and is probably over the limit, Stone is faced with one of his biggest dilemmas to date - does he throw away her career or risk his own by covering up her actions?"

DC Grace Dasari / DI Neil Manson
"Neil is a constant source of support to Grace through some difficult cases. There is an intimacy between them which even they would struggle to explain. Their relationship is a good professional, slow burn."

Inspector Gina Gold / Sergeant Smithy
"As Gina starts to lose her patience with the politics of policing, she starts to endorse some bold tactics (calling out an armed response team just to put the frighteners up someone). Is this no-nonsense policing or a woman losing her grip on modern day police methods? Smithy certainly feels uncomfortable with the direction she's taking... will this lead to irreconcilable differences, is the great love affair about to end?"

PC Will Fletcher / CID
"Seeking a promotion to CID, Will starts a probationary period. He hates being the new boy again - and will suffer a number of gags about his choice of suit, but he's delighted to be in CID and this marks a new era for Will at Sun Hill."

And also on the cards…
"An explosive and steamy end to a five-part undercover story for Smithy. Is Stevie falling for Smithy or his undercover persona? Four new cops are due to hit the screens in June and July, one carries a dark and emotion-filled past, another is set to quickly rise up the ranks and all will add energy, life and passion to Sun Hill. Sergeant Stone will continue to blur the boundaries between right and wrong – how far will he go to protect his own? And Gina will come clashing up against the authorities – has she taken one risk too many?" Get the Inside Soap magazine on your iPhone or iPad

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