ITV bosses confirmed that the £30m-a-year soap would be axed this autumn due to a massive slump in viewers.
Early morning calls were made to the cast and crew to break the news, with those due on set told to take the day off.
A senior member of The Bill "family" told The Sun that he was already at the studio when he heard the news. "We were setting up for filming when a guy from the props department came down and told us simply, 'It's over - we're all out of work'."
Show producer Talkback has entered into a 30-day consultation with staff.
Trudie Goodwin, who played Sun Hill's June Ackland for the show's entire run, said she was "saddened, but not surprised" by the announcement. "I'm sad to see it ending; sad for the people who worked tirelessly for the programme over all those happy years; people without whose close friendship and many talents we would never have lasted so long. I think I can say, for all of us, tears will be shed," she said.
A tribute was also made by the former commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Sir Ian Blair, who said its transformation into a soap opera in recent years was "inevitably doomed". "The Bill fell between the pull for audiences of its origins and the desire of its scriptwriters to match the soaps, with the inevitable consequence of falling viewing. I am sorry at its passing. 'Good night, all'," he said.