Here, in the concluding part of the chat, Tim discusses the programme's ratings dip, the 2009 revamp and timeslot change, and whether the programme could ever make a comeback.
Was it quite daunting having to come up with an ending to such an iconic and well-loved show?
"Yeah, it was. We talked about it a lot and we all had ideas about what it should be and what it shouldn't be. In the end, the joy of it was that it was a total team effort - I had an idea, [executive producer] Johnathan Young had an idea - and the writer, director and James Hall who produced the episode had some ideas too. The very last piece of the puzzle was the camera operator who said that he wanted to do it hand-held - we'd planned to steady-cam it, but he said, 'I really believe it's a hand-held show and I can do it'. In terms of ways to end a series, I think if people are watching the last five minutes hoping that someone's going to run in, machine gun a load of people and set a load of explosives off, they're going to be very disappointed. But if they want something that respects the show that they've loved for 27 years, then I think they'll be very happy."
The Bill has suffered a ratings dip over the past year or so - was that preventable?
"There's things that could have been done differently, things that could have been done better, and things that are unavoidable. Drama has had a tough time, especially all-year-round drama. I also think that moving a show that everyone knows at 8pm to a new 9pm slot is a very difficult ask. We delivered as best we could, but I think it's always been a show that people will know in one way, so to suddenly try and change that is always difficult. Also, when you're on all year round, it's a huge privilege but it also means you can get taken for granted a bit. I think that all shows have a shelf life - it's a brand that could come back, and who knows what would happen if it did? But for now, ITV took the decision that it was time to say goodbye. That's the way it goes, unfortunately."
The shift to 9pm did result in quite a few changes - for example, less action at the station in favour of more location filming, a smaller cast and the introduction of music. Do you regret any of those changes now?
"I stand by everything that we did because we thought all of it through and did it all for a very good reason. We had to make the cast smaller because we were going from two episodes a week to one episode a week. At one point, we had a cast of nearly 30 people because we were making around 96 episodes per year - if you halve the episodes, you've got to halve the cast. Whoever you lose from the cast, some people will object to it. We also wanted the show to be very clearly set in London, so we did more location filming - it's always been a London-based show, but sometimes you can forget that a bit when it's more studio-based. We were also going to HD anyway, and that changes the feel and look of the show. In terms of music, all 9pm dramas have music and to be the one that didn't could work against you. There are things that I wish had worked out slightly differently, but we didn't rush any of the decisions that we made - we thought them through very carefully."
What do you think the quality of the show has been like in recent months?
"We always said it would take a while to adapt to the new timeslot and the new format, and I think that the episodes from the start of the year have been increasingly strong and have really been delivering. And I think that the stuff that's been on screen over the past few weeks proves that, so I'm really proud of everything that we've done."
Some fans of The Bill have been campaigning for another channel to pick up the show - do you think that could still happen?
"I think that at the moment it's unlikely. It's something that I have no involvement in whatsoever, so I wouldn't know anyway, although I do know that some discussions took place. At the moment, all of the channels are strapped for cash and they're all investing in new stuff of their own. I think that taking on an ITV show that's been around for a long time is not something they're keen to do at the moment. But, that said, it's a brand that has worked fantastically and who knows what might happen in a few years' time? I think that people will miss The Bill enormously - I think that the industry will miss it as drama is incredibly important to everybody's schedules, and in terms of providing all-year-round drama, The Bill did an amazing job and continues to do so right up until the last episode. I think it's going to be missed more than people think it will."
Is there anything you'd like to say to the fans who've been passionately supporting the show over the past few months?
"I'd like to say thank you - the response from the fans, whether they've liked what they've seen or haven't, has always been passionate and we've never taken that lightly. To everybody who's stuck with it until the end, we're very grateful and we hope that they will find the final pair of episodes a fitting tribute to the show. I was a fan of the show before I worked on it, so for me it's been a dream job and I've always been aware of how much it's loved by the viewing public. I'm really grateful for all of the support we've received, particularly since the news broke - we've had some really nice messages through from people, saying how sorry they were and how much they're going to miss it. So it's just a massive thank you, basically!"
Looking back at your own stint as series producer, are there any moments or storylines that you're particularly proud of?
"There's loads that I'm proud of. It's a show that can do something different with every episode and it has something to say. So recently, I'm very proud of the episode we did with Claire Bloom, showing that sexual crime can happen against older people as well as younger people - I think that's a subject matter that other shows would struggle to tackle. Looking further back, the 'Gun Runner' stories that we did with Smithy undercover were great - I thought that Alex Walkinshaw was on great form and I loved the relationship between Smithy and Stevie. I loved the 'Conviction' stuff that we did just before we moved to 9pm. I thought that Sam Callis was great in Tuesday night's episode. I loved the Grace and Neil storyline - I thought that we could have taken that to some really nice places, it had a lot of integrity and was a really sweet story. And I'm very proud of our final two episodes!"
In the current climate, TV executives seem to be favouring one-off or short-run dramas, and we're losing a lot of our ongoing serials like The Bill and Heartbeat. Do you think that's a bad thing?
"I think that any drama being made is a very good thing. The success of Sherlock recently was brilliant, because it proves that the audience wants good-quality drama. In one sense, I don't care if they're one-offs, three-parters or 50-parters - as long as drama is being made and people are watching it. I think that we're in a climate where the industry and the viewers want events more - whether those events are X Factor-style events or drama events. Sadly, that is just what some shows can't be - if you're on all year round, you can't be an event because you're just there as part of the fabric of what's going on. I think that there's room for one-offs and for 50-parters, and losing the 50-parters is a shame. Shows like Holby, Casualty and The Bill can do different things and relate to the audience in the way that other shows can't - they can sometimes take a more serious look at issues than other shows can. But as long as drama is being made, I'm happy."
And finally, what kind of legacy do you think The Bill will have?
"I think that it has an enormous legacy - it's found new talent and trained new talent. I don't know what the percentage would be, but so many people in the industry now have come via that show. I also think that The Bill has shone a light on an area of society that a lot of people aren't familiar with, and that can only be a good thing. I think that it's provided consistently high production values, consistently high writing and consistently high performances, week in, week out. Serials are the toughest type of shows to make - to generate that much story all year round is so difficult. The fact that the show has been going for 27 years just shows what a great team it's always had behind it. I think that the legacy will be that people will suddenly see a lot less drama on TV, and I think they'll really miss it."
The Bill's two-part finale begins on Tuesday, August 24 at 9pm on ITV1. The concluding part airs on Tuesday, August 31 at the same time.
Will you miss The Bill? What do you make of the decision to axe the show? Let me know your thoughts using the usual form below!