❉ It’s a fair cop! The stars of “The Bill” share their memories.
We’re big fans of podcasts here at We Are Cult, and we’re always looking for new shows to subscribe to. So if you’re looking for ear candy, we’re here to help!
This week: Author, Podcaster and Researcher Oliver Crocker tells us all about The Bill Podcast.
What’s your podcast about?
New interviews with actors who played regular characters in “The Bill” (1984-2010).
Which episode would you recommend for a first-time listener? Do you have a favourite episode?
The first episode with Jon Iles set the tone for the whole Podcast: Jon was incredibly generous with his time and he was also very honest, especially on how he handled the fame element, which made for a cracking interview. Chris Humphreys, Andrew Mackintosh and Larry Dann all listened to Jon’s Podcast to get a feel for the tone before agreeing to do their own. I loved interviewing Jon and could have chatted to him for hours. He’s had a really interesting career both before and after “The Bill” and he is a very funny man, I was giggling throughout so had to do a lot of muting on my audio stream… So I’ll always have a fondness for that first episode.
What inspired you to create this podcast?
I treated myself to all the Network DVD releases of “The Bill” at Christmas. From the very beginning, the writing and performances combine to create some of the most iconic characters to ever grace British television: Ackland, Brownlow, Burnside, Carver, Cryer, Dashwood, Galloway, Hollis, Martella, Roach… all recognisable names three decades on! I find some of the actors quite addictive to watch and the more stunning performances I watched, the more my appetite grew to celebrate their work. The DVDs had no interviews or commentaries on them and in some cases I couldn’t find any interviews with the actors on the internet either. So I thought I’d see if any of the legends would be up for a chat.
I had a good project under my belt as in December 2016 my book All Memories Great & Small was published, where I’d interviewed 60 talented cast and crew. Though juggling a full-time job, a happy marriage and writing over 130,000 words for the book was challenging at times, so I felt a monthly Podcast was the way to go as I could bank a few interviews before I released the first podcast, so I always have a three month buffer. I couldn’t believe no-one had made a Podcast on “The Bill” before, though in the few months since I started, the series seems to have just elevated to Cult status and Fantom Films and Misty Moon have cast reunion events lined up later this year. 2017 seems to be a good time to be a fan of “The Bill”!
Which guests have you had on your podcast so far?
At the time of writing: Jon Iles (DC Mike Dashwood 1984-92/96), Ben Peyton (PC Ben Hayward 2000-02), Chris Humphreys (PC Richard Turnham 1989-90) and coming up: Andrew Mackintosh (DS Alastair Greig 1989-98) and Larry Dann (Sgt Alec Peters 1984-92/04) and I am interviewing three more legends in June.
Ben I’ve known for ten years and is a good friend. Chris was pleasantly surprised to be asked as he felt there would be lots of other people I’d want to interview ahead of him as he was only in the show for a year, but he’s had such an interesting and varied career. I couldn’t believe there were no interviews with Andrew or Larry on the internet, especially as they were both in the series for 9-10 years, so I felt very lucky to be capturing some rare gold dust.
Who would be your dream guest?
There are so many actors that I admire from this series that I’d love to interview, picking one dream guest is impossible. Some of the regular cast over the years have given some of the best performances I have ever seen on television – that is my favourite moment, when I get to tell them how much their work is appreciated. Though there are some wonderful actors who are no longer with us that I’d have loved to have interviewed: Roger Leach, Kevin Lloyd, Bernie Nolan, Gary Olsen, Colin Tarrant… RIP legends.
Which equipment do you use for your podcast set-up?
I used to co-present the Dad’s Army Podcast, where the main presenter and my good friend James Rockliffe used to wince when I sent him my recordings from a dodgy old dictaphone… So I invested in a Zoom H2N, which does me proud and I use this when interviewing in person in London. I lucked out for the first Podcast because Jon Iles, who is based in Devon, is a prolific voiceover artist and very kindly recorded his stream from a professional booth and I synced it up with my recording afterwards. I knew I wouldn’t always be that lucky, so I bought some software called Piezo which records both streams from Skype (you need to plug in headphones though or it will echo on the recording) and this worked very well for Chris Humphreys, who lives in Canada. I then edit the Podcasts in Audacity.
What would you say is the best length of time for a podcast episode?
I usually interview for an hour and then trim down to 45 minutes – that allows time to chat about each interviewee’s life and career as a whole, whilst also chatting in-depth about “The Bill”. Any good anecdotes that aren’t about “The Bill” that don’t fit into the 45 minutes, I then post as exclusive weekly clips on Facebook and Twitter in-between the monthly episodes. Larry Dann has done so much work in his career, I was spoilt for choice for discussion, so there are extra clips about “Dixon of Dock Green”, “Z Cars” and his theatre work with Joan Littlewood.
Which podcasts (other than yours) would you recommend we listen to?
The guru for me is Toby Hadoke, his Who’s Round podcasts are always immaculately researched and conducted and Toby is a warm and witty host. He also never makes the Podcasts about him, he keeps the focus on his guests. I have tried to emulate that approach too, my intros and outros are getting shorter and shorter on The Bill Podcast and I am always trimming my questions down – the listeners aren’t tuning in to hear me after all. I tried to listen to a Podcast the other day and it was over two minutes until the interview started, the Podcaster started telling his life story – and it was their fifteenth episode!
And I’ll give a cheeky plug for my old pal James, he made 68 episodes of the Dad’s Army Podcast and I joined in for about 30 of them, at its peak we had over 130,000 downloads an episode! He then made the Doctor Who Podcast and those guys did a great job. James has a very dry wit and I enjoyed listening to him, though nowadays he spends his spare time running 10Ks with his wife and daughter – much healthier than Podcasting!
Where is your podcast available to listen to?
What is the future of podcasting as a creative medium?
Technology now makes it easier than ever to Podcast, so I think as long as people are happy to make them and heroes like We Are Cult are kind enough to promote them, then hopefully they can continue for many years to come. I have not made The Bill Podcast to make money, it is available as a free download and listeners are encouraged to donate to charity. It does cost money to have a Soundcloud Pro account, though I am happy to pay this to fulfil my hobby – it is cheaper than a gym membership – and for me, a lot more enjoyable! Each Podcast links to a charity that each interviewee nominates, so far the charities have included The Kit Wilson Trust, Meningitis Now, Greenpeace and Whizz Kidz – so Podcasting can help worthy causes too, so if anyone fancies donating a couple of quid, I’m sure they’d be grateful.
❉ Download past episodes or subscribe to future episodes of The Bill Podcast for free on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/the-bill-podcast/id1217004058?mt=2
❉ Soundcloud – https://soundcloud.com/thebillpodcast
❉ Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/thebillpodcast/
❉ Have you got a podcast? Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like it to be featured.