The Bill – Bad Faith


Bad Faith opens with Carver and Dashwood on the hunt for a suspect called Warren Michaels (Anthony Lennon).  Michaels lives on a typical inner-city estate – complete with burnt out cars, barking dogs and a general air of oppression.  Dashwood spots his prey and both he and Carver give chase down numerous flights of stairs.

Michaels trips and gashes his head, which obviously creates a bad impression once other people start to take notice of the melee.  The sight of an injured young black man being roughly handled by two white police officers generates a brief moment of tension.  This is clear when Carver tells the gathering crowd that they’re the police, only to realise a second later that this statement might not necessarily diffuse the situation.  And the onlookers aren’t troublemakers, they’re a small crowd of solid citizens (both black and white) faced with a scene which will probably reinforce their low opinions of the police force.

There’s a disorientating sense to the early part of this episode, reinforced when Michaels is brought to the station, as Frank Smith’s direction favours unusual low shots.  Dashwood tells Michaels that he’s a suspect in a murder case, although that doesn’t prove to be the case – it’s simply a ruse designed to unsettle him.

When Burnside joins the fun then the tension ramps up another few notches.  Michaels is nervous and twitchy, but Burnside ruthlessly overrides his request for a solicitor.  The interview, conducted in something of an ad hoc manner, also doesn’t seem to be recorded.  Dashwood later explains to Carver that “boys like this want us to give them a good hiding, gives them status, martyrdom.”  Cryer, overhearing the conversation, mutters that Dashwood is beginning to sound more and more like Burnside.

Dashwood and Cryer are plainly placed in opposition here.  Dashwood is keen to nail Michaels for a series of burglaries but admits that without clear evidence they’re dependent on an incriminating statement from him – so he sees nothing wrong in pushing as far as he possibly can.  And with a rising crime rate (allied to pressure for convictions) it’s a point of view that’s no doubt shared by many of his colleagues.

Cryer operates in a different field.  If the plain clothes branch deal with detection, then the uniform police are more concerned with prevention and maintaining law and order in general.   Cryer’s comment that Dashwood was a good PC indicates that he’s changed after switching “sides” although this could be taken as an inevitable consequence.

Carver, younger and more idealistic, attempts to see both sides.  Unlike Dashwood he views most of the residents on the estate as ordinary people trying to do the best they can.  If they demonize them or make the estate a no-go area then it’s only going to inflame the situation.  Will Jim manage to retain his optimism or will the system crush him?  Only time will tell.

After someone nicks the tyres from Dashwood’s car (and then drops a fridge on it for good measure!) the episode ends in confusion.  We never find out whether Michaels was guilty or innocent, although the inference seems to be that Dashwood’s been wasting his time and energy in the wrong place.  What’s certain is that police/community relations have suffered something of a knock.

The Bill – Stealing Cars and Nursery Rhymes


Yorkie befriends a young lad, Jimmy Nelson (Martino Lazzeri).  Jimmy and his mates have little going for them, which means they are almost guaranteed to drift into a life of crime.  Yorkie is keen to help but others, such as Haynes, are much more cynical and convinced it’s bound to end badly ….

Yorkie’s first meeting with Jimmy isn’t terribly auspicious.  Jimmy, sitting in a van, is attempting to start the engine.  When Yorkie asks if he’s trying to steal it, the boy replies that he is.  The owner of the van – from the local youth centre, St Marks – quickly diffuses the situation, but Jimmy isn’t impressed with Yorkie’s warning not to do it again (“go lick your bottom”).

When Jimmy’s with his friends then they’re all something of a handful – stealing Yorkie’s helmet when he enters the youth centre, for example – but later he encounters Yorkie on his own and they start a conversation.  For Yorkie this is something of a breakthrough, Jimmy may appear to be something of a bad lad (there’s a suggesting he’s into glue sniffing) but Yorkie’s convinced there’s good underneath.

He can’t find anyone else to share his opinions though.  Haynes tells him that the boys are worthless – they don’t respect their homes, families or anyone else.  It would be interesting to get to know their future customers, but apart from that what’s the point?  Eamonn Walker and Robert Hudson go at each other hammer and tongs in an entertaining scene.  Since arriving at Sun Hill, Haynes hasn’t done anything controversial, so this is the first time he’s really emerged as a character.

Indeed, Haynes’ outspoken views might have been better suited to Nick Ramsey, but he’s got troubles of his own – a stray dog has attached himself to him and won’t let go.  Exactly how the dog managed to sneak into the station without anyone noticing is anyone’s guess, but it sets up a nice comedy reaction when Ramsey twigs that the pooch is still dogging (sorry) his footsteps.

Luckily the dog is wearing a collar, so Ramsey is able to off-load him back to his owner.  Except that the man (Tom Cotcher) tells him that it isn’t his dog (he died) but it is his collar!  So he takes the collar and leaves Ramsey still holding the dog.  Cotcher would return a few years later as DC Alan Woods.

Martino Lazzeri might have been fifteen at the time, but he was rather diminutive for his age, meaning that Jimmy appears to be a much younger character (barely into his teens).  With the other subplots being quite minor, Julian Jones is able to concentrate on the relationship between Yorkie and Jimmy.  Yorkie sees plenty of good in the boy, but is it enough to keep him on the right side of the law?

After being introduced with a bang a few weeks earlier, Ramsey’s not really featured terribly heavily since, nor has his shady past been referenced.  This was something of a feature of this era of the programme, with each episode tending to be very self-contained.  But Ramsey has his hands full here – not only does he have a new canine best friend, but he also has to reassure an anxious old woman that the Martians haven’t landed next door (it’s a satellite dish) and then deal with a mugging victim.  At least with the mugging there’s a nod back to the fact that he’s not really a people person – Ramsey often struggles to keep a civil tongue in his head when dealing with members of the public.

But then he does something unexpected – giving the UFO woman the dog.  Yes in a way he’s simply offloading a problem, but the old woman reacts with such pleasure that it’s hard not to imagine that he was partially motived by the thought of doing a good deed.

There’s a glimmer of hope for Jimmy and the others as the episode ends on an optimistic note.  It would have been nice to revisit Jimmy a few years later to see whether he did manage to stay out of trouble, but although Lazzeri made a few more Bill appearances, none were as Jimmy.  Lazzeri had a particularly active career during the 1990’s (he’ll be recognizable to Grange Hill viewers as Joe Williams) and it’s Jimmy’s amusing interaction with Yorkie which forms the heart of a strong episode.