For the second series in 1985, the titles were completely changed: now, they began with a shot of the Area Car approaching the camera with blue light flashing and siren wailing, and then its tyres screeching as the music began: the camera would end up with a close-up on the blue light atop the car. Two-second filtered action shots of various members of the cast were then shown, interspersed with images of the blue light. "The Bill" and "Devised by Geoff McQueen" would then appear over a hold shot of the light, and then the episode would begin.
The 1988 titles removed the filter effect, and were updated to reflect cast changes. The first rework of the theme tune: "Overkill", debuted in 1988. It also introduced another trademark to the titles: Sergeant Bob Cryer was always the last person to be shown. In this title sequence, he is talking and nodding. The 1991 sequence differs as it does not actually feature the area car driving towards camera, and simply begins with the police light spinning before cutting through the cast footage. The credit "The Bill" is shown over a shot of the new area car driving past camera, and Cryer is now shouting at someone. In 1993, the title sequence changed once again to one closer resembling the one seen in 1988, with a new area car driving towards camera again and Cryer is shouting at someone (Same as the 1991 titles but slightly longer).
In 1996, an ingenious addition was made. Separate title sequences were created with specially-filled footage: one for episodes that took place during the day and one for those set at night. Again, a new Area Car in the credits, and the timing of the music was subtly changed. Instead of kicking in immediately after the screech of tyres, it now begun at the same time. In both title sequences, Cryer looks up for the camera.
In 1998, in the second major revamp of the tithe old titles were thrown out entirely, in favour of new opening titles featuring images of generic police things: dayglo jackets, hats, a suspect being interviewed, and a map in CAD (Computer Aided Dispatch) among other things. The Bill's current logo was introduced along with the new titles.
The titles were changed in 2001 to show cast members moving in slow motion, fading in and out of each other with a blue filter effect and the music was remixed to take it back closer to the 1988 Pask/Morgan mix of "Overkill". This was updated in 2002 to take into account the huge cast turnaround.
With characters arriving and departed so rapidly by this stage (9 officers died in 2002), the 2003 titles vaugly resembled the 1998 ones, removing the cast members, and showed police related images over a checkerboard effect.
On the 3 January, 2007 to bring in the new year, the episode opening titles were revamped once again, paying homage to the original 1984 titles. The 2007 ones have shots of London, interspersed with police work and shots of Sun Hill Police Station. The break bumpers and music were also updated.
The length of the closing credits in the earlier years last over one-and-a-half minutes, with the length slowly being cut down to around 36 seconds by the mid 90s. Three versions of the credits were filmed.
In 1998, the plodding feet closing was scrapped, and replaced with police images. 2001's closing sequence featured police images in the style of the 2001 opening credits. Eventually, by late 2002, ITV's new policy on credits had come into force and from then on, the closing credits have adorned the ITV default backdrop. Luckily by 2008, the closing credits were renewed and the clips were of a camera inside an area car driving around london.
The Bill's theme music is called "Overkill" and was written by Andy Pask and Charlie Morgan. Rick Wakeman was offered the chance to write the theme tune either for this series or for "Lytton's Diary" (1985). He chose the latter, believing that it had the best potential of the two to be a long running series. It ran for two seasons.
There are several versions of Overkill. The first used for the 1984-87 titles, featured a guitar riff, with synthesiser, bass and drum accompaniment, with "middle-eight" sections performed on synthesizers. It was reworked in 1988 with a new arrangement of instruments, this version (of various lengths) was used throughout the 1988-1998 titles. A bouncy prominent saxophone riff was introduced, and is better known than the original. Both versions were written in the irregular time of 7/8 with the exception of the "middle-eight" sections which were written in 4/4. Later in 1998, Mark Russell arranged a new version of the theme. It was "jazzed" up to make it more soapy sounding, to go along with the new revamp of the series. The saxophone became more prominent, (or "stressed out"), and had a metre of 4/4 instead of the irregular 7/8. The "middle-eight" sections were omitted from this arrangement, as with the rest from this point on.
New music came with the 2001 titles. A darker tune was adopted with electronic instruments. There have been two recordings of this arrangement. One which cuts out some of the beginning riff, and the other which uses the full main riff. The arrangement which came with the 2003 titles was a pumped up version of the original 1984 version of Overkill; this has been changed slightly for the 2007 titles. The current arrangement is by Lawrence Oakley.