The timely death of ITV television series 'The Bill' is to be publicised on the BBC programme Crimewatch amid hopes of fresh leads, say police.
The body of the series was discovered along with a note explaining the financial difficulties it was struggling with after its gradual decline in recent years, and its sudden ill health after massive changes in 2009. Police have reached only one conclusion in the investigation so far. 'It's dead,' said Detective Constable Jim Clifford.
'The Bill's family have told us that they believe the suicide note is not genuine. They are emphatic that the series could not have done this to itself and are, unsurprisingly, pretty insistent that we find the killer, so we're currently hunting for a celebrity murderer.'
'Whoever is responsible is clearly incredibly clever to have left no evidence of their involvement,' continued DC Clifford, 'and we're not exactly overrun with clever celebrities to interview. We have reached 'names beginning with S' already and officers are currently pumping Stephen Fry pretty hard. We obviously have no need to speak with Steven Gerrard, and we don't believe Stephen Hawking's wheelchair could have made it through the studio door as there is no ramp, plus getting the rope up over the lighting gantry could have been a challenge. We have, however, requested that he remains in the country for the time being as some officers have a hunch that he may actually be able to walk.'
Scene-of-crime investigator Michael Thorn said, 'There was clearly some frenzy to this hanging. The knots were very hastily tied, the corpse looked as if it had been struggling for some time and there appeared to be little thought put into the rope gauge used to successfully dispatch the victim. It could have easily snapped under the strain which would have left it limping along with any number of disabilities. It was very lucky to have had such a swift death.'
A reconstruction of the moments leading up to the incident will be aired on Crimewatch on Thursday night in the vain hopes of jogging viewers' memories. 'Our video is admittedly quite brief and it was difficult pinning down The Bill's last known movements,' said the detective, 'but a gentle nudge from behind made a stunt double of the lifeless script swing from the noose in a very authentic way.'
Expert advice has been sought from Sir Anthony Hopkins, drafted in to help police puzzle their way through the limited evidence. In an unusual move, the corpse of John Thaw has also been called in to assist. 'Right now we're open to any suggestions that might be useful in resolving this high-profile case. Getting John Thaw on board was Sir Anthony's idea,' explained DC Clifford, 'but with hindsight we are wondering if he knew that Mr Thaw had passed away several years ago.'
'His body is completely unrecognisable as the man we once knew as 'Morse' and to be honest we are getting a little spooked with the sight of it in our office. We need it to get a move on though as the smell is becoming unbearable as the weather warms up.'
Thaw's widow Sheila Hancock was said to be 'confused, but happy to help' after the exhumation of her late husband's body. 'I really don't see what use having another televisual corpse around will be to their investigation, but the police know best,' she said, 'although I was assured at the time of his cremation eight years ago that the ashes we sprinkled around our garden were John's.'
In a statement read on behalf of the The Bill's family, solicitor Cliff Webb said, 'We welcome the involvement of some 'big guns' from film and television in this case, and truly hope that the reconstruction on Crimewatch will help bring fresh perspective and allow us to resolve this clear case of murder once and for all. We remain convinced that police will find someone to pin this on and strongly deny any rumours that a suicide verdict would invalidate The Bill's abundant life insurance.'
The death of the series has been little mourned and has been described as 'increasingly unpopular', even amonst fans. Officers say they decided to try Crimewatch to bring the case back into the public eye after they noted similarities with other deaths worldwide, potentially spanning years. 'This could be huge,' said DC Clifford, 'we're potentially on the verge of uncovering a longstanding serial killer.'