Fans of 'The Bill' were commiserating with each other over the end of an era as the show’s 26-year run finished.
As the last episode was screened last night, internet message boards were inundated with disappointed fans.
On Twitter, Sebby Wood posted: “I just wish ITV would have given it the push it deserved, and not axed it.”
And lookitsben said: “Watching the last episode of the Bill.... EVER! gonna be sad seeing this show go, been watching it ever since I was little!”
On Facebook, messages on The Bill fan page were coming in at almost one a second.
Kwesi Idun said he was “watching television history!”.
And Luke Bassil said: “The excitement of the last ever episode of the bill is really getting to me now.”
The show bowed out with a story about the gang rape of a teenage girl and the murder of a 14-year-old boy.
The episode climaxed with Sergeant Callum Stone disarming a gang leader who had a gun pointed at his head.
And it wrapped up with Superintendent Jack Meadows preaching to the assembled media in the police station – and to the audience at home – about respect.
He said: “You earn respect these days through violence, power, fear, money and the blade of a knife.”
He went on to pay tribute to his officers, saying: “I’m proud of my team and the job they do every single day and the community they serve. It’s an honour. Today was one of the good days. Thank you.”
Before the final credits rolled, as the officers went for a pint, a message appeared on screen which read: “Dedicated to the men and women of the Metropolitan Police Service past and present.”
Alex wrote on Twitter: “Well that’s the last ever The Bill done! :(( I’m well gutted! Loved that program so much! Really gunna miss it!”
But not everybody was so enthusiastic.
Another user posted: “Oh God, are they really ending The Bill like this? Weak.”
The Bill, set in the fictional London area of Sun Hill, was given a major revamp last year to win back viewers but audiences have fallen steadily in recent years.
Its format has been tweaked a number of times since it launched as a series in 1984.
Initially there were just 12 hour-long self-contained episodes but by 1988 the programme was switched to three half-hour shows a week.
A decade later the drama, which created well-loved characters such as June Ackland, Reg Hollis and Jim Carver, returned to 60-minute shows.
The show was rooted in a one-off drama Woodentop in 1983, which so impressed ITV bosses they developed it into a series with the same central characters.