Nearly 20,000 people have joined former stars and Radio One DJ Chris Moyles in campaigning for The Bill to stay on Britain’s TV screens.

A Facebook group calling for ITV to reverse its decision to axe the show after 26 years of filming in Merton has sparked widespread media interest and counts the Radio One breakfast show host as one of its supporters.

The DJ has promoted the group on air while The Bill’s executive producer and former stars, including PC Tony Stamp, have signed up as campaign members.

Newspapers in Australia have even written about the movement with the show still aired on primetime television down under.

According to the group’s founder, 34-year-old Andrea Wall, a groundswell of public opinion could force ITV to reconsider its decision.

She said: “At the moment we’ve got more than 18,000 members.

"There are a lot of distraught fans and members of the show’s production team who have worked on The Bill their whole lives.

“This is a national institution that has to be left alone - there needs to be a day-to-day police programme on our screens, not just detective programmes about serial killers.

“We’ve had young people coming on to the site saying The Bill has inspired them into becoming police officers.”

More than 90 jobs at Merton Studios in Deer Park Road are at risk while concern is spreading among actors that the show’s demise will deny future stars the chance to cut their teeth.

General secretary of actor’s Union Equity this week said: “This is a disaster. Almost every television actor in the country has at some stage worked on The Bill over the last 26 years and it is an enormously important source of work for Equity members.

“It also has a one of the most loyal audiences of any ongoing drama currently on television.

"We call on ITV to reconsider their decision to cancel this important programme.”

Russell Brand, Sean Bean and Emma Bunton are among the several household names to have made early screen appearances on The Bill.