Heartbeat (TV series)

Heartbeat (TV series)

Infobox Television
show_name = Heartbeat

caption = "Heartbeat" opening credits
genre = Period crime drama
creator = Keith Richardson
Gerry Mill
director =
developer =
starring = Various
theme_music_composer =
opentheme = "Heartbeat" performed by Nick Berry
endtheme =
composer =
country = United Kingdom
language = English
num_series = 17
num_episodes = 348 (as of 28 September 2008)
list_episodes = List of Heartbeat episodes
executive_producer =
producer = Yorkshire Television
(now branded ITV Productions)
supervising_producer =
asst_producer =
co-producer =
editor =
story_editor =
location =
camera =
runtime = 60 minutes
(including adverts)
network = ITV
picture_format =
audio_format =
first_aired = 10 April 1992
last_aired = present
related = "The Royal"
"The Royal Today"
website = http://www.itv.com/heartbeat
imdb_id = 0101114
tv_com_id = http://www.tv.com/heartbeat/show/2810/summary.html

"Heartbeat" is a long-running British TV police drama series set in 1960s Yorkshire.

It is made by ITV Productions at The Leeds Studios for broadcast on ITV. "Heartbeat" first aired on 10 April 1992. By Autumn 2008, it had reached its 18th series, nearly clocking up over 350 episodes – a feat that few series achieve.cite news|url=http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/soaps/a78112/heartbeat-star-forced-to-use-stuntman.html|title='Heartbeat' star forced to use stuntman|first=Beth|last=Hilton|publisher=Digital Spy|date=20 October 2007]

The 18th series is due to begin 12 October 2008, filming of which began end of May 2008.

According to the new Producer Kathleen Beedles who is the current producer as of Series 18 Heartbeat is expected to be on till Series 20 (2010 - 2011) depending if they make a 24 episode contract, the series will end up with 420 episodes in its history at the end of the 20th series.

"Heartbeat" has proved perennially popular. The early series consistently drew over 10 million viewers. [ [http://www.tv.com/niamh-cusack/person/79316/biography.html Niamh Cusack - TV.com website] ] In 2001 the show came sixth in the UK TV ratings list with a peak audience of 13.82 million, [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/tv_and_radio/1786586.stm 2001 TV ratings] ] and it was sixth again in 2003, with 12.8 million viewers. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/tv_and_radio/3372245.stm 2003 TV ratings] ]

Background to the series

The show is set in the 1960s and revolves around the work of a group of police officers in the fictional town of Ashfordly in the North Riding of Yorkshire, whose "patch" also includes the nearby village of Aidensfield, a fictionalised version of the real-life village of Goathland in the North York Moors, where the series is partly filmed. Each episode is an hour long, including commercial breaks.

The series is loosely based on the "Constable" books by Peter Walker under the pen-name Nicholas Rhea. The title "Heartbeat" was chosen to represent "the bobby’s beat and the medical connotations of the word 'heart'" [ [http://www.itv.com/page.asp?partID=1884 Why the title of "Heartbeat" was chosen] ] . The show was originally a starring vehicle for ex-"EastEnders" actor Nick Berry, cast as PC Nick Rowan, the Aidensfield policeman newly arrived from London. Berry also sings "Heartbeat"'s theme song – the Buddy Holly song of the same name. Berry's recording reached number 2 on the UK singles chart in 1992.

Over time the show has evolved into an ensemble drama. The motorcycle-riding Aidensfield village bobby, the role originally played by Berry, continues be central to the storylines, but in recent series the main cast has been listed in alphabetical order on the opening credits, reflecting its standing as an ensemble piece with no clear 'star'. In the 2005 series no fewer than twelve regular actors had their names and faces included in the opening credits – an all-time record for any British series.

Although the show is often criticised for seeing the 1960s through rose-tinted spectacles, in reality it has tended to avoid the usual "swinging sixties" clichés. If there is a cultural revolution going on, then it's not going on in Aidensfield and Ashfordly. Some episodes do, however, make reference to swinging sixties culture, as well as to hippies and psychedelia, usually imposed on the community by outsiders. Sixties pop music is prominent, forming the soundtrack to the show. Occasionally records from the 1970s appear, anachronistically, on the soundtrack (The Hollies' 1974 hit "The Air That I Breathe" being an example). In an extreme example (and perhaps a deliberate effort to confound expectations), the closing scene of the series 17 episode "You Never Can Tell" is accompanied by The Flying Pickets' 1983 hit, "Only You".

The notion that people were friendlier and the world was safer in the 1960s is given short shrift too. The local people are often portrayed as insular and suspicious of strangers, and the area's high crime rate speaks for itself. Nevertheless, although its storylines regularly involve serious crimes and human tragedy, later series of "Heartbeat" deal with these themes in a relatively cosy and comfortable manner compared to many modern TV police dramas, and much of the grittiness and social realism of the early series has disappeared. Episode 16.14 ("Another Little Piece Of My Heart") was given a warning before airing on ITV1 due to its "containing scenes of domestic violence", though these proved to be relatively mild by modern standards.


When the programme began, it was set in 1964. The setting then moved on, approximately in "real time", until it reached early 1969, where – apart from the Christmas episodes – it has now remained for some years. However, the show's chronology has been seen to be quite flexible: the inhabitants of Ashfordly and Aidensfield have certainly celebrated more than four Christmases between 1965 and 1969.

The 1998 episode "Heartbeat: Changing Places", which follows Sgt. Rowan as a Mountie, opens with the caption "1968". This is sometimes said to be the only explicit time reference in the series, though one 2004 episode was specifically set on 6 February 1969, the date being deliberately displayed clearly in an extreme close-up of "today's newspaper". Whenever a car or motorcycle's tax disc is shown on screen, it is always valid until 31 December 1969. However, the show often depicts steam trains still in service on British Railways, which is incorrect for 1969 since steam-hauled passenger services finished in August 1968.

The Torrey Canyon oil spill provided an off-screen plot point in a series ostensibly set in 1969, despite having actually occurred two years earlier. An episode broadcast in August 2007, "One Small Step", depicted the people of Aidensfield gathering in the pub to watch the Apollo 11 moon landing, which precisely "dates" the story to 20 July 1969, though it was actually aired just three weeks after an episode that was clearly set in winter. Perhaps anachronistically, the Moon Landing episode featured an early example of hoax accusations – Peggy Armstrong casts doubt on the authenticity of the mission and takes fake photos of David Stockwell in a space suit to prove her point. The locals are unimpressed by her efforts. The series 16 finale used the Northern Ireland "Troubles", generally acknowledged as starting in 1969, as a plotline. In the series 17 episode "Bully Boys", David's invitation to a school reunion gives the date as 9 March 1969. Since this is before "One Small Step", yet the episode takes place after the death of Phil Bellamy. In the series 17 episode "Taking Stock" Alf Ventress complains his car Austin Allegro is an old banger when it fails to start, however it has an H registration plate, which means the car can be no older than August 1969. It can be inferred that there is no longer a consistent internal chronology within the series.


The North York Moors scenery is the backdrop to most episodes. In earlier series, Aidensfield's most distinctive local landmark – like that of its real-life counterpart – was the RAF Fylingdales Early Warning Station, the exterior of which appeared in numerous episodes. This is no longer featured, however, since the original "golf balls" were demolished in the 1990s. When the action moves further afield (for example, when an old-fashioned market town is required or a criminal attempts a getaway by sea), the towns of Whitby or Otley are normally used (Scarborough is occasionally featured instead for variety). Other real-life towns and cities — such as Leeds, York, Sheffield, Hull, Middlesbrough, Northallerton, Harrogate and Saltburn-by-the-Sea — are also sometimes mentioned.

On occasions when real-life maps have been shown on screen, the town of Ashfordly has been indicated to be in the location of real-life Grosmont, some six miles southwest of Whitby (though Ashfordly is portrayed as a reasonable-sized market town, whereas real-life Grosmont is a small village). Aidensfield (although not explicitly pointed out), would then fit in neatly with the real-life location of Goathland (where much of the show is filmed), which lies about nine miles southwest of Whitby and about two and a half miles from Grosmont.

A distance of two and a half miles between Ashfordly and Aidensfield fits with the impression given in the series that the two are very close. For example, all the Ashfordly police – not just the constable assigned to Aidensfield – seem particularly well acquainted with the village and its affairs and inhabitants, and seem to treat the Aidensfield village pub as their "local". In one episode Vernon Scripps stated that Ashfordly is "a few miles" from Aidensfield, and in the series 11 episode "Class Act" Gina Ward again describes Ashfordly as "a few miles up the road". However, in another episode it was stated that racers in "hot rod" cars took about 17 minutes to make the journey. Even at a very conservative 35 m.p.h. along the country roads, this still equates to a distance of ten miles – rather further than expected. Given the terrain and local geography of Goathland and the surrounding area this could be explicable on the basis of true distances (as the crow flies) vs the actual distance traveled by the road. The area is one of steep, narrow valleys, and roads follow the contours of the hills and can cross to the other side of the valley in certain specific locations only. It is easy to travel 10-12 miles to reach a destination only 3-4 miles from one's starting point.

In the series 16 episode "Memoirs of a Fighting Man" it was said, in reference to Aidensfield Garage, that "there isn't another garage around for twenty miles". It seems inconceivable that a 1960s town the size of Ashfordly would not have a garage, so by this evidence the distance is greater than twenty miles. In addition to this, at the start of series 17, Aidensfield is described as being "too far away" from Ashfordly for there not to be a police presence. In the series 17 episode "Heirs Apparent", Ashfordly Hall was said to be a quarter of a mile from the Aidensfield Arms.

In 2005–07 Hornby Railways based a Skaledale Model series on Goathland railway station, part of the North York Moors Railway, which features in the show as Aidensfield Station. The same station is used in the series of "Harry Potter" films.


First series

The first series dealt mainly with the experiences of a young married couple, PC Nick Rowan and Doctor Kate Rowan, arriving in a small Yorkshire village after living in London. Both faced initial suspicion from the villagers, but over the course of the series came to be accepted as part of the community. The stories focused almost entirely on the experiences of the two main characters. The build-up to the wedding of Sandra and Alan, two youngsters from the village, provided a running thread through the first series. However, Sandra and Alan were never seen, or even mentioned, after the first series.

ubsequent series

Once the characters had settled in, subsequent series focused more on the criminal and medical storylines, with a greater role for the other policemen at the Ashfordly station, who had appeared in the first series but only as quite minor supporting characters. Various new characters were introduced along the way, such as Gina Ward, played by Tricia Penrose. After Kate Rowan's death from leukaemia, Nick Rowan gained a new love interest, teacher Jo Weston. The two married and emigrated to Canada, and the central role of local Aidensfield bobby has since changed hands several times – as has the role of Aidensfield doctor. These and numerous other changes to the cast that have taken place over seventeen series are detailed in the "List of Heartbeat characters" article.

As of January 2008 (Series 17), two regular characters have survived from the first series: Oscar Blaketon (played by Derek Fowlds) and Alf Ventress (William Simons). Phil Bellamy (Mark Jordon), another original, was written out of the show in Series 17. The recurring character of Lord Ashfordly, played by Rupert Vansittart, is also a survivor. Gina Ward (Tricia Penrose), who was introduced early in the second series, is also still present.

As it reaches middle age, the show has become rather formulaic, with most episodes following a very similar structure. The main storylines are generally to do with criminal activity and related medical matters, and personal traumas. Typically one or more crimes take place, which are investigated by the Aidensfield bobby and the other policemen from the Ashfordly police station. The villains are almost always apprehended by the end of the episode, and usually appear for one episode only.

In parallel, the regular "lovable rogue" character of the day dreams up some scheme or other, often involving making money on the fringes of the law. This forms the sub-plot, which acts as light (and sometimes comic) relief. Sometimes these sub-plots are closely interwoven with the main storyline; other times they barely impinge and might be better termed "parallel plots". Other regular local characters get involved in the main plot or sub-plot in one way or another, with the Aidensfield Arms village pub and Aidensfield Garage featuring prominently.

Storylines are usually resolved within the episode, but the development of the main characters and their personal relationships – especially love interests – takes place over many episodes or even series. Because each episode is designed to be more-or-less self-contained, the show can sometimes appear to suffer from abrupt lurches in continuity. Extremely dramatic and traumatic events that afflict the central characters are often forgotten by the next episode, and characters who assume great importance in one episode, as, say, relatives or close friends are frequently never seen nor mentioned again.


United Kingdom

"Heartbeat" airs in the ITV Network Sunday evening 20:00 or 19:00 timeslot. All "Heartbeat" episodes are 45 minutes long (one hour with adverts). When "Heartbeat" first began on 10 April 1992 it aired on Fridays at 21:00, but has now moved to Sunday nights. The opening episode of Series 11 was planned to be the show's first two-hour episode, but it was eventually split into a two-part story, 'Sweet Sixteen' and 'She's Leaving Home'. In 1994 a one-off feature length episode was filmed, starring Lloyd Owen as constable Tom Merriweather.

In recent years, "Heartbeat" re-runs have appeared on ITV during the summer months (often billed on-screen as "Classic Heartbeat"), typically at 17:00 or, in 2006, at 16:00. In 2006, episodes from the first few series were repeated again. These were originally designed to be screened with two commercial breaks, but were slightly edited for time to fit ITV's newer policy of having three breaks. Most of the swearing ("bloody", "bastard", etc.) that was present in the early episodes was edited out for these daytime broadcasts.

Series 1 – 10 have also been repeated on ITV3. For these broadcasts, the episodes were kept in their original two commercial break format. Most of the early swearing was edited out, but in some episodes was left in. (However, more recently, some of the ITV three-commercial break edited versions have appeared on ITV3 mixed in with the original versions of other episodes, in late night airings of the series).

A one-off special, "Heartbeat: Farewell to Phil", commemorating the departure of the long-running character Phil Bellamy, whose final scenes aired the previous night, was broadcast on ITV on 24 December 2007. Actor Mark Jordon relived his time on the series, along with contributions from fellow actors.

"Heartbeat" around the world

*The series airs on Sunday evenings at 20:00 on TV3 in Ireland.
*The series airs on Saturday afternoons on TV1 in New Zealand.
*The series airs on Weekday afternoons on ETV in Estonia. In Estonia it is called "Südameasi"
*The series airs daily on both TV2 and its sister channel, TV2 Charlie in Denmark, where it has been retitled "Små og store synder" (English: "Small and Large Sins" or "Petty and Big Sins".)
*The series airs weekday mornings in Sweden. Broadcaster TV4 has retitled the show "Tillbaka till Aidensfield" ("Back to Aidensfield").
*The series also airs every Saturday evening in Norway where broadcasting channel NRK1 has named it "Med hjartet på rette staden" ("With the heart in the right place"). Reruns are shown every Monday morning.
*In Finland, YLE broadcasts the series on Friday evenings at 19:10. The show has been retitled "Sydämen asialla" ("In the business of the heart").
* The series airs on Friday nights at 21:00 in Ontario, Canada, on TV Ontario, a public broadcaster.
* The series also airs Saturday nights in British Columbia, Canada at 20:00 on Knowledge, the publicly owned network.
* The series used to air in Australia on ABC TV and then the Seven Network, which is airing over the Summer non-ratings period, on Saturday evenings. Australia is seeing episodes from series 15. Episodes are currently being shown on 7HD on weekdays at 12pm.
* The series airs every weekday on Flemish public broadcaster één in Belgium.


* 1995 – ITV Programme of the Year (TRIC Award) – Won
* 1998 – ITV Programme of the Year – Won
* 1998 – ITV Programme of the Year – National Television Award – Most Popular Newcomer (Jason Durr) – Nominated
* 2007 – Best European Drama (voted by Norwegian viewers) – Won
* 2008 – Best Drama (nominated by ITV Studios along with "The Royal" and "Emmerdale") – Won

ee also

* List of Heartbeat episodes
* List of Heartbeat characters
* Heartbeat (recordings) — video and DVD releases

"The Royal"

The ITV medical drama series "The Royal" was originally a spin-off from "Heartbeat", with the twelfth-series "Heartbeat" episode "Out of the Blue" serving as an introductory pilot for the show, with the Aidensfield police officers conducting parts of their investigations in "The Royal" hospital. The series initially had close ties with "Heartbeat", and several "Heartbeat" characters made an appearance. However, over time "The Royal" has gone on to develop its own separate identity. Currently [2007] , series of "Heartbeat" and "The Royal" alternate (interspersed with other unrelated series) to occupy the ITV Sunday evening 20:00 timeslot.

On the 22 March 2007 a new ITV tea-time soap, "The Royal Today", was announced, itself a spinoff from "The Royal".


External links

* [http://www.tv.com/heartbeat/show/2810/summary.html "Heartbeat" at TV.com]
* [http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0101114/ "Heartbeat" at the Internet Movie Database]
* [http://www.collectingbooksandmagazines.com/heartbeat.html Backgrounder on "Heartbeat" origins] in the Nicholas Rhea "Constable" series

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