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The British TV series Heartbeat must be one of the most tenacious, still-existing British television series (ITV). It takes place in and around the police station of a fictional village in Yorkshire, Aidensfield, in the mid/late 1960s. It combines serious, often controversial drama with comedy. The series is now scheduled to end with its nineteenth season in the spring of 2010.
Heartbeat started out as an amiable, slightly nostalgic series taking place in a period where English Bobbies were unarmed and always able to talk criminals into giving up themselves peacefully in the Queen's name.
Gradually, the series took a more
realistic course, showing police officers and doctors dying in the line of
duty as well as terrorism and violent crime. Frequently, dark shadows of
World War II fall over Aidensfield residents, too. During the series no less
than four doctors (GPs) and four constables have perished in different
circumstances (grave illness, accidents and homicide).
Heartbeat differs from other period dramas by the use of contemporary pop and rock music on its sound track. Reflecting this, a large number of episode titles are quotations from Sixties pop songs, eg Love Me Do, Get Back and Keep On Running. The choice of music thus comments the plot itself by related songs. An example: frequently, The Shadows´ FBI and Mystery Man are used while constables are searching for villains and crooks.
Of course, the show's title song is Buddy Holly's Heartbeat (1959), in this case sung by ‘singing actor’ Nick Berry. In this version, Heartbeat reached No 2 on the English singles chart.
(As readers might remember, bassist Jim Dewar (of Robin Trower Band) recorded the song on his Stumbledown Romancer album (produced by Matthew Fisher, organ by MF, too).)
At the beginning of Season 1, PC Nick Rowan and his physician wife Kate move to Aidensfield around 1964/65, illustrated by The Kinks' hits on the soundtrack. But rather soon, we are introduced to pop music dating from 1967 such as A Whiter Shade of Pale. In the latest Seasons, music quotations from 1969 (and a few from 1970) are heard.
Viewers hear hit songs from The Shadows, Spencer Davis, Herman's Hermits, Dave Clark 5, Hollies, The Kinks, The Tremeloes, Marmalade (especially Reflections of My Life…),Cream, King Crimson, Jethro Tull and Procol Harum. The Beatles, The Stones and The Who, however, are apparently absent.
Musical guest stars have included Lulu, Alan Price and Murray Head (in a speaking part only). We have also witnessed quite a persuasive Spencer Davis Group copy band perform early Steve Winwood music. Actress Tricia Penrose (Gina Ward) has shown her capability as a pop singer in the manner of Motown, Sandie Shaw, Cilla Black and Lulu.
On Heartbeat, Procol Harum music is frequently used, as shown below. In total, fourteen different Procol tracks have been used. Of course A Whiter Shade of Pale is the winner, having appeared in no fewer than fourteen different episodes.) The spin-off series 'The Royal' continued the narrating use of contemporary pop and rock, now including songs from 1970 – such as The Dead Man's Dream (Home, 1970).
Songs of Procol Harum heard on Heartbeat
Season Year No. Episode title Song title Notes
1 1992 10 Keep On Running A Whiter Shade of Pale
3 1993 26 The Frighteners A Whiter Shade of Pale
5 1995 59 Saint Columba's Treasure A Whiter Shade of Pale
(6 1996 69 Catch Us If You Can (note below *)
7 1997/98 89 What the Butler Saw Repent Walpurgis
7 1997/98 102 Love Me Do Kaleidoscope
A Whiter Shade of Pale
8 1998/99 113 Hot Rocks A Whiter Shade of Pale
8 1998/99 119 Twists of Fate Conquistador
8 1998/99 121 Fire and Ashes Repent Walpurgis
9 1999/2000 131 Honor Among Thieves A Whiter Shade of Pale
9 1999/2000 143 For Art's Sake A Whiter Shade of Pale
A Whiter Shade of Pale
10 2000/01 153 Dog Collar A Whiter Shade of Pale
10 2000/01 162 Safe House A Whiter Shade of Pale
10 2000/01 172 Consequences Kaleidoscope
11 2001/02 183 Uninvited Guests A Whiter Shade of Pale
12 2002/03 202 Where There's Muck Conquistador
12 2002/03 213 The High Life A Whiter Shade of Pale
12 2002/03 221 Mackerel Sky A Whiter Shade of Pale
14 2004/05 255 Say It with Flowers Long Gone Geek
14 2004/05 258 Stormy Weather Too Much Between Us
14 2004/05 260 In Sickness and In Health The Milk of Human Kindness
14 2004/05 269 Rustlers and Hustlers Juicy John Pink
14 2004/05 270 Duty of Care Long Gone Geek
15 2005/06 275 A Fresh Start The Milk Of Human Kindness
15 2005/06 279 Family Ties The Milk Of Human Kindness
15 2005/06 287 Living With the Past A Whiter Shade of Pale
15 2005/06 291 Get Back A Salty Dog
17 2007/08 325 Stop Gap Crucifiction Lane
17 2007/08 326 Heirs Apparent A Whiter Shade of Pale
Shine On Brightly
In Held 'Twas In I (excerpts)
17 2007/08 327 Night Mail About To Die
*) In this episode, our lovable poacher Claude Greengrass is trying to make a quid renting out jukeboxes. In a sales speech at the village inn, he points out that the jukebox contains all the new hit song by bands such as Jethro Tull and Procol Harum.
Re episode 131 – the spelling is actually the American ‘Honor’. And yes, it is a pun on a name. All original spellings are used as seen on TV.)
Click here for films that use Procol Harum music