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Heartbeat (British TV series)

Niels-Erik Mortensen uncovers the Procol Harum connections

Click here to see/order Heartbeat CDs: Heartbeat: Love Me Tender / Heartbeat - Music From The Yorkshire TV Series:... / The Royal / Heartbeat Vol 2  / Heartbeat - the 60s’ Gold Collection / Heartbeat Best of / Heartbeat - Love Songs / Heartbeat 10th Anniversary / Heartbeat Forever Yours / Heartbeat - Greatest Love Songs / Heartbeat Summer / Heartbeat Christmas / Heartbeat Love Songs / Heartbeat / Heartbeat Number 1s  / Heartbeat Summer / Heartbeat - Love Songs / Very Best of Heartbeat / Heartbeat [3CD Box set]

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

                                                                                                             Pilgrims Progress

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.)

Thanks, Niels-Erik

Click here for films that use Procol Harum music

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