is a long running
British drama series set in rural Yorkshire in The Sixties
, about the adventures of the local constabulary and medical services of the village of Aidensfield and the larger town of Ashfordly where the main police station of the area is situated.
The series originally began with Constable Nick Rowan and his doctor wife accepting a reassignment from London, which was troubled with considerable civil unrest at the time. As Rowan and comrades keep the peace, they keep a wary eye for the local con man, Claude Greengrass, who is forever looking for the next big score, which is usually just this side of legal to keep them from arresting him.
The series feels much like a police version of All Creatures Great and Small
(Johnny Byrne was effectively the showrunner for both series) as small town life proves incredibly lively with numerous crimes to solve and medical problems to treat, usually with a touch of humour.
This series provides examples of:
- Actor Allusion: Expect some very knowing dialogue whenever the guest star is anybody famous for something other than acting.
- Gary Barlow appeared as a diamond smuggler some time before the Take That reunion, and his dialogue referred to having once been in a band that split up.
- When Brian Hibbard, formerly lead singer of The Flying Pickets, appeared as a guest star, the episode's final scene was accompanied by their 1983 number one "Only You", breaking the show's usual convention of only using music up to the early 70s.
- Adaptation Decay : originally a vehicle for Nick Rowan, at that time a very popular soap actor who made the mistake of believing his own advertising, the show lingered on for many years with ever-slipping production standards, second and third-string casting and less resemblance to its original form of a watered-down version of "All Creatures Great and Small"
- Bottle Episode: One Small Step (aka "the one where they all watch the moon landing").
- The Cast Showoff: Tricia Penrose gets to sing every now and again.
- Characterization Marches On: Although it's meant to be the same character, David Stockwell's debut as a mentally handicapped man barely capable of doing anything for himself bears very little resemblance to his subsequent goofy but normally-functioning characterization when brought back as a regular.
- Comic Trio
- Cryptid Episode: In one episode, the cops go searching for some legendary big cats that are killing sheep on the Yorkshire moors. They turn out to be incompetent sheep rustlers instead.
- The Danza: Nick Berry as Nick Rowan.
- Deadpan Snarker: Years of dealing with his brother's harebrained schemes have made Bernie Scripps a master at this.
- Downer Ending: About Once a Season, either as the result of a main character death, or as the conclusion of one of the occasional Darker and Edgier plots.
- Dropped a Bridge on Him: About 90% of the show's main character deaths.
- Fake Defector
- Faking the Dead: Vernon Scripps, twice.
- Fanservice: Niamh Cusack in a controversial "topless" scene in the first season.
- A Father to His Men: Blaketon starts becoming this in Series 3/4.
- Forgotten Fallen Friend: Rosie , despite being a supposedly a valued friend of many characters, was very suddenly forgotten from the show. A background character that appeared once or twice in the entire show got a bigger sendoff the very next episode.
- Four-Temperament Ensemble
- Friendly Enemy: One of the main character development arcs in the early series is how Rowan and Greengrass' relationship mellows into this.
- Friend or Idol Decision
- Frozen in Time: 18 seasons and the series remained firmly in the 1960s. In fact, it was specifically 1969 long enough that one character had two full term pregnancies in that year...
- Oscar's progression from police sergeant, to postmaster, to landlord appears to progress approximately in real time, making this all the more jarring.
- Get Rich Quick Scheme: Vernon Scripps' favoured way of making a living.
- The Ghost: Mrs. Ventress.
- The Grim Reaper: wanders around in the background shortly before Oscar Blaketon cops it.
- I Am Spartacus
- Jumping the Shark: Vernon Scripps. The original Lovable Rogue, Claude Greengrass, was an established local with a house he had inherited and various more-or-less credible business interests, and was finally revealed to have a small but sufficient private income. He mostly pursued various obviously self-interested ends, mainly because no-one who knew him would believe anything else in any case. Vernon Scripps was introduced to fill the gap left by the rapid deterioration and death of Bill Maynard, and lacked any obvious justification or indeed, visible means of support.
- Loveable Rogue
- Never Found the Body: All they found was a mutilated passport picture of Rosie, it is implied that she died.
- New Neighbours as the Plot Demands. The introduction of a second female doctor to reprise the romantic arc with Nick Berry's replacement character pretty much sums this up. Peggy Armstrong was obviously introduced to complement Vernon Scripps in filling the various plot holes left by Claude Greengrass' departure
- Nothing But Hits: On the radio, at least. The soundtrack throws up the occasional oddity, though.
- Old-Fashioned Copper: Justified, since it's the 60's, most sergeants of the Aidensfield Police have no problem with accepting or outright inventing charges against certain people just because they don't like them (like Greengrass), even if all their underlings suspect something is amiss. Blaketon for example didn't like Claude Greengrass, vagabonds or gypsies - assumed they were criminals just because - and was willing to jail and charge them for slightest of reasons. However most of them mellowed out in the end to be more understanding and less judgemental as time went by.
- One Steve Limit: Literally averted: When the show introduced PC Steve Crane, they apparently forgot that supporting character Jenny Latimer had a brother called Steve and they ended up appearing in the same episode.
- Oop North
- Overtook the Series: Already a very loose adaptation of Nicholas Rhea' source novels, the show quickly went its own way.
- Playing Against Type: Gwen Taylor took the role of Peggy Armstrong as it gave her an opportunity to play a nasty character for once. She later expressed disappointment at Peggy being softened up in her second season.
- Power Trio
- Real Song Theme Tune: "Heartbeat", originally a hit for Buddy Holly which charted in the UK in 1959 and 1960. The TV series used a cover version sung by the actor who played Nick Rowan.
- Trademark Favorite Food: Alf's boiled eggs. He always had two, and he banged them toegether to break the shells.
- Train Job
- Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: From the famous words of Sargent Blaketon, "Greengrass!"
- Wrench Wench: Rosie