The Heartbeat Fades

JUST over 24 hours since news broke about the future of both Heartbeat and The Royal.
And it’s clear we still haven’t got the full story.
ITV announced that both series will not be re-commissioned after their current production cycles are completed this year.
In the same breath denying the dramas are being axed.
“Heartbeat and The Royal are an important part of ITV’s schedule and are currently in production,” said a spokesman for the network.
The background being that by the end of 2009, enough episodes will have been stockpiled for another series worth of shows.
ITV want to broadcast the backlog before making new ones.
With viewers able to watch the series on screen well into 2010.

Hence the subsequent suspension in production, to ease costs in a difficult advertising recession.
Alarm bells were already ringing, even by the time I read the bit which said ITV were unable to say when either series will go back into production.
Most of today’s tabloids didn’t bother with the detail.

They simply announced that both Heartbeat and The Royal have been axed.
While ITV continue to deny this is the case, the pulse of both dramas looks weak.
Heartbeat and The Royal have been treated disgracefully in recent times.
Ratings have gone down due to irregular scheduling on a Sunday evening.
With the dramas being screened in short bursts, before inexplicable breaks in the series runs.
It’s almost as if bosses have been plotting how to kill off two of British TV’s best loved shows.
With a slow death the chosen option to avoid the full wrath of fans.
Is it simply a co-incidence that earlier this month ITV announced Keith Richardson was stepping down as executive producer of Emmerdale?
Having overseen the soap for 24 years.
Keith is also Controller of Drama at ITV Yorkshire and has been a great champion of Heartbeat and The Royal.
Will ITV return to both shows once the current recession has eased?
I have serious doubts.
Not least due to the availability of the many leading cast members.
How can they be expected to wait around in the hope that ITV might actually prove the tabloids wrong?
As I said, we still don’t have the full story.
But expect more details to emerge over the coming days and weeks.
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