Heartbeat TV cast share their love for TV drama series - and Goathland

To many people, the village of Goathland will forever be associated with the ITV series Heartbeat.

By Amy Allen
Monday, 14th October 2019, 1:45 pm
Filming in Goathland - the classic cars were a popular aspect of the TV series. Picture: Joseph Frederick - Thomas Gabrielli
Filming in Goathland - the classic cars were a popular aspect of the TV series. Picture: Joseph Frederick - Thomas Gabrielli

Ten years on since filming finished, I took a trip down memory lane to see how the series changed the village and talk to the cast about their memories of making the series.

My first visit to Goathland was back in 1998, Heartbeat was at its peak, getting over 19 million viewers each week, and fans flocked from around the world to get a glimpse of the fictional village.

Back in 1992, Yorkshire Television chose Goathland to represent Aidensfield, the village at the centre of the Heartbeat series. However, unlike Goathland, Aidensfield is a hub of crime, from burglaries to shootings. 

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Goathland - where Heartbeat was filmed for many years. Picture: Amy Allen.

Heartbeat was based on the Constable series by Nicholas Rhea, who passed away in 2017.

Rhea was inspired by his own experiences of working as a rural policeman.

He penned his story and the first Constable book, Constable on the Hill, was published in 1979.  

His daughter Sarah Smelik spoke of her father’s influence on the TV series and says he loved visiting Goathland. 

The Aidensfield Arms. picture: Amy Allen.

She said: “He was always warmly welcomed on set.

“He met most of the main actors, along with the directors and crew. But, being the kind of man he was, he didn’t like to get in the way or make a nuisance of himself, so only visited now and then.

“My parents were always invited to the end-of-series ‘wrap’ parties, and dad was a consultant on Heartbeat for all of the 18 series.”  

Nick Berry starred as the local village constable.

Fresh out of Eastenders, which had turned Berry into a household name, Heartbeat was seen as a new challenge for the actor.

Berry stayed for seven series before leaving the show in 1997. The North Yorkshire Moors provided a dramatic and picturesque backdrop to the show with its rolling, misty moorlands. 

Philip Franks, who played Sgt Raymond Craddock, has fond memories of Goathland. 

He said: “It was always dressed to look as though it was in the 1960s, so it was very easy to imagine that the village actually continued to live in the 1960s even when we weren’t there.” 

Derek Fowlds played no-nonsense Police Sergeant Oscar Blaketon and became one of the longest-serving members of the cast.

Along with William Simons, who played phlegmatic constable, Alf Ventress, Derek Fowlds was in all 18 series of Heartbeat.

Reminiscing about his time on Heartbeat, Fowlds said: “It’s hard to believe that it’s ten years since filming ended. Bill Simons (PC Ventress) and I were the only two characters to be with the series from beginning to the end.

“Goathland certainly became a home from home.

“In fact Bill bought a cottage there.”

He added: “Most of the villagers worked with us as background artists and so many of them became friends with the crew and the cast. There was always a wonderful feeling of family whenever we arrived in Goathland.”

During filming the cast and crew stopped at the local hotels, and to some of the long serving members of the cast, the village became like a second home to them.

David Lonsdale, who played local taxi driver David Stockwell between 1993 and 2009, remembers fondly his time stopping at The Inn on the Moor. He recalls: “One year, when I was sifting through receipts for my tax return, I realised I’d spent more nights in Goathland, at The Inn on the Moor, than I had in my own house.

“As a trusted resident at The Inn I was allowed to open the bar and serve thirsty crew members after a night shoot when everywhere was closed.”

In 2009 ITV announced it was axing the series. However, the show remains popular with fans. Fowlds said: “The show had everything really. Great locations, vintage cars, the most nostalgic 60’s music. Wonderful scripts and guest stars”.

David Lonsdale added: “The producers wanted the show to be suitable for everyone and we were often told by viewers that it was one of the few evening programmes that they felt comfortable watching with younger children, at a time when the storylines in soap operas were getting increasingly ‘adult’”.

“The show appealed to all ages though, and I am often told that Heartbeat is remembered as a childhood treat before bed, the theme music signalling the end of the weekend and school tomorrow.”

Heartbeat still remains popular, and this is evident at this year’s Heartbeat rally. Held in Goathland each year the Heartbeat Rally showcases classic vehicles, many of which were used in the show.

This year saw David Lonsdale (David Stockwell) and Tricia Penrose (Gina Bellamy) return to village, both were warmly welcomed by the hundreds of fans, some of whom had travelled over 300 miles.

The first rally took place in 2011, with ten Heartbeat vehicles on display. Eight years later, thanks to the power of social media, the number of vehicles on display has grown as has the number of fans attending.

Organiser Alan Coleman said: “After I bought the Heartbeat Police Mini Van in 2009, I thought it would be a good idea if I could arrange for other Heartbeat vehicle owners to bring them along to Goathland and display them for the fans to see”

Heartbeat fan Joyce Jordan, who came from Northumberland to attend the rally, said: “There is so many memories of Heartbeat with the vintage vehicles and also with Tricia and David being there.

“Heartbeat was a terrific series that all the family could enjoy.”

The show continues to be repeated daily on ITV3, and on other channels across the world, with fans far and wide continuing to flock to Goathland, the village will remain a popular destination with fans for years to come.