TV filming of The Royal 'postponed' - COMMENT ON THIS STORY

SCARBOROUGH-BASED TV hit show The Royal will return to the screens despite fears that the show is being axed, along with Heartbeat.

But the popular programmes, which are filmed in and around Scarborough, Whitby and the North York Moors, face a break in production.

It is understood that by the end of the year the channel will have built up more than a whole series' worth of episodes of both programmes, and wants to broadcast them before making new ones, an ITV spokesman said.

It is unclear how long the break in production will last. The spokesman said: "Heartbeat and The Royal are an important part of the ITV schedule and are currently in production."

The Royal started in January 2003, and initially featured a selection of characters from its sister show Heartbeat, including a bed-ridden Claude Greengrass, played by Bill Maynard.

The title of the series refers to "St Aidan's Royal Free Hospital," set in the fictional, rural seaside town of Elsinby, in the 1960s and stars Wendy Craig.

Locations around Scarborough are used, with the the Red Court apartments between Holbeck Road and the Esplanade as the hospital itself.

Heartbeat is filmed in and around Goathland, the North Yorkshire Moors, and Whitby, and has been an ITV Sunday night stalwart since 1992.

The series once had 10 million viewers and now has between four and five million. The Royal gets four million.

Cllr David Jeffels, Scarborough Council's cabinet member for tourism, said: "Heartbeat and The Royal have played a very significant part in promoting Scarborough and Whitby to a very wide audience not just in this country but in Europe and even beyond.

"I hope both series continue because they go out at peak times on a Sunday night. It provides our area with valuable publicity and both series show off our area superbly."