My supervisor told a story of academic intrigue.
‘It sounds something that might make a plot for an episode of Morse, culminating with a murder among the dons.’
‘Goodness me, no’, he laughed, ‘it was Hull. It w, more soapas more Vera than Morse‘.
‘Oh no. That’s the wrong part of Yorkshire, that’s North Yorkshire. It doesn’t do to get them confused’.
‘What about Inspector George Gently? No, though, I think he is up in Vera’s patch’.
We moved on to the proper business of the meeting.
Perhaps there is a gap in the television drama schedules for a detective from Hull – a gritty rugby league fan who could quote lines from Philip Larkin and solve murders committed by jealous academics.
Sitting watching an episode of Heartbeat, it seemed a piece of harmless light entertainment, more soap opera than crime drama. Some of the characters are closer to those from a comedy programme than to the grim social realism of the BBC 4 Saturday night offerings from Scandinavia.
A striking thing about Heartbeat is the music. Snatches of 1960s tunes provide a backdrop to each of the stories. Someone familiar with 1960s discography would be able to give the date intended for each of the episodes, assuming that the music is selected with attention to detail.
The music is familiar, or it is familiar, at least, to someone of sixty-one years of age. The tunes are ones that have been played on countless occasions since their release more than fifty years ago.
The artists, many of whom are now in their eighties and some of whom are still touring, must have earned considerable royaltoes on the songs that have received so much air time. No artist recording in the 1960s could possibly have imagined that three minute recordings issued on 7 inch vinyl discs would still be earning them a regular income in their old age.
A series like Heartbeat could not be made about the 2020s.
In part, how would one make a series about the work of police officers in a rural community when there are no police officers to be seen? Once, villages had constables resident among the local population, each small town had a station. Everyone knew the name of the local members of the constabulary. Now the police have disappeared from rural areas.
In part, there is no music that would be remembered by more than a small element of the population. Pop music no longer exist.
A musical accompaniment to a crime series now would not sound like Heartbeat.