They did it to me again. The creators of the old British TV series Heartbeat brought me to tears last night, though not quite as much as they did earlier in the season.
The series — a police/pub drama set in the1960s in a small fictional town in Yorkshire called Aidensfield — ran for 18 seasons in the U.K., from 1992 to 2010. It was hugely popular in Britain, and no doubt brought tears to many an eye there during its run.
I’ve been watching it on the Knowledge Network in Canada on Saturday nights. They wrapped up Season 13 last night, with the death of yet another cop in the line of duty. OK, I get it: actors come and go in long-running series like this one for any number of reasons, and the creators have to write them out of the saga one way or another. But the people behind Heartbeat seemed to have a penchant for killing off departing cast members — with little thought as to how that might affect their viewers.
Not that I was all that attached to James Carlton as PC Steve Crane. Still, he had become part of my TV family — and he really hadn’t been there all that long, replacing another cop who had been killed in the line of duty (lot of crime in that little burg).
Crane’s ‘death’ comes less than two months after one of the saddest episodes I have ever seen on television, which also came in that series: the death of Gina’s newborn child and how it affected her and the infant’s dad, PC Phil Bellamy, and others in the community. The tears flowed from eyes — and my g/f’s eyes — that night. No doubt, much of the audience in Britain cried, too, when they saw that episode. I bet it was and still is one of the biggest tearjerkers of all time.
I was less than pleased with the scriptwriters after that episode, almost in the same way I have been angry with God (even if I don’t believe in a personal god) after the loss of a real-life loved one.
Of course, I realize that Heartbeat is just a TV show, that the actors are simply acting, that it isn’t real . . . and that the fact I and so many others cry at times is a testament to a job well done by the actors and the scriptwriters.
Thing is, even now, some 10 weeks after the Gina/Phil/baby episode, I have to struggle to hold back tears when I think about it. Powerful acting and script, yes, but is it fair to the viewers for a show’s creators to be, first, bringing love and happiness into our lives through their characters and then, second, snatching it all away and leaving us in shock and tears?
So, will I be tuning in to Season 14 when Knowledge TV starts showing it next Saturday?
Oh, yah . . .
P.S. If you are peering in from Britain, do not talk about future episodes, please. (winks)
So have you started watching daytime soap operas too?