Sun 10/10/99, ITV


Unlike its ratings rival Ballykissangel, Heartbeat has survived the departure of its leading couple and continued to provide lightweight but interesting provincial stories. One of its secrets is the variety of good characters, all of whom can take both a comic and serious stance depending on the storyline. This week's plot included a couple of city strangers touting for business clearing gutters and drains, and a man whose wife is found dead in a locked room. The programme always develops these mysteries at a pace that is neither taxing nor tedious, and while the conclusion was a bit of a fairy-tale it wasn't unwelcome. One thing that seems to have been dropped is the distinctive 60s music which used to accompany some of the scenes. At times this was quite arbitrary but helped to remind us that this is a period series. I miss it. ***

[Hello Mum - Hidden Love - It's A Knockout - The James Bond Story]

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