On Aliens in Aidensfield

I recently got a DVD through the post of a television drama which I hope will go down in history – as the first ever science fiction episode of the ITV drama Heartbeat.

I’m the writer of said episode and, frankly, I can’t believe they let me get away with it.  For those not familiar with the show, it’s a cosy Sunday night drama about folk in the country, featuring a blend of gritty police stories, heartwarming village stories, and out and out slapstick stories featuring the local poacher, Peggy Armstrong. 

My episode, however, begins with a meteorite landing in the woods outside Oscar Blaketon’s pub.  An alien landing is soon suspected, glowing alien rocks go on sale, and some of the characters become convinced that monsters from space are stalking the woods. 

It was a delight to write this piece of mainstream, primetime TV drama – the ‘alien’ story is in fact the B story, and the A story is a more conventional crime drama featuring ‘hero cop’ Joe McFadden as an undercover cop at a quarry.  But the fact I was allowed this alien subplot is a clear sign that the makers of this hugely popular show really do have a sense of humour, and enjoy teasing their audience. 

I’ve loved Heartbeat for years, and a number of writers I know have written for it – including the brilliant Jane Hollowood, who has written some of the most genuinely moving episodes in the history of the series, telling tales of grief and loss and pain and anguish amidst the comedy and the rural idyllness.

I think the secret of the show’s success is threefold.  Firstly, my friend, the gifted Archie Tait, has been producing it for the last 100 episodes. (Good on you, Archie!) Secondly,  the original producer of the show, Keith Richardson, still overseees it as executive producer, and has thus been able to keep his vision intact. And thirdly, the series works because it’s varied.  It’s not grim, or one-note; it’s sad, funny, serious, silly, schmaltzy, provocative, all at the same time.  I love variety in drama, as in fiction – the ability to switch from pure tragedy to pure comedy, and back again - and this is a show which has always been able to do just that.

My episode is called ‘It Came From Outer Space’, and it’s due to be broadcast sometime in the autumn.

I now hope to do an episode of Waking the Dead in which the detectives are replaced by alien clones…

Sharing and Bookmarking:

If you enjoyed this article, please consider bookmarking it or spreading the word via your favourite social media channel:

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg
  • Reddit
  • Technorati
  • Tumblr
  • Posterous
  • Google Bookmarks
  • RSS

Keyword-Matched Posts:

If you enjoyed this post, you might find these others interesting:

  1. On Winning an Award (Sort of)
  2. On No More Bada Bing
  3. On Being Betrayed by a Friend