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IT was nine years ago that the coppers of Heartbeat first reported for duty in Aidensfield. Now ITV's ratings-topping drama is celebrating the end of its current run tomorrow with the 150th episode and a guest appearance by former Take That star Gary Barlow. TV writer MARION McMULLEN looks back on some of the star faces who have appeared in the series over the years

THE screams of teen girls once rang in the ears of Gary Barlow as he strutted his stuff with chart-topping boy band Take That.

Now Gary is proving he is a country boy at heart by making his acting debut tomorrow in Heartbeat.

The heart-throb, whose posters once adorned the bedroom walls of young girls all over Britain, shows up in the 150th episode as a hitch-hiker called Mike Shannon who keeps Greengrass spellbound with his tales of army life.

Gary even gets a chance to exercise the old vocals chords once more with a 60s-style version of one of his own songs.

But Gary says one of the best thing about appearing on Heartbeat was meeting loveable rogue Greengrass, alias local actor Bill Maynard, who lives at Sapcote, near Nuneaton.

"Most of my scenes were with Bill," says Gary. "We had a crack, we really had a laugh, him being a northern comic - it was brilliant."

Gary admits his gran used to be a big fan of the show, although she always called it Heartbreak.

"It's a family show, the sort of thing you can watch on a Sunday night," he adds

"One of the things I enjoyed was working with a lot of people, because I've been working on my own for a while, since leaving the group, it was great to be part of a team again."

But will Gary ever find himself challenging old Take That team member Robbie Williams in the music charts again?

"I've got no plans yet," says Gary, whose wife, Dawn Andrews, is said to be expecting their first baby in August.

"I'm just going to see what comes along.

"I've just married so I don't want to go off touring the world and I don't want to be stuck in a recording studio.

"We are just enjoying spending time together."

And the beat goes on . . .

THE current series of Heartbeat is watched each week by more than 15 million viewers.

HEARTBEAT started its TV life in 1992. Its mix of 60s nostalgia and dramatic storylines catapulted it into the record books as it topped the charts for the most watched drama of the year.

THE programme is adapted from books by Peter Walker, who writes under the pen name of Nicholas Rhea. Walker used to be a country bobby and based the books on his own experiences.

AUDIENCE figures reached a record high in 1995 when they topped 18.7 million.

HEARTBEAT'S first copper Nick Berry left the countryside behind to patrol the sea front in BBC drama Harbour Lights.

KEITH RICHARDSON, executive producer of the show, says: "What is remarkable about Heartbeat is the way it has continued to remain fresh and enjoyable. It is a tribute to everyone involved that so many people still tune in to watch such a good series."

TRICIA PENROSE, who plays pub landlady Gina Ward, has said she will leave Heartbeat at the end of the year to pursue a pop career. She once appeared in a Celebrity Stars In Their Eyes special as Lisa Stansfield.


Dora Bryan, Thora Hird, Patricia Hayes, Joe McGann, Dorothy Tutin, Julie T Wallace, Nicholas Ball, Stratford Johns, Frances De La Tour, Sylvia Syms, Annette Crosbie, Paul Bown and Eleanor Bron.
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Features
Author:McMullen, Marion
Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Mar 4, 2000

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