In the earlier episodes, when George Ward (Stuart Golland) was in charge of the Aidensfield Arms, it was mentioned on several occasions that the fire in the bar had never been allowed to go out since the pub first opened. This was based on the real-life tradition at The Legendary Saltersgate Inn on the Whitby-Pickering road near the Hole of Horcum, a few miles from Goathland, where the Aidensfield village scenes were filmed. It was said that the fire at the Saltersgate stayed lit for over two hundred years, reputedly because an early publican had killed a customs officer and buried his body beneath the fireplace, and then lit a fire to avoid the hiding place being detected.
The reason none of Nicholas Rhea's original stories were adapted for this series, was because some of the real Greengrass' activities were rather bizarre, and because one of his reminiscences was a near duplication of a James Herriot story (the one about the dog who was put to sleep because he was thought to have been attacking sheep, only to be proven innocent after the fact, when the real culprit was shot to death somewhat later, after he had died).
The series is named after the song "Heartbeat", which peaked at number thirty in the UK for Buddy Holly in 1959, and then posthumously in 1960. A cover version of the song was performed by Nick Berry, who starred as Police Constable Nick Rowan, and was used as the theme tune for this series. It reached number two on the UK singles chart in 1992.
Charlie Brooks, who played Julie Langley-Smythe in season sixteen, episode four, "Another Piece of My Heart", was set to return to the series as a regular cast member, but was not able to return, due to reprising her role as Janine Butcher on the BBC soap opera, EastEnders (1985).
The first season was broadcast post-watershed in the UK (after 9 p.m.) and featured more adult material than was present in later episodes, such as a brief shot of Niamh Cusack topless and a scene of a man hanging from a tree.