Series one originally aired on ITV1 in January 2003. A newly qualified doctor arrives at the hospital, only to discover nobody was expecting him, and Dr Jill Weatherill's competence is questioned during a home visit.
A new run of six episodes for series two aired on ITV1 from May 2003. Gordon turns to Jill for comfort as he struggles to cope following the coach crash that left his wife with serious injuries. Greengrass is also shocked to discover he has a long-lost daughter.
The drama returned for a third series with 14 new episodes in November 2003. A student nurse causes a stir when she arrives in the middle of the night, while Jill delivers a Down's syndrome baby for parents who don't want anything to do with the child.
After a lengthy absence, series four aired on ITV1 in December 2004. Jill and Gordon's wedding day arrives, but the proceedings are disrupted by an explosion at a nearby care home.
Series five's 12 episodes originally aired on ITV1 in March 2006. Ian Carmichael left the show when his character, Mr Middleditch, handed over his job to a new administrator.
In series six, some scenes were filmed in Africa where Jeff faces the horrors of war and makes a promise to a dying woman. Back in England, Jill returns to work after having a baby. Ian Carmichael made two guest appearances during the series.
After another lengthy absence, series seven aired in June 2008. Nurse Marian McKaig (Kari Corbett) is travelling on a train that crashes. A shortage of staff at the hospital puts the casualty department under pressure when the crash victims begin to arrive. Michael Starke left the show and Ian Carmichael made two guest appearances during the series.
ITV1 suspended the production of both 'Heartbeat' and 'The Royal' in March 2009. The first three episodes of 'The Royal' in series eight were originally shown in July 2009, but the remaining episodes did not start airing until June 2011, even though they had been filmed in 2008. Ian Carmichael made his final guest appearance when the series returned in 2011. He had died after a long illness in February 2010.