ITV has denied reports in the press that it plans to axe Heartbeat and its spin-off The Royal.

The broadcaster refuted claims that both shows were facing the chop, saying that production was simply being ‘rested’ in order to clear a stockpile of unbroadcast episodes.

ITV said in a statement: “Heartbeat and The Royal are an important part of the ITV schedule and are currently in production.”

Heartbeat, which first aired in April 1992, regularly attracts between four and five million viewers, while The Royal gets four million.

It remains unclear how long the break in production will last.

On Tuesday, it was reported that five members of Heartbeat’s cast and crew had been injured in a tractor accident on set though none of the injuries were thought to be life-threatening.

All eyes are on ITV at the moment, amid speculation that the broadcaster is feeling the pinch as a result of the credit crunch.

Last week, the broadcaster announced it would be reducing cop show The Bill to one episode a week, as it moves to a new 9pm time slot.

It had also been suggested that ITV would be scaling back the number of episodes of Emmerdale.

But an ITV spokesperson said: “There are absolutely no plans whatsoever to produce fewer episodes of Emmerdale.”

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