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Heartland first premiered on CBC in 2007, and the drama series has lasted so long that its 16th season is currently filming. Before season 12 of Heartland premiered, actors Amber Marshall and Graham Wardle gave their opinions on why the show has been so popular with viewers over the years.

Amy and Lyndy sit by a stream with a horse in 'Heartland'
Amber Marshall in ‘Heartland’ | Courtesy of CBC

‘Heartland’ is based on a book series

Heartland is a Canadian drama on CBC that is based on a book series of the same name by Lauren Brooke. The show follows Amy Fleming (Marshall) as she helps abused and traumatized horses through natural horsemanship on her family’s farm, Heartland Ranch.

In earlier seasons, Amy lives on Heartland Ranch with her older sister Lou Fleming (Michelle Morgan), Lou’s children, and their grandfather Jack Bartlett (Shaun Johnston). Her father Tim Fleming (Chris Potter) also lives nearby.

Amy falls in love with and marries Ty Borden (Wardle), Heartland’s ranch hand who goes on to become a veterinarian. They marry and have a daughter named Lyndy (Ruby and Emmanuella Spencer).

In season 14 of Heartland, Ty dies due to complications following a gunshot wound, as Wardle decided to leave the long-running show.

Following Ty’s death, season 14 and season 15 of the series showed Amy and her family grieving and attempting to move on.

In 2014, Heartland became “the longest running one-hour drama in Canadian television history” according to CBC. Years after Heartland reached this achievement, Marshall and Wardle were interviewed about the show by Brief Take.

When asked about why Heartland has stayed so popular over the years, both Marshall and Wardle had a theory.

“So working with animals and children now, it brings a freshness where you have to remain in the moment. If a shot with a horse isn’t working, you have to make it work. You can’t force things with animals and babies. I think that combined with all the heart and love that everyone brings,” Wardle told Brief Take.

Marshall agreed, saying, “…there’s a real passion. We have to be present and we have to be in the moment, and I think that’s what makes every actor great–when you can live in the moment, even when you’re doing a scene 12 or 13 or 14 times. When you’re working with kids and animals, it’s fresh every time. You don’t know what they’re going to do. So I think that’s one thing that’s special about Heartland, is that there are so many animals and kids that we’re working with…”


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Amber Marshall and Graham Wardle have another theory about the TV show’s popularity

Speaking with Brief Take, Marshall and Wardle shared another theory about why Heartland has become such a long-running show.

“I do believe that the mountain vista plays a central role in the show and it captivates a lot of people… I think that a lot of people do that when they watch Heartland–it transports them to a place where they can just take a breath of fresh air,” Marshall told Brief Take.

Wardle agreed, adding, “Yeah! There’s open spaces. So much of television is in closed spaces–offices, etc.–where it’s focused inward and is very tight, whereas our show is very open.”