Merseybeat is a British police procedural television series shown on BBC One, with a total of four series broadcast between 2001 and 2004. The series follows the personal and professional lives of one shift of police officers from the fictional Newton Park police station on Merseyside, England.
In 2001, prior the launch of the series, Merseybeat attracted controversy due to alleged similarities between its pilot episode and the murder of James Bulger, though the BBC defended the series, saying "there are no associations with the tragic case of James Bulger".
In July and August 2002, Merseybeat faced heavy criticism upon its return for a second series. The broadcasting standards commission criticised the quality of the series and ratings fell sharply. In June 2002, ratings fell below 5 million viewers for the first time in the series' history and, in August of the same year, The Guardian reported that the number of viewers had dropped by one million compared to the first episode of the second series.
In late 2003, when Merseybeat commenced its fourth series, it underwent a major revamp, including the scrapping of the title sequence and theme tune, which was replaced with a record from Liverpudlian band Cast. A more "gritty" approach to the drama was also part of the revamp, with the introduction of the station's CID and Mark Womack, formerly of Liverpool 1 as DI Hammond.