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The man who inspired Heartbeat...
For the last 30 years, Nicholas Rhea has been writing books, drawing on his experiences in the police force, his never-ending enthusiasm for Yorkshire and his continuing interest in crime fact and fiction. His best known work, the Constable stories, provided the inspiration for the hugely popular Heartbeat TV series, and he remained involved with the series as a consultant until filming ended in 2009.
This is Nicholas Rhea's official website, and on it you will find not only his news and information about the man, his books and, of course, Heartbeat, but also a country diary kept by Nicholas Rhea himself, in which he shares his observations about the county of Yorkshire, its countryside and traditions - and which is now being regularly updated! Click the link to read a new instalment of his explorations of Yorkshire - and beyond!
A Century of Diary-Keeping
As well as his intermittent diary on this website, Nicholas Rhea writes a real-life Countryman's Diary every week in the Darlington & Stockton Times What's more, he has been writing it for forty years! In his anniversary column, he modestly points out that his predecessor wrote the column for an even more remarkable sixty years - and that neither of them has ever missed a week, so between the two of them, they have notched up an unbroken century of diary-keeping.
A more recent diary ia Nicholas Rhea's Chronicles of Kelderdale, which first appeared in the May 2012 issue of the Dalesman magazine. It is a bi-monthly account of the goings on in this fictitious village somewhere in the North Yorkshire. So here is a new puzzle for those of you who have solved the riddle 'Where is Aidensfield?' (and for those who haven't, there's a clue in this interview): where is Kelderdale?
Constable on Trial
Nicholas Rhea's latest addition to the Constable series goes back to the beginning, to tell some untold stories about Constable Nick's earlier life, before he came to Aidensfield. Constable on Trial, the first volume of a projected new series, takes us back in time as Detective Constable Rhea, stationed in the popular seaside resort of Strensford as a somewhat raw recruit, is given an attachment to CID. As Nicholas Rhea explains, there is an autobiographical element in this, too: "When patrolling in uniform, especially in the lonely night hours, young constables would dream of becoming a detective or having their own country beat. I was no exception and although the seaside town where I served my two years' probation provided much of interest, the CID promised extra excitement and intrigue.
Throughout his early days Nick, like many other detectives, nurses an ambition to arrest a murderer, but no opportunities come his way - until a killer on the run seeks refuge in Strensford and an elderly lady is found dead at home.
What Constable Nick did next
At the other end of Nick's career, you can read about his adventures since he retired: he has been helping the monks of Maddleskirk Abbey to create a small private police force of monk-constables serving the Abbey and its adjoining college - not so much Constable as monkstables.
Murder at Maddleskirk Abbey, the first book in this new series, showed the monkstables using their knowledge of the abbey, its history, practices and personnel to solve a case of murder - with the help of some old friends. And they were so successful in this that Nicholas Rhea has given them another case to untangle in his next book, coming in April, Confession at Maddleskirk Abbey.
When a woman confesses to Father Will, one of the monk-constables at Maddleskirk Abbey, that she has committed murder, he can do nothing but absolve her from her sin. The Seal of Confession is absolute. He cannot discuss her crime, ask the identity of her victim, or share the responsibility of this information with anyone. His hands are tied.
When a body is found in the nearby woodland, his moral dilemma grows...
Confession at Maddleskirk Abbey has now been released as an audiobook read by Gordon Griffin from the publisher, Isis Soundings in a choice of formats or as an audio download from Amazon. A Magna Large Print edition follows on 1st February 2016.
Endeavour Press, the UK's leading independent digital publisher, have been hunting for treasure on Nicholas Rhea's backlist, and finding more and more gems to offer to readers.
First they have reissued two adventures of Detective Inspector Montague Pluke the CID's most superstitious police officer, then they asked Detective Superintendent Mark Pemberton to help with their enquiries.
Both of these characters proved so popular that they have added additional titles to the list. Whether you prefer the whimsical adventures of Montague Pluke (and a taste of Yorkshire folklore on the side) or the classic detective mysteries featuring Detective Superintendent Mark Pemberton, told with Nicholas Rhea's trademark mixture of entertaining story-telling and police procedure based on personal experience, you no longer have to search for a highly collectable copy of that original hardback edition - now, thanks the Criminal Endeavours, it's easy to download an eBook edition!
Blessed Nicholas Postgate - the Martyr of the Moors
Since the earliest days of his writing career, Nicholas Rhea has felt the desire to produce a book about Father Nicholas Postgate, the charismatic priest of the North York Moors, but has only recently been able to research his life not only from previous publications and records but also from visits to his native moorland - along with some help from family and computer.
The result was a book rather different book to previous works by Nicholas Rhea - though it too concerns a man whose life's work was the well-being of the Yorkshire moors and those who lived there. Father Nicholas Postgate lived at a time when being a Catholic priest was punishable by a horrible death, yet he walked around his huge 'parish' of Blackamoor, always declining the offer of a horse. He shared his food and clothes and visited people in remote areas to offer both spiritual and practical help, wanting to understand the plight of the poor and to empathise with them in every way. His generosity to all, regardless of their status or religion, earned him the title 'The Good Samaritan of the Moors'.
In addition to the book itself, you can now read some of Nicholas Rhea researches in a new section of this website devoted to Blessed Nicholas Postgate.
Heartbeat - a Yorkshire Icon
The last episode of Heartbeat was broadcast Sunday 12 September 2010, but despite the passage of time the much-loved series is not forgotten - in the UK and around the world (and of course that includes Yorkshire)! Nicholas Rhea was delighted to find Heartbeat included in a list of 75 Yorkshire icons compiled by the Dalesman magazine. It came in at no. 65, a few positions above rhubarb! Top of the poll was, of course, Yorkshire pudding.
Heartbeat continues to be repeated on television in many countries, and there are now sixteen series available on DVD, plus two of the related hospital drama, The Royal: see the Heartbeat page for details.
Caution: the disks are in Region 2 / PAL format; this means that it may not be compatible with DVD players outside Europe. We know that there are Heartbeat fans all over the world, and hope that this first release will be followed by other formats.
The fictitious village of Aidensfield has been in the papers lately, when the - real - Aidensfield stores was put up for sale. Now comes the news that it has been saved from closure, and will continue as a family business. And that's not all: Nicholas Rhea told The Whitby Gazette that preparations are under way to create a stage play based on the popular TV series
At the same time, Nicholas Rhea is keeping busy writing books: he told The Yorkshire Post that he was currently working on not one but three books: one of these is Constable on Trial (see above), but there is also a crime thriller set in Northumberland and a non-fiction book about the folklore of the North York Moors!
Nicholas Rhea is also the author of many other books, among them the 'Assured' series, set in the Yorkshire Dales a generation before Heartbeat, books about Yorkshire folklore, standalone novels and thrillers.
If you don't find what you are looking for on this site, try these links to other sites »
Nicholas Rhea is a participant in the Amazon EU Associates Programme, an affiliate advertising programme designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.co.uk.
Site last updated 12th January 2016.