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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 installment of his explorations of Yorkshire - and beyond!
Blessed Nicholas Postgate - the Martyr of the Moors
Nicholas Rhea latest book is rather different - 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'.
Since the earliest days of his writing career, Nicholas Rhea has felt the desire to produce a book about this 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.
He recently sent us this update:
"On Monday this week I went to Ryedale Folk Museum in Hutton-le-Hole to sign copies of my book, Blessed Nicholas Postgate Martyr of the Moors.
The photograph (above) shows Nicholas Rhea in the Cruck House; the post can be seen clearly, top left. Ryedale Folk Museum, near Kirkbymoorside, is open daily.
Nicholas Rhea received an unexpected Christmas treat from Amazon, who selected his Constable on the Hill, first published in 1979, for their 'Twelve Days of Kindle'. It's too late to take advantage of the special promotional price, but you can still download Kindle editions of several of the early (and hard-to-find!) episodes in the annals of Aidensfield: in addition to Constable on the Hill, if you have been searching for a copy of Constable Around the Village, Constable by the Sea, Constable Among the Heather, Constable through the Meadow or Constable Across the Moors, have a look in Amazon's Kindle store - and US readers will find that Amazon.com can help you, too.
Chronicles of Kelderdale
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?
Nicholas Rhea's Chronicles of Kelderdale first appeared in the May issue of the Dalesman magazine. It is a monthly account of the goings on in this fictitious village somewhere in the North Yorkshire, and we hope it will win many friends for Kelderdale and those who live there!
Last words from Aidensfield
The Constable series from which Heartbeat was created, traces the life of a country policeman from the day he takes up his post, through many years of adventures - and now it is time for Constable Nick to take his retirement in print. In a January 2008 interview, Peter Walker (Nicholas Rhea) joked that the last volume of the series would have in its title a nod to the first: from Constable on the Hill to Constable over the Hill.
It's an emotional farewell for Constable Nick and his many fans, and for the author, too. Nicholas Rhea says"I've had lots of pleasure writing these books and, of course, I was thrilled when they were taken up by Yorkshire TV for Heartbeat. I spent many happy hours on set watching the actors bringing my characters vividly to life in Aidensfield. Constable Nick, Greengrass, Oscar Blaketon, PC Ventress and Alfred, the dog, are now part of television history and have been seen on screen all over the world. However, with the demise of Heartbeat I've decided it is time also to bring this long-running Constable series to an end.
"This doesn't mean I'm retiring from writing books altogether, but the change will allow me to develop other characters and new stories, and I'll keep you informed of new titles through the website and, of course, I'm sure my books will continue to be sold at Holman's."
Constable over the Hill is also available as an audiobook, and now also in a large print edition.
Heartbeat on DVD
It was a long wait for the DVD release of the first series of Heartbeat, but evidently demand has been great, because that first release has been followed by Series two to nine (with series ten due in March). The first series of the related hospital drama, The Royal is also now available on DVD (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.
New books, new formats
There are not only new titles but new formats to look out for, too: as well as paperback editions and audio books, look out for an e-book of Constable Beats the Bounds, sighted at Waterstones! And the illustrated guide to Heartbeat - The story behind the series is also now available in a digital format.
And we have news of another first for Constable Nick, too: he has just been translated into Finnish. Aidensfieldin uusi konstaapeli ('New Constable in Aidensfield'), is a translation of the first Constable book, Constable on the Hill. There is a page about it on the publisher's web site, (in Finnish, but your internet browser may be able to help you if you don't speak the language!). Now the ice has been broken, other translations will follow. Keep watching this page for all the latest news.
If you are new to the Constable books, you don't have to feel you've missed the start of the story. Trace the Heartbeat story back to its origins, with Áccent Press's reissue of some of those sought-after (collectors' items) titles, in a smart new "Heartbeat" livery.
Visible, Audible, Accessible
Nicholas Rhea is very aware that some of his readers find things harder to see than others; he does his best to make his books accessible to visually impaired readers. He is always pleased when his books are published in large print and audio book formats, as many of them are. Constable on View - the latest in the Constable series - is already available as an unabridged Audio Book from from ISIS Soundings and can be downloaded from Audible.co.uk (where you can also listen to a sample clip), and Magna will be publishing a Large Print edition in the autumn.
A new feature on this web site aims to make it easier to find those books which are published in accessible formats; look out for the logos indicating ISIS Soundings or Magna Large Print editions on the individual book listings; visit the Accessible Formats home page to learn about a new large print venture which is bringing some of Nicholas Rhea's books back into print; and keep watching for further developments.
Nicholas Rhea is also the author of many other books, among them the Pemberton series (described by one critic as "distinctive and deserves to be better known"). In Murder under the Midnight Sun, the most recent of these, DS Mark Pemberton embarks on a cruise to the Arctic Circle. He simply wants to enjoy his holiday, experience the spectacle of the Midnight Sun and admire the splendour of the glaciers and fjords. But then a man is found stabbed in a locked cabin and the captain turns to Pemberton - can he assist in investigating the death without alarming the other passengers? Murder under the Midnight Sun is now available in audio and Large Print editions.
Others include the 'Assured' series, set in the Yorkshire Dales a generation before Heartbeat, and the Montague Pluke books, about an eccentric detective with a passion for horse troughs. The latest Montague Pluke book is Prize Murder. Nicholas Rhea tells us: "Lots of us have received letters offering chances of winning wonderful competitions, but suppose first prize was your own murder! When Detective Inspector Montague Pluke receives such a letter, he needs all his luck if he is to survive." And Prize Murder is now available in audiobook and large print formats, too.
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Site last updated 5th March 2013.