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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!
In the news
It's six years since the filming of Heartbeat came to an end, but the much-loved series is not forgotten. The fictitious village of Aidensfield has been in the papers lately, with the news that the - real - Aidensfield stores is up for sale. 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. The play will feature four of the original cast members including David Lonsdale and Peter Benson and will tour the UK between March and July next year.
At the same time, he is keeping busy writing books: he told The Yorkshire Post that he is currently working on not one but three books: a crime thriller set in Northumberland, a non-fiction book about the folklore of the North York Moors and another novel that revisits the Constable series, but is set ten years earlier.
Endeavour Press, the UK's leading independent digital publisher, have enrolled Detective Inspector Montague Pluke the CID's most superstitious police officer, in their criminal endeavours. Two hard-to-find early titles are already available, and there's more in the pipeline. So if you prefer your detectives digital, not only can you read A Full Churchyard, the latest adventure of Montague Pluke, you can also catch up with some of his earlier adventures!
A Well-Pressed Shroud finds hardworking Detective Inspector Montague Pluke spending a much-needed holiday from his job at the Crickledale CID in search of the Lost Giants' Horse Trough of Trippingdale. But his holiday is abruptly disturbed when, while searching the closed-down estate, Pluke stumbles upon the body of the estate's heir floating face down in shallow waters...
Superstitious Death finds DI Pluke preparing for the annual shoggling festival in the small Yorkshire town of Crickledale. He realises something terrible has happened when Mrs Cholmondeley's bay tree withers and dies for no apparent reason. His superstition is confirmed when he discovers the body of an attractive young woman in a shallow grave...
And in A Full Churchyard, a cold-case review brings the case very close to home!
What Constable Nick did next
Nicholas Rhea made good his promise to complete his much loved Constable series with the tale of Nick's retirement, titled Constable over the Hill (see below). But Nick hasn't been taking it entirely easy 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 was published by Robert Hale on 30th April 2015 (ISBN: 978-0-7198-1575-1). It is available for order from Amazon.
Never too late!
The early chapters of the Aidensfield story are becoming easier to find: although many of these are out of print, and much sought after by collectors, several of the early titles were reissued by Accent Press in a smart matching livery.
New technology has also come to the rescue, and you can download Kindle editions of several of the early (and hard-to-find!) episodes in the annals of Aidensfield, starting with the very first, Constable on the Hill. For an up-to-date list, search Amazon's Kindle store- and US readers will find that Amazon.com can help you, too. You'll need to keep looking to spot all the bargains!
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
Although there have been no new episode of Heartbeat since September 2010, the show is still much loved, 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.
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 2012 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!
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.
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 28th June 2015.