6 ISSUES FOR £6 Subscribe to Yorkshire Life today click here

Remembering Peter Walker - the man behind the television hit, Heartbeat

PUBLISHED: 00:00 24 May 2017

Peter Walker, known as author Nicholas Rhea, inspiration behind the Heartbeat television series

Peter Walker, known as author Nicholas Rhea, inspiration behind the Heartbeat television series

Peter Walker

Peter Walker, otherwise known as author Nicholas Rhea, was the inspiration behind a programme ratings success that put Yorkshire on the TV map, says Tony Greenway.

Someone, I can’t remember who now, told me that I would love meeting author Peter Walker. ‘He’s a lovely man,’ they said. And he was, too: polite, hospitable and unfailingly modest. I interviewed Peter for Yorkshire Life back in 2008. He died in April this year aged 80.

He and his wife Rhoda and their daughter Tricia (also an author) welcomed myself and photographer Andy Bulmer into their North Yorkshire home, sat us down, made us tea and broke out the biscuits.

It turned out that Peter’s idea of an interview was simply to chat about everything and anything and, after half an hour, I realised that I hadn’t actually asked him any questions. When I did finally manage to get him to talk about himself and his writing career, his extraordinary achievements began to stack up.

Under the pseudonym Nicholas Rhea, Peter created the popular Constable series of books which became the inspiration for Heartbeat, ITV’s Sunday teatime ratings phenomenon. It ran for an incredible 18 seasons between 1992 and 2010, and was sold to 41 countries. ‘I’ve been very fortunate,’ Peter said. ‘I was a former policeman, just like the main character in the books. So I’ve struck a seam which I know a lot about.’

Peter was also tenacious. Before he found success as an author, he wrote 13 manuscripts, all of which were rejected by publishers yet he wasn’t deterred. ‘I knew that if I wanted to be a writer I had to sit down and apply myself,’ he said. In 1967, while still working as a policeman, Peter’s first book, Carnaby and the Hijackers, was published.

Encouraged by Rhoda, he kept on writing and, in 1979, produced his first Constable novel, Constable on the Hill (the final book in the series, Constable Over the Hill, was published in 2011). He later became a consultant on the Heartbeat series, reading all the scripts.

The impact of Heartbeat on Yorkshire’s tourist industry can’t be overstated. Fans from across the globe still travel to Goathland, which became the fictional village of Aidensfield in the series. ‘The show’s huge success meant images of our wonderful county were beamed into living rooms across the world,’ said Sir Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, noting that Peter had been a great ambassador for Yorkshire.

In all — and in between raising four children — Peter wrote 130 books under various pseudonyms, including a number of Emmerdale novels, the Pemberton series (featuring Detective Superintendent Mark Pemberton) and the Montague Pluke crime series. In 2007 he was given the Crime Writers’ Association’s John Creasey Award.

Writing was obviously a compulsion for Peter. He did it for love, not money.

‘The chances of becoming a millionaire through writing are a bit like winning the lottery,’ he said.

‘You’ve got to be JK Rowling, I think. I was quite realistic about embarking on this career, but I’ve enjoyed every moment of it. I’ve no regrets at all.’

More from People

As the cream of English football head to Russia hoping for World Cup glory, Yorkshire’s own national team are preparing for an international tournament of their own.

Read more
Friday, June 8, 2018

Struggling to find a unique gift for someone special, don’t have the time to scour the shops, or maybe you need to send a gift abroad? Ginny & Joy’s curated gift boxes have been created with this in mind.

Read more
Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Multi-talented Jill Halfpenny – starring in The Girl on the Train at the West Yorkshire Playhouse – tells Tony Greenway why variety is the spice of her life... and why it’s great to be back in Leeds.

Read more
Leeds
Wednesday, May 23, 2018

We talked to chief audiologist at The Tinnitus Clinic, Mark Williams, who discussed causes, symptoms and treatments for tinnitus and hearing loss. Here’s what to do if you have ringing in your ears

Read more
Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Bob and Carol Bridgestock left their careers with the police hoping for a more sedate life but that hasn’t quite worked out.

Read more
Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Barrie Rutter, founder of Northern Broadsides, has been a mainstay of Yorkshire theatre for the last 25 years but now he’s leaving the company. He tells Tony Greenway why.

Read more
Monday, April 16, 2018

Lee Child is one of the world’s best selling authors and he is at the helm of this year’s crime writing celebration in Harrogate

Read more
 
Great British Holidays advert link

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory




Follow us on Twitter


Like us on Facebook

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Yorkshire's trusted business finder

Job search in your local area



Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy


Property Search