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

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Support grows for devolution and a greater say in shaping the future of Yorkshire. Richard Darn reports

Read more
Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Tinnitus sufferers are being invited to use a new online, sound matching tool to help better understand their type of tinnitus and the potential treatments available to them.

Read more
Monday, September 3, 2018

Maunby Investment Management in Harrogate has offered expert advice on asset and wealth management since 1982. They explain how you can put plans in place to reduce any future inheritance tax liability.

Read more
Thursday, August 23, 2018

We begin a new series inviting readers to tell us about their unusual place of work

Read more
Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Keith Emerson and Robert Berry were planning a follow-up to their 1988 3 recording at the time of Emerson’s death. Berry is now about to release the new album, a remarkable memorial to Emerson.

Read more
Monday, July 16, 2018

The players who helped England reach the semi finals for only the third time in their history.

Read more

Topics of Interest


Follow us on Twitter


Like us on Facebook

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory


Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy


Property Search