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Heartbeat - the classic characters

Nicholas Rhea and the Heartbeat characters

As with all original novels (think of James Bond, or Inspector Morse!) on which a dramatised series is subsequently based, there is a general idea and characterisation that appeals to the producers and script writers. With Heartbeat, a number of key characters came straight out of the Constable books by Nicholas Rhea, other characters were adapted, and new ones were introduced. Success for the writer depends largely on a combination of conviction and flexibility: things are bound to be different on TV, and he/she can either help to create it, or withdraw from the process. Nicholas Rhea took the opportunity to be at the heart of things by assisting as a TV consultant, as well as continuing to write new Constable books.

The Current Characters

Jonathan Kerrigan as PC Rob Walker
New face: Jonathan Kerrigan as PC Rob Walker
Derek Fowlds as Oscar Blaketon Clare Calbraith as Dr. Tricia Summerbee Jason Durr as Mike Bradley
Geoffrey Hughes as Vernon Scripps Peter Benson as Bernie Scripps Mark Jordon as PC Phil Bellamy
Duncan Bell as Sergeant Dennis Merton Tricia Penrose as Gina Ward William Simons as PC Alf Ventress

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Warning: The information contained in these pages is based on what has already been broadcast in the UK, and may contain spoilers for Heartbeat viewers in other countries!

This gallery of the characters appearing regularly in the current (twelfth) series of Heartbeat has been compiled with the help of Yorkshire Television, Nicholas Rhea and other sources.

Characters from the Early Days

Nick Berry as Constable Nick Rowan David Michaels as Neil Bolton Kazia Pelka as Maggie Bolton Bill Maynard as Claude Jeremiah Greengrass Niamh Cusack as Kate Rowan Juliette Gruber as Jo Weston - with Katie Rowan

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Nicholas Rhea comments:
  • The name change for Constable Nick might have confused some viewers and readers - in the books, he is PC Nicholas Rhea, but on screen he has become PC Nick Rowan.
  • Also in the books, he is depicted as coming to a rural area from an office job in Police Headquarters, while on screen he transfers from the London Metropolitan Police to the rural beat of Aidensfield.
  • In the books, Constable Nick is married with four small children, and his wife is called Mary. On screen, his wife was a doctor called Kate and, initially, there were no children.

These differences were done to cater for the rather special needs of a TV audience after consultation with me, as author of the books and creator of the characters.

Nick is not based upon any identifiable individual, but is really an amalgamation of rural bobbies, and the same applies to Sergeant Blaketon and PC Alf Ventress. These characters appear on TV exactly how I envisaged them when writing the books. I get many letters from serving policemen, and retired officers, who say that Sergeant Blaketon is exactly like their old sergeant! And those letters come from every part of the British Isles - which only proves there were lots of Sergeant Blaketons in the police forces of the 1960s.

George Ward, the former licensee of the Aidensfield Arms, is not strongly depicted in the books but his screen version was just right, while Greengrass has emerged as larger than life. In my books, he is a rather weaselly sort of character, more of a sneak than a humorous individual but Bill Maynard has fleshed him out, made him a large fellow and has given him much more of a humorous character. And that is very good - I like the TV Greengrass a lot.

Most of the other characters on screen are the creation of the Heartbeat team of writers, producers and directors and will not be found in the original books. The inspiration has gone full circle in a way, with TV characters gradually being introduced to future books.