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Nick Berry plays PC Nick Rowan

Nicholas Rhea with Nick Berry on the Heartbeat set

PC Nick Rowan was the lead character in the series, and most strongly based on the original character in the Rhea novels - in many ways he was an autobiographical reflection of Rhea's own experience in the rural police force. Nick Berry appeared in the first seven series of Heartbeat, and was a driving force behind its success. Series 7, however, saw PC Rowan's departure from Aidensfield, and with him went Nick Berry - to broaden his acting career and develop his knowledge of TV production.

Melissa's Heartbeat page has more information about PC Nick Rowan, as played by Nick Berry.

Rhea about Nick Rowan:

"I liked Nick Berry's portrayal of Constable Nick. He depicted an honest and very sincere bobby who was sympathetic to everyone and who regarded himself as a helper to all within the community rather than someone overbearing and authoritarian. I like to think that Constable Nick typified the country constable of that time and he did fit the image of the constable in my books, even if the name is slightly different!"

On his departure from Heartbeat, Nick Berry spoke fondly of the series he was leaving: "I think the storylines are brilliant, and clearly all the characters have emerged as interesting personalities in their own right. The stories in series 7 are as good, perhaps better, than anything we have done before. From a personal point of view, it has kept my interest in the series for over six years, and clearly the viewers feel the same way."

Nick freely admitted it would not be easy to hang up his police uniform: "I feel very privileged to have been a part of Heartbeat for so long." He added, "I never doubted its potential as a series and I have had some of the happiest times of my life since I joined the show. I have also made friends that I will keep for life. But I always said that when the time was right to move on, I would. I feel the time is now and I will be looking at a number of possible projects before deciding what I do next."

"I made my mind up when I was told that there were going to be 24 episodes this time, instead of 16. That would have doubled the amount of time I was going to be away from home, and I've missed enough of my son Louis growing up as it is. I just want to be at home, have a bit of rest and do the nursery school run. Normal things like that."

"They [wife Rachel and son Louis] are the most important things in my life and this business can eat you up. Rachel gave up acting and is happy being a mum, out of the rat race. It's a meat market, especially if you're young, female and pretty. If Louis ever wanted to be an actor he would be taking the decision after seeing what can happen. I have a circle of friends, actors I have grown up with, and some are working and some aren't. There are good times and bad times - it's all about survival and luck."

Nick Berry, therefore, has been a very lucky man who used his acting ability and image wisely. He started at the age of eight, in a show that toured hospitals and old people's homes. After that, he attended the Sylvia Young Theatre School in London and appeared in adverts and small parts on TV. His big break came aged 22, with the role of Wicksy in Eastenders. He's grateful for the exposure the part gave him, but is glad he left the soap when he did - at the height of his fame. "It felt like working in a factory - just churning out - so I left and did some theatre, radio and other bits on the box. Then this great job came along at exactly the right time."

Read more about Nick Berry in a BBC Drama Faces feature.

Read an extract from Constable on the Hill in which Constable Nick visits Ashfordly Police Station for the first time.

Changing Places - life after Aidensfield When Nick Rowan decided to leave Aidensfield, he did not altogether give up his career in policing: instead he joined the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. A video is available, showing how the Rowan family settle in to their new life.

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