|C H A R A C T E R
Derek Fowlds as Oscar Blaketon
Graham Blaketon (son)
Joan Forrester (wife, divorced)
Oscar Blaketon (formerly Sergeant Oscar Blaketon), was played by Derek Fowlds. He appeared in 342 episodes from 1992 - 2010. Bessie Bellamy
A crotchety sergeant with a particular loathing for Claude Greengrass, whom he was perpetually trying to put behind bars. Often appearing cynical, suspicious,bad-tempered,very serious and hard, he has mellowed somewhat with age. His softer side is occasionally apparent, and at various times he has been a voice of wisdom or shoulder to cry on for younger policemen facing moral dilemmas or personal traumas. After a near-fatal heart attack in Series Seven which forced his retirement from the police force, Blaketon became proprietor of the Aidensfield Post Office but that did not last long because the writers found this difficult to tie in to the plots.
After only a year, he was brought back to the centre of the stories by being made owner of the Aidensfield Arms, which he bought after discovering that he owned some valuable share warrants, and where he is now usually to be seen serving behind the bar with landlady and licensee Gina Ward. Blaketon was once married, but divorced some years before the series began. He has a son called Graham who appeared in several early episodes but has thereafter rarely been mentioned. Blaketon is also a local councillor and, since retirement, an occasional private investigator, sometimes working in this capacity with Ventress. Blaketon first appeared in the episode Changing Places, already in uniform, where he told Nick that there was work to be done and gave him his first introduction to Greengrass.
He informed Nick that Greengrass had no respect for law and order. Nick immediately saw that Blaketon had a thing about Greengrass, although Ventress saw that it was more of an obsession. In the episode The Frighteners, Blaketon adopted a kitten called Heathcliff, after he turned out to be not so hard on it in the first place and changed his mind after he ordered it put down. In Manoeuvres in the Dark, Oscar decided to organise a gournment night involving coppers only, since Greengrass was against inviting policeman to his. Oscar ended up with food and no guests and Claude had guests and no food. Blaketon joked that the frogs legs had done a runner.
He then revealed that he was now owner of the Aidensfield Arms. Blaketon also appeared to be friends with Henry Tomkinson, Jackie Bradley's uncle, where they often played golf together as shown in the episode Testament and suggested that he should retire like him. He didn't believe that Henry could just knock a young boy off his bike and leave him there. Oscar was going to be godfather to Phil and Gina's baby boy in Daniel, but Daniel died in two days before they could ask. During the last episode, whilst feeding his adventurous side, Blaketon was impaled onto a pitchfork. The finale ended without the audience knowing whether Blaketon died or not. He and Alf had planned to go and revisit many places they'd been to during the war, but it was obviously not what he had in mind. He also made an appearance in spin-off series The Royal. He also helped David into getting his money back, after he'd been conned by Martin Featherstone in Friends Like You. He also said goodbye to Nick, Jo and Katie when they later moved to Canada in Local Knowledge. He attended Nick and Jo's wedding in Affairs of the Heart. the episode Little Angel, Blaketon had another heart attack when caught up in the search for a young girl that resulted in the death of PC Steve Crane. In the following episode, Oscar was seen recovering in hospital when he discovered that it was PC Rob Walker who was the new village bobby as he'd once given his father a false alibi. In series nine, Oscar ended up collapsing behind the bar because of an Asian flu that started spreading through the area. In the final episode, Ventress said that Oscar was stubborn and that he wouldn't go until he was ready. The Aidensfield Arms regulars hailed Oscar a hero as his life hung in the balance.
Personality and appearance
In the earlier series Oscar was shown to be a typical, hard-nosed copper and was often cynical and suspicious of nearly everyone who came in through The Aidensfield Arms. However, he did began to mellow and show his softer side, especially after his retirement - which he took particularly hard. He also doesn't want to admit that he is wrong either.
Aidensfield village "bobbies"
PC Nick Rowan
PC Mike Bradley
After the depature of PC Nick Rowan, Mike took over as Aidensfield police officer but when he and Oscar first met, he certainly wasn't what Blaketon was expecting. But it was clear by the time Mike was promoted, they had become friends. In one episode, With This Ring, Oscar advised Mike not to do the same again as he had done after falling out with Jackie.
PC Stephen "Steve" Crane
PC Robert "Rob" Walker
PC Joe Mason
Ashfordly Police sergeants
Sgt Raymond Craddock
Sgt Dennis Ian Merton
Sgt George Miller
Other Ashfordly Police
PC Alfred "Alf" Ventress
PC Philip "Phil" Montgomery Bellamy
PC Thomas "Tom" Nicholson
PC Geoffrey "Geoff" Younger
Detective Sergeant Rachel Dawson
PC Don Wetherby
Dr Alex Ferrenby
Oscar has been involved in plenty of situations that have needed medical expertise. He has also witnessed the deaths of several doctors - five died and only two ever made it out of Aidensfield alive. Dr Alex Ferrenby was the first village doctor.
Dr Kate Rowan
Dr Neil Bolton
Dr Patricia "Tricia" Summerbee
Dr Liz Merrick
Dr Helen Walker
Other medical staff
Dr James Radcliffe
Nurse Maggie Bolton
Nurse Carol Cassidy
Dr Chris Oakley
Aidensfield Arms staff
Georgina "Gina" Ward
When Oscar bought the Aidensfield Arms he got on Gina's nerves mostly because he acted as if he was still running Ashfordly Police Station. Soon Oscar learnt to become more relaxed and the pair warmed to each other. Oscar has a soft sensitive side and sometimes sympathised with Gina if she had any problems and it didn't take long for the two to become very good friends. Gina gave birth to a boy named Daniel in the episode Daniel, but he died prematurely and she and Phil broke off their engagement. Gina and Phil were thinking of asking Oscar to be godfather. When Phil and Gina finally married, Oscar was there as a witness. He also became a father figure to Gina after her husband PC Phil Bellamy died while on duty. Gina didn't seem to be very happy as he appeared to think that something would happen to her second baby like it did with Daniel. Eventually Gina's baby was born healthily and he was named Philip Oscar Bellamy, and was born on Oscar's birthday. Gina was furious to think that Oscar thought she was a marriage wrecker when he thought there was something occurring between her and PC Don Wetherby. This was because he visited her regularly on business related to the Police Widows' Fund but things did not happen between them. In Sweet Sorrow, Gina raised a toast to Oscar along with the other regulars as his life hung in the balance.
Oscar always thought Joyce Jowett could be a pain when she wanted to and that she was very good at throwing her weight around on the council. One time when Mrs Jowett came to see Oscar he asked Gina 'What have I done to deserve her?'
"Loveable rogue" lineage
Claude Jeremiah Greengrass
During his time as Police Sergeant he and Greengrass had numerous run-ins usually ending with Claude somehow managing to escape prosecution. Oscar very much despised Claude and was often quoted that rule number one was 'Never believe a word Claude Jeremiah Greengrass says'. Claude obviously very much despised Blaketon in the same way. However when he went to work at the Aidensfield Arms Oscar did become more relaxed as Greengrass was a regular. There was one moment where Oscar did help Claude and David when David was conned out of his money by shopkeeper Martin Featherstone; yet when David suggested that Oscar might be able to help them you can imagine what Claude's reaction was like! Eventually, Claude emigrated to the Caribbean to join his sister on a cruise and Oscar didn't have to worry about the latter getting up to no good.
Yet he still had to put up with Vernon Scripps, who went through the same daft schemes as Claude did. Vernon appeared out of the blue in the episode Safe House, before leaving the series in style by evading the taxman and faking his own death.
Aidensfield Garage staff
Bernard "Bernie" Scripps
Rosemary "Rosie" Cartwright
Other regular characters
Hobbies and Interests
Oscar's interests include sports such as golf, cricket and ocaisionally fishing. Oscar has been a member of the Golf Club for many years and participated in many cricket activities too. Blaketon had a couple of favourite foods these where quite simply, Chocolate Digestives and Cream Cakes!
During his time in the police force Sgt. Blaketon would often be seen driving in a Ford Popular/Anglia 100E Patrol Car however did also use the black Ford Anglia Patrol Car as well. After retiring Oscar's main motor was a blue Morris Minor Traveller, this car had some incidents firstly at one point it was vandalised by having the interior flooded with a hosepipe over night. At one time when the car was in for it's service Vernon Scripps went into a line of selling sports cars, Oscar had only said the other day that he wanted some form of MG, so when a little MGA sports car turned up on the garrage front he couldn't refuse. In the end it turned out the MG had been stolen by one of Vernon's dodgey 'friends' and it had to be returned.
Biography from ITV
"Blaketon was the police sergeant in Ashfordly before retiring to run first the post office and then the Aidensfield Arms.
He is a disciplinarian, a sceptic and part-time private investigator. He is also Rob Walker's mentor and grandfather figure.
Oscar is fearlessly direct, and will rarely admit that he is wrong. He has no truck with the radical social developments of the 60s, and believes that the country has been going downhill at a rate of knots since the end of the war.
Blaketon has found it hard to give up his career and often gives the other policemen advice, whether solicited or not.
Occasionally he forgets that he is no longer a police officer and tries to take charge."
From Nicholas Rhea's website
There was a surprise for Derek Fowlds at the Yorkshire Life Food and Wine Awards in October 2003; he had agreed to present the awards, but found himself (or maybe his alter ego) winning an prize as well! Oscar Blaketon of the Aidensfield Arms, seen (left) with Elaine Lemm, Food and Wine Editor of Yorkshire Life, and Peter Bourhill, was presented with the award for Pub Landlord of the Year 2003 - "and we hope," says Yorkshire Life, "it will soon take pride of place behind the bar of the Aidensfield Arms."
Derek Fowlds has played the role of Oscar Blaketon, one of the characters from the original novels on which Heartbeat is based, since the first series in 1991. He gave this interview as the tenth series was about to be broadcast.
"The offer of the role came as a bit of a surprise", he recalls. "I'd been getting back into drama again after my years in Yes Minister and had been in a film in Australia with Olympia Dukakis and then I'd been in Yorkshire for the first time in my life doing The Darling Buds of May. The scripts came for this new series Heartbeat and I read them thinking 'God, I'm a bit old to play Nick Rowan', the one Southern character in the piece. When I found out they wanted me to do the sergeant I wondered why - as there must have been many wonderful Yorkshire actors who could have done it. I nearly talked myself out of a job but I'm glad I didn't as nine years on I'm still here."
Derek had a very clear idea from the start how to approach the role.
"I based him on my drill instructor, because I was in the RAF for national service", he says. "I just cut my hair shorter, slicked it back and shouted a lot and Oscar was born."
Looking back on the last nine series Derek can't recall when they knew they were on to a long running hit.
"It started off as six months work," he remembers. "About halfway through the first series noises were being made that we had a hit on our hands. Not only did they do a second series they did a second and third series back to back. And it took off."
Over the years Blaketon has had several major life changes.
"He had to take early retirement from the force" says Derek. "He didn't want to but he had a heart attack and that was that. He then took over the post office for a year which he disliked and then he came into some money and bought the pub and he's been running it ever since."
Rhea comments on ex-Sergeant Blaketon...:
"Derek Fowlds portrayed Sergeant Blaketon exactly as I imagined him. The police service had lots of men like Blaketon, good, solid and dependable characters who ran their little police stations with fierce efficiency but who, under a tough exterior, possessed warmth, generosity and kindness. Now, I get calls from serving policemen who wish their sergeants were as reliable and inspiring as Blaketon!"
...and his successor at the police station:
"There was a time it seemed impossible that anyone could replace the bluff Sergeant Blaketon but, according to the last episode of series 7, Sergeant Craddock seems to establish himself as a major player in Ashfordly Police Station. Although he makes sure Bellamy parades on time, Bradley does not wear white socks with his uniform and Ventress doesn't smoke in the office, he does emerge as a most interesting fellow. He adds a new dimension to the work of the constables of the North York Moors..."
Derek doesn't think it's the end of the line for Oscar however.
"I don't think he's finally settled", he comments. "He really misses the police station and longs to get more involved again with the police. Although I love him I think he's quite sad. He has very little in his life at the moment. He hasn't seen his son for four years - he doesn't know where his wife is and there certainly hasn't been a woman in his life for some time. This compounds his need to get back in to the business of solving crimes. Even though he is involved with the community as a local councillor I think he'd love to set up his own private detective agency. Once a copper always a copper."
There are moments in the new series when Oscar helps solve one or two crimes.
"I do get a bit of snooping in," he laughs. "I help Ventress out and help to solve the case of Jackie's stalker. I also have a nasty moment when I'm threatened at gun point by a rather unpleasant journalist".
Oscar certainly doesn't have much time for his successor Sergeant Craddock. "He thinks he's a wimp!". He does like to go back and visit his 'boys'.
"Oscar thinks Bellamy should be a sarge by now," says Derek. "And he thinks poor old Ventress should have packed it in years ago. He told him the other day that he thinks that post office is still up for sale".
When asked if there's any romance in store for Oscar this series Derek sighs wistfully.
"If only..." he comments. "I think he looks for it every day in the pub. A blast from the past does crop up this series in the form of Ursula played by the wonderful Sharon Maughan. She doesn't hold a candle for Oscar unfortunately but another resident and she's back for revenge. But he's been remarkably short of female company - he just plays his Shirley Bassey records and gets on with it."
Like many of the regular cast Derek finds it hard to define what it is that makes Heartbeat so enduringly popular.
"I've been asked this hundreds of times and can never really put my finger on it." he says. "It's a phenomenon really and the root of its success has to be nostalgia. It's the only show that takes place in the wonderful decade of the sixties - and it captures those years so wonderfully with the vintage cars, the fashions and of course the music of the era. It's also probably one of the only programmes on telly where you can sit down with the whole family because the fans of Heartbeat are aged right the way from 5 to 85. How many programmes can cover that age range?"
When asked which is his favourite Heartbeat moment, Derek is very quick to respond.
"Undoubtedly when Oscar had an affair with a Detective Sergeant's wife in Whitby", he grins. "He got into a lot of hot water on that occasion but thankfully his old pal Ventress managed to get him off the hook."
- Although the last episode, "Sweet Sorrow", was left on a cliffhanger with Oscar impaled on a spike, Derek Fowlds said that Oscar would not have died.
- In the Constable Series books Sgt.Blaketon dosen't like cricket and much prefers football.
- In his spare time Oscar was a private detective alongside Alf Ventress.