Jewels and Jackboots, by John Nettles, Hitler's British Channel Islands
John Nettles

John Nettles

About John Nettles

Early career

John Nettles read history and philosophy at the University of Southampton. On leaving he worked in many repertory theatres including the Northcott Theatre, the Bristol Old Vic and the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh. He was a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company from 1976 to 1980 and toured the USA extensively with that company.

In the seventies too he appeared many times on television playing the part of Dr Ian McKenzie in Granada’s hit series, A Family At War. He then went on to appear in three series of the sit-com The Liver Birds.

Television fame

In 1981, John Nettles won the role that made him a household name, that of Jim Bergerac in the Jersey-set crime drama Bergerac. This ran for 87 episodes until 1991.

In 1991 he wrote the semi-autobiographical Nudity in a Public Place: Confessions of a Mini Celebrity about becoming a "reluctant heartthrob" to female viewers of Bergerac.

Following the end of Bergerac Nettles did five seasons with the Royal Shakespeare Company, appearing in The Winter's Tale, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Julius Caesar, Richard III and The Devil is an Ass. In 1992, he appeared in an episode of Boon and in 1993, Nettles appeared as Jim Bergerac in the spoof police comedy The Detectives.

In 1995, John Nettles was approached by Brian True-May to play Tom Barnaby in a new murder mystery series he was to produce called Midsomer Murders. This was to be the second big role of his career, again playing a policeman. Midsomer Murders has made him not only a household name in the UK, but also across the world.

In 2003, he played Barnaby in the Boxing Day episode of French & Saunders.
Nettles narrated the BBC documentaries Submarine and Airport from 1996 to 2005 and appeared in an episode of Heartbeat.

He has also written two books on Jersey, entitled Bergerac's Jersey in 1988, John Nettles' Jersey in 1992. In 2007, he appeared in the BBC Radio 4 comedy series Will Smith Presents the Tao of Bergerac alongside comedian Will Smith about an obsessive fan of the series.

In February 2009, it was announced that John Nettles would be leaving Midsomer Murders. His final appearance was in 2011 by which time he had appeared in 75 episodes.

Midsomer Murders was in the top 3 of the most sold British TV shows worldwide.
In September 2012 John was made an honorary Doctor of Arts by Plymouth University. His honorary doctorate recognises his work in making numerous documentaries. Most notably on the German occupation of the Channel Islands entitled, The Channel Islands at War. This produced record viewing figures for the Yesterday TV channel in 2010.

John now has an established record as a documentary maker winning a number of awards for programmes such as ‘Betjeman’s West Country’, ‘Animal Passions’ and ‘The Channel Islands at War’.

His latest performance is in the hit 2015/16 BBC drama Poldark where he has been cast as Ray Penvenen, one of the county’s wealthiest landowners.

Nettles was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (O.B.E.) in the Birthday Honours 2010 for his services to television.