Brenda Blethyn’s will return as ITV’s favourite no-nonsense detective this weekend
But actress Brenda Blethyn has no doubt that her character’s down-to-earth manner is part of what regularly attracts more than six million viewers to the show.
“She’s so ordinary; she’s not reliant on lipstick or fashion – she’s not come off the catwalk,” Brenda explains.
“I think women like the fact that she’s in charge of all those men, looking the way she does, and knowing that their husbands are enjoying it as well and not lusting after her!
“The setting is so appealing, too – the beautiful countryside and seascapes – and the stories are intriguing; there’s such a lot of affection for the character and the programme.”
Such is the show’s popularity that, when the cast and crew are filming out on location, crowds regularly turn up to watch.
Brenda Blethyn is adamant that Vera’s grounded personality is what brings back viewers
I think women like the fact that she’s in charge of all those men
“They come out with their chairs and a bottle of wine: ‘Vera! Over here Vera, do you want red or white?’”
Brenda laughs. “I say: ‘I can’t have anything, I’ve got to drive that jeep in a minute!’”
The popular detective has been solving crimes with the fictional Northumberland & City Police since 2011 and after seven years in the role, Brenda is fiercely defensive of her screen alter ego.
“Because I’ve been with her for so long I know her better than anyone, apart from Ann Cleeves (the author),” she says. “To come at these great scripts, knowing you’ve got that history there, is really satisfying.”
While some actors end up playing a version of themselves in long-running roles, Brenda could not be more different to the eccentrically brusque DCI.
Friendly and an inveterate giggler, she entertains us throughout the interview with a range of funny impressions, ranging from her pet dog to Marlon Brando, especially done with a Geordie accent as he might appear in Vera.
The mischievous sense of humour is something she shares with her co-stars, in particular Kenny Doughty (DS Aiden Healy), her next-door-neighbour during the five months they spend filming in the North East.
“The other day we thought we were going to get into trouble, because I could not stop laughing,” Brenda recalls.
The series returns with four two-hour episodes, featuring regulars Jon Morrison as DC Kenny Lockhart and Kingsley Ben-Adir as pathologist Dr Marcus Summer. Making guest appearances this series are Rita Tushingham in episode three and Ian Puleston-Davies in episode four.
The opening episode sees Vera called to a chilling murder scene when the remains of a body are discovered in an abattoir incinerator.
To her shock the body is identified as DC Harry Fenton, a respected local police officer.
Series regulars Kingsley Ben-Adir (pictured) and Jon Morrisson will also return for the new series
Vera and Aiden question Harry’s grieving family and friends in a tightly knit fishing community, before looking to Harry’s fraud team for further answers.
The story twists and turns, making it difficult to work out the killer’s identity, which is just how Brenda likes it.
“If I read the script and guess it I’m straight back on to the producers, because if I get it quickly then the audience are going to, too,” she says.
“Occasionally I see little anomalies that need addressing. If it’s not her voice, I say something, because I’ve been there from the beginning. But they’re happy with that.”
Brenda, 71, came to acting later in life and got her TV break in her 30s in Mike Leigh’s BBC play Grown-Ups.
Brenda Blethyn got her first break in Mike Leigh’s Grown-ups while in her 30’s
She worked solidly in TV, theatre and film and appeared alongside Brad Pitt in A River Runs Through It, before Mike Leigh cast her in 1996’s Secrets & Lies, which won her a BAFTA, Golden Globe and the first of two Oscar nominations, the second coming two years later for Little Voice.
With Vera an international hit, the question on everyone’s lips is whether the show will eventually return for a ninth outing.
For now, Brenda refuses to confirm. So after eight series set on the chilly North East coast, what does Brenda think would make the perfect Vera story?
“One that’s set on Capri in December, January and February!” she chuckles.
Vera airs this sunday at 8pm on ITV
Published at Sat, 06 Jan 2018 00:01:00 +0000