Actress Brenda Blethyn reveals her love for the classic Jim Bowen show

Award-winning actress Brenda Blethyn, who shot to fame when she picked up a Golden Globe for her role in Mike Leigh’s film, Secret and Lies, is currently back on our screens as DCI Vera Stanhope solving murders in windswept Northumberland.

She has been playing the formidable detective for the past seven years, along with Kenny Doughty who plays DS Aiden Healey.

Here, in an exclusive interview with TV Times, Brenda, 71,  shares her guilty pleasures, the best advice she’s ever been given and the Golden Globes disaster that left her red-faced!

Brenda Blethyn chats about Vera and her love of Bullseye…

My guilty pleasure is…

“The game show Bullseye! I’m a massive fan of it. I binge watch it on Challenge, you’ve got all of the gameshows on there, The Price Is Right, Who Wants to be a Millionaire but I just love Bullseye. And quiz shows – I watch all the quizzes, three on the trot, Tipping Point, The Chase, Eggheads!”

 What I like most about playing Vera is….

“The fact I’ve been with her a long time so I know her really well. We have different directors for every episode, producers change, cast members change but the one constant is Vera and I love her.”

My must-have item during filming is…

“A printer to print out the Times crosswords. I give them to my make-up person and Kenny too then we all race eachother. I’m pretty speedy. My quickest time for a concise crossword was three minutes.”

My favourite item in Vera’s wardrobe is…

“It’s got to be the boots, they’re sturdy and practical although they’ve never seen a tin of polish! I’ve got size 3.5 feet and I bought them for £20 in the sale from a children’s department. I thought, ‘They’ll come in useful one day’, and they sat in the cupboard for 10 years. When I got this part I thought, ‘I know exactly the boots for Vera!’”

The job that changed my life was..

“Working for British Rail. I was a secretary and one day a girl came in and said, ‘Can you help us out. We’re desperate!’ She was from the Euston Players, a British Rail amateur dramatics society and they needed someone for a play they were doing the next day because someone was off sick. Although I was worried I agreed and it was such an eye opener. I just loved the whole camaraderie of the group and that’s what first got me into acting.”

When I was growing up I wanted to…

“Be in the Army. Again, it’s the idea of camaraderie and people working together. My family had a very strong work ethic and my brother Brian was in the army and ended up being a Major. There was an American Air Force base in Ramsgate where I grew up, and I remember the parades the town with marching bands. I used to think it was wonderful.”

BRENDA BLETHYN as DCI Vera Stanhope, KENNY DOUGHTY as DS Aiden Healy and VINCENT REGAN as Michael Glenn

You’d be surprised to know…

“I’m a very capable person and I’m good at DIY. I’ve laid a floor, taken out a fireplace, put in a whole basin and toilet on my own and plumbed it in. I’m a bit like Vera in that respect, she would be capable, but I wouldn’t do it now. I can afford to pay someone else to do it.”

My favourite place to go on holiday is….

“I spend five months of the year filming in Northumberland, so my idea of a holiday is coming home to Ramsgate where I live. I’m there whenever I can be. I grew up by the sea in Kent and that’s where I love to be.”

Something I’d like to do is…

“Learn another language fluently. I’d like to be better at French, I’ve started to learn it so many times, then got busy with work so I end up having to go back to the beginning again.”

The best advice I’ve ever been given is…

“My first proper telly role was the Imitation Game with Harriet Walter. I had to wear a gas mask and a khaki Territorial Army outfit that was so itchy. It was unbearable. I was too frightened to complain but Harriet said, ‘Tell them! Are you frightened they’re not going to like you. Not everyone’s going to like you!’ That was good advice…not everyone is going to like you!”

BRENDA BLETHYN as DCI Vera Stanhope and KENNY DOUGHTY as DS Aiden Healy

The person I most admire is….

“There are different people for different reasons. I admire Elaine Collins who was the first producer of Vera, she has really good taste, she’s fair, funny and I really like her style. And my friend Julie Forsyth, she’s an immensely talented country singer, she’s Bruce Forsyth’s daughter and not only is she jaw-droppingly talented but she’s lovely too.”

My perfect weekend is…

“Going for a long walk from Ramsgate to Broadstairs along the Kent coast, with my two-year-old dog Jack, a Cockapoo and stopping to eat at Magnolia, a lovely Italian restaurant where I can sit outside with Jack.”

Life’s too short to…

“Have regrets. If you want to do something and you’re able to do something about it then make sure you do it. Don’t look back, look forward.”

Vera continues on ITV, Sunday, 8pm