Vera star Brenda Blethyn: ‘I’d make a good detective’

Can DCI Vera Stanhope find a killer at a luxury resort? Brenda Blethyn explains all, as the unglamorous detective returns to ITV for a new series of Vera on Sunday…

Vera’s first case in this new series is the murder of Lizzie, a young physiotherapist on an all-girl mini-break at a luxury resort. But all isn’t what it seems when Vera delves into Lizzie’s colourful private life…
“This is an original story, not a story from the original books by Ann Cleeves. It’s a case of was the right person at the right place, at the time. There are lots of suspects and it’s in an idyllic setting.”

Are you good at working out the ‘whodunit’ as you read a script like this?
“I’m quite good at it actually, but this episode had me fooled because of how many suspects there were. I reckon I’d make a good detective in real life because I’m nosy and I like solving things such as puzzles and brainteasers – I’m forever figuring things out. I race my brother everyday doing the crossword.”

Why do you think Vera is so popular?
“She’s different because she’s just doing her job and viewers aren’t hampered too much by her home life, her man or her fashionable outfits. So there are a lot of women watching her who are really pleased there’s this woman in a position of authority who doesn’t look like something off the catwalk. They never feel intimidated by her. She’s very smart and doesn’t ask for sympathy. I love playing her.”

We never really find out too much about Vera’s life do we?
“Not yet, but fans will especially like the first episode as it throws up bits about her past. It doesn’t overpower the case. The success of each episode doesn’t depend on Vera really, it’s the case and the story behind it, that’s more important.”

Do you enjoy working with David Leon, who plays Vera’s sidekick sergeant Joe Ashworth?
“Ah, he’s great – he’s a terrific actor and he’s so clever. I think it only comes across as a maternal relationship [on-screen] because I’m ancient and he’s not! But we do get on really well as mates and we have the greatest of respect for each other.”

How do you switch off after filming Vera?
“Well, the series takes five and a half months to make, so it’s nice at the end of it to get home to the family. My husband always says my head gets home a week after my body – it’s like jet lag; it takes about a week to get Vera out of my system.”

What other TV shows would you love to star in?
“I’d like to do Bradley Walsh’s job on The Chase. I like quizzes and I love that show. If I’m home from work on time I love to watch that and Eggheads. Also Downton Abbey – maybe I could play Vera on Downton Abbey in full costume, with the hat!”