Vera returns for new ITV series with first episode featuring locations in Northumberland and North Tyneside

TV detective Vera is returning for a new series on ITV.
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Many viewers will have seen Brenda Blethyn’s DCI Vera Stanhope back in action in a Boxing Day special.

And series 13 gets underway on ITV on Sunday, January 7 at 8pm in an episode titled ‘Fast Love’.

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The programme synopsis for the first of three new feature-length episodes says: ‘DCI Vera Stanhope (Brenda Blethyn) is called to a quiet country lane where a young man has been found dead following a collision with a car.

Brenda Blethyn and David Leon. Picture: ITVBrenda Blethyn and David Leon. Picture: ITV
Brenda Blethyn and David Leon. Picture: ITV

‘On closer inspection, it becomes clear that this is not an accident and is way more than a hit and run. Vera discovers that the victim is a popular market trader so heads down to his pitch to start to put together an idea of who our man is and ascertain why anyone would want him dead.

‘As the investigation gathers pace, Vera learns that our cheeky chappy was a complex character. Antagonistic, arrogant and able to get what he wants, but did all of this come at a price? Secrets. Lies. Betrayal. Fractious relationships and intense rivalries but who would want our barrow boy buried.’

The new series sees the return of actor and director David Leon as Joe Ashworth alongside Jon Morrison as DC Kenny Lockhart, Riley Jones as DC Mark Edwards, Sarah Kameela Impey as pathologist Dr. Paula Bennett and Rhiannon Clements (Ridley, Hollyoaks) as new and ambitious DC Steph Duncan, who joins Vera's team.

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“Vera is on her own at the start of the new series,” explains Blethyn. “DS Aiden Healy (Kenny Doughty) is no longer around and so Vera has to explain what has happened to him.”

Vera cast members. Picture: ITVVera cast members. Picture: ITV
Vera cast members. Picture: ITV

“After we filmed The Rising Tide at the end of 2022 I didn’t want to do any more without Kenny Doughty, who had decided to leave. But I said, ‘I’ll think about it if you can see if David Leon is available to return as Joe Ashworth.’ And so they did and here I am.

“I was broken-hearted when David left after Series Four and equally overjoyed when I heard he was coming back as the relationship between Vera and Joe worked so well. They have all of that early history together.

“I wouldn’t have continued if David had not agreed to come back. I just didn’t want to start another board game with somebody else when I know I’m not going to do many more. And who would want to do it anyway?”

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She reveals there are echoes in the first new film of the very first Vera episode which keen fans may spot, including a scene at the North Shields fish quay where her father Hector’s ashes were scattered.

Brenda Blethyn as DCI Vera Stanhope. Picture: ITVBrenda Blethyn as DCI Vera Stanhope. Picture: ITV
Brenda Blethyn as DCI Vera Stanhope. Picture: ITV

“The week after we had finished filming for series 13 I went back there to unveil a sculpture - ‘The Herring Girl’ - to honour the herring girls,” says Blethyn. “They had a very hard life following the herring fishing fleet in all weathers from the north of Scotland and down the east coast of England.

"In the days before refrigeration they were a team of women whose job was to gut, salt and pack the fish into barrels using sharp knives so that it could be sold back on land. A heroic job to do.

“It was a delight to travel back to North Shields from London on a day trip with my brother to remember those women. There were lots of children from local schools there for the unveiling ceremony and when they saw me, they were chanting ‘Vera, Vera’ in the style of the Newcastle United football chant ‘Shearer, Shearer!’”

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She reveals that Northumberland locations also feature in the first episode.

“It involves a number of market stall holders so we filmed scenes in Hexham, which we call Bentham,” she said. “It was a lovely setting with the real market there and Hexham Abbey across the road. I was able to take a few minutes off to take and look inside the Abbey.

“We filmed a scene where Vera is sat opposite a market stall holder, played by Andrew Dunn, in a local cafe as he is eating a fry up. We couldn’t do too many takes of that as he would have eaten three plates full. As it was, he did rather well.

“I also fell over a few times when Vera was running on a slippery floor in another scene. Or at least walking fast! I went flying but I was OK.”

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“Some children from Corbridge Middle School came to watch the filming on a new estate close to their school,” she added. “I went and chatted to them. I love it when kids are enthusiastic to come and find out how it all goes on behind the scenes. I tried to explain to them about all of the different jobs that each member of the crew were doing.”