Award-winning actress Brenda Blethyn, the star of popular detective series Vera, has spoken of her affection for Northumberland, where the ITV show is filmed.
She was a guest on Thursday’s This Morning on ITV to promote the new series and talked fondly of the time she has spent in the county during production.
“I’m in Northumberland for five months; each episode takes a month to do,” she told the show’s hosts Eamonn Holmes and Ruth Langsford. “We go to all those glorious places in Northumberland; it really is beautiful. It is a joy to be up there and the people are so friendly, really nice.”
Brenda said that local folk come along to support the filming and some even ‘take it upon themselves to do crowd patrol’. She said on one occasion there was a group of youngsters chanting ‘Vera, Vera’ who had to be asked to keep quiet.
Eamonn also revealed he was a fan of Northumberland, having visited ‘Alnwick, the castles and Lindisfarne’, describing it as ‘absolutely stunning’.
Brenda returns as the eccentric DCI Vera Stanhope tonight (Sunday) with a new sidekick, DS Aiden Healy, played by Kenny Doughty, for the start of the fifth series.
She said Kenny was ‘a great actor, such a wonderful bloke and such a welcome addition to the team’.
The new series was filmed last year in locations all over the county, including Alnwick, Chillingham and Howick Estate, and drama students at Duchess’s High School were called upon to act as extras for a scene at the school.
Brenda, who is from Ramsgate in Kent, also revealed that she based Vera’s North East accent on This Morning agony aunt Denise Robertson, who she listened to for the ‘song in her voice’.
Vera is famous for her earthiness and ordinary appearance. Brenda told Eamonn and Ruth: “It’s great that she leads a team of men without the use of lipstick or she doesn’t look like she’s just come off the catwalk; and she commands respect. I think a lot of people watching it at home kind of appreciate that. If you met her at a bus-stop, you might have a chat, but you wouldn’t dream she was in CID.”
We go to all those glorious places in Northumberland; it really is beautiful. It is a joy to be up there and the people are so friendly, really nice.Brenda Blethyn
Her wardrobe is a constant topic of conversion. Brenda said in the first series she wore a pair of her own size 3 shoes that she had bought for £12 in Birmingham about 20 years ago because they were a bargain. She also revealed that she once lost her trademark hat midway through an episode and so went out and bought several more in case it happened again.
Vera starts tonight on ITV at 8pm.
Thursday’s This Morning is available to watch on ITV Player until Friday (April 10).