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Brenda Blethyn: 'Why I nearly quit playing Vera!'

Vera star Brenda Blethyn: 'I love classic darts show Bullseye!'

As Vera returns for an eighth series tonight on ITV at 8.00pm, Brenda Blethyn reveals she's glad to be playing the unconventional DCI again after almost quitting the show...

Actress Brenda Blethyn who returns for an eighth series of the hit detective drama on ITV, reveals why she still loves playing unconventional DCI Vera Stanhope and talks grisly murder scenes, romance and charming co-stars!

Brenda Blethyn's What's On TV interview

WOTV: What can fans expect from this series?

Brenda Blethyn: "More good-quality drama! There are always good stories, that’s what I like about it. This year there’s a car crash that Vera thinks is suspicious, but you’ll have to wait and see about the rest. We’ve got some good guest stars, too. Ian Puleston-Davies is in episode four and he was terrific. I didn’t think I was going to like him because he was Owen in Corrie, but he was absolutely charming, a lovely man!"

Episode one starts with a shocking discovery of a local copper’s body in an abattoir incinerator. How was it filming that?

BB: "That was filmed in a real processing plant for meat where it’s hung and distributed. There were some mock up scenes – some it wasn’t real because it had to be filmed in such a way that it wasn’t too offensive!"

WOTV: Kenny Doughty, who plays Vera’s sidekick DS Aiden Healy, is back, too. What’s it like working with him?

BB: "He’s a hoot. He’s a good companion and a real good sort. This show is sold all over the world and the other day we were thinking what DCI Vera Stanhope might be called in Greece and we came up with DCI Olive Feta – that’s the sort of humour the two of us like! We also have a new recruit, DC Jac Williams (Ibinabo Jack), who’s lovely. She’s the queen of terrible jokes and a constant source of amusement – the actress, not the character! She’s slotted in very well. And pathologist Marcus Sumner (Kingsley Ben-Adir) is back, too. We missed him last series. It’s good to have him back with that smile. He could light up a room!"

WOTV: After playing Vera for so long, can you work out who the murderer is when you read the scripts now?

BB: "If I did, I’d be on the phone straight away, saying 'This is too easy, it’s too obvious!' No, by the time the script gets to me, it’s well disguised who the culprit is. I like reading them, though. I’m not one of those people who goes straight to the back to see who did it, I like to be surprised, too!"

WOTV: You considered making the seventh series your last. What changed your mind?

BB: "I kind of missed doing it. The only way I can describe it is if you go out for a big slap-up meal and you’ve eaten too much and someone says, 'Would you like to see the menu?'  you go, 'Oh no, please leave me alone!' but a week later you get hungry! You never know what your circumstances are going to be, but the success of the show has been overwhelming and to be central to that is rather a nice feeling."

WOTV: Vera’s quite a loner. Can we expect some romance for her this series?

BB: "You never know what’s round the corner. She had a good relationship with the first pathologist Billy Cartwright (Paul Ritter), she quite liked him, so I wouldn’t rule it out but it would be more companionship. She’s perfectly happy the way she is if she’s working – that’s what she thrives on!"

Vera returns Sunday on ITV at 8pm.

Tess Lamacraft
Tess Lamacraft

Tess is a senior writer for What’s On TV, TV Times, TV & Satellite and She's been writing about TV for over 25 years and worked on some of the UK’s biggest and best-selling publications including the Daily Mirror where she was assistant editor on the weekend TV magazine, The Look, and Closer magazine where she was TV editor. She has freelanced for a whole range of websites and publications including We Love TV, The Sun’s TV Mag, Woman, Woman’s Own, Fabulous, Good Living, Prima and Woman and Home.