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Brenda Blethyn: Vera's no shrinking violet!

Brenda Blethyn: Vera's no shrinking violet!
Brenda Blethyn: Vera's no shrinking violet! (Image credit: Associated Press)

International award-winning actress Brenda Blethyn is the star of ITV1’s new detective drama, Vera (opens in new tab) (Sunday, Ma1, 8pm)... What type of detective is you new character Vera Stanhope? "She's pretty surprising - she doesn't look like a copper, but when it comes to cases she's not a shrinking violet and jumps in feet first. She's worked her way up though the police force and her job is her life." What do we know about her personal life? "Her mother died when she was young and she had quite a lonely existence being looked after by her bird-watching father - who has also recently died. Subsequently she's a bit of a loner, but she's not lonely. She's also got a strong sense of justice." How is she regarded by her colleagues? "They all find her a bit of an oddball! But they respect her because she’s sharp and she gets the job done." What's her relationship like with sidekick Sgt Joe Ashworth, played by David Leon? "She and Joe have a very interesting relationship. It's not exactly mother and son, but she has protective feelings towards him. They get on really well and she mentors him a bit." What can we expect from the first episode? "There are two murders, but Vera's slightly distracted during the investigation. Because her recently deceased father was a birdwatcher, she has birdwatching on her mind quite a bit. Joe even accuses her of making everything about birdwatching - even murder!" Had you read Ann Cleaves’ bestselling Vera novels before accepting the part? "I hadn't, but I've read all three of her Vera books since and found them all gripping. In the book she's described as a huge, scruffy woman who looks like a bag lady, so I did think: 'Hang on, why does my name jump to mind for the part!'" It's set in the North East corner of Britain, did you enjoy working around Newcastle? "I loved it. The Geordie accent is notoriously difficult for us actors, but I had a good coach and David helped me with it as well. I also listened to lots of Cheryl Cole! I hope I've got it right."

Patrick McLennan is a London-based journalist and documentary maker who has worked as a writer, sub-editor, digital editor and TV producer in the UK and New Zealand. His CV includes spells as a news producer at the BBC and TVNZ, as well as web editor for Time Inc UK. He has produced TV news and entertainment features on personalities as diverse as Nick Cave, Tom Hardy, Clive James, Jodie Marsh and Kevin Bacon and he co-produced and directed The Ponds, which has screened in UK cinemas, BBC Four and is currently available on Netflix. 

An entertainment writer with a diverse taste in TV and film, he lists Seinfeld, The Sopranos, The Chase, The Thick of It and Detectorists among his favourite shows, but steers well clear of most sci-fi.