Vera Season 11 has now started on ITV in the UK, while it's about to be released on BritBox in the US. Since investigating her first case in 2011, DCI Vera Stanhope has been a massive hit with viewers.
With her no-nonsense approach and scruffy appearance, we’ve followed Vera as she solves murder after murder in the northeast of England for years. But what is it about the prickly cop played by Brenda Blethyn and based on the best selling books by Anne Cleeves, that keeps us glued to our TVs? With brand new episodes of Vera airing, having been filmed in autumn 2020, we can’t wait to see Brenda Blethyn’s Vera in action again...
Vera Season 11 release date
Vera Season 11 began on Sunday 29 August 2021 on ITV in the UK, concluding on Sunday 5 September.
Meanwhie, Vera Season 11 will drop on BritBox in the US on 1 September.
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How many series of Vera are there?
There have been 10 series of Vera so far and this new series starting on ITV on August 29 will be the 11th and features two new episodes.
Where is Vera filmed?
Vera is filmed right across the county of Northumberland in England, from it’s stunning open dune-lined beaches, dramatic castles such as Bamburgh and Alnwick, forests such as Kielder, to small towns and villages of the north east including Whitley Bay and Amble, and the swish bars and restaurants of Newcastle city centre, every episode of Vera makes us want to visit the area! In particular the Holy Island of Lindisfarne, which is where Vera’s home is.
"The exterior of Vera’s home is on Holy Island, while the interior is a set at our Wallsend studio base," says Brenda. "The studio interior is an exact replica of what it’s really like on Lindisfarne. Sometimes when I’m on set I forget I’m not actually in Vera’s house!"
Vera Season 11 plot
The first of the two episodes sees Vera investigating the murder of builder Jim Tullman (Gavin Kitchen), who’s found beaten to death. When it emerges Jim was due to testify in court Vera wonders if this is the motive for his murder, but she then discovers a web of family grievances, jealousies and lies. Lorraine Ashbourne guest stars as Barbara Tullman.
In the second episode of Vera, support worker, Angela, is found murdered among the bleak woodlands of Northumberland National Park. But was the killing an opportunistic attack or carefully planned? Angela worked for a women’s addiction recovery centre but kept colleagues at arms’ length, and before she died clashed with clients…does the centre hold the key to the case? Guest stars for this episode are former Emmerdale star Sian Reese-Williams and Shakespeare & Hathaway’s Mark Benton and former Brookside star Louis Emerick.
“I was glad to be starting work again for lots of reasons. But at the same time I was nervous of it, admits Brenda Blethyn. "We were in the middle of a global pandemic and nobody was safe really. But when it was explained to me about all the precautions to be set in place, and my word they were very very thorough, I became a little less nervous. I was quizzed on the phone by a Covid detective, and medicals were carried out to make sure I wasn’t too vulnerable. Medicals are necessary anyway for any filming for insurance purposes. They really just want to know you’re going to make it to the end of the shoot!
“Covid did make it more difficult to film. It lengthened the filming time of each episode by about a week. To start with the Covid protocol made it a little bit inhibiting but we soon got used to it. It became a sort of dance. If somebody approached you, you naturally stepped backwards. And if anyone did forget, the Covid marshals were over to you with a long stick. Not to hit you with but to make sure you were the appropriate distance apart.
“On the first day back filming I think everyone felt a huge sense of pride. That we had all come together, we were all putting our best foot forward to try and get this done. We all knew it would be difficult with all the restrictions."
All about Vera actress Brenda Blethyn...
Brenda Blethyn has played Vera since 2011. Born in Ramsgate in England in 1946, Brenda was the youngest of nine children. She worked as a secretary before landing a place at the Guildford School of Acting in her late 20s. Brenda then joined the Royal National Theatre and received praise for her performances.
In 1980 she made her TV debut in Mike Leigh’s Grown-Ups, then starred in sitcom Chance in a Million. A film career followed with a part in Nicolas Roeg’s The Witches in 1990, and then for her role as Cynthia in Mike Leigh’s 1996 film Secrets and Lies she won Best Actress at Cannes, a BAFTA, a Golden Globe and received an Academy Award nomination. She earned a second Academy Award nomination two years later for Little Voice. Throughout the late 1990s and early 2000s Brenda appeared in numerous TV shows and films, including Between the Sheets, Pride & Prejudice, War and Peace, and Anne Frank before landing the role of Vera in 2011. She has also appeared in 2020 sitcom Kate and Koji on ITV, playing Kate, the owner of a seaside cafe. Brenda splits her time between London and Ramsgate and is married to British art director Michael Mayhew.
Brenda Blethyn on playing Vera…
Brenda says: “Vera is different because she’s just doing her job and solving a crime, you’re not hampered with her home life or romance or her parade of fashionable costumes. I think you have a lot of middle-aged women sitting at home who are really pleased there’s this woman in authority who doesn’t look like someone off the catwalk so they don’t feel intimidated by her. She’s clever and she doesn’t ask for sympathy. She doesn’t ask the audience to like her, either, she just behaves as she behaves. Sometimes you think she’s horrible, then a minute later you might like her.”
Who plays Vera’s sidekick DS Aiden Healy?
Kenny Doughty plays DS Aiden Healy in Vera. Aiden replaced DS Joe Ashworth (David Leon), who was transferred to another area. On arrival Aiden often put his foot in it with Vera, but she warmed to him and now they have a working relationship built on mutual respect. Vera knows he’s committed and diligent, and gives it his all to juggle his job with the demands of a young family, and Aiden feels protective of his boss, knowing her obsessive nature and complete absorption in a case can be at the cost of her own wellbeing at times.
Kenny Doughty on starring in Vera
Kenny says: “Aiden and Vera understand each other. Aiden can be thoughtful but he’s also protective. I love it when they’re grumpy with each other and they argue. They love each other in their own way, it’s really lovely that they’ve kind of got a mutual understanding of each other’s uniqueness. It seems to work really well. And Brenda and I have so many laughs together!”
What else has Vera star Kenny Doughty starred in?
Kenny was born in Barnsley, England in 1974 and studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. In the late 1990s and early 2000s he landed various roles in TV shows including Dinnerladies, Heartbeat, Wire In the Blood before starring as William Forrest in TV mini series Servants (2003) and as Liam Woolf in Funland (2005). He starred as playwright Joe Orton in Kenneth Williams: Fantabulosa!, has appeared in Casualty and New Tricks as well as Coronation Street. Between 2012-13 Kenny played Sean in Stella opposite Gavin & Stacey’s Ruth Jones, and worked with Sheridan Smith in Black Work. He landed the role of DS Aiden Healy in Vera in 2015 when his predecessor David Leon left to concentrate on directing. While working on Vera Kenny also appeared as Rick in Kay Mellor’s Love, Lies and Records. He’s married to the actor Caroline Carver.
Who are Vera’s other work colleagues?
Vera relies on her team, but is a hard taskmaster, and there are often confrontations. But her colleagues respect her and Vera appreciates it when they do a good job.
Jon Morrison as DC Kenny Lockhart
Long-suffering Kenny often feels the sharp end of Vera’s tongue. But he’s been a stalwart of the team for years and Vera relies on him. Vera values his years of experience and instinct. Kenny often speaks his mind which can sometimes land him in hot water with his boss!
What else has Jon Morrison been in?
Jon was born in Glasgow, and has an acting career spanning almost 50 years. He’s appeared in Crown Court, Van Der Valk, Bergerac, A Touch of Frost, The Bill and Monarch of the Glen. Like Kenny Doughty, he appeared in TV mini series Servants as Andrew Adams. He went on to land regular roles in Dream Team and High Times before landing the role of DC Kenny Lockhart in Vera in 2011.
Ibinabo Jack as DC Jacqueline ‘Jac’ Williams
Jac is a valued member of Vera’s team, with a dry wit and non-nonsense attitude, she excels at gathering background information and evidence, which Vera relies on. She’s tough and determined and doesn’t let Vera’s high expectations faze her.
What else has Ibinabo Jack appeared in?
Ibinabo appeared in C4 soap Hollyoaks and BBC1 lunchtime drama Doctors before joining the Vera cast as DC Jacqueline ‘Jac’ Williams. She’s also starred in comedy Big Fat Like.
Riley Jones as DC Mark Edwards
After joining Vera’s detective team from being a uniformed officer, Mark is a little less confident than his colleagues. But he channels his introspective energy into detailed analysis and research, and has a brilliant eye for detail.
What else has Riley Jones been in?
Born in Gateshead, Riley had a few roles in various TV shows, including United, Wolfblood and EastEnders before joining the cast of Vera.
Paul Kaye as pathologist Malcolm Donahue
Always on hand to deal with the grisly task of gathering evidence at the murder scene and later investigating the cause of death, Vera uses his information to piece together the puzzle, but the two often clash.
What else has Paul Kaye starred in?
Londoner Paul has had a varied career as an artist, comedian and actor. He was a scene painter at the Old Vic Theatre, and designed posters and artwork for other theatres and magazines. In 1994 he created comic character Dennis Pennis, a celebrity interviewer, who would ask celebrities embarrassing or awkward questions. Paul made a move into dramatic roles in 2000 with Two Thousand Acres of Sky, and appeared in Waking the Dead, Hustle, EastEnders, Game of Thrones, Kingdom, Hotel Babylon, Doctor Who and Good Omens before joining Vera.
What is Vera famous for?
Vera is famous for her fishing hat. Vera wouldn’t be Vera without her famous green hat, and she’s never without it when she’s out and about investigating. Matched with a similar green raincoat, and comfortable boots, Vera’s fashion style oozes ‘down to earth’.
"Vera dresses for comfort. She doesn’t care if it looks terrible, she’s concentrating on solving crimes," says Brenda. ‘I’ll let you into a secret. I bought the boots she wears for £12 in Birmingham 20 years ago. They’re children’s — I’ve got small feet — but I knew they’d come in handy one day. Perfect for Vera.’
Vera never takes any nonsense!
It’s not just murder suspects that Vera is tough with, she also comes down hard on her loyal team. But her reluctance to mollycoddle them and push them hard gets results and they respect her for it, even if poor colleagues Kenny (Jon Morrison) and Aiden (Kenny Doughty) bear the brunt!
"I love the way she doesn’t beat about the bush," says Brenda. "You don’t have to second-guess her and she’s fair. I like that about her."
Vera’s battered, beloved Land Rover
Never one for convention, Vera has shunned modern vehicles for her old, reliable Land Rover Defender. Living out in the countryside, miles from anywhere, she needs a motor that can battle mud and driving rain and wind in the bleakest terrain.
"If ever there’s a final series, we’d have to jack in the Land Rover for a mobility scooter!" laughs Brenda.
Vera’s always eating junk food!
Busy solving murders and working long, unsociable hours, Vera is usually forced to eat on the go, and she’s rather partial to a classically British bag of chips. Vera can regularly be seen munching in her beloved, battered Land Rover, or sitting by the sea, shovelling in snacks as she ponders a case.
‘Sometimes you’re out in the middle of a field and you want something stodgy and comforting to warm you up to stave off the hunger,’ says Brenda. ‘When you’re freezing cold and in the middle of nowhere, sometimes you just want a plate of chips!'
Vera likes a drink or two of whisky
Often sipped from a coffee mug, the hardworking detective often likes a wee nip at the end of a long day. Vera is often seen pawing over case notes at home or in the office with a whisky in hand, and one could argue it often helps her crack the case!
"She does like her drink," says Brenda. "Beer or scotch!"
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