Vera star Brenda Blethyn thrilled to return to ITV series after dismal time

Brenda Blethyn recalls 'losing her Vera hat' on set

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Production for Vera was put on hold last year due to the coronavirus pandemic. Despite the difficulties the cast and crew faced with filming, two feature-length episodes have recently aired which saw DCI Vera Stanhope (played by Brenda Blethyn) reunite with her sidekick Aiden Healy (Kenny Doughty). Brenda has described the new series as something for fans to look forward to after a “dismal time”. 

The award-winning actress explained: “It was hugely gratifying to hear that the people in the North East were excited to know that Vera was returning to film more episodes. Something to look forward to in a dismal time.”

To date, Vera fans have been treated to two episodes of season 11. 

The first instalment of the new season saw DCI Stanhope and DS Healy investigating the murder of local builder, Jim Tullman.

The builder was found beaten to death on the steps of Tynemouth’s Collingwood Monument.

The second programme saw DCI Stanhope called to the scene of murdered support workerAngela Konan.

Speaking about struggles during the filming of season 11 Brenda said: “I was glad to be starting work again for lots of reasons. But at the same time, I was nervous of it.”

The 75-year-old actress continued: “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.”

The star explained Covid made it more difficult to film scenes and admitted 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,” she added. “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.”

Reflecting on the first day back on set, Brenda said she thought everyone felt a “huge sense of pride” about coming together and putting their best foot forward to film the series. 

However, she admitted it was difficult to recognise anyone when they were wearing masks or visors. 

“Covid also forced technicians to be a little bit more creative in how a scene was shot, so that it didn’t look like we were all separating and keeping our distance,” she added. 

“There were plenty of people sitting at home who would have given their eye teeth to go to work and they couldn’t. 

“So, nobody in the cast or crew were moaning, even though we were nervous and didn’t want to catch Covid. We knew we were in a fortunate position in being able to work.”

The final four episodes of series 11 will be available to watch in 2022, although a specific date hasn’t yet been confirmed.

However, fans will be delighted to know filming for the rest of series 11 has now wrapped.

It comes after the cast and crew were recently spotted on set in Whitley Bay and Tynemouth.

Vera is available to watch on the ITV hub.

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