Brenda Blethyn on Vera series 11, New Year resolutions and the TV show she’d love to do next

Brenda Blethyn speaks to Yours about what we can expect from Vera’s two new episodes, the New Year resolution she’s set and the TV show she’d love to do next…

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by Bryony Firth-Bernard |

Unlike Vera, the dour DCI she plays in the ITV crime drama of the same name, Brenda Blethyn is a jolly soul who is very easy to have a laugh and a natter with. We caught up with the award winning actress ahead of the show's return in January.

Brenda as DCI Vera Stanhope

Despite having been in Vera for more than 10 years, Brenda still loves everything about her role and couldn’t wait to go back up to beautiful Northumberland to film the new series.

“Filming Vera is full-on and entails almost six months away from home, but I have such a great time,” says Brenda.

“I have so many favourite places. The seascapes and Northumberland National Park are just beautiful and the forest right up near Scotland, Kielder Forest, is so lovely. Even the more urban parts of Newcastle have a certain charm. Newcastle is called “party town” and it's easy to understand why. And all the little villages and towns – all the people are so nice.”

Vera series 11

The first two episodes of Vera hit our screens last year, but what can Brenda tell us about the two new, eagerly anticipated episodes coming this New Year?

“In Tiger Tiger, the first one, there’s a lorry hit-and-run at a container port,” she reveals. “The chap who gets knocked over isn’t killed although he does end up in intensive care. It then transpires that his son has been kidnapped. This instantly piques Vera’s interest – even more so when the critically ill father dies and the case becomes a murder enquiry. Meanwhile, Vera’s also trying to locate the whereabouts of the kidnapped boy. It’s one of my favourite-ever episodes.”

An added plus is a guest appearance by the former Emmerdale actress Charlie Hardwick who played Val Pollard. “In Tiger Tiger she plays a customs and excise officer who Vera feels she has to put in her place so there’s a very interesting dynamic there.”

Charlie Hardwick
©Getty

Brenda also has another feisty female – and former soap star – to play opposite against in episode two.

“The wonderful Ann Mitchell who played Cora Cross in EastEnders,” she reveals. “The episode is called As the Crow Flies and it was filmed on farmland close to Durham and on the Northumberland beaches. It’s very atmospheric. Anyway, the body of a local teacher is found on a beach. The teacher lived on a farm with her husband and there are inheritance issues. It turns out that social services have also been involved with the family as it turns out there is also some suspicion of child neglect and possibly abuse.”

Ann Mitchell
©Getty

The power of laughter

Although her character may not do it loads, Brenda is a big believer in the importance of laughter.

“You’ve got to laugh about things”, she says. “I think that’s one of the most important aspects to life. I’m a joker and part of that means laughing at myself. It’s what my siblings and I inherited from our mum and dad. They didn’t have a pot to you-know-what-in but they did pass on a great sense of humour.”

Related: Barbara Flynn: 'Working with Brenda is a joy'

Brenda and family

Despite Brenda - who’s happily married to theatre art director, Michael Mayhew - having no children of their own, family has always been very important to the actress, who has lots of nephews and nieces.

“It’s the biggest joy,” she says. “One of my best friends on earth happens to be my niece, Valerie. She has children who now have children so I’ve got great-great nieces! I’m not ringing them up every five minutes but if they wanted me, I’d be there like a shot and they know that.”

Brenda Blethyn
©Getty Images

TV shows she’d like to appear on

The actress revealed that she’d love to appear on Dancing on Ice.

“I’ve often thought I’d like to have a go at that. But who’s going to let me?" she says. "I learned to roller skate for a show once. I did that alright, although I could only go forwards. But doing all the twiddles and turns on ice would be very difficult!"

Hopefully, we may be able to see Brenda trade in her signature raincoat and hat for a sparkly outfit and pair of ice-skating boots one day.

New Year resolutions

We can’t let Brenda go without asking her if she has made any New Year’s resolutions.

“To get fit,” she replies. “For three years from 2002-4, I ran the London Marathon although it took me forever to get round! I don’t think I could do it now but maybe I could if I started training again. Perhaps I’ll give it a go!”

Vera returns to ITV, Sunday 9 January.

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