wed 22/05/2024

Vera, Series Two, ITV1 | reviews, news & interviews

Vera, Series Two, ITV1

Vera, Series Two, ITV1

Brenda Blethyn makes crime-busting look easy as the matronly Geordie sleuth

Brenda Blethyn as DCI Vera Stanhope: a bit of a national treasure

It becomes increasingly difficult for a detective to create any sort of elbow room on the small flat screen in the corner. Up in Denmark they’ve been taking the extreme route, where the dour, bejumpered Sara Lund of The Killing looks like a Butlins entertainer next to Sofia Helin’s hatchet-faced autistic sleuth Saga Noren in The Bridge.

In Blighty we churn out far more of these things than the Danes, but not much seems to have moved on much since Inspector Morse started feeling queasy around corpses and necking real ale two decades back. We still get our crimebusters from a strictly limited Pick’n’Mix consisting of (a) behavioural quirk, (b) regional accent, (c) randomly washed-out private life and, occasionally, (d) some sort of underlying health issue.

Enter, through the north-east door, the homespun Geordie spinster with a dodgy ticker DCI Vera Stanhope. Make that re-enter. And welcome, on the whole, back. Vera, adapted from the whodunits by Anne Cleeves, is entirely about Brenda Blethyn being simply marvellous. She plays the dowager detective in a long mac with a canny knack for making everything look as easy. It’s not, or else every frumpy actress would be this good. Blethyn’s Vera is a coffee morning with Sarah Millican and Judi Dench and of course something naughty in the coffee. (Pictured below, Blethyn plus sidekick David Leon.) You could contentedly put your feet up on a Sunday night and watch to her gumshoe reading out the phonebook, which is handy because, as is the way with these generic crime dramas, she had to thumb her way through half the Newcastle directory to get to the ...

Nearly wrote “killer” there. Anyone tuning in hoping to see Vera crack open a murder case on her return would have gone to bed empty-handed. The quirk of this fresh instalment was that nobody died, or least not by anyone else’s hand. A young girl was involved in a sudden domestic fire and was hauled out by her father, who happened to be an ex-colleague of DCI Stanhope, but also subject to a restraining order from his ex-wife and long since demoted as a copper. He leapt to his death in the hospital before the first ad break less, one suspects, out of a genuine need to do himself in than to help Vera get two primetime hours of a case to which he had all the answers.

It turned out he was protecting his daughter, whom as a copper on kettling duties at a demo he had witnessed going to the bad and lobbing incendiary bombs in the company of a dodgy young male we then spent half the episode hunting for, only to discover that he’d long since accidentally incinerated himself, leaving a bevy of women wondering where he’d got to. Storyline: workmanlike. Acting: solid. Locations: nearly Nordic. Blethyn: a bit of a national treasure.

Follow @JasperRees on Twitter

Blethyn’s Vera is a coffee morning with Sarah Millican and Judi Dench and of course something naughty in the coffee


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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"Up" in Denmark? Jasper, did you sleep through your geography classes?

Brenda Blethyn is a wonderful actress but I cringe at her 'Geordie' fact wonder how many of the actors in this series are' home grown'? Not many methinks!

Brenda Blethyn is a brilliant actress. I love Vera sooooo much. I don't care if her accent sounds wrong to some people I love it. I look forward to watching this show every week it is unique. I'm just another Australian who loves superb British drama.

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