Brenda Blethyn has nothing but kind words for co-star and returning Vera colleague David Leon ahead of the 13th series finale.
Leon made a surprise comeback as Joe Ashworth this season for the first time in a decade – although his return certainly divided viewers following the exit of Kenny Doughty’s Aiden Healy.
However, Blethyn was one person who wasn’t in two minds when Leon confirmed his return to the show as she revealed he was the main reason she didn’t hang up Vera’s signature hat for good.
On-screen, Joe’s comeback certainly ruffled the feathers of Blethyn’s DCI Vera Stanhope but their on-screen chemistry has left several fans hoping there will be more episodes of the ITV crime drama to come after Sunday’s finale.
Ahead of the third feature-length instalment of series 13, titled Salt and Vinegar, Blethyn has spoken out about what it was like to work with Leon again and paid tribute to her “delightful” co-star.
“David’s return helps refresh the series,” Blethyn began. “People were very upset when he left after having played Joe in the first four series of Vera. And people were delighted when it was announced that he was returning for these new films.
Brenda Blethyn’s Vera may come to a close after series 13
“It also took away the disappointment of Kenny leaving because people also loved Aiden.”
Heaping praise on her colleague, Blethyn added to ITV last month: “There is no-one better to replace the character of Aiden Healy on screen than Joe Ashworth.
“David is also delightful to work with. What a nice man he is.
“He also once directed an episode of Vera – a series eight story called Black Ice screened in 2018, so he’s on the ball.
“He knows what he is doing and I think it shows on screen. He’s good,” Blethyn praised.
But will the return of Leon and Vera’s reunion with Joe be enough to keep the ITV drama going?
“At the moment there is nothing planned,” Blethyn said of Vera’s future prior to series 13 getting underway. “But that’s not to say they’re not talking about it.
“There might be a winding up. I don’t know. Ann Cleeves is also writing her 11th Vera book. So, there’s also that to consider. But a whole series? I think not. We’ll see.”
Leon has also spoken out about Vera’s uncertain future as he told ITV: “Vera will continue for as long as the demand for it remains and Brenda feels like she can continue to surprise herself and be challenged by it.
“She puts so much into it and it is an exhausting shoot – in the past (we’re) usually filming four feature films back to back… We’ll have to wait and see if there will be.”
While only three episodes long, the latest series of Vera has proven a hit with viewers ahead of its finale.
Last week, many were overjoyed to see Ab Fab star Julia Sawalha land a leading role in the drama – although they couldn’t help be distracted by her “wonky” Geordie accent.