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ITV’s Vera – where the original cast are a decade since the first episode


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A green mac, a fishing hat and murders in Northumberland – it could only possibly be Vera.

Remarkably, it’s now been 10 years since the DCI initially came to our screens, with the first episode airing on ITV in May 2011.

A mark of the programme’s success, it regularly draws in upwards of eight million viewers and is set to air its eleventh series later this year.

Telling Ann Cleeves’ intricate Vera Stanhope stories has involved a sizeable cast, but what have the original stars of series one been up to over the past decade?

Brenda Blethyn – DCI Vera Stanhope

Brenda Blethyn made her television debut in Mike Leigh’s Grown Ups in 1980, but it was another Leigh production – Secrets & Lies – that served as her major career breakthrough in 1996.

On the back of her portrayal of Cynthia Purley in the drama, she won Best Actress at the Baftas, the Golden Globes and the Cannes Film Festival.

In 2003, Blethyn was awarded an OBE in the New Year Honours for services to drama.

Blethyn in 2019
Blethyn in 2019

Her recent career has been defined by her performance as the titular DCI in Vera – a character rarely seen without her trusty mac and hat.

But Blethyn has also been busy on the big screen over the past decade too, appearing in Mary & Martha alongside Hilary Swank, Two Men in Town and as the voice of Ethel in the animated Raymond Briggs biopic Ethel & Ernest.

Most recently, she played the lead in ITV’s Kate & Koji sitcom in 2020 and will soon appear again in the upcoming series of Vera.

Jon Morrison – DC Kenny Lockhart

The only actor other than Brenda Blethyn to appear in all ten series of Vera, Jon Morrison is a very familiar face on the show – and, as DC Kenny Lockhart (below, left), a reliable detective.

He started his career in 1973 as Currie in religious drama series Adam Smith, before going on to appear in television programmes including Van der Valk, Bergerac, A Touch of Frost, Taggart and Rebus.

Morrison even featured on The Bill on four occasions, playing a different character each time.

You might also recognise him in the Ken Loach film Sweet Sixteen, in which he played Douglas alongside Line of Duty star Martin Compston.

In recent years, Morrison has primarily dedicated his career to Vera, although in 2013 he appeared on talk show The Crime Thriller Club with Bradley Walsh.

Paul Ritter – Dr Billy Cartwright

Appearing in only the first three series of Vera as forensic pathologist Dr Billy Cartwright, Paul Ritter had his TV debut two decades earlier in another detective programme, The Bill.

He quickly became a familiar face on both stage and screen, featuring over the years in films including Quantum of Solace, Son of Rambow and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

Ritter had the versatility to excel both in dramas – Chernobyl, No Offence, The Last Kingdom and Belgravia, to name a few – and in comedy – such as Cold Feet, Plebs and Top Coppers.

Ritter in 2020
Ritter in 2020

But it was his portrayal of Martin Goodman in Channel 4 sitcom Friday Night Dinner that he was perhaps best known for in recent years. The show ran for six series from 2011 to 2020.

Tragically, Ritter passed away in April aged 54.

He has since been nominated for a posthumous Bafta for Best Male Comedy Performance. A documentary dedicated to Ritter to mark the tenth anniversary of Friday Night Dinner will be aired later this year.

Wunmi Mosaku – DC Holly Lawson

RADA graduate Wunmi Mosaku was only a few years out of drama school before landing the part of DC Holly Lawson in Vera.

And casting directors must have enjoyed her performance as a police officer, because she has since donned the uniform again numerous times, including as DS Halliday in Luther, DC Darego in The End of the F***ing World and DCS Greenwood in Fearless, alongside the late Helen McCrory.

Mosaku in 2017
Mosaku in 2017

On the big screen, Mosaku has appeared in Philomena, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and, most recently, as Rial in thriller His House – for which she was nominated for a Bafta.

In 2017, she won a separate Best Supporting Actress Bafta for her role as Gloria Taylor in Damilola, Our Loved Boy.

Mosaku will soon appear in the upcoming Disney+ Marvel series Loki as Hunter B-15.

David Leon – DS Joe Ashworth

Working at different times as a CITV presenter, a Blackburn Rovers football player and a short film director, David Leon had a varied career before Vera – and still has one today.

He played DS Joe Ashworth on the show for four series, going on to act in the BBC’s The Refugees as Álex, In the Dark as DI Adam Perrin and Gold Digger as Kieran.

Leon has also reprised his role as a director, working behind the camera for the short film Orthodox – which he also wrote – and an episode of Vera in 2018.

Most recently, he narrated Our Cops in the North, an observational documentary telling the stories of Northumbria Police Force for BBC One.

Leon is currently working as writer/director on two more short films, Stable and Driven.

Author: [email protected] (Erin Santillo)
This post originally appeared on Hull Live – Celebs & TV


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