CAMERA crews have returned to the North East to film a third series of the successful detective series Vera.
Filming started on Monday on the first of four feature-length episodes of the popular series, which pulled in more than 6.5m viewers per episode in its second series and is now attracting fans from all over the world.
The series centres on eccentric Detective Inspector Vera Stanhope, played by Brenda Blethyn, who solves all manner of crimes along with her trusty sidekick and surrogate son Joe Ashworth, played by David Leon. They will be filming scenes in Newcastle, Seaham, Hexham and the Northumberland coastline from now until mid-January.
The ITV series – heralded as the “new Frost” – is based on the best selling novels and characters created by crime writer Ann Cleeves, of Whitley Bay, North Tyneside, who travelled to London last week with Bafta-winner Brenda for a cast read-through of the new scripts ahead of filming.
Ann said: “I was waiting on the platform at Newcastle for the train and Brenda was there, waving like mad at me – it took me a while to realise who it was, because she wasn’t in character.
“Brenda is an Oscar-nominated actress who recognised me yet I didn’t recognise her!
“We took the train to London together for the read-through and it was great, there are some nice strong storylines coming through.”
For the new series, previous producer Elaine Collins has taken on the responsibility of executive producer because she is now acting as producer of Shetland – a second TV series based on Ann Cleeves’ other successful book series, set on the Shetland Isles, which is out soon on BBC1.
“I feel slightly greedy having two series on television but it is wonderful,” said Ann. “A new Shetland book, Dead Water, will be out in January and I’m about two thirds of the way through another Vera book too. It’s all going very well.”
The series was brought to the region following investment and support from Northern Film & Media, which is delighted that it has returned to film scenes in the North East once more.
John Tulip, Northern Film & Media’s managing director, said: “The drama has struck a chord with audiences worldwide and showed off our cities, rural villages, beaches and more.
“We are obviously thrilled that it will be returning for a third series.”
Writer Ann is also in line for a literary award, having been shortlisted for the Specsavers Bestseller Dagger, an award chosen by readers which honours the success of authors throughout their careers.
Vera is also shortlisted for two Daggers, one for Brenda Blethyn as best actress and one for the team of Brenda Blethyn and David Leon as best detective duo, and readers can vote in all three categories at the crimethrillerawards.com website.