If ever there was a British version of the American character, Lieutenant Columbo, DCI Vera Stanhope is it. The disheveled detective with a keen mind for solving crime returns to telly when the fourth series of the hit drama, Vera, debuts on ITV and public TV stations in the next week or so. And that, pet, is fabulous news for Brit mystery fans on both sides of the pond.
Costumed in her character’s trademark layers of clothing, hat, mac, and sensible shoes, Academy Award® nominee and Golden Globe and BAFTA winner Brenda Blethyn (Little Voice, Secrets & Lies) reprises her signature role as DCI Vera Stanhope, the frumpy and grumpy detective who investigates murder after murder in Northumberland.
Said Blethyn of Stanhope: “I’ll continue to play Vera for as long as the audience wants to see her, as I absolutely love the character. I was first attracted to the role because the drama focuses on the crime rather than her personal life, and Vera’s not your usual run-of-the-mill detective. She doesn’t come with any baggage; she’s not hampered by romance. If you passed her in the street you wouldn’t dream she was a detective.”
Costarring with Blethyn in their fourth outing together is actor and award-winning writer David Leon (RocknRolla, The Lives of the Saints) as DS Joe Ashworth, Vera’s right-hand man, friend, and surrogate son with a family of his own.
About Vera, Leon commented: “One of the many things I personally love about the series is the way it follows the tradition of a lot of Scandinavian dramas, which have been incredibly successful and popular down to their production values and tastes. It’s always a challenge to maintain those qualities and standards each year.”
And joining both of them in Vera: Series 4 is relative newcomer Kingsley Ben-Adir (Agatha Christie’s Marple), who plays the new forensic pathologist, Dr. Marcus Summer, as well as cast regulars Jon Morrison (High Times) as DC Kenny Lockhart and Clare Calbraith (Downton Abbey) as DC Rebecca Shepherd.
Guest stars in Series 4 include Paul Copley (Last Tango in Halifax), Tilly Vosburgh (Holby City), Kellie Bright (EastEnders), Clive Russell (Ripper Street), William Ash (Waterloo Road), and Robert Glenister (Hustle).
The episode “On Harbour Street” opens Series 4. Pensioner Margaret Kraszewski mysteriously dies on a packed Newcastle train during the height of rush hour, and DS Ashworth must balance his roles as detective and father in this case as his daughter, Jessie, is a key witness. The investigation takes him and DCI Stanhope to a rundown seaside B&B in Northumberland, where clues center on one street and a tight-knit and reticent community lives in the shadow of a long-held secret.
In “Protected,” Vera and Joe investigate the murder of David Kenworthy, found dead on the beach at Whitley Bay. The local business owner who’d argued with David on the night of the killing has an airtight alibi, but he wasn’t the only person the victim had met with that evening. As they continue to probe, the detectives discover that the Kenworthy family isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and a second death means they must piece together the fractured family’s past and solve the case… quickly.
Two teenagers discover Shane Thurgood, a suspected poacher, dead from a single gunshot wound on the Northumberland moors, and a mile away the remains of a deer are found in a burnt-out truck, in “The Deer Hunters.” Joe’s thinking leads him to believe this was a poaching war gone wrong, while Vera’s intuition points her to something deeper. As she uncovers the history of Shane’s tragic life and details of his inheritance, she begins to unearth the truth behind his sudden departure fifteen years ago and what brought him back to the area where he met his end.
And in “Death of a Family Man,” Vera investigates the death of businessman John Searwood, who was supposed to be in Ireland but was instead found floating under the Gateshead Millennium Bridge. According to Chief Investigator Owen Preece, the death could be linked to John’s business manager, a booze scam runner, but he has an alibi. John’s wife, though, doesn’t. As Vera and Joe peel back the layers of secrets beneath John’s veneer of respectability, they discover that a tragic incident from years ago was the beginning of the end for him.
Vera: Series 4 debuts in the UK on ITV on Sunday, 27 April 2014 at 8 PM BST, and in the US on the following local public TV stations on various dates beginning the 4th of May. Check your local listings or contact the station serving your area for details.
CORRECTION: The Florida station airing Vera: Series 4 is WUSF in Tampa, not WUCF in Orlando as previously shown.