This Morning: Brenda Blethyn says her dog is banned from set
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Production for the ITV drama, which is centred around detective chief inspector Vera Stanhope (played by Brenda Blethyn), was halted last year due to the coronavirus pandemic. In a new interview, the award-winning actress details how she ended up separated from her husband for three months during lockdown.
Brenda, 75, was due to commence work on four new Vera films last March when the coronavirus pandemic halted all filming.
Apart from living in London, the actress also has a home in Ramsgate, Kent, which is where she unintentionally ended up throughout the first lockdown.
She explained she was gathering her last bits and pieces to take up to Newcastle for filming when the first lockdown happened.
“So I couldn’t go home. My husband was in London and he couldn’t come down. So we were apart for however long that was. 12 weeks was it?” she recalled.
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The Golden Globe winner had to spend months away from her husband, but fortunately she had her excitable, yet loveable, cockapoo Jack with her who kept her company.
Brenda said: “I’m someone who likes to be busy. So when my dog jumped on the sofa with his big muddy paws, it wasn’t too much of a chore to remove the covers and wash them.
“Except they shrunk pretty badly. A friend told me to wash them again and stretch them whilst wet but that didn’t work. So the only thing for it was to make new covers. It’s a big sofa with quite complicated cushions but I was up for the challenge.”
Luckily, Brenda had a bale of fabric she could practice with and she ordered a sewing machine along with accoutrements and was “amazed” with the final result, which “turned out brilliantly”.
Vera fans were thrilled following the announcement last August that six new episodes were to be filmed as something to look forward to in a dismal time.
Reflecting on filming through a pandemic, Brenda said: “I was glad to be starting work again for lots of reasons. But at the same time I was nervous.
“We were in the middle of a global pandemic and nobody was safe, really. But when it was explained to me about all the precautions to be set in place – and my word they were very very thorough, I became a little less nervous.
“I was quizzed on the phone by a COVID-19 detective, and medicals were carried out to make sure I wasn’t too vulnerable. Medicals are necessary anyway for any filming for insurance purposes.”
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Similar to other television programmes during the peak pandemic, Vera’s cast and crew had to find ways to adapt when filming scenes in order to adhere to COVID-19 rules.
Brenda explained: “Because the space is limited, and especially because of COVID-19, only a limited number of people were allowed in the room – usually five.
“We needed to be two metres apart. So a green screen would be put to use. Which means that when Vera is interrogating a suspect, the suspect isn’t actually there. I just had to make you believe that they were.
“The other actor is behind the green screen and all Kenny Doughty and I could see were their feet. It was hysterically funny. And when the suspect is explaining themselves, Vera and Aiden (Kenny Doughty) weren’t there. We were tucked behind the green screen delivering our lines. I defy anyone to notice in the final edit.”
The first episode of series 11 will open with police finding the body of Jim Tullman, a local builder, found beaten to death on the steps of Tynemouth’s Collingwood Monument.
As Vera and her team get to work, she questions how a seeming beloved man could be attacked so viciously.
The mystery deepens when she discovers that Jim was due to testify in court as the key witness in a violent assault. Could these two crimes be connected?
The rest of series 11 is set to be filmed this year to air in 2022.
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