Vera does Northumberland
There’s a certain magic when a book and its characters are brought to life for the small screen. Vera is one character that is larger than life in the books by Ann Cleeves and there’s something utterly magical about seeing her brought to life by the actress Brenda Blethyn. Ann now writes the character of Vera with Brenda’s voice in her ear. Not surprising, it’s hard to imagine anyone else playing her!
The new series starts tonight on ITV and The Seagull, Ann’s latest Vera novel is the only one not to have been televised yet. The rest of the series will feature stories which Ann may not have written but which have been inspired and influenced to showcase the wonderful character of Vera, her sidekick and the police team not to mention the rather fabulous Northumberland landscape…
Want to see Vera’s Northumberland?
Start close to Hadrian’s Wall.
Vera can often be seen tramping across the moorland on her way to a crime scene. It appears in many of the novels and at Harrogate Crime Festival this year, Brenda Blethyn explained how when driving the jeep over the bumpy terrain, she’d stopped and got out, forgetting to put the handbrake on and nearly ran over the crew in the process. You can also imagine Vera doing this can’t you? Ah the trials and tribulations of bringing Vera to life….
Visit a writing retreat – like the one in The Glass Room – would be ideal. Imagine being inspired to write in a remote house on the Northumberland hills? Vera goes there because of a murder but you can’t help admire the landscape around her. The Writers retreat and the locations in the novel are sadly fictional yet brilliantly evoke Northumberland, Kimmerston and Alnmouth. There’s two novels which particularly showcase the region – Silent Voices – which looks at the Tyne Valley and the village of Barnard Bridge where the victim lived. Then in Hidden Depths – you see Foxhunters, Whitley Bay, Seaton Sluice, North Shields, Morpeth and Newcastle.
Buy the clothes
She’s spotted in Fenwicks in “Harbour Street” so here might be a good place to pick up a mac or hat. Then you could get on the nearby Metro and head to Partington. Shame it’s fictional – but the train is where the mystery starts although the journey for one woman comes to an end…
The Lit and Phil
The wonderful library of books and music is another favourite Vera haunt. Again, it appears in Harbour Street where Vera visits to talk to someone about a case. If you enter and see a lady in a mac and green hat…say hello won’t you?
Back to the coast now…..
North Shields Fish Quay
This has been a popular film location. Something fishy here? Well yes but there’s some of the best fish restaurants in town too which the crew have more than enjoyed. Kenny Doughty who plays Vera’s right hand man was keen to sing the praises of the fish restaurants here. What better excuse than to eat like your favourite characters?
A favourite film location of the Vera cast and crew. Many stories have been filmed here and it’s a town the author knows well. This might be a faded seaside town but it’s being modernised and improved every day. There’s a gorgeous stretch of beach, a nice new hotel and decking area to sit and reflect on – crime fiction? – and cafes to interview the latest suspect.
Tonght’s episode was largely filmed along the coast at Seaton Sluice. This is a very long and stunning part of the coast with the best sand dunes you could ever imagine. Big as forts (well when you’re a small child they are). It’s always fun to spot the places you recognise or be inspired to visit the places you’ve seen Vera…