Vera Review: ITV’s Drama Renaissance Continues

May 1, 2011 by  
Filed under - Home, Reviews

VERA: Sunday 1st May, ITV1, 9pm

ITV can’t seem to help delivering cracking drama as of late, with Downton Abbey, Marchlands, and The Suspicions of Mr Whicher wowing viewers and critics alike. After tonight’s episode, I’m pleased to add Vera to this acclaimed list. Rightly hyped in advance of its premier, the series is based on detective novels written by Ann Cleeves – the best-selling author with a very Tudor name – and stars Oscar Nominated Brenda Blethyn (Secrets and Lies, Pride and Prejudice and Atonement), who recently admitted to watching tapes of Cheryl Cole and Ant and Dec in a bid to cast off her London accent for the role.

Brenda portrays unconventional and determined Detective Chief Inspector Vera Stanhope, troubled by her past and obsessed with her work. Helped along the way by trusty, loyal companion Sergeant Joe Ashworth (played by David Leon), the pair are close work colleagues, and there’s a real mother and son feeling to their relationship.

This week’s episode, Hidden Depths, revolves around the body of a boy mysteriously found strangled in a bath tub surrounded by candles and floating flowers. Vera and Joe lead a team tasked with finding out the cause of the death, and soon discover a web of lies and secrecy in a tight-knit community.

As the story progresses, the team uncover another murder and several extra martial affairs between suspects, not to mention some shifty birdwatchers. Vera certainly has her work cut out solving this mystery, whilst also trying to grapple with family problems that are only hinted at in this first episode in a four-part miniseries.

I thoroughly enjoyed this detective romp, and look forward to watching next week’s episode as the series continues. There some great acting and casting, all helped along the way by a well thought out story which kept me guessing throughout. Being a fan of the crime genre, I’ve become pretty good at spotting the bad guy from the off, though during Vera I was genuinely surprised at how the story unravelled. I have always been rather suspicious of birdwatchers though…

Congratulations ITV, can we have some more please?

Liz says:

I think Vera is wonderful – excellent writing and acting. I got the DVDs for the second series – it’s a joy to watch.

david says:

A series named Vera! can’t bare the idea, who would think that’s a good. title? and it’s crap as well!

mark kelly says:

ITV’s Vera

What a load of rubbish. Certainly did not live up to the preview hype!! Terrible geordie accent (pet!) wont be watching again

Greg says:

I for one thought that the two episodes that I have seen so far have been thoroughly enjoyable. I’m surprised at some of the criticisms above. Were we watching the same VERA?

MaggieG says:

Just watched Telling Tales and really enjoyed it. Cannot understand what the majority of this lot are talking about – fuzzy? Bad acting? OK, storyline a bit disjointed, and you had to really LISTEN to get it (was everyone listening?) and the music – all of it – was sublime, which is something very unusual these days. The long vistas were so reminiscent of the Northumbria I remember and love, and so much more enjoyable than flash camera work that makes you dizzy, together with music that was both appropriate and beautiful instead of intrusive or plain annoying. Not being Northumbrian I can’t be sure, but Blethyn’s accent was a good stab – however, what is wrong with using a few genuine accents? I didn’t hear many.

Lassegurra Aktersnurra says:

Regarding the piano music question marks

They just sent the episode in Sweden, and I believe piano music is a nocturne by Chopin. More precisely Nocturne C minor, the posthumous one (not Nocturne C minor op 48 No1.). Here is a link:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=oKZM1Gst440

redkite says:

if they had used the actual northumbrian accent and dialect for the area people would have understood what they were saying even lessso they had to make it understandable

Jacquee Storozynski-Toll says:

Just watched today’s episode – what a ridiculous story. As for Brenda Blethyn she woudl have been carted off to the lunatic asylum or at least pensionned off on mental health grounds if she behaved like that on a case. If it comes back again here is one person that won’t be watching it

David W says:

. . . and too many bodies! If a writer has to have 4+ bodies in an hour to keeo us interested, he just isnt a very good author

David W says:

I am SAOO glad to find other people feel like me about this programme. So it wasnt our TV gone all out of focus and soft. I also turned on the sub-titles so I could follow the dialogue. Far too many characters to try and recognise. Seeing Brends continually try to run like a policewoman was ridiculous. Just a poor imitation of Frost-Wallender. But theres so little else to watch :(

Don says:

I quite like Vera a bit dark and jumpy and I have some problem with the accent but its ok , the best thing about it is the background music superb any know the composer

Ivvy says:

Very s-l-o-w & unsophisticated- for this day & age of forensics & other quality ‘detective’ series. Not- convincing. Disappointing. Watched 1st (&last today) just managed to stay to the end -(as thought should find out etc??!!) Yes agree with comments re ‘ages’ & other more negative comments- Pity.

Barbara says:

I can hardly understand a word, people either speak with accents that are not understandable or they mumble and don’t open their mouths, this includes Vera. It is also very disjointed. I switched away from the first one and managed to stick the 2nd one as nothing else decent on, but had to keep saying “what did they say”,and “what’s happening now”. Agree with the above WHAT A MESS.

Nprma Hargreaves says:

I thought VERA was excellent, can’t wait for next week’s episode! Would love to know what the music was that was played over the Jeannie CD item.

As a Geordie, I thought the accents were spot on!

Martyn Peel says:

8th May episode: AWFUL.
What is a good actress like Brenda Blethyn doing in this mess?
I won’t watch again (and I won’t buy the DVD!).

kate rose says:

Absolutely dreadful…Brenda Blethyn is totally miscast.It is just not credible .An other wise excellent 60 something actor is portraying a detective who would surely retire at around 50. David Jason did not continue with Frost as he thought he was too old to be believable.Accent awful….scenes jumping around all over the place… just not watchable.

Jacquee Storozynski-Toll says:

This programme is awful. It is a poor man’s Wallender and even has the police inspector walking along the beach at the end and the death of the father referred to in the story line. Brenda Blethyn is totally miscast and her behaviour as a police inspector looks like a woman having a menopausal breakdown. The music in this week’s episode was the best part. i am also at a loss to understand how the murder scarf was in the piano when the son was killed looking in the car boot at the scarf. I was not impressed the first week and the second hasn’t changed my opinion

rich says:

Fuck off it is brilliant miserable farts

quinny says:

can any one tell me who wrote the classical music played at the party in tonights vera

Jackie says:

I think Nathan was watching a different programme! I hour would have been sufficient and we thought the acting was atrocious. Vera was more like a neurotic granny than a police inspector. Will not be watching again.

klouise says:

I am so pleased to see that everyone thought this was utter rubbish as did I. I normally really like Brenda Blethyn, but the character of Vera is ludicrous. I agree with Dorothy that she appeared to be nothing more than a bumbling fool masquerading as a detective, and rather than being “unconventional” she merely appeared half-cut to me. The storyline was just not believable frankly and seemed so utterly unrealistic in its content and sentiment.

maggie says:

I had difficulty following it and wanted to watch agen but its not avail on iplayer!!!

Nathan Rodgers says:

I can honestly still say I stick by this review! Of the people I know who watched the programme I think it was a 50/50 split between those who enjoyed it and those who found it awful…

As for Brenda’s accent, to me it was convincing and I found thought the programme was well-acted overall.

However, I do think that the story was broken up somewhat every time ITV brought in an ad break. As an advance reviewer, you are given a programme to watch minus these annoyances, which I feel took away from the story when it was broadcast and took away from the suspense..

A Robinson says:

This was the most appalling detective film I have ever seen, please no more – evar.

Simon says:

The book is a great read. The film adaption changes many aspects of the novel, even the why the murders were committed. I was disappointed; it was more like a nod to the book but otherwise a major rewrite. It does show perhaps, how difficult it is to transpose a story that contains much character plotting to the small screen in under 2 hours. I would imagine that Ann Cleeves might be a little underwhelmed judging from the first installment, though at least she now has her name up in lights so to speak.

Eleanor Cole says:

Desperate to find replacement viewing for the loss of Waking The Dead; Silent Witness; The Scarlet Petal and the White; Lark Rise to Candleford: Downton Abbey; etc. All in my opinion excellent TV. I eagerly awaited Vera. What a dissapointment! It was awful. The accent was appalling. The acting was wooden. Vera spent so much time looking pained and preoccupied whilst rushing from one place to another I felt quite exhausted by the end of the first programme. I will not be watching it a second time.

Silver Knight says:

Simply dreadful. Worst crime dram I have sen for years. Awful plot unconvincing characters. As for Vera herelf – Blethyn is 64 for Gods sake. Makes Frost look like a youngster. I cannot stand her whining screechy voice. Hardly Prime Suspect was it? Lets pray there are no more series.

Dorothy says:

The drama vera,was an absolute load of rubbish.The way Brenda Blethem [normally a very good actor]was made to portray a detective inspector was diabolical,she acted as a complete simpleton God help us if our police force are really like that.

Gillian says:

I think I must have been watching the wrong programme! With a cast headed up by the excellent Brenda Blethyn I was certain of two hours in front of the box being well spent, what a disappointment. Brenda’s character was absolutely wooden and her jerky, random movements made her look like a Thunderbirds puppet with a couple of strings missing. The plot initially showed promised but turned out to be a simple case of obsession driving someone to murder – nothing new there then, apart from the fact that ITV managed to string it out for a couple of hours. Padding was provided by unnecessary insights into the private lives of the main characters together with hair tearing, sobbing angst from DCI Stanhope. I hope the book was better – the TV adaptation was dire!

susan says:

Vera on ITV Sunday, great story and of course performance from Brenda Blethyn, but the way it is filmed is terrible!!! Fuzzy, blurry, dull and very wobbly, spoilt the whole thing!

Ian Bateman says:

All I can say is Nathan is easily pleased. This was by far the worst TV detective I have seen. I love Brenda Blethyn, she is one of our most accomplished actresses but she is miscast in the awful program. For my wife’s sake, I persevered to the end but was left to rue the useless loss of two hours of my life. Next week I think I’ll watch the kettle boil dry.

Bobby Robson says:

My wife and i (who are both 60yrs) enjoyed ‘Vera’ very much,she was a wee bit eccentic like ‘Frost’ but did not have any bosses over her like Taggart and Frost. The scenes and locatons were good and some of the dialect was spot on.
Our only ‘gripe’was the use of the word MUM instead of MAM,as we Geordies say.
I was almost ‘foaming at the mooth’ but only after the first 15 minutes or so when the word mum was hardly used again.
I get sick of researchers not doing their job well enough into local accents and words,but i can understand in a way that this is for the widespread viewers,however it would not have been too hard to use the word MAM instead of mum.

Jo e Mc says:

Vera on Sunday night: What a load of rubbish. Lacked pace and direction, very implausible and the director seemed to go out of His/her way to belittle the North East.

Anonymous says:

It was awful. Majorly over acted by the whole cast and struggling for a flowing conversation between any character. Flicks between irrelevant scene changes and has far too many characters to keep up with and hold interest

Pam Baker says:

As a long time fan of Brenda Blethyn,I cannot imagine why she has involved herself in this totally unbelievable load of rubbish!!!!

Jon says:

Not so sure I agree. The storyline is disjointed and accents are not convincing. Acting is wooden and lines contrived. Shame!!!

robbie hartwell says:

great great director