“I wish I’d been more confident early in my career”

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  • Brenda Blethyn, 69, is back on our screens on Sunday as DCI Vera Stanhope in the much-loved ITV drama Vera. She chats to w&h about career confidence … and doing the plumbing

    This series there’s a newcomer to the team in the shape of DS Aiden Healy, played by the lovely Kenny Doughty. Vera’s right hand man, DS Joe Ashworth, has been promoted to another district so the fun this series has been creating a new partnership. Aiden rubs Vera up the wrong way, so Kenny and I had fun with that.

    Like Vera, I enjoy solving puzzles.
    I’m one of nine siblings and as kids, we were always doing puzzles because we couldn’t afford a TV or radio. Even now, we’re all part of The Times Crossword Club.  

    I wish I’d been more confident early in my career.
    I remember being in a production of Calamity Jane, we were rehearsing and the director was trying to resolve a problem so I spoke up with an idea. He said: “Oh, she spoke.” I felt so small.

    When I have free time I like pottering about. Recently I did a charity event where I visited a man with terminal cancer. He told me his illness has taught him to live for the day, to not worry about what could happen. I decided to adopt this mentality next time I needed to clear out my shed. I’m always scared of going in there for fear of spiders, but I did it. I wrote to the man and thanked him.  

    I would like to delegate but there’s no one to delegate to. Michael [Brenda’s husband] prefers writing music and doing arty things but there was a time when if work needed doing in the house, I would do it. I plumbed in our bathroom! I had it checked afterwards but it was just common sense. I’m not afraid of things like that.  

    We’re moving back to my hometown Ramsgate. I feel comfortable there and I like waking up and seeing the sea. It’s somewhere you can go for a walk and you don’t need any money in your pocket.  

    The new series of Vera starts Easter Sunday, 8pm, ITV.

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