In fact, as fans of the novels will know, Vera looks as though it would 'take a crane to shift her, one of those huge cranes that towered over the river down at Wallsend'. Shapeless clothes, badly cut hair, Vera has not become a detective inspector on the basis of her looks. Brenda, for all the layers of clothes she wears, is not as sumo-esque as Vera is in the books, but she still conjures up an interesting, solitary heroine.
Paul Rutman, who adapted the story, said, 'Vera is a unique character in British television. She has a freedom in being solitary. There's no self-pity. She's a great character.'
Brenda said, 'It's the first time I've played a policewoman seriously.' Of Vera's Geordie accent, the actress explained, 'The accent is notoriously difficult, but I had a good teacher. I learned by going to town and talking to shoppers. And I listened to Cheryl Cole a lot.' The other difficulties she encountered filming in Northumberland were, 'dealing with the cold – fortunately, I had layers of clothes on… and having to run.'
Her favourite TV detectives? 'All the usual suspects,' she said. 'Wallander, Frost, Colombo. I like them all. I loved Joan Hickson's Miss Marple.'
A preview of Vera will follow later, but I would say it is a quite beautifully filmed mystery.
• Philip Glenister, fresh from Sky1's Mad Dogs, will be joining David Suchet in BBC1's new thriller, Undisclosed.
The brains behind it are pretty impressive. It's written and created by Ronan Bennett (Public Enemies, Hamburg Cell) and Walter Bernstein (The Magnificent Seven, Fail Safe). It features a small-time solicitor, Harry Venn (Glenister), who is unwittingly drawn into investigating the death of his brother 20 years previously. He is soon caught in a conspiracy emanating from the heart of the British political system.
Glenister says, 'I am looking forward to shooting Undisclosed which I feel is a bold, innovative, complex piece of drama.'
Bennett adds, 'I have really enjoyed collaborating with Walter on Undisclosed and I am delighted the drama has attracted such an outstanding cast. I hope the twists and turns of this conspiracy thriller will keep audiences hooked.'
Cast includes: David Suchet (Agatha Christie: Poirot) as Sir Nigel Fountain; Richard Dormer (My Boy Jack) plays Frank Hanna; Mark Powley (Bronson, The Bill) plays Mark Venn; Peter Guinness Sleepy Hollow, Red Cap) plays Jason Styles; Benjamin Smith (Nowhere Boy) plays Matt; Matthew Marsh (Luther, Spy Game) plays James Morpeth; Paul Ritter (Larkrise to Candleford) plays Stevie Quirke; and Thomas Craig (Murdoch Mysteries) plays DS/DI Fenton Russell.
• Book of the week – Truth Lies Bleeding by Tony Black. The Edinburgh author steps away from his part-time sleuth and full-time drinker Gus Dury, hero of terrific stories such as Gutted and Long Time Dead, to give us a new hero, Inspector Rob Brennan. Just back from psychiatric leave after the murder of his brother, Brennan is immediately faced with a horrific case that pushes him to the limit. A teenage girl is found dismembered in a dumpster. Brennan has a rather cynical view of the world (it's not hard to see why), marital problems and a boss on his back. His only way through is to try to do the job and hope his brutal capital city will make some sense eventually. Truth Lies Bleeding pins the reader to their chair with deft action, sharp characters and a harrowing plot. The paperback's out in July. Well worth catching.