Vera boss details storyline they refused to include ‘Last thing anyone wants to see’

Brenda Blethyn recalls 'losing her Vera hat' on set

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After returning to viewers’ screens this month, chief executive producer Phil Hunter spoke about the struggles of filming Vera when the pandemic first hit. He also explained they were never going to put in a storyline regarding the lockdown as it was “the last thing” Vera fans wanted to see.

Speaking on how the coronavirus pandemic halted filming of the show, Phil commented: “By early March 2020, people were starting to pay close attention to what impact the pandemic might have on the industry.

“We very quickly realised we were going to have to make a decision to postpone the shoot altogether.

“My outlook throughout this period was always, ‘We have to remain optimistic that the show is going to come back,’” he explained.

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“First and foremost, it was about making sure everyone’s well-being and safety was protected, but also, that the show could come back and be shot in a meaningful way that has merit and it looks as good as any episode of Vera.

“I think we all recognise that TV has become part of people’s escape during lockdown, and we have had so much coverage of the pandemic.

“[With] people wearing masks on TV, we thought the last thing any Vera viewer wants to see is more of that on their favourite show.”

The executive producer also opened up on returning to work with Brenda, noting it was a “huge privilege”.

Phil remarked: “Look at her career. It’s phenomenal.

“When you start working with Brenda, you soon appreciate not only how complex and brilliant her performance is but also the amount of preparation and care that goes into that.

“Brenda knows and loves that character better than anyone else, and she grapples with the material, which means there are no questions unanswered before she steps onset and can deliver that performance.”

Sunday night marked the final time Vera would air on ITV in 2021, with the series not returning until 2022.

Fans were devastated by the news, however, ITV will be broadcasting four new episodes early on in the new year.

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Meanwhile, Vera star Kenny Doughty paid tribute to his late colleague Mark Allen who died earlier this year after contracting coronavirus.

Kenny, who plays Aiden Healy, paid his tributes with a moving post on Twitter saying: “Thank you for lovely messages, wonderful ep & fantastic & director @cebohon1.”

“Big respect to our crew, especially Mark Allen, who sadly passed away, will miss his laugh and his twinkle.

“Be at peace, friend, now Vera fans, you will see the next 4 eps in 2022! Until then X.” (sic)

Vera fans were quick to pay their tributes with one writing: “RIP Mark, thank you once again to you and all the cast and crew, another excellent episode this evening.”

Another added: “Will miss you guys, huge well done to all involved, a great drama, my Sundays will be a bit empty.”

“Absolutely outstanding episode, so well written, directed and performed – so sad to hear about Mark Allen must have been hard for all of you.”

ITV have confirmed only two episodes went into production during the autumn/winter season of 2020.

The remaining four feature-length episodes will not air until 2022, as they are currently still in production.

Vera is available to watch on the ITV hub.
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