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T here are now roughly as many types of crime series as there are crimes. The ones that make you scratch your head, or covet knitwear , or sign Change. Then there are the ones that make you feel cosy, mildly creeped out, and in sudden need of a holiday cottage on the windswept northern coast, all at the same time.
You know, the really British ones. These series induce a weird yet not entirely unpleasant brew of emotions, which is precisely the analgesic many of us are after as we lie slumped and silly on our sofas on Sunday night. Vera ITV slots into this latter category as neatly as a dry stone in a Northumbrian wall.
It took me about five seconds to glaze over. In a good way. She was clearing her head, something she does a lot by walking across the moor, which is convenient because it looks so ruddy lovely. A defiant and lonely figure, hatted and mac-ed. The moor all rugged and dusky. Nothing but a new day and a solvable murder on the horizon. By the time the camera panned over an old stone cottage and the deserted sands it overlooked, I was gone.
Closely followed by Northumberland, Blethyn is the best thing about Vera — now on its sixth series and still watched by millions, most of whom are awake — by a long shot. She has the loveliest voice, at once girlish and gruff. Her face is kind but means business. Not many actors can pull off shambolic and effective, but Blethyn can do it with a single, penetrating glance from beneath that hat.
She is sensitive but often fails to see the grouse for the moors. Like at the start of the episode when she sees the body of a woman found lying on the moor and pronounces her in her late 30s. Oh well, only 20 years out. Sometimes, when I saw her pulling up in her battered Land Rover, I forgot what I was watching and thought she was the village vet.