Now, at last, the story can be told. I am delighted to share the news that the Vera Stanhope novels written by my good friend Ann Cleeves are to hit the television screens. Last weekend, I took Ann and Cilla Masters (also pictured, outside Christ Church College) on a walking tour around Oxford and Ann mentioned that the news was about to break, while swearing us to secrecy. But now the embargo has been lifted, and it’s really very exciting.
The equally good news is that Vera will be played by that splendid actor, the Oscar-nominated Brenda Blethyn.OBE, whose glittering CV includes films such as Pride and Prejudice. I first came across her in a very enjoyable comedy series called ‘Outside Edge’, which featured my favourite sport of cricket, and drew her to my attention as a performer of real talent. It’s no surprise to me that she’s gone on to enjoy such success, and I’m sure she’ll be good as Vera.
Vera first appeared in The Crow Trap, which was Ann’s first stand-alone and quite a departure from her previous work. Ann acknowledges today that the book was perhaps over-long, but when I read it, I was immediately impressed with the character of Vera, who is that rarest of creatures, a genuinely distinctive detective.
The first ‘Vera’ will be based on Ann’s novel Hidden Depths. Filming begins in October and I can’t wait to see the finished version. Ann is a fine writer who wrote splendid novels for many years before receiving the scale of acclaim that she deserves, and it’s great to see her achievements in the genre rewarded.