Crime drama set to be 'the new Vera' is announced

Jen Crothers
·3-min read
Photo credit: ITV
Photo credit: ITV

Feeling a Vera-shaped hole in your life while we wait for season 11? The great news is that a series by the people behind Vera has just been announced.

The Long Call, which is based on the best-selling novel of the same name by Vera writer Ann Cleves, begins filming this month (April), and swaps beautiful Northumbland for the equally picturesque Bristol and North Devon this time around.

Ben Aldridge (Fleabag, Our Girl) will play lead character DI Matthew Venn in the four-part series. He plays the intriguing and flawed protagonist, who returns to live in a small community in North Devon, 20 years after he was rejected by his family and left.

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"I can’t think of anyone who could play Matthew Venn better than Ben Aldridge," says Ann Cleves. "He will bring an authenticity and commitment to the role. I always hoped that the actor chosen would come from Devon, where the books are set, and he does.

"Ben was the actor who read the audiobook even before the TV show was commissioned. I love his pared-back, restrained narration. He’s worked on the novel as well as the script, and so he understands the character in depth. No author could wish for more."

The Long Call: What is it about?

A synopsis from ITV reads, "We first meet the reserved, but intense Matthew Venn outside the local church as his father's funeral takes place. Sadly, the day Matthew turned his back on the strict evangelical community in which he grew up, he lost his family too.

"Now he's back, not just to mourn his father at a distance, but to take charge of his first major murder. A body has been found on the beach near to Matthew's new home: a man with the tattoo of an albatross on his neck, has been stabbed to death.

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"Through Venn and his team’s investigation, we are introduced to a wonderfully rich ensemble of characters, in a compelling crime story which captures the stark beauty of the North Devon coastline, and a community where murder and intrigue bubble beneath the surface."

The Long Call: Who's in it?

"I’m delighted to be playing Matthew Venn, a brilliantly unorthodox detective who audiences will see solving a gripping and intricate case, whilst simultaneously surmounting a deeper, more personal mystery within himself," says Aldridge.

"It’s a poignant and complex journey of self-discovery and sexual and religious identity, which navigates the tension between pride and shame, and I feel privileged to be bringing it to ITV viewers in The Long Call."

As well as Ben Aldridge, the star-studded cast includes Juliet Stevenson who will be playing Matthew Venn’s mother Dorothy, and Martin Shaw as Brethren leader Dennis.

Photo credit: David M. Benett - Getty Images
Photo credit: David M. Benett - Getty Images

Anita Dobson (EastEnders), Neil Morrissey (Line of Duty), Pearl Mackie (Doctor Who), Dylan Edwards (Gameface), Sarah Gordy (Strike: The Silkworm), Amit Shah (Crashing) and Alan Williams (Chernobyl) also star.

Executive Producer Kate Bartlett adds: "I am thrilled with the wonderful cast we have for The Long Call. I’m so excited to see Ben inhabit the iconic role of Matthew Venn alongside all our incredible actors... I’m delighted to be able to introduce the audience to this fresh and compelling event drama based on Ann’s magnificent book.”

We can't wait!

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