Vera announces huge cast shake-up as Brenda Blethyn is seen filming heartbreaking final scenes

Brenda Blethyn has been spotted giving a cheerful wave to her fans while filming the very last episodes of the long-running ITV series Vera.

The acclaimed actress, who has won viewers' hearts as the iconic DCI Vera Stanhope, is wrapping up her journey with the show next year, with two final instalments being shot in the north of England.

The Vera set has been buzzing with activity in Gateshead, where Brenda's warm smiles and friendly waves have been a treat for onlookers. Most recently, Brenda and the cast were spotted filming on Swinburne Street in the town and at the city's Town Hall.

The concluding two episodes will form the fourteenth series of the hit ITV crime drama, which has followed the sharp-witted Vera leading her team, including DS Joe Ashworth (David Leon) at the start, followed by DS Aiden Healy (Kenny Doughty), and then the returning Joe, now promoted to DI.

Vera's Brenda Blethyn
Brenda Blethyn waves to fans on the set of Vera -Credit:Claire McKie/NCJ Media
Brenda Blethyn filming Vera
Vera star Brenda Blethyn filming in Gateshead -Credit:Claire McKie/NCJ Media

Some new actors will be added to the final episodes, with a casting call sent out by ITV and talent agency Ne.14TV asking for actors to take on the roles of three teenage boys, a postman and six women for filming later this month. Two of the teenagers need to bring their own bikes, while the third has to bring their own scooter.

Reflecting on her time with the series, Brenda said: "Working on Vera has been a joy from beginning to end and I'm sad to be saying cheerio. But I am so proud of our achievements over the last fourteen years."

She continued: "I'll be forever grateful to the wonderful Ann Cleeves who created Vera, and to Elaine Collins who saw fit to cast me in the role. The producers, dream cast and crew have been fabulous and I'm going to miss them, but I won't forget their huge talent, the camaraderie, laughter or kindness we shared nor the friendship of the people of the north east and our fans worldwide.", reports the Mirror.

Fans are clamouring for more of their favourite crime drama even as the series prepares to wrap up next year. They're calling for a spin-off and have some pretty good ideas about who should take the lead.

One viewer suggested: "Maybe there'll be a spin-off series with Joe or Aiden leading the team," while another chimed in: "They are filming two more episodes this summer, so perhaps Vera retires and Joe takes over?" Others are rooting for Joe, with comments like "Joe's the man for the job," and "I would love a spin-off."

Meanwhile, Ibinabo Jack, known for her role as DC Jacqueline Williams on the show, has hinted at another possibility for keeping the spirit of Vera alive. Chatting on BBC Breakfast before the announcement, host Jon Kay questioned: "I suppose when Brenda steps down that surely means Vera has to end, doesn't it? You can't have Vera without Brenda."

To which Ibinabo intriguingly responded: "Unless they did a prequel? Like early days?" Co-host Sally Nugent was all for the idea, exclaiming: "A prequel is a fabulous idea! That's what we need to know, more of Vera's backstory. It's a genius idea! ".