Vera fans predict Brenda Blethyn's replacement as ITV stars are backed to take on lead

Following Brenda Blethyn's announcement that the next series of Vera that is about to start filming would be her last, there has been much speculation that the series may not completely end with her departure – but also may not come back in its current form.

Several candidates have been mentioned as possibles to ‘replace’ the much-loved actress in a potential spin-off to the original series.

Brenda Blethyn was already a well-established and acclaimed actress when she took on the role of Vera in 2011. The Ramsgate-born star had won praise for her stage performances in productions including Steaming and Benefactors, for which she was nominated for an Olivier Award, and she also won a BAFTA and received an Oscar nomination for her performance in Mike Leigh’s 1996 drama Secrets & Lies.

Brenda Blethyn in Vera
Brenda Blethyn as DCI Vera Stanhope -Credit:ITV/Stuart Wood/REX/Shutterstock
The cast of Vera
Ibinabo Jack as DC Jaqueline (Jac) Williams, Kenny Doughty as DS Aiden Healy, Brenda Blethyn as DCI Vera Stanhope and Riley Jones as DC Mark Edwards. -Credit:ITV

She was nominated for another Oscar two years later for her supporting performance in the comedy musical Little Voice and also appeared in the 2005 adaptation of Pride & Prejudice with Keira Knightley and the drama Atonement.

Brenda has appeared as Detective Inspector Vera Stanhope for 13 years, and the 14th series will be her last.

In that time, she has become synonymous with the part, and with DI Stanhope’s memorable outfit of trench coat and fishing hat. The series has been a huge success for ITV, with millions of viewers tuning in from around the world to watch Vera solve crimes for the fictional Northumberland & City police along with sergeants Joe Ashworth (David Leon) and Aiden Healy (Kenny Doughty).

Fans of the drama were upset to hear that it will finish with two final feature length episodes that are expected to be based on Ann Cleeves’ new novel The Dark Wives. Production is about to start, with the two episodes scheduled to be broadcast in 2025. That gives fans plenty of time to speculate what could happen to Brenda’s character, and also who could take over as the lead if a spin-off should happen.

Bredna Blethyn and David Leon in Vera
Brenda Blethyn as DCI Vera Stanhope and David Leon as DI Joe Ashworth -Credit:ITV/Stuart Wood/REX/Shutterstock
The cast of Vera's 13th series
David Leon as DI Joe Ashworth, Rhiannon Clements as Steph, Brenda Blethyn as DCI Vera Stanhope, Riley Jones as DC Mark Edwards and Jon Morrison as DS Kenny Lockhart. -Credit:ITV/Stuart Wood/REX/Shutterstock

Bookies Betway are predicting that co-star Kenny Doughty could lead a potential new series, while fans believe the role should go to David Leon after his character, Joe Ashworth, who was in the first four series of the show, returned to the series last year.

Some viewers noted that ‘Ashworth’ sounded like a good series name, with one noting on X: “I think I manifested @David_J_Leon back into the show btw, so maybe I can manifest a spin off… “Ashworth”?” Several others agreed, while others called for Aiden to return after his character departed in December in the Vera Christmas special, The Rising Tide.

“I would rather Aiden,” wrote one fan in response to the Ashworth rumours.

Currently, no spin off has been confirmed by ITV.