DCI Vera Stanhope is a dumpy, grumpy sleuth. She doesn’t do car chases, punch-ups or catchphrases such as, ‘Get yer trousers on, you’re nicked’.
But as happened with Columbo, viewers like her. When the fourth series came to ITV in April – the series included in this DVD collection – Brenda Blethyn’s character blew away the Sunday night opposition, winning almost six million viewers and leaving The Crimson Fields in the dust.
The drama even beat its own record of 4.5million for the start of last year’s series.
What’s the secret? The 68-year-old actress puts its down to Vera’s bossiness and lack of glamour. ‘She’s ordinary like a lot of people at home,’ Brenda says.
‘It’s a show people feel comfortable with and I’ll continue playing Vera for as long as they audience wants to see her.’
That along with the wonderful Northumberland setting and sidekick DS Joe Ashworth, played by the not-dumpy or grumpy David Leon. Apart from that the format is your typical TV police procedural – body, forensics, where were you on the night of the 14th.
The four films here – On Harbour Street, Protected, The Deer Hunters and Death of a Family Man –are well-made 90-minute mysteries, beautifully filmed. The last one is particularly good.
Death of a Family Man stars Robert Glenister, and is about the mysterious death of a businessman, found floating under the Gateshead Millennium Bridge. His wife is stunned to discover he was working as a spy – for Revenue and Customs.
This is fine collection for Vera‘s growing army of fans. The only thing it lacks are some DVD extras.
RRP: £19.99. Certificate: 12. Discs: 2. Running time: 355mins approx. Available from Amazon
Also check out our review of On Harbour Street