From movies (Secrets & Lies, Pride and Prejudice, Saving Grace) to television the two-time Oscar nominee and Golden Globe winner chatted with Anglotopia about the newest installment of her highly rated ITV detective series Vera. The acclaimed drama starring a very clever yet disheveled detective is also available in the US through Acorn TV!
After a few minutes of grumbling about the weather (wind and rain there – snow and ice here) we dove into a lovely conversation about Vera, what it was like receiving an OBE and New Mexico.
Heather: We are big fans of Vera here at Anglotopia. What can we look forward to in Series 3?
Brenda: I think series three is far better that one and two. They just keep getting better and better. I love playing Vera. I love this character! There’s not a detective like her I don’t think not that I have ever seen on TV and I’m very fond of her!
Heather: I love her. I’d like to hang out and have a drink with her.
Brenda: So would I!! (Laughter) With Vera what you see is what you get. She’s very bright. If you stood next to her in the bus queue you would think that she’s just an ordinary woman. She would know where all the bargains are in the supermarket. She knows where all the two-for-ones are! She’s stingy with her money.
Heather: Vera does love her drink. I find it extraordinary that she drinks casually on the job.
Brenda: She does drink yes, but I think she’s pretty conscientious as far as the job is concerned. If she has a drink, she gets Joe to drive the vehicle, but no she is not a drunk.
Heather: The series is filmed in the North East which has absolutely beautiful scenery. What can you tell us about Northumberland & Newcastle? Is it a place you would recommend as a travel destination?
Brenda: Oh, it is so so so beautiful there!! Beautiful seascapes, beautiful moors and landscapes. It really is beautiful and not only that the people in the northeast are very very friendly people! I just love to be there. The accent takes a little getting used to, but there is a generosity and warmth. I love it
Heather: Did you have to work with a dialect coach to master the accent?
Brenda: Well, I listen to the people of Northumberland. I hung around, in the shops, in the stores and chatted to people. And certainly I had a dialect coach, but after one time up there I didn’t need him because I’m surrounded by people and the accent. I’m fortunate that my sidekick Joe (actor David Leon) is from that area, and he would always help me with the accent and let me know if I got a word wrong.
Heather: Vera and Joe have a very nice relationship!
Brenda: Doesn’t it work well??!! Usually when people first meet Vera she is very abrasive. She seems like she gives her team a bad time, but she really appreciates them! And they are loyal to her. But because Joe really likes her and gets on so well with her the rest of the team says ‘oh, she’s all right. Our Vera’!
Heather: Is there a particular story line you would like to see Vera take on?
Brenda: I’d like her to stay employed!!! We have great writers they are very clever. Have you seen series 3 yet?
Heather: I have.
Brenda: Yeah, I think they’re better than the other two don’t you?
Heather: I really enjoyed them a lot, and I’m very excited that you are already making series four!
Brenda: Yep, and we are talking about series 5! (laughter)
Heather: Fantastic! I bet the locals are thrilled you will be back. Do they like to gather around while you are filming?
Brenda: Yes, yes, they do. In fact, it becomes a little bit of a party time in the evening. They come out with bottles of wine and I say, ‘I’m afraid we can’t join you we are working, but you go right ahead!’ And they get the tables and chairs out and sometimes we attract a gang of kids who shutout,” Vera…Vera…Vera… we love you Vera!! Vera…Vera…Vera!” (laughter) It’s so cute!
Heather: There are four episodes in series 3. How long does it take to film an episode?
Brenda: I’m there for five months – so I don’t get to see much of my home during that time.
Heather: You’ve worked in both American and British television do you find the process the same? Or completely different?
Brenda: There are minor differences. People often don’t know the difference between television and film. It’s much easier here. As you know, America and Britain are two countries separated by a common language (laughter). In fact, I just made a film in America and New Mexico.
Heather: And how did you find New Mexico?
Brenda: Dusty. And besides the dust there’s a lot of dust (laughter).
Heather: Vera is very popular here in America. Does that shock you?
Brenda: Well, I am delighted that it is, but I thought there might be trouble with the accent. But it seems that you got used to it!
Heather: That’s what subtitles are for!
Brenda: Oh, you have subtitles!! I didn’t realize that! (laughs)
Heather: You received an OBE what was that experience like?
Brenda: It was great! When I first got the letter I thought it was a tax demand! It looked rather official. I received the honor from Prince Charles, who I had met a few times before because I am an ambassador to the Princes Trust. It was thrilling. My old aunt came with me. She was 93. She was delighted to be in Buckingham Palace.
** End of time klaxon**
Heather: From Secrets & Lies to Pride and Prejudice, you’re one of my favorite actresses. It’s been a pleasure!
Brenda: Oh Heather, what a lovely thing to say!!
Heather: It’s been a pleasure, and I am excited that you have so many films and more Vera coming soon!
Brenda: Thanks Heather! Bye, bye bye!
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