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Vera Season 12: John C Adams Reviews

Show name: Vera

Release date: 2023

Genre: Crime drama

Starring: Brenda Blethyn, Kenny Doughty

Created by: Ann Cleeves

Studio: ITV

Length: 2 hours per episode

Rating: 5/5

We Brits do a great line in creating TV programmes set in places you’d just love to visit on holiday.

This isn’t an accident, given how much of our national income comes from tourism.

I live in Berwick upon Tweed, at the northern end of Northumberland, so I’m hooked on Vera, a crime drama featuring Brenda Blethyn set in the county.

Season 12 was shown on ITV during the early months of 2023, and with the miracle of Amazon Vera is already available to buy on DVD mere weeks after the last episode aired.

There are four episodes. In the opener, ‘Against the Tide’, I was delighted to see the lighthouse at Berwick feature as a filming location.

Episode two, ‘For the Grace of God’, took us back down to Newcastle.

This beautiful city often features as the location for episodes of Vera, and my daughter Midnight and I stumbled on them filming an episode in a city-centre florist a few years back.

She’s now studying for a degree in film directing, so naturally we took every opportunity to hang around and watch the filming.

‘For the Grace of God’ focuses on the serious problems of homelessness in the veterans’ community.

Lance Corporal Conn Burns (Mark Armstrong) has been living rough since losing his job and his family. He amassed heavy debts and his estranged wife Kate had to take them on.

Conn is found murdered in central Newcastle, having previously been attacked in a separate incident that left him unable to defend himself.

Vera (Brenda Blethyn) and DS Healy (Kenny Doughty) visit a local charity supporting the homeless, The Civvy Centre, and learn more about Conn’s life from its founder Steve (Paul Thornley) and his cousin Mandy (Rachel Denning). They also meet Kate and her new partner, a nightclub security officer.

Interest centres on Conn’s failed attempt to rent a flat using money he was supposed to have received from the MOD as a personal-injury payout which has apparently disappeared.

Kate’s new partner is fed up with Conn’s unreliability and simply wants Kate to move on at last.

Vera and Healy are left to investigate Conn’s murder, the original assault and the theft of his money.

I found ‘For the Grace of God’ intensely moving. We don’t hear enough about the struggles that veterans face with housing, work and personal lives after they leave the service.

Police corruption is always a fertile topic for crime dramas, and episode 3, ‘Blue’ centres around the murder of a serving police officer, Joel Kingston (Wolfe Miller).

Joel is found floating in a pond in a local park. The park warden pulled him out, but his wallet and phone are missing.

Joel came from a police family, so his father Phil (Matthew Marsh) quickly oversteps the mark and pushes himself into the investigation.

The question of police corruption comes up almost immediately. Other officers attempt to bad-mouth Joel, but Vera quickly gets to the truth. Joel was a decent officer whose ethics mean that he would report even those closest to him if necessary.

Police corruption and the death of a serving officer are traumatic for any investigation, but Vera applies her usual dogged determination to get to the truth.

The final episode focuses on a child abduction during a storm inspired by Storm Arwen, which battered the UK a few years back and took down most of the trees in Northumberland (or so it feels even now driving around the county), including the woodland opposite my house.

The filming locations were inland up towards the moors, a remote part of the lovely county I call home.

Vera is a great piece of crime drama that still produces inspiring stories set in this unique part of the UK even after twelve seasons. Vera herself is determined, often gruff and as deeply flawed as any onscreen detective. But she cares passionately in her quiet way about justice and this is always reflected in the narrative.

It’s easy when you live somewhere, especially after many decades, to take it for granted. Whenever I watch Vera, I am always struck by the variety of Northumberland and also just how strikingly cinematographic it is.

Thank you for reading my review.

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If you’ve enjoyed this review, you might be interested reading in my review of Foyle’s War.

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If you fancy something different, you might like to take a chance on my review of Jill’s Gymkhana by Ruby Ferguson.

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