Vera series 10: Brenda Blethyn speaks of joy ahead filming beginning this month on new episodes of hit North East detective series
Vera star Brenda Blethyn has spoken of her joy at playing the quirky detective as she prepares to begin filming for the tenth series of the hit ITV show.
The actor will resume the lead role of the unorthodox and witty detective DCI Vera Stanhope - known for her floppy hat and rain mac - on April 29.
Four new episodes of the crime programme, filmed at locations across North East, are set to air on ITV next year.
Blethyn told the BFI & Radio Times Television Festival: "I've been with this one for so long now I feel like she's someone I'd like to ring up and say, 'what you doing tonight?'.
"Usually when you play a part it all happens so quickly, you get the part, you study it, you play it and then it's gone.
"Sometimes you're hard-pushed to revisit it but because with Vera she's lived with me for all this time, I feel like I know her pretty well.
"Because she's so well portrayed, Ann has described her so well, it's easy for me to revisit her with joy. I love it."
Asked about taking up the role of a detective in real life, the 73-year-old said: "I am a puzzler.
"We were very poor when we were growing up, we didn't have a television and sometimes we didn't have a wireless because it got cut off because we hadn't paid the bill, so my dad would set us puzzles to do.
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"I would relish it. If you had access to all the things that the police force have access to, checking number plates and all that, it would be fascinating.
"I'd spy on all sorts of people, I'd have a whale of a time."
The show is inspired by novels and characters created by crime writer Ann Cleeves.
The ninth series of the drama, which began in 2011, aired from January to February this year and averaged around eight million viewers per episode.
On the show's popularity, Cleeves told the festival having a woman "of a certain age" as the main character helps to attract audiences.
"I think she's universal, I think she's the sort of person that we all know," Cleeves said.
"People come up to me, police officers come up to me, saying they've got one like her.
"I think in lots of officers there might be a Vera who hates to be patronised and so refuses to patronise people below her, and that's seen as being hard, or not giving praise, or not being supportive."
The crime writer, whose Shetland series has been adapted into a BBC mystery murder of the same name, said she had recently begun writing a book where Vera discovers her family.