Vera returned to our screens last night for a second series. Vera is based on a series from writer Ann Cleeves and not every story in the TV series comes from the books, such has been the success of the TV series and the need to churn out the episodes. I was not quite sure about this one from the first TV series. The plots were good, the acting superb, but Vera herself was perhaps a little too irascible to garner the loyalty in evidence from her team. Series one ended on a fabulously poignant note however, with DCI Vera Stanhope and her DS, Joe Ashworth in a wonderfully character-exposing one-to-one conversation. Vera is a caring person, but that care is firmly prioritised for work and the cases that cross her desk. And if the victim of a crime, you’d certainly choose Vera to work your case.
In last night’s opener, Vera’s former colleague from early police career days, Sergeant Stuart Macken arrived home to find his house in flames and, knowing his teenage daughter was inside, fought to save her. As a result of what was a petrol bomb, his daughter ended up unconscious in intensive care with Macken suffering severe burns to his forearms. To Vera, Macken quickly proves himself to be a different character in the present in more ways than one. The extent of this is more slowly revealed as Vera’s investigation sets out finding reasons why someone would want to kill him. The Macken of the now is a changed man to the one she once knew; in his personal and professional lives.
In what is good, classic crime drama, as we had here, nothing is as it seemed on the first port of call and there is a fine set of twists at the end.
Alongside the case, we also had a fine crackling tension in the police team from someone who felt she was sidelined. Again, all is not what it seemed from the first appearance. And Vera herself may be hiding some truths when it comes to her own health.
The music accompanying this series strikes an atmospheric chord and is almost as capable of carving a place in the memory as that of Inspector Morse, although it does feel potentially intrusive on times during the programme itself. Those foreboding sections are sometimes too much when it comes to signposting.
And when it comes to the novels, Ann’s latest Vera Stanhope, The Glass Room, was published in February.
Available now on ITV player – just in case you missed it – here.