‘Murder’ at South Shields funfair - but Vera’s on the case

HIGH DRAMA ... Brenda Blethyn, centre, is briefed by the TV crew during filming of Vera.
HIGH DRAMA ... Brenda Blethyn, centre, is briefed by the TV crew during filming of Vera.

IT was murder at Ocean Beach Pleasure Park in South Shields last week as one of Britain’s top television detectives paid a visit.

The tourist attraction paid host to the cast and crew of the top-rated ITV crime drama Vera, starring Academy Award-nominated Brenda Blethyn in the title role.

The film-makers utilised the unique views, with scenes shot at the Sea View Cafe, on the promenade, and at Littlehaven during two days of shooting.

The storyline of the episode being filmed is top secret.

But it is known it will be screened at primetime on ITV next year – as well as to a global TV audience.

The crew and cast were a “pleasure to work with”, according to Emma Arkley, the park’s marketing executive.

She said: “The film-makers contacted us at the end of June to ask if they could use the park, and we were more than happy to oblige.

“It will be great publicity for us to be seen on primetime television, and to be honest, the crew have been perfect and very friendly – and they make great bacon and sausage sandwiches!

“Brenda Blethyn has been great too, allowing fans to have their photograph taken with her and signing autographs.

“The crew understand the limits of filming here and that the customers always come first.

“It has been a great start to the season; we have been getting a lot of school trips coming in recently.

“The filming has meant 6am starts for me, but it has all been worth it. We are looking forward to seeing the results on screen.”

The crew has been careful to make use of some of the park’s most popular features – including the thrill ride known as ‘The Scream’.

The popular show is also screened in the US on PBS – giving the park access to a new audience across the Atlantic.

Vera is based on the works of crime author Ann Cleeves, who paid a visit to South Shields Library to give a reading and to chat to fans last year.

The central character of Vera is Detective Chief Inspector (DCI) Vera Stanhope of the fictional Northumberland and City Police, a woman who is obsessive about her work and “driven by her own demons”.

Blethyn has starred in dozens of films, including Little Voice, in 1998, and Saving Grace, in 2000.
Twitter: @shieldsgazpaul