David Leon is set to return as Joe Ashworth to ITV’s Sunday night drama Vera – almost a decade after he last appeared on the programme.
The actor, 42, played DS Joe Ashworth on the first four series from 2011 to 2014, and he will appear alongside 77-year-old actress Brenda Blethyn, who portrays DCI Vera Stanhope.
Brenda said she was ‘absolutely over the moon to welcome David back to the show’, adding that she ‘can’t wait to get started’.
Jon Morrison will also return as DC Kenny Lockhart and Riley Jones as DC Mark Edwards, with the 13th series consisting of three feature length episodes.
Further castings and information about the new series will be announced when filming commences in the summer.
Comeback: David Leon, 42, is set to return as Joe Ashworth to ITV’s Sunday night drama Vera – almost a decade after he last appeared on the programme (David pictured in 2015)
On screen: The actor, played DS Joe Ashworth on the first four series from 2011 to 2014, and he will appear alongside 77-year-old actress Brenda Blethyn, who portrays DCI Vera Stanhope (Joe and Brenda pictured on the show in 2013)
It comes after a second star of ITV’s Sunday night drama Vera announced they had quit the show.
Following Kenny Doughty’s announcement that he would be leaving, actress Ibinabo Jack, who has played DC Jacqueline ‘Jac’ Williams since 2018, confirmed she would not return for series 13 due to her theatre commitments.
Inspired by the award-winning author Ann Cleeves, VERA has become a much-loved and acclaimed series, with its compelling storylines and captivating performances.
Over the years, the drama has consistently pulled in impressive viewing figures, with an average six million viewers tuning in for the last series, including viewing across all devices.
In 2021 Brenda received the Rose d’Or Lifetime Achievement Award for her starring role as Vera, ITV’s longest-running female detective, and her many other defining roles throughout her career.
Brenda is also the recipient of several accolades including two Oscar nominations, a Golden Globe, a BAFTA and a Cannes Film Festival Award for Best Actress..
Following news of Kenny and Ibinabo’s exits, the The Rising Tide, a feature-length episode based on the eleventh Vera novel written by Ann Cleeves, will be their final appearance in the series, and will air later this year.
Brenda said: ‘It’s been such a pleasure to work alongside Kenny and Ibinabo. They’ve both been terrific members of the Vera team, and I’ll miss them.
Return: A second star of ITV’s Sunday night drama Vera has quit the show, as bosses announced it will return for a thirteenth series
Won’t be back: Ibinabo Jack, who has played DC Jacqueline ‘Jac’ Williams since 2018 (far left), has confirmed she will not return for series 13 due to her theatre commitments
Last week, Kenny announced that he would be leaving the cast of Vera after eight years as DS Aiden Healy.
He wrote: ‘After 8 years & 35 Vera films I’ve made the difficult decision of handing over DS Healy’s badge. I can confirm I am leaving Vera.
‘I want to thank everyone who’s made this amazing time so joyous, ITV, Silverprint, all the brilliant cast and crew BUT of course my buddy & inspiration Brenda Blethyn. The perfect leading star who I owe so much to.
‘I feel lucky to have you as a friend, you make me howl with laughter & have been a rock for me over the years. I can’t thank you enough. Precious times.
‘And finally the Vera fans: without you and your support I would never have made so many films. You really are the best fans in the world. Thank you so much for your loyalty & love for the show. X.’
It came after Kenny shared a selection of pictures of himself with his co-stars from the show a fortnight earlier, writing: ‘Thank you for the memories Xx.’
A host of fans took to the comments section to wish him luck with his next career steps.
Screenwriter and television producer Russell T Davies wrote: ‘Oh mate. Congratulations. You’ve been wonderful ❤️ Here’s to the future xx.
He’s off! Last week, Kenny Doughty announced that he would be leaving the cast of Vera after eight years as DS Aiden Healy (pictured with Brenda Blethyn as DCI Vera)
Another follower wrote: ‘It’s not going to be the same ~ you and Vera have that perfect chemistry together. No Malcolm and now no you ! But Good Luck.’
Someone else posted: ‘Thank you for the amazing stories that you have been apart of on screen! ❤️ Vera has been my comfort TV show for a number of years now and your character has been a massive part of that. It’s been a joy watching yourself and Aiden Healy grow.
‘Can’t wait to see what your future roles Include! (The next episode will certainly be an emotional one).’
While another fan shared: ‘Awwww no!! awwww will miss you lots you and Vera are a right double act.
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