5 minutes with ‘Vera’ star Kenny Doughty

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DCI Vera Stanhope, along with Kenny Doughty in Vera. Picture: Supplied

The much loved British series, “Vera” returns to ITV Choice on Wednesday, January 22 with four new feature length episodes. 

The 10 season of the acclaimed drama sees the return of the unorthodox DCI Vera Stanhope, along with Kenny Doughty who plays Detective Sergeant Aiden Healy.

We caught up with Doughty for a chat on his career and what we can expect in the upcoming season.

Kenny Doughty. Picture: Supplied

Why did you choose acting?

I was brought up by my mum, and was bullied at school. One of the things I did to overcome it was get myself into the school play and later I got into the Manchester Youth Theatre which my mum discovered. During my time there I met this amazing guy who became a mentor. He gave me so much encouragement. I didn’t realise I could do this until I met him and once I’d locked on to that at 16 that was my main ambition and focus.

Where do you find inspiration?

In the early 90s Gary Oldman was breaking out into films, I’m a big fan of his. Also, Anthony Hopkins won his Oscar for Best Actor in “Silence of the Lambs” and it was inspiring to see these British actors out there being recognised. 

I used to sit in the wings every night and watch a lovely actor called Gary Waldhorn play Shylock. I’d observe and listen to these amazing Shakespeare speeches and this made me think wow, I want that, how do I do that? It is really rewarding to see some of the actors, whose first acting jobs were on Vera, flourish and go on to other great dramas.

What is your first memory of meeting and working with Brenda Blethyn on “Vera”?

My first scene with Brenda was in series five, episode one – Changing Tides, and it was DS Aiden Healy meeting Vera for the first time. Aiden had to brief the crime scene to Vera and I was terrified. There’s one thing meeting Brenda, she’s great, she’s funny, she’s charming, she’s kind and generous but when she puts Vera’s hat and mac on you’re like ‘Oooooh my God, it’s Vera’ and it’s quite intimidating.’

How do you get into character? 

Aiden is very internal in his thoughts. Ahead of filming I do a lot of script and scene work and sometimes I’ll find moments in the script that might reveal a little more about his character rather than the plot. One particular episode in the new series really resonates with Aiden because it’s about fatherhood and parenting. So, there are those times when I get the script and think ‘this is where I can revisit a bit of what Aiden is about.

The locations featured within Vera play an important role within the series. Where has season 10 taken you?

We’ve been to various locations. One of my favourite is a pub called the Tan Inn Hill in North Yorkshire. It’s the highest Inn in the UK and dates back to the 17th century. We stayed there for a week and it was so nice and peaceful, a bit like a digital detox. We also filmed in Burnmouth, just over the Scottish boarder which I’d never heard of before. 

What are the key themes of this season?

The themes are quite expansive. In the opening episode the writer Paul Logue has looked at justice, the implications of financial problems and what really is family blood and loyalty. Episode two really resonated with my character Aiden as it talks about fatherhood, parenting and belonging. Episode three is about atonement and the exploitation of zero-hour contracts and the fourth episode covers passion, addictions and how organised crimes can exploit others.

Do the new storylines continue to surprise you?

Yes, they do. After six years I still, on my first read of the scripts, never get who the killer is. I’m always determined to crack it but I never do and I think that is pretty impressive. All of the writers are great and really honour Ann’s work. The stories are always crimes of passion, it’s an act that has happened in the moment. That’s what the novels are about and that’s what marks Vera out as being different. You always have a modicum of understanding or empathy for the person that’s committed the crime. No one is shown to be evil, the focus is more about humanity and the complexities of what human beings can be and do.

What’s in the pipeline for 2020?

In 2020 I want to travel. I’ve not done a big travel year for a while so I think I’ll just take myself out of it and do a bit of travelling. There’s a couple of places I’ve never been to and really want to explore, Japan being one of them.

*”Vera” airs on ITV Choice from Wednesday, January 22 at 8pm.