What happened to Vera's former stars? Tragic death, shock return, famous wife and Barbie movie

LISA HAMMOND as Helen, KENNY DOUGHTY as DS Aiden Healy, BRENDA BLETHYN as Vera, JON MORRISON as DC Kenny Lockhart and CUSH JUMBO as DC Bethany Whelan in Vera
LISA HAMMOND as Helen, KENNY DOUGHTY as DS Aiden Healy, BRENDA BLETHYN as Vera, JON MORRISON as DC Kenny Lockhart and CUSH JUMBO as DC Bethany Whelan in Vera -Credit:Daily Post

Vera has now been on screen for cover 13 years, meaning that a growing number of stars have now been in its cast. And, while the likes of leading lady Brenda Blethyn are now back to film what will be the last ever series, others have flown the nest, including one who is making a shock return to the fold for the new series.

After its launch in 2011, Vera cemented itself as one of the nation's favourite dramas, with BAFTA winner and Oscar nominee Brenda leading the ranks as no nonsense sleuth DCI Stanhope. There have now been 13 series on ITV, with it announced last month that the next two episodes will be the last, with Vera ending in early 2025.

Vera's return for 13th return at the start of this year was tinged with some sadness, with the news that stars Kenny Doughty and Ibinabo Jack would be playing part in it; having both decided to walk away from the Sunday night drama.

READ MORE: ITV Vera's new filming location 'rumbled' as crew spotted in Northumberland car park

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Both of them made their exits in recent Vera Christmas special, The Rising Tide and their departures aren't the first exits to rock Vera and, here, we look at what happened to some of the show's stars who've walked away, one of whom made a shock on screen comeback this year.

What happened to Vera stars who left the show?

David Leon - DS Joe Ashworth

We'll start with the actor who is returning to Vera, to reprise his role as Joe Ashworth; eight years after leaving leading lady Brenda 'heartbroken' with his exit.

After appearing in shows like BBC drama Cutting It, David became Vera's original sidekick, with millions of ITV viewers loving the camaraderie between him and Brenda.

David Leon and Brenda Blethyn in Vera
David Leon and Brenda Blethyn in Vera -Credit:ITV

It came as a massive surprise to Brenda and Vera fans when David left the show after series four. His character Joe wasn't even given a proper exit on screen, with his absence being explained by DCI Stanhope, as she briefly mentioned that he'd moved sway after getting a 'big promotion.'

After leaving Vera, David carved out a successful career as a film director, winning a coveted Tribeca film award for Best narrative short for Man and Boy. David also worked on Orthodox and North East set two parter Stable and Hyem, as well as being in the directing team for smash hit drama Killing Eve.

And, in a turn of events that no-one, particularly the man himself, saw coming, David was back as Joe for series 13, with Brenda Bletyhn suggesting they get him back if they wanted her to continue on as Vera.

Paul Ritter - Dr Billy Cartwright

Late actor Paul starred as Dr Billy Cartwright in Vera from 2011-13, before going onto have worldwide fame in the cast of Friday Night Dinner.

Paul died in 2021 at the age of 54, having battled a brain tumour. Paying tribute to him, Brenda Blethyn took to X (Twitter) to write: "RIP Paul Ritter, the very finest of actors and a gentleman. He will be so sorely missed and I send my heartfelt condolences to his family and friends. What very sad news."

Kenny Doughty - Aiden Healy

The most recent of Vera's departing stars, Kenny hinted at his exit from the show when he posted a series of backstage photos of him and his co-stars and captioned them 'Thanks for the memories.' That set alarm bells ringing for fans and their worst fears were confirmed when Kenny then returned to social media to announce he'd decided to walk away from playing Vera's sidekick, Aiden Healy after nearly nine years.

Vera's Kenny Doughty
Vera's Kenny Doughty -Credit:ITV

Kenny has since confirmed he made the decision to leave before filming series 12, with him then convinced to stay for the Christmas special. He has given no indication as to what's next for him career wise, but he did make headlines in November, after getting married to Extras and Nativity star Ashley Jensen, having headed up to Shetland with her as she joined the BBC drama of the same name, also written by Vera author Ann Cleeves.

In recent weeks, Kenny's name has been linked with a return to Vera, to 'replace' Brenda, should a rumoured spin-off actually happen.

Kingsley Ben-Adir - Dr Marcus Sumner

Kingsley played pathologist Dr Marcus from series 4-6, before coming back a few years later. Since flying the nest from the show, has gone onto star in Oscar nominated movie One Night in Miami and played a Ken Doll in Barbie the much publicised Greta Gerwig film that was released in the summer and went onto be 2023's biggest film.

Kingsley Ben-Adir in Vera with Brenda Blethyn
Kingsley Ben-Adir in Vera with Brenda Blethyn -Credit:ITV

Kinsley starred alongside leads Ryan Gosling and Margot Robbie in the movie inspired by the iconic doll, with other famous faces in the cast list including Will Ferrell, Ugly Betty actress America Ferrera and New Rules singer Dua Lipa.

A role in Barbie isn't the only part film fans have seen Kingsley play of late, as he is also took on the lead role in a biopic of music legend Bob Marley; with him being snapped on set alongside co-stars like Happy Valley's James Norton.

Cush Jumbo - DC Bethany Whelan

After appearing in series two and five as Bethany, Cush's one episode of Vera's sixth series proved to be her last, as Bethany was killed off.

Since her tragic exit from Vera, Cush went onto be a regular cast member in the 2015–2016 season of world famous CBS series The Good Wife, also going onto star in its spin-off, The Good Fight.

Last year, she received an Olivier nomination for her star turn on stage in Hamlet and was also a guest judge on BBC's RuPaul's Drag Race UK season 5 in the autumn. She made her return to British TV drama in 2024, alongside Peter Capaldi in Criminal Record and ITV revenge thriller The Beast Must Die.

Wunmi Mosaku

It was back in 2011 that Wunmi first appeared alongside Brenda Blethyn as DC Holly Lawson in the first ever series of Vera and, in a recent interview, spoke about how working with acclaimed actress Brenda 'changed' her approach to her craft, explaining: "The thing I remember most fondly and I think this changed me as an actor was I watched her and you get taught to ignore the camera in drama school, but when I was watching her, I realised she wasn’t ignoring the camera.

Passenger's Wunmi Mosaku
Passenger's Wunmi Mosaku -Credit:ITV

“The camera was the audience and she was making sure the audience knew what was going on. If she turned away from me, she was never turning away from the audience."

After leaving Vera, Wunmi went onto star in Luther and Kiri and in Damilola, Our Beloved Boy, the 2016 TV film about the murder of youngster Damilola Taylor. Most recently she took the lead role in ITV's opinion dividing drama Passenger.

Sonya Cassidy - Celine Ashworth

Sonya left Vera at the same time as David Leon, having played DS Ashworth's wife Celine.

Sonya Cassidy as Diane Barnwell in The Hunt for Raoul Moat
Sonya Cassidy as Diane Barnwell in The Hunt for Raoul Moat -Credit:ITV STUDIOS

After her 'off screen exit,' from the ITV drama, Sonya went onto star in a remake of The Man Who Fell To Earth and returned to the primetime schedule in ITV's true crime drama - The Hunt for Raoul Moat last year.

Sonya played fictional Chronicle journalist, Diana Barnwell, the first journalist in the scene after Moat's shootings, before she bids to deliver up to the minute reporting on the massive manhunt for the killer.

Clare Calbraith - DS Rebecca Shephard

Clare's character DS Rebecca 'Shep' Shephard, was part of DCI Stanhope's team in series three and four; before being replaced by Bethany as Cush returned to Vera.

After she left Vera, Clare went onto feature in some massive ITV dramas like Unforgotten, Downton Abbey, Grace and Baptiste.

Paul Kaye - Dr Malcolm Donahue

Vera fans were left gutted at the start of series 12, when Paul's character, Dr Malcolm, bowed out after a final bit of vicious banter with DCI Stanhope.

Paul's exit from the show was confirmed by Brenda Blethyn before Vera's return at the start of 2023, with both her and co-star Riley Jones saying how sad they were to see him go.

Vera's Paul Kaye and Brenda Blethyn
Vera's Paul Kaye and Brenda Blethyn -Credit:ITV

Paul has since starred in Olivier Award winning play The Pillowman, alongside Lily Allen and Benidorm and League of Gentlemen star Steve Pemberton.

The Pillowman launched at the Duke of York theatre in London's West End in June, with Smile and The Fear singer Lily playing a writer in a police state who is interrogated about the content of her short stories and their similarities to several murders occurring in the town.