Sarah Lancashire leads Vera 'contenders' as frontrunner to replace Brenda Blethyn in ITV drama

Sarah Lancashire as Catherine Cawood in Happy Valley
Sarah Lancashire as Catherine Cawood in Happy Valley -Credit:BBC

Sarah Lancashire has emerged as a shock contender to replace Brenda Blethyn in Vera, with the acclaimed Happy Valley star the frontrunner to step into the lead role should the much loved drama get its own spin-off.

The news that Vera is ending next year came as a real blow to fans of the ITV programme, with it being announced that BAFTA winner Brenda was ready to say farewell to her legendary character in two final episodes. Filming on those is set to commence in just a few days time and, despite there being no word of a spin-off being commissioned or any indication there might be one, talk has already turned to who could potentially step into her shoes.

The obvious candidate would be David Leon, given that he made a shock comeback to Vera for series 13, having quit the role of Joe Ashworth almost a decade earlier. Kenny Doughty's name has also been thrown into the ring, after he walked away from his role as DS Aiden Healy in 2023.

READ MORE: Vera's Ann Cleeves 'sad' about fate of ITV drama as author speaks out to devastated fans

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Odds are also being offered on Kenny (Jon Morrison) and Mark (Riley Jones) being handed an unexpected promotion at Northumberland & City Police to lead the ranks, but very much of the opinion that Vera or its spin off, should continue the tradition of a female lead, oddsmakers at have put Sarah top of their list on who could replace Brenda.

Having bowed out of Happy Valley one last time as Catherine Cawood last year and beating Brenda to a National Television Award, Sarah leads the odds on 6/4, ahead of Motherland's Diane Morgan, Vigil icon Suranne Jones, who is on 7/1 and The Crown's Lesley Manville on 8/1.

Sarah's on screen sister in Happy Valley, Siobhan Finneran, is also on the list, on the same odds as Lesley and just ahead of Pauline Quirke, who is a 9/1 punt.