Star of North East detective drama gets honorary degree from Sunderland University

Actress Brenda Blethyn attends the Sunderland University graduation ceremony at the Stadium of Light Picture: DAVID WOOD
Actress Brenda Blethyn attends the Sunderland University graduation ceremony at the Stadium of Light Picture: DAVID WOOD
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The star of detective drama Vera has been presented with an honorary degree from Sunderland University in recognition of her illustrious career.

Brenda Blethyn is a BAFTA-winning, Oscar-nominated actress, known for her roles in films such as Secrets and Lies, Atonement and Little Voice.

She received an Honorary Doctorate of Arts from the university following an outstanding acting career in film, television and the theatre.

She said: “My Dad instilled in me, ‘Brenda it’s OK to try and fail, but not trying at all that’s not good’.

“So I thought, OK Dad, that’s what I’m going to do.

“Just when I was thinking of hanging up my acting clogs, along comes Anne Cleeves’s Vera and I thought I’d won the Lottery.

“I love playing the part, I love being in the North East of England.

“I love the people, I love the seascapes, and I love the landscapes.

“I am so happy to be here to receive this prestigious honour, and I wish every single one of my fellow graduates a very, very happy career, no matter which course you choose to take.”

The part of Vera is the latest in a succession of distinguished and memorable roles for Brenda in television, radio, theatre and cinema.

Her performance as Cynthia, the mother in Mike Leigh’s film Secrets and Lies, earned Brenda the Best Actress Award at the Cannes Film Festival, a BAFTA, a Golden Globe, an Empire Award, the Boston Critics award and an Oscar nomination.

Her work has embraced playwrights such as Shakespeare, Tennessee Williams, Wilde and Shaw.

Among contemporary writers, she has acted in plays by Alan Ayckbourn, Alan Bennett, Michael Frayn and Tom Stoppard.

She was Oscar-nominated again for her role as Mari, the selfish mother in Little Voice and last Christmas Brenda teamed up with Jim Broadbent to voice the leads in Ethel and Ernest, the moving adaption of Raymond Briggs’ graphic novel about his parents and his own upbringing.

In 2003 Brenda was awarded an OBE for services to drama.

Vera first appeared on screen in 2011 and this summer Brenda and the team are currently filming season eight.