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Vera stars who left and returned to ITV drama as David Leon makes comeback

Series 13 premieres on Sunday night


Brenda Blethyn as DCI Vera Stanhope, David Leon as DI Joe Ashworth in Vera series 13 © Stuart Wood/ITV
Nicky Morris
TV and film writer
January 7, 2024
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Vera star David Leon reprises his role as Joe Ashworth in series 13, which sees Brenda Blethyn return as DCI Vera Stanhope for three new thrilling episodes from Sunday night. 

The actor, who played Vera's trusty sidekick from series one to four, makes his comeback following the departure of Kenny Doughty, who announced last year that he would be stepping down from his role as DS Aiden Healy after eight years. 

But as David makes his highly-anticipated return to the hit drama, join us as we look back at which other stars have previously left the series before later making a comeback.

David Leon

Let's start with David, who left the show back in 2014 after four seasons. While David never shared his reasons for leaving, it's thought that other filming commitments may have been a factor. 

After his departure, David went on to star in the 2015 drama series, The Refugees, as well as the BBC miniseries, In the Dark, and the 25th season of Silent Witness.

Ahead of series 13, David revealed that he "hadn't considered" returning to the show until he was contacted by the drama's producers. "It was something I hadn't really considered previously as being an option," he told ITV. "Although it was a question, I had probably been asked by Vera fans and others every day since I left at the end of series four, with Joe last seen on screen in 2014.

DAVID LEON as DI Joe Ashworth and BRENDA BLETHYN as DCI Vera Stanhope in Vera
© Stuart Wood/ITV
David Leon makes his return in series 13

"It felt like there was some unfinished business there," he continued. "So it was a nice opportunity to come back and, to some extent, tie up some loose ends."

David's decision to return to the show determined the future of the crime drama, as Brenda revealed she would have left the role if he hadn't come back. 

"I wouldn't have continued if David had not agreed to come back," the 77-year-old revealed. "I just didn't want to start another board game with somebody else when I know I'm not going to do many more. And who would want to do it anyway?"

WATCH: Vera actress Brenda Blethyn talks long filming schedule for ITV show
BRENDA BLETHYN as DCI Vera Stanhope and DAVID LEON as DI Joe Ashworth© Stuart Wood/ITV
Series 13 begins on January 7

Cush Jumbo

Cush Jumbo joined the show in series two in the role of DS Bethany Whelan. She appeared in two episodes and later returned in series five and the first episode of series six, which saw her character tragically killed. 

From there, the actress went on to appear in the hit CBS drama, The Good Wife, as well as Apple TV+'s comedy-drama, Trying. Viewers may also recognise Cush for her starring role in Netflix's 2021 thriller series, Stay Close

The 38-year-old is also set to star in Apple TV's upcoming thriller, Criminal Record, alongside Peter Capaldi.

Cush Jumbo in Apple TV's Criminal Record© Ross Ferguson
Cush Jumbo in Apple TV's Criminal Record

MORE: 7 stars who quit ITV's Vera and where they are now

Kingsley Ben-Adir

Kingsley Ben-Adir made his Vera debut in series four as Dr Marcus Summer. He stayed with the drama until season six before leaving for series seven and later returning in series eight.

Kingsley has hit the big time since then, portraying Malcolm X in the Oscar-nominated 2020 movie One Night In Miami, and appearing in the Disney+ Marvel series, Secret Invasion. The actor also appeared in Greta Gerwig's smash hit Barbie movie alongside Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling.

Kingsley Ben-Adir, Brenda Blethyn look at evidence in Vera© ITV/REX/Shutterstock
Kingsley Ben-Adir played Dr Marcus Summer in Vera

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