Why did David Leon leave Vera as Joe Ashworth?

Sneak peak as Vera returns for 11th series

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Vera is set to return tonight (August 29) but Joe Ashworth (played by David Leon) will once again not be joining. Starring in the first four seasons of the show, Joe proved to be an initial fan-favourite but sadly star Leon made the decision to leave the ITV series. With the show premiering once again, fans are wondering why Leon walked away from the series.

Why did David Leon leave Vera as Joe Ashworth?

Back in 2014, David Leon made his last appearance on Vera as Joe Ashworth.

Joe was DCI Vera Stanhope’s (Brenda Blethyn) right-hand man and long-suffering colleague.

As a Detective Sergeant, Joe and Vera solved numerous cases together and formed a close-knit bond, with Joe even being considered Vera’s surrogate son.

The relationship the two shared made it all the more surprising when Joe moved away following Leon’s decision to leave the series.

While it has never been explicitly explained why Leon made the decision to walk away from the character, it is believed it was in connection to his other work.

Leon doesn’t just work in front of the camera, but also as a director, having filmed a number of short films.

In fact, this is the reason most believe he left Vera, as the star was starting production on his first feature-length film, Orthodox.

This was actually a theatrical adaptation of his previous short film from 2012, sharing the same name.

Released in 2015, the film stars Stephen Graham as Benjamin, a boy bullied for his Jewish faith, who takes up boxing as a means of self-defense, alienating himself from his religious community.

Back in 2020, Blethyn opened up about the series, revealing Leon’s departure was a “low point” for the series.

Blethyn explained: “A low point for me was when David Leon – who played DS Joe Ashworth, my right-hand man – left after series four.

“Fortunately, the wonderful Kenny Doughty came to join us as DS Aiden Healy.

“When we’re off-camera, we have a great laugh. There’s great camaraderie among the whole cast and crew, but especially between Kenny and me.”

As Blethyn explained, Kenny Doughty joined the cast in 2015 as DS Aiden Healy, stepping in the shoes left by Joe.

Doughty has remained an integral part of the series since, with him set to return in season 11.

The plot for the 11th season is still largely being kept under wraps, but Vera and Aiden will undoubtedly have a series of difficult cases to crack again. 

Viewers have been sharing their excitement for the premiere of season 11, with many of them commenting on the latest trailer for the series.

One fan wrote: “YEEEEESSSSS! something so brilliant and down to earth about Vera.”

Another commented: “EXCELLENT – just what we need, some brilliant VERA in our lives.  Finally – love ya PET!”

A third added: “Yes!! It feels like we’ve been waiting years!! Welcome back Vera!!

Vera season 11 will premiere on Sunday, August 29, at 8pm on ITV.

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