Vera’s Brenda Blethyn opens up on ‘challenge’ of playing 'prickly' Kate and Koji character

Kate and Koji recently returned to ITV for season two of the well-loved sitcom, with Brenda Blethyn reprising her role as spiky cafe owner Kate. The show follows the unlikely friendship between Kate and an asylum-seeking doctor called Koji (played by Okorie Chukwu) as they hang out in her cafe. Brenda’s fans are used to seeing the award-winning actress star in the crime drama Vera, and the actress has revealed what it is like to portray Kate who is miles apart from her detective character. 

As African migrant Koji is not allowed to work while he is seeking asylum, Kate strikes a deal with him after befriending him. 

In a bid to bring in more customers to her run-down cafe, she agrees Koji can hold medical consultations in the cafe in return for food.

Brenda and Okorie, who replaced Jimmy Akingbola as Koji, are backed by a strong supporting cast that includes Barbara Flynn as interfering councillor Lavinia Bone and Blake Harrison as Kate’s nephew, Dan. 

Despite enjoying the role, Brenda recently admitted she is nothing like her character Kate who is known for being grouchy and uptight. 

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“Kate’s more outspoken than I am, definitely,” Brenda quipped in a recent interview. 

“She’s prickly whereas I’m putty in anyone’s hands. 

“It’s a challenge playing someone like that, but it’s fun to be abrasive now and again,” the 76-year-old actress explained. 

While the role is “challenging”, Brenda said she understands women like working-class Kate. 

Brenda has witnessed the migrant crisis on the Kent coast in recent years and stressed the importance of the issue being addressed in the sitcom. 

“Living in Ramsgate, you’ve got boats of people coming in every day, so it’s a popular topic of conversation,’ she to the Daily Mail. 

“People have said to me, ‘You don’t realise who the migrants might be’.You slag these people off, but they’re probably are people like Koji who are just seeking safety, people who want to contribute to society, not sponge off it. 

“I’m proud that the programme has encouraged people who may have thought that before to think differently.” 

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