The Long Call: Ben Aldridge to star as DI Matthew Venn in four-part ITV crime drama

A new detective tale from Vera and Shetland creator Ann Cleeves is being adapted for ITV – here’s everything we know about the crime drama as filming begins.

By Katie Archer Published: 24 April 2021 - 2.37pm
Getty Ben Aldridge

Detective drama has found its home at ITV, and a new series from popular writer Ann Cleeves is set to become the channel’s latest hit.

The Long Call follows many a police mystery onto ITV and introduces a brand new detective character who’ll already be familiar to fans of Cleeves' books.

Find out who will star in the series, what it’s about, and when you can expect to see it on TV.

What is The Long Call?

Detective drama The Long Call has been adapted from the Ann Cleeves novel of the same name, and features DI Matthew Venn as he struggles with his past life while investigating a murder.

Venn and his husband Jonathan have just returned to live in the small North Devon community that he left 20 years ago after being rejected by his family.

The evangelical church Venn grew up with turned their backs on him, but it’s the place viewers will first meet him as he comes home for his father’s funeral and opens up old wounds from his abandonment by both family and church.

Ann Cleeves Getty

But Venn’s personal struggles aren’t the only things on his mind – he’s also been thrown straight into a murder case after a body of a man with a tattoo of an albatross on his neck has been found on the beach, seemingly stabbed to death.

This isn’t the first time author Cleeves’ work has made it to the small screen, as another of her detectives features in hit ITV series Vera.

More of her novels inspired the BBC series Shetland, so viewers can expect gripping drama and expertly crafted mystery from The Long Call.

Who stars in it?

Ben Aldridge,  who viewers may recognise from his roles in Our Girl and Fleabag, has been announced as lead character DI Matthew Venn.

Aldridge said: “I’m delighted to be playing Matthew Venn, a brilliantly unorthodox detective who audiences will see solving a gripping and intricate case, whilst simultaneously surmounting a deeper, more personal mystery within himself.

“It’s a poignant and complex journey of self-discovery and sexual and religious identity, which navigates the tension between pride and shame, and I feel privileged to be bringing it to ITV viewers in The Long Call.”

Ben Aldridge Getty

Ann Cleeves couldn’t be happier with the casting.

“I can’t think of anyone who could play Matthew Venn better than Ben Aldridge - he will bring an authenticity and commitment to the role," she said.

"I always hoped that the actor chosen would come from Devon, where the books are set, and he does. 

“Ben was the actor who read the audio book even before the TV show was commissioned.  I love his pared-back, restrained narration.  He’s worked on the novel as well as the script, and so he understands the character in depth.  No author could wish for more.”

Aldridge will be joined by Juliet Stevenson (One Of Us, Bend It Like Beckham) as his character’s mother Dorothy, and Martin Shaw (Inspector George Gently, Judge John Deed) as the spiritual Brethren leader Dennis.

The Long Call cast has plenty of other big names, with actors announced for the series including Anita Dobson, Neil Morrissey, Pearl Mackie, Dylan Edwards, Sarah Gordy, Amit Shah and Alan Williams.

When is The Long Call on TV?

The series began filming in April 2021, but as yet there is no air date so keep checking back for when to expect The Long Call on ITV.

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