Vera's Joe Ashworth star all smiles on set as he takes over from Aiden Healy

Vera star David Leon has reprised his role as Joe Ashworth and in exclusive pictures obtained by, the actor was seen smiling on set as he returned to the ITV series.

David left the drama in 2014 and was promptly replaced by Aiden Healy (played by Kenny Doughty).

However, earlier this year, Kenny confirmed he was leaving Vera after eight years and would be replaced by David.

In new pictures, David was spotted with his co-star, Riley Jones, who plays Mark Edwards in the Brenda Blethyn series.

The Joe Ashworth star was dressed in a blue stripey shirt with a matching tie and black trousers.

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The actor finished off his look with a dark grey trench coat.

David, who was glued to his phone, looked happy to be back on set as he chatted with Riley.

The Mark Edwards actor was also dressed as his character and was wearing a beige coat with brown trousers and shoes.

Speaking about making his return to the show, David said: "I’m thrilled to be returning to Vera.

"It's fantastic to be back in the North East and reunited with Brenda and the crew for the new series.

"I’m looking forward to exploring the relationship between Joe and Vera as they make up for lost time.”

The first episode of Vera, titled Fast Love, will see the detective investigating the mysterious murder of a young man.

As the investigation gathers pace, Vera learns that this cheeky chappy was a complex character. Antagonistic, arrogant and able to get what he wanted but did all of this come at a price?

Adding to the complexity of the case, Vera is taken aback by Joe's return and is unsure of his motives.

Brenda added: "Stepping back into Vera's shoes for the thirteenth series feels like coming home again.

"The support from the locals in the North East is truly heart-warming and reuniting with the talented David Leon and the rest of our exceptional team is an absolute delight.

"Together, we embark on this new chapter with a terrific script crafted by the brilliant Paul Matthew Thompson."

Vera is expected to return to ITV next year.

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