Geoffrey Hughes plays Vernon Scripps
As the eleventh series of Heartbeat began, Vernon Scripps had only been in Aidensfield six months. But within that time, among other things, he had set up his own courier service, dabbled in the used car business, launched Aidensfield's first dating agency, started a taxi firm, had a go at outside catering and tried to bottle spring water from source. Geoffrey Hughes was interviewed about his character as the series began.
"If Vernon thinks there's a shilling to be made he'll do anything", says Geoffrey. "He thought he was going to swan in and swan out again but he's seen opportunities in Aidensfield that he wasn't aware of and he thinks he can make his fortune there. I'd love him to make lots of money, but I doubt it'll happen."
Geoffrey was very keen to establish the character from the start as a likeable scallywag.
"There's nothing malicious about him whatsoever. The thing about the Vernons of this world is that there are a lot of them about and they quite often have to move from place to place. It's very rare that any of them come to anything and their grand plans, which make perfect sense to them, usually leave other people in the lurch and they have to move quietly on. I am sure that every time Vernon comes up with an idea he thinks 'this is it', only to be thwarted!"
Although we know little about Vernon's past there are clues, with the occasional appearance of an old associate with criminal inclinations, that it is decidedly shady.
"I'm sure he was not a totally savoury person in his earlier life", Geoffrey agrees. "He's calmed down from his earlier antics and is probably determined to keep those days a secret. He's not totally honest but that's more to do with his determination to succeed. There's a part of him who believes his little white lies are totally moral."
Vernon is so certain that Aidensfield is a potential gold mine that he has bought a house and looks like he's going to put down roots in the village. This has done nothing to lift the spirits of long suffering Bernie.
"When Vernon's plans end in tears they are usually Bernie's tears", Geoffrey laughs. "They haven't seen each other for years and probably don't know each other very well at all. Vernon's forever dropping him in it and using his business to launch yet another scheme. I do think however that they've grown a bit fond of each other and having Bernie around has certainly had a sobering influence on Vernon."
Vernon has also developed an excellent relationship with his lodger and erstwhile assistant David Stockwell.
"He uses David for his nefarious games," says Geoffrey. "David is the perfect ally because he doesn't argue. Bernard forever questions his schemes but David is just happy to go with the flow."
Whilst he's busy hatching new business ideas and money making schemes Vernon has little time for other pursuits, including women.
"I think any interest from women would have him running a mile", says Geoffrey. "He's too busy making the million. There are, however, very probably one or two female skeletons in cupboards all around the country."
Geoffrey has also settled into his new role and established himself as part of the Heartbeat team.
"I'm enjoying the job immensely," he says. "When I look back at Coronation Street, there were certain storylines I thoroughly enjoyed but lots of time was spent popping into the shop or propping up the Rovers' bar. In this they keep coming up with these fantastic ideas and wonderful situations. Together with David Lonsdale and Peter Benson I'm providing the light relief for the serious stories and having great fun doing so."
Geoffrey Hughes has been seen in many hit television series over the years including long running classics such as Z Cars, Dr Who and You Rang M'Lord. He is best loved by the public for the roles of Eddie Yates in Coronation Street, Onslow in Keeping Up Appearances and Twiggy in The Royle Family. Geoffrey supplied the voice of Paul McCartney in the animated film Yellow Submarine and he regularly returns to the theatre where he is a pantomime veteran appearing opposite Roy Hudd and Jack Tripp for many years.