"I am quite capable of looking after myself, thank you very much.."
Vera Bennett is a senior officer at Wentworth Detention Center, Vera also served a deputy governor before being demoted back to senior officer to make way for Jim Fletcher. She appeared in episodes 001 - 224. Vera later becomes the Governor of Barnhurst.
Job At Wentworth Edit
Vera Bennett is Wentworth Detention Centre's first "nasty" officer. She has worked in prisons since she was 21. She doesn't put up with any of the inmates nonsense, and is always tough, nasty, and hard with them. The inmates as a result, call her Vinegar Tits, but rarely to her face. She was informed of her nickname by Franky Doyle, who blamed it on Bea Smith, causing Vera to immediately find Bea and her gang to inform them that she'll "fix the lot of them" if the nickname was ever mentioned by one more inmate.
Vera is rarely soft on a prisoner, seeing them all as animals, and filth, and openly referring to them as such, and unless ordered, she would never give anyone special treatment if it was not deserved for any reason. An extreme example of this was seen when Bea has a flashback to her daughters death, where Bea begged to be released to attend. Vera responded with a firm no, (although Vera wouldn't have the power to make such a decision, she seemed to take great delight in telling Bea.)
Vera was hardly respected by the inmates, yet, the inmates knew if they gave Vera too much trouble, Vera would only take great delight in handing out heavier punishments.
It is seen that Vera did have a soft spot for Lizzie Birdsworth, as Vera saw Lizzie as a type of 'mother figure' in (170) Vera says that whatever the prisoners think of her she wouldn't have wanted to see Lizzie die after Vera had performed lifesaving CPR on Lizzie, as Vera saw her own mother die suddenly.
Although she was a good officer, she was by no means perfect, having gotten involved with her share of shady characters throughout the series. She befriended ex-screw Anne Yates, who introduced her to George Lucas. It wasn't long before Anne was in Wentworth on drug charges, and George was discovered to be a major player in the drug world. When Vera eventually discovers the truth, George ties up Vera in her flat and goes on the run, so she is portrayed as a victim and so gets to keep her job.
She once went on a date with officer Jim Fletcher when he first started at Wentworth, but he reconciled with his wife soon after. Later she gets engaged to officer Terry Harrison who also turns out to be involved with gangsters and he is shot dead. Vera had served as deputy governor for a long time, she frequently clashed with Erica as a result, and on many occasions served as acting governor when Erica was away on business. Vera was shattered when she was demoted back to senior officer after the appointment of Jim Fletcher to deputy, when Jim served as acting governor, Vera reverted back to acting deputy governor, she also during the time Jim was acting as governor watched officers strike because of Jim, Vera highly enjoyed watching Jim fail.
Governor of Barnhurst Edit
Vera goes for the job at Barnhurst and does so with many other applicants and awaits an answer for a couple of weeks, before receiving a call from the department in episode 222 saying that Vera has become the Governor of Barnhurst, something Vera had aspirations of to become Governor.
Vera left the series in Episode 224 when she was promoted to be the next Governor of Barnhurst. Although a celebration was planned, Vera chose to make her exit quietly, although ungratefully, throwing a pet rock Heather "Mouse" Trapp gave her on the floor of the rec room. Vera is seen last by the gate guard who lets her out of the prison, one last time, telling the gate guard that she couldn't stay. (maybe because Wentworth held so much hurt for Vera. With Meg and many officers talking about her behind her back on her last day. With Meg saying she hopes Vera can start afresh at Barnhurst.)
It's revealed when Erica goes missing that if she didn't return, that Vera could return to Wentworth as Governor, much to everyone's dismay, but Erica returned and Vera remained at Barnhurst.
Vera is mentioned constantly throughout the remainder of the show, first with Fletcher saying he 'couldn't give a damn' that Vera became governor of Barnhurst, after Fletcher lost out to her.
Vera is later mentioned by Erica who says Vera is struggling to fight the drugs issue at Barnhurst like Wentworth is.
It is mentioned in episode 536 after a riot at Barnhurst, when governor Ann Reynolds tells Meg that Vera is in hospital.
It is mentioned when Ann is trying to get reforms and has a meeting with head of department that both Vera and another governor refused to speak at that event, and that Ann was chosen as a result.
Vera is roughly 30-31 in Episode 001. She has been working in prisons since she was 21, and has spent a few years looking after her old and demanding mother. In the early episodes, we find out those years must have been hell for her. We learn Vera must have had nobody to confide in, due to the fact that her mother seemed to act quite normal and reasonable when other people were present, but in private her mother belittled Vera, describing her as being "old and hard" before her time. After her mother's death, she was free to begin exploring a personal life, but starts to realise that she has no friends besides the ones she works with. She also finds her mother's death, and some of the stresses of work make her turn into a alcoholic drunk.
Vera explained in episode 75 that her father walked out on the family when she was 6 years old, with her mother claiming he was nasty and rotten and only told Vera about him when talking about how rotten Vera and her father were. Vera believed that her father walked out on them because of her.
At home, or for a night out, Vera seemed to hit the bottle hard, sometimes letting it affect her work. Countless hangovers occurred. Then, an incident where she was called in to work while drunk and got her prison keys stolen, sent her into a panic and almost got her fired.
When Vera was at work, she looked fairly plain, with her hair pulled back into a tight bun, but outside of work, Vera was an attractive woman, but it seemed to be her misunderstanding of the men she knew, her attitude, and the fact that she got blind drunk when she went out alone, that seemed to cause her to have bad luck with men.
We also know that as a child, Vera liked to paint, but her mother considered it to be a waste of time.
Although Vera's love life was tragic at times, she seemed to get along well with Terry Harrison, however his untimely demise and the general circumstances surrounding his death cemented Vera's determination to win a role as Governor of Barnhust Prison, which she accepted. Vera gets injured during the Barnhurst riot (536). Much like with the inmates, Vera often clashed with colleagues, however she was good friends with Meg, despite their very different attitudes towards the prisoners. She naturally disliked Jim Fletcher as she felt a male officer had no place in a women's prison, and because he got the Deputy Governor's job that she had held before the Department demoted her to a position we later learn to be Chief Senior Prison Officer. The two did however go out for a drink after work one day, but nothing more came of this as Jim reconciled with his wife.
Vera often clashed with Governor Erica Davidson, over the way the prison was run. She felt the governor was too soft with the prisoners, and often fought for tighter security, but Erica Davidson rarely agreed with her.
Vera was well known for her extremely acidic and bitchy, but often highly accurate remarks about situations, inmates and colleagues.
- Vera was portrayed by Fiona Spence
- Vera served as deputy governor of Wentworth, before going back to senior officer after the arrival of Jim Fletcher. Vera did serve as acting deputy twice when Jim was in charge.
- Vera's tough personality is slowed down whenever she was with Lizzie. This may be due to LIzzie being like a mother figure to everyone or Vera respected Lizzie in a way.
- Vera had a soft spot of Lizzie
- Vera broke down to Meg and said she didn't want to be known as 'Vinegar Tits' her whole life, saying that the prison made her the person she was.
- When people auditioned for Prisoner, Maggie Kirkpatrick had originally auditioned for the role of Vera, but lost out to Fiona Spence, Kirkpatrick would in 1982 join the series as Joan Ferguson who is Bennett’s successor.