Ian Rankin has revealed that the upcoming BBC adaptation of his Inspector Rebus novels is "a tough watch at times".


The new series sees Outlander star Richard Rankin (no relation to Ian) take on the role of the titular detective – who was previously played by Ken Stott in a popular ITV version – and according to the author, viewers can expect to see some pretty nasty scenes in the new series.

"It's full-on," he said in an exclusive interview with RadioTimes.com. "At certain points, some viewers might even say it's slightly harrowing. There's an awful lot of visceral stuff happening. It's great."

Rankin added that he had "jumped up in my seat a couple of times when I was watching the episodes that I've seen," before revealing that one thing he especially enjoyed about the new series was seeing a younger version of the character than the one who appeared in the more recent novels.

"Now, of course, in the books Rebus is in his 70s. He's an old age pensioner with a bus pass and health issues," he explained.

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"[So] to see a young, vibrant, all-action Rebus and have that in the present day, in present day Edinburgh with present day issues and present day concerns... but to have him young and lithe and getting in everybody's face – not being afraid of a physical bout with somebody, I mean... my Rebus now in the books would shy away from getting into any physical conflict because he knows he would lose."

Richard Rankin as John Rebus. He is wearing dark coloured clothing and is concentrating on something next to him. His hair is combed back and he has a light beard forming. Blurred in the background is a man sat on the floor with his knees up and arms resting on them.
Richard Rankin as John Rebus. BBC/Eleventh Hour Films/Mark Mainz

Cast members Brian Ferguson and Lucie Shorthouse recently told RadioTimes.com that the new series wasn't necessarily a completely faithful adaptation of the books, with Ferguson explaining that it was more of "a response to the original novels".

"And what that's given Greg[ory Burke, writer] licence to do is, A – and in the most immediate sense – to take Rebus back kind of 20 odd years to when he's 40 and also set it right now, 2023 when we made it ... because I think things have changed so much in those 20 years."

Shorthouse added: "It's definitely a reimagining and it's been adapted, but when you read the books, the characters are so rich and fully rounded and descriptive, and you get to learn all their idiosyncrasies and their nuances.

"And I think what's been lovely is that there's this lovely synergy that Ian has had with Greg in terms of how Greg's been able to reflect that in the in the screen on screen, in terms of his writing."

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The new series sees a Rebus drawn into "a violent criminal conflict that turns personal when his brother Michael, a former soldier, crosses the line into criminality".

The synopsis continues: "Rebus finds himself torn between protecting his brother and enforcing the law to bring Michael to justice.

"This epic series explores family, morality and class through an emotionally-charged story, set against the Scottish landmarks that Rankin’s readers know so well."

Rebus will launch on Friday 17th May. All episodes will be available on BBC iPlayer from 6am, with episode one airing on BBC Scotland on Friday 17th May at 10pm and on BBC One on Saturday 18 May.


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