Ian Rankin's iconic character John Rebus is no stranger to the small screen – with both John Hannah and Ken Stott having starred as the detective in a hit ITV drama that ran for four season between 2000 until 2007.


But according to the author, the new BBC One reboot – which sees Outlander star Richard Rankin take over the role – includes one key change that sets it apart from previous versions: a more long-form approach to storytelling.

Speaking exclusively to RadioTimes.com ahead of the new show's debut on Friday 17th May, Rankin explained: "What I'm excited about is that Rebus has never been done long form – they tended to do maybe one hour 45 minutes was a whole storyline, which meant that characters never got a chance to breathe and develop the way I would have liked him to the way they do in the books."

He added: "So the fact the producers of this program, and indeed the screenwriter Gregory Burke, have taken it on as a long format is one big arc of a story. Covering you know, many hours is great.

"I mean, it's giving Rebus and the other characters and the City of Edinburgh and the themes they're trying to explore... it's given them some freedom to breathe, which I think the previous series was denied."

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The series follows the titular inspector as he's drawn into "a violent criminal conflict that turns personal when his brother Michael, a former soldier, crosses the line into criminality" – leaving him torn between protecting his brother and enforcing the law.

And Rankin has also teased that the new show will include its fair share of grisly moments, describing it as "full-on" and "a tough watch at times".

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He said: "At certain points, some viewers might even say it's slightly harrowing. There's an awful lot of visceral stuff happening. It's great.

"I jumped up in my seat a couple of times when I was watching the episodes that I've seen."

The Rebus novel series began in 1987 with the publication of Knots and Crosses, and currently consists of 24 novels and numerous short stories. A 25th novel, titled Midnight & Blue, is set to be released in October 2024.

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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