With BBC's new TV adaptation of Ian Rankin's Inspector Rebus novels, all eyes are on Rebus to see just how it will adapt the book series.


Well, Rebus cast members Brian Ferguson and Lucie Shorthouse have revealed that the new TV drama isn't the most faithful adaptation but is a response to the novels that is more fitting for diving into that world decades after the novels were released.

Chatting exclusively to RadioTimes.com, Ferguson (who stars as Michael Rebus) said of the new series and how it's incorporated the original novels: "I mean, I think partly that they are built on the Rebus novels which is such an amazing kind of foundation and kind of source material to work from.

"But then I think what's really exciting is that you know, essentially, at the beginning of this, Ian Rankin did, kind of essentially, say to Gregory Burke, yeah, I mean, you take these and, you know, make them yours."

He continued: "Greg really has so I think that they do, in a way, feel like a response to the original novels rather than a faithful adaptation. And what that's given Greg licence to do is well, 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, and those 20 years.

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"And I think there's something really exciting about looking at those characters and that kind of world but with the lens 20 years on. Yes, so I think that by blending those two together, it gives out a whole new life."

Lucie Shorthouse as Siobhan Clarke and Richard Rankin as John Rebus. They re both looking at a computer, concentrating.
Lucie Shorthouse as Siobhan Clarke and Richard Rankin as John Rebus.

Similarly, Shorthouse (who stars as Siobhan Clarke in the series) said: "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."

Shorthouse added: "I think even though the characters are obviously different, I think if you're a fan of the books, hopefully you'll spot those similarities. And it's another way to enjoy the story. It's another format to appreciate that level of storytelling in the end."

The new series has been Gregory Burke and sees Outlander star Richard Rankin take the lead as Detective Sergeant John Rebus.

It's not the first time that the Rankin novels have been adapted for TV as ITV's adaptation aired between 2000 and 2007 and starred John Hannah and Ken Stott in the title role. Speaking about his portrayal of the character in the upcoming BBC series, Rankin said: "It is definitely my take. I mean, it has to be if you are going to do any sort of justice, or, you know, come out of any sort of integrity you need to make it your own.

"Because we're trying to make this as real as it can be. I think we were given the material with which to do that. There's no point in trying to go back and rehash or mimic or copy anything that was done before."

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He continued: "I watched a lot of Ken Stott's version. I think I saw all of John Hannah's version, but I didn't go back to reference them in any way, I didn't think that was going to be in any way helpful. Plus, we're not we're not quite the same characters anyway.

"So yeah, you know, I was very excited to get into this and sort of had a lot of my own ideas and how I wanted to portray the character and what I wanted to bring to and yeah, I'm hoping that that's, that's what I've done."

The new series sees a younger 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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