Trainspotting: The 'renaissance' of Begbie makes him sound even more terrifying – Scotsman comment

Trainspotting’s terrifying Begbie was transformed into a successful artist and given a veneer of respectability in Irvine Welsh’s 2016 follow-up novel The Blade Artist.

Robert Carlyle as Begbie, left, with Jonny Lee Miller as Sick Boy and Ewan McGregor as Renton in Trainspotting

Now the writer has revealed that the book could be turned into a TV series with Robert Carlyle, who played him in the original 1996 film and the 2017 sequel, said to be “really up for it”.

"I thought ‘what if he was still a nutter but was kind of hiding in plain sight and had learnt impulse control but was still driven to violence and still got a big kick out of it,’” Welsh tells The Scotsman, adding: “That kept him alive as a dramatic character. He became a more interesting character.”

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The rebirth – the renaissance, no less – of Begbie sounds potentially even more scary than the direct and brutal violence of his younger incarnation.

The original was fairly obviously an extremely unpleasant and dangerous individual, who wore his stone-cold heart on his sleeve and who even his ‘friends’ had had to learn how to handle, to an extent.

A more intelligent, cunning and devious Begbie makes for a much more formidable villain.

Some may allow themselves to revel in his horrific nature in the same way that many find true-crime stories to be grimly fascinating.

But, while we can all thank our lucky stars that Begbie is a fictional character, we should remember that there are people in this world who are every bit as cruel as one Francis Begbie – and some of them, as Welsh says, are “hiding in plain sight”.


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