Rankin the toast of Scotland as fans sing his praises

Key points

• Talented Scots are honoured

• Best-selling writer claims top spot

• Teenagers Murray and Benedetti to be future greats?

Key quote

"I've written 16 novels, scores of short stories, several radio plays, occasional pieces of journalism and one full-length, non-fiction book ... all in an attempt to define the 'spirit of Scotland'." - Ian Rankin

Story in full

IAN Rankin, the UK's bestselling crime author, was last night named this year's Top Scot at a glittering award ceremony that saw a wave of young Scottish talent coming to the fore.

The writer is best known for his depiction of the dark streets of Edinburgh where his most famous creation, Inspector Rebus, solves gruesome crimes.

In a setting in which Rankin's dishevelled and dysfunctional character John Rebus would surely have been uncomfortable, last night's ceremony took place in the plush surroundings of Prestonfield House where the leading sports people, writers, broadcasters and musicians celebrated the best of Scotland.

Other winners included the Turner Prize nominee Jim Lambie and the broadcaster Stuart Cosgrove. But the young stars of Scotland were snapping at their heels, with the teenagers Nicola Benedetti and Andrew Murray being awarded prizes for their contributions to music and sport, respectively.

The evening was hosted by Lorraine Kelly, with presentations from the Hollywood actor Brian Cox and the comedian Craig Hill also on the bill.

Jack McConnell, the First Minister, presented Rankin, 45, with his award. The author, who is married with two sons and lives in Edinburgh, was voted Top Scot by his many fans.

He said: "I've written 16 novels, scores of short stories, several radio plays, occasional pieces of journalism and one full-length, non-fiction book ... all in an attempt to define the 'spirit of Scotland'. For me, it is an ongoing project."

Shirley Robertson, the double British Olympic sailing champion who was last year's winner of the Top Scot award, unveiled the tennis star Murray as the top sportsman.

She said: "I, of course, love the open space, the amazing landscape and the dramatic weather, but it's the people of Scotland that make it such a great nation. We have a history of being pioneers, of being warriors and it's that spirit that continues today wherever Scots are in the world."

After winning the junior men's singles title at the US Open last year, Dunblane teenager Murray went on to beat the British No1, Tim Henman, and recently led Scotland to victory in the Aberdeen Cup. Aged just 18, he is ranked 64 in the tennis world rankings.

Another teenage prodigy recognised last night was the BBC Young Musician of the Year, Nicola Benedetti, 18, from West Kilbride. The violinist has played to sell-out audiences across the world, including the Queen at the opening of the Scottish Parliament. She has also landed a 1 million record deal.

Celebrity chef Nick Nairn was chosen to present the award for best food in Scotland to Andrew Fairlie, the chef who has his own restaurant at the Gleneagles Hotel.

Graeme Cox, the founder and managing director of the Edinburgh-based network security specialist DNS was named business person of the year.

The firm, which supplies security solutions, has grown from a staff of ten three years ago to 35 and a turnover of 3 million.

Glasgow-born Jim Lambie was awarded best artist. He is known for his dazzling op-art effects created by criss-crossing sticky tape on floors. He was nominated this year for Britain's top art prize, the Turner Prize.

Rankin was also asked to take a turn as presenter last night, naming Rory Stewart as the winner of the award for writing. The author of The Places In Between - an account of a death-defying walk through Afghanistan, was shortlisted for the 2004 Guardian First Book Award as well as this year's John Llewellyn Rhys prize.

Leslie Hills, the director of the production company Skyline, was awarded the screen prize. She has written and produced a range of documentary, factual, drama and dramatised programmes for the BBC, ITV and Channel 4. She produced Touch the Sound, a film about the percussionist Evelyn Glennie, and her latest television credits include producer on Women in Black, a short film about the international women's peace movement, for Scottish Screen.

The award for broadcasting was given to Stuart Cosgrove as Channel 4's controller of arts and entertainments, where he is responsible for managing arts, entertainment and sports. He is credited with bringing in American programmes such as ER, Friends and Frasier as well as commissioning some of Channel 4's most memorable long-running programmes, including Father Ted, Eurotrash and The Big Breakfast. He also presents Off The Ball on Radio Scotland.

Elizabeth Lafferty, of Glenfiddich in Scotland, said: "Ian Rankin is undoubtedly one of Scotland's most talented writers and we are delighted to see him added to the growing list of Top Scot winners."


Ian Rankin

The creator of "tartan noir" has become one of Scotland's best-known authors for his gritty depiction of Edinburgh, but despite the dark content of his novels, the author professes a great love for the city. He lives in Merchiston and is married with two sons. He is best known for his Inspector Rebus novels, many of which have been televised. He has also written short stories, radio plays and a work of non-fiction.

Born in Fife in 1960, Rankin graduated from the University of Edinburgh. He has worked as a grape-picker, swineherd, taxman, alcohol researcher, hi-fi journalist and punk musician. He was made an OBE in the Queen's Golden Jubilee Birthday Honours in June 2002.


Andrew Fairlie

Chef who has his own restaurant at Gleneagles has made an international name for himself with Scottish delicacies.


Graeme Cox

Founder of Edinburgh-based network security specialist DNS, which has grown to 35 staff and a turnover of 3 million.


Stuart Cosgrove

The head of programmes at Channel 4's nations and regions department, where he commissioned shows such as Father Ted.


Jim Lambie

Glasgow-born artist who is best known for criss-crossing sticky tape on floors, he was nominated for the Turner Prize this year.


Nicola Benedetti

Since winning the BBC Young Musician of the Year title, the 18-year-old violinist from West Kilbride has played to sell-out audiences across the world - and to the Queen at the opening of the Scottish Parliament. She has also landed a 1 million record deal with Universal Music's Deutsche Grammophon label.


Leslie Hills

Work includes Touch the Sound, about Evelyn Glennie, and concerts with Moby and the Mull Historical Society in the US.


Andrew Murray

The Dunblane teenager hit number 64 in the world in 2005, reaching the third round of Wimbledon and the final of a top tournament in Thailand, where he lost to world number one Roger Federer. Murray, 18, ended the year with wins over Tim Henman and a Greg Rusedski-led England squad in the Aberdeen Cup.


Rory Stewart

The Eton-educated Scot has travelled extensively. His first book, The Places In Between, was critically applauded.