STEP aside, Rebus and Morse. The actor Kenneth Branagh, perennial darling of the English stage, is bringing a grumpy, diabetic, hard-drinking Swedish detective to the small screen.
BBC Scotland's drama department will oversee production of a 6 million TV series based on the best-selling Inspector Wallander novels by Sweden's Henning Mankell.
Branagh, dubbed a leading "luvvie" of the British acting world, first found fame in 1989 as a Shakespearean actor in his film of Henry V.
He said: "Wallander is a wonderfully complex and compelling character and I am excited to be playing this fascinatingly flawed, but deeply human detective."
However, the author Ian Rankin, while saying he was interested to see how Mankell worked on TV, was concerned about BBC Scotland looking abroad for its subject matter.
"My main caveat is that there's so much good, complex and diverse Scottish crime writing going on right now that I'd like to have seen BBC Scotland pick up on that," he said.
The Scottish crime writer Quentin Jardine, author of the Bob Skinner books, which have never been televised shared Rankin's concerns.
"Politically, I think it's a bad decision. I think they should have gone for Scottish talent, and then you should go first for English language authors."
The nine Kurt Wallander books have sold 25 million copies worldwide since the first appeared in Sweden in 1991.
The series has been bought for the BBC's UK network, but will be produced through BBC Scotland, in the same way Life on Mars goes through BBC Wales, sources said. It will be filmed on location in southern Sweden.
"Wallander is an extremely ambitious project – after all we're looking to create a classic new detective character for British television," said the BBC Scotland head of drama, Anne Mensah. She called Branagh the "perfect leading man".
A BBC Scotland spokeswoman said: We've remained true to the source material because it's written by a Swedish writer about a Swedish detective. It's absolutely essentially Swedish, through and through."
The stories are adaptations of three novels, Sidetracked, Firewall and One Step Behind.
Andy Harries, head of Left Bank Pictures, which is making the series, said: "Visually these films are going to be very strong, very picture-postcard. Ken Branagh is perfect for the role."
ITV has had a string of successes with Inspector Morse, Cracker, and Prime Suspect. In Scotland, it has had STV's Rebus and the long-running Taggart to draw from. At 2 million, the 90-minute Wallander episodes will cost twice as much as Taggart.
Clues point to Branagh as natural in lead role
ON THE heels of his huge hit Henry V, which he directed and starred in as the brash and youthful king, Kenneth Branagh quickly showed his taste for playing detective.
In his next film, Dead Again, the former Royal Shakespeare Company actor chose the unlikely role of Los Angeles detective Mike Church. The sleuth is hired to solve the identity of a mysterious woman with amnesia.
Dead Again was well-received by the critics, but disappointed audiences.
Now 47, Branagh recently directed Sleuth, a remake of the Michael Caine film in which a murder mystery writer invites his wife's lover to his country house and snares him in a web of plots.
Branagh last had a major lead role on British television more than five years ago, when he played the polar explorer Ernest Shackleton in the Channel 4 drama Shackleton.
But he has been tied to another new BBC TV series, Shardlake, starring as a hunchback lawyer who turns detective in the Tudor court.