Edinburgh Festival Diary: New horizons beckon for Sir Ian Rankin

Sir Ian Rankin has certainly packed a lot into three years since a full-scale book festival was last staged in Edinburgh.

In between writing the last Rebus one and the forthcoming one, the author finished off a William McIlvanney novel, wrote a script for Rebus short film, has been working on a Rebus stage play, and wrote a new murder mystery TV competition show for Channel 4.

The prospects of a second series of Murder Island, which saw teams of amateur detectives shadowed by real-life-ones on the Isle of Gigha, appears to have stalled behind the scenes for now.

Rankin worked on the show’s storyline during lockdown, so missed out on travelling to the Hebridean island, but seemed keen to get back on board for a reboot, with an important caveat.

Ian Rankin was appearing at the book festival. Picture: Robin Mair

“For a long time it looked as if Channel Four might pick it up again. My idea was for something like Murder Island Caribbean or Murder Island Mediterranean. I think I could get more involved with that.”

Rankin revealed that he has been ordered to take a year off in 2023 by his wife, with the prospect of overseas travel very much on the agenda.

But which bucket list destination did he have at the top of his list for his well-deserved time off? The Oxford Bar.

Rankin had to give his apologies for missing the other big event on Monday night – a celebration of the city’s music scene at the Fruitmarket Gallery, which was hosting the launch of the book Edinburgh’s Greatest Hits.

Singer-songwriter Adam Holmes.

I escaped the crowds lining up for his signing queue at the Central Hall to peg it down to the after-party. for a reunion with various luminaries and legends, including two of the city’s most celebrated record shop owners, Bruce Findlay and John Richardson.

The latter was among the many guest DJs persuaded to play their three favourite songs connected to the city by organiser Olaf Furniss.

The Valves’ Aint No Surf in Portobello, Pilot’s January and I Can’t Stand My Baby by the Rezillos were Richardson’s selection, although he had already finished his turn before Rezillos singer Fay Fife turned up to play the Fire Engines, the Filthy Tongues and The Proclaimers, the latter prompting good-natured heckling from behind the bar.

Fife and publicist Morag Neil were armed with flyers for the singer’s forthcoming Fringe show at the EICC – a far cry from the venues graced by the Rezillos in their heyday.

She will be appearing under the guise of The Countess of Fife, the alt-country outfit she has formed with singer and guitarist Allan McDowall.

Also in Neil’s roster and performing at the EICC is singer-songwriter Adam Holmes, who has opened a new chapter in the city’s musical history with his own musical love letter entitled simply Edinburgh.

All manner of familiar faces pop up in the accompanying video, filmed around the city over the last few weeks, including boxing legend Ken Buchanan and award-winning chef Tony Singh.

Rankin himself introduces the video, stating: “"Edinburgh isn't so much a city, more a way of life."

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