‘Reimagined’ Rebus to go back to his thirties for new TV drama set in modern-day Edinburgh

A new TV adaptation of Sir Ian Rankin’s John Rebus novels is to start filming within months, with the long-running series to “reimagine” the character in his 30s in modern-day Edinburgh.

Rebus will be depicted in his late-30s in a show that has been greenlit by Scandinavian streaming giant Viaplay.

Award-winning Scottish playwright and screenwriter Gregory Burke has created the “major reimagining” of Rebus in collaboration with Rankin, whose character will be around the same age on screen as he was in the first Rebus novel in 1987.

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The Swedish company, which has unveiled Rebus as its first UK drama production, has billed it as “an unforgettable show with Scottish roots, international appeal and universal themes”.

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The two Fife-born writers will be executive producers on the drama, which will tackle issues faced by modern-day police officers in a society with “widening gaps between the haves and have nots”, set against the backdrop of the current Scottish political landscape.

Although not cast yet, filming on the show, which will tackle “family, morality and class”, is due to get underway in the spring.

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The first six-part series will see Rebus coming to terms with a recent divorce and demotion to detective sergeant – working with a new colleague, Siobhan Clarke, a regular in the best-selling novels.

Other key characters drawn from the books will include Rebus’s brother Michael, his ex-wife Rhona and daughter Sammy.

Author Sir Ian Rankin and screenwriter Gregory Burke have been working together on a new TV adaptation of the John Rebus novels, which haa been greenlit by Swedish streaming platform Viaplay. Picture: Robert Perry

Burke shot to fame with his stage plays, particularly Gagarin Way and Black Watch, the first major hit for the National Theatre of Scotland. His more recent film work include the thrillers ‘71 and Entebbe.

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Rankin said: “I’m hugely excited at the thought of Rebus returning to our screens and it’s a privilege to have Gregory Burke write the scripts. I’ve been a fan since ‘Gagarin Way’ and know that he understands the world of Rebus and the compelling central character.

"I’m chuffed to bits that Viaplay and Eleventh Hour are involved in this ground-breaking endeavour and I can’t wait to share the results.”

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The start of filming on the new Rebus has been confirmed 15 years after the most recent incarnation, starring Ken Stott, ended. John Hannah previously played Rebus in the series made for the ITV network by STV Studios.

Sir Ian Rankin has just published his 24th John Rebus novel, 35 years after the first.

The latest TV incarnation of Rebus has been in development by Rankin, Burke and production company Eleventh Hour Films since 2017, when it acquired the rights to the books, which will be inspiring the storylines for the new series. Burke said: “It’s an honour and a privilege to have the opportunity to work on adapting an iconic character like John Rebus for television. Ian Rankin’s best-selling books provide the perfect material to make a thrilling series about crime in the modern world.”

Filippa Wallestam, Viaplay’s chief content officer, said: “Sir Ian Rankin is a global storytelling phenomenon, and partnering to reimagine Rebus for a new generation of viewers is a remarkable way for Viaplay to take the UK stage.

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"This ambitious series will explore family, morality and class in British society through an exciting and emotionally-charged story, set against the Edinburgh landmarks that Rankin’s readers know so well. Together with Gregory Burke and the team at Eleventh Hour Films, we’ll create an unforgettable show with Scottish roots, international appeal and universal themes.”

Screenwriter Gregory Burke has created the new TV adaptation of Sir Ian Rankin's best-selling John Rebus novels. Picture: Ian Gavan/Getty Images
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Ken Stott previously played John Rebus in an ITV series.
John Hannah played Rebus in the original TV adaptation. Picture: Jon Savage



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