wed 24/07/2024

Rebus, BBC One review - revival of Ian Rankin's Scottish 'tec hits the jackpot | reviews, news & interviews

Rebus, BBC One review - revival of Ian Rankin's Scottish 'tec hits the jackpot

Rebus, BBC One review - revival of Ian Rankin's Scottish 'tec hits the jackpot

Richard Rankin makes a compelling debut as the unorthodox Edinburgh cop

Richard Rankin as Rebus (centre), Brian Ferguson as Michael (right) and Stuart Bowman as Cafferty

The previous incarnation of Ian Rankin’s Scottish detective on ITV starred, in their contrasting styles, John Hannah and Ken Stott. For this Rebus redux, arriving nearly 25 years after the original first series began, screenwriter Gregory Burke has reworked the character as a younger Detective Sergeant, drawing on the spirit of Rankin’s original novels but with the author’s blessing to take the character somewhere new.

Richard Rankin (no relation to the writer) is an excellent choice for Rebus. Rough, tough, scruffy and not to be trusted around a bottle of whisky, he comes equipped with the complete kit of emotional burdens and moral grey areas which somehow enable fictional detectives to hold up mirrors to our own souls. In this first outing, as Rebus battles to unpick a trail of murder and drug trafficking, he finds his closest personal ties are being put under unbearable strain.

Rebus, BBC OneCentral to the action is Rebus’s relationship with his brother Michael (Brian Ferguson), an army veteran scarred by postings to Iraq and Afghanistan, now desperately struggling to make ends meet with his family in Edinburgh. When he’s sacked from his delivery job, it’s the last straw. Rebus is also labouring under the black cloud of the breakup of his own marriage, with his ex-wife Rhona (Amy Manson) now living with smarmy fund manager Lockie Moncrieffe (Nick Rhys) in his nouveau-riche mansion in an exclusive Edinburgh postal district. Rebus and Rhona are awkwardly negotiating how to co-parent their daughter Sammy (Mia McKenzie, pictured above with Rebus, Rhona and Lockie).

As if that wasn’t bad enough, Rebus has to contend with the reappearance of smirking villain Ger Cafferty (Stuart Bowman), who previously rammed a car in which Rebus was driving with his friend George Ballantyre (Sean Buchanan), leaving the latter confined to a wheelchair. In a prologue to episode one, we saw Rebus systematically suffocating Cafferty, and only being saved from career termination by the arrival of his superior officer Gill Templer (Caroline Lee Johnson). She evidently considers that on balance, Rebus’s unorthodox techniques are worth tolerating because he gets results. He certainly wouldn’t be much use for arresting people for “misgendering” or for committing “wrongthink” in their own homes.

Rebus, BBC OneYou could dismiss our scuffed anti-hero as merely “maverick cop does things his own way”, but this new Rebus works on a variety of levels. There’s some talk of the split personality of Edinburgh, and the city’s grand, historic architecture and dramatic views are brutally contrasted against an underworld of poverty, thuggery and intimidation. Moncrieffe, a man so wealthy that he can set up a million-pound trust fund for Sammy without batting an eyelid, isn’t above exploiting other people’s immoral earnings for personal gain.

There’s a bit of political intrigue in the mix too, when it’s revealed that the Edinburgh drugs trade has links with the UDA in Northern Ireland. The deplorable but unpleasantly clever Cafferty gets a sulphurous monologue about his horror at the prospect of a united Ireland: “Can you imagine that? A million of these fuckers over here with their fucking bands and their politics… anyone interferes with their drug-dealing then they just threaten to start the Troubles up again.”

And there’s plenty of internal police politics. Rebus feels an instinctive loathing for the creepy internal affairs snooper Malcolm Fox (Thoren Ferguson), and when his new junior officer Siobhan “Shiv” Clarke (Lucie Shorthouse, pictured above) turns out to be friendly with Fox, Rebus promptly cuts her out of the loop of his investigation. He's also suspicious of her glittering fast-track career trajectory. However, it transpires that Shiv does have a mind of her own, and should not be underestimated. When can we expect series two, then?


Michael Rebus lived in Fife , not Edinburgh.

That is partly why he was crossing a Forth Bridge

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