Rebus (TV series)

For information on the Rebus word and picture puzzle see Rebus.
Genre Crime drama
Created by Ian Rankin
Starring John Hannah
Ken Stott
Gayanne Potter
Claire Price
Sara Stewart
Jennifer Black
Ron Donachie
Ewan Stewart
Jenny Ryan
Country of origin United Kingdom
No. of series 4
No. of episodes 14 (list of episodes)
Running time 60–120 mins.
(inc. commercials)
Production company(s) STV Productions
(Scottish Television)
Clerkenwell Films
Original network ITV
Original release 26 April 2000 (2000-04-26) – 7 December 2007 (2007-12-07)

Rebus is the title of the detective drama TV series based on the Inspector Rebus novels by the Scottish author Ian Rankin set in and around Edinburgh. The series was produced by STV Productions (previously known as "SMG Productions") for the ITV network.

Four series have been aired; series 1 starred John Hannah and was made for STV by his own production company, Clerkenwell Films. A new cast featuring Ken Stott as DI John Rebus was introduced for the second and subsequent series (which went into production in 2005, made in-house by STV).


Episode list

Series 1 (2000-2004)

The fourth and final episode was originally due for broadcast on September 20, 2001, but following terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, was indefinitely postponed, and did not air until some four years later during a re-run of the series on ITV3, having never been aired on ITV1.[1]

Episode Title Written by Directed by Viewers
Original airdate
1"Black and Blue"Stuart HepburnMartyn Friend7.70m26 April 2000
Rebus investigates when a number of women are killed with the same modus operandi as 'The Preacher', a prolific serial killer active in Edinburgh during the 1980s. But is a copycat killer at large, or has 'The Preacher' returned to finish what he started?
2"The Hanging Garden"Ben BrownMaurice PhillipsTBA15 July 2000
Rebus investigates when an old friend, DI Jack Morton, is shot during an undercover operation at a pharmaceuticals factory which has become a hub for cocaine dealing and gun-running by a well-known mobster and his latest team of upstart thugs.
3"Dead Souls"Stuart HepburnMaurice PhillipsTBA13 September 2001
Rebus is forced to juggle two complex cases when an old friend approaches him to trace her son, who has disappeared, and a former colleague is killed in a freak accident, which asks the question - did he kill himself or was he murdered?
4"Mortal Causes"Mark GreigDavid MooreTBA1 November 2004 (ITV3)
Rebus is forced to revisit a pact he made with a crime lord who identified who attacked his daughter in a freak hit-and-run, when his own son is murdered by a gang involved in gun running, right-wing extremism and racist white-power fanatics.

Series 2 (2006)

Episode Title Written by Directed by Viewers
Original airdate
1"The Falls"Daniel BoyleMatthew Evans9.00m2 January 2006
Rebus investigates the murder of a retired obstetrician, who is found dead in his home having been the victim of torture. A clue left at the scene by the killer leads Rebus to the local museum, and puts him onto the trial of a stalker targeting a university student.
2"Fleshmarket Close"Daniel BoyleMatthew EvansTBA16 January 2006
Rebus investigates the deal of a Kosovan national who is found dead in a seedy Edinburgh slum, but a racist slur left on the victim's head leads him into contact with a group of local gangland bosses, and it's not long before a second corpse is discovered.

Series 3 (2006)

Episode Title Written by Directed by Viewers
Original airdate
1"The Black Book"Daniel BoyleRoger Gartland5.68m8 September 2006
Rebus finds himself drawn towards a cold case after a prostitute is buried alive beneath a famous Scottish landmark, but finds himself stonewalled when his prime suspect turns out to be a member of parliament - forcing his superiors to draft in a fellow DI to reign him in.
2"A Question of Blood"Matthew EvansMatthew Evans5.25m15 September 2006
Rebus investigates a mass shooting at a local sports college, which has claimed the lives of two students and teacher, but when one of the victims turns out to be his cousin's son, he decides that bending the rules is the best way to get a result.
3"Strip Jack"Robert MurphyMatthew Evans5.81m22 September 2006
Rebus investigates when the wife of a millionaire philanthropist, who is due to lead a conference on poverty in Africa, is found dead in the river, the morning after he was discovered having sex with a prostitute in a local brothel during a raid by divisional CID.
4"Let it Bleed"David KaneRoger Gartland5.70m29 September 2006
Rebus takes on the case of a man who shoots himself during a meeting with the head of his local bank, but a photograph in his wallet leads him to a chemical plant preparing a pesticide for the third world, and a disgruntled ex-employee with a grudge over a false sexual assault claim.

Series 4 (2007)

"The First Stone" is the first and only story to be featured throughout the series which is not based upon a full Rebus novel, rather a novella from a collection of short stories. "Knots and Crosses" was due to be broadcast on October 19, 2007, but was postponed for reasons unknown. It was eventually broadcast on December 7, 2007.[3]

Episode Title Written by Directed by Viewers
Original airdate
1"Resurrection Men"David KaneRoger Gartland4.81m5 October 2007
Rebus is forced to attend a training course at police school following a public outburst, with his colleagues unaware that he is actually out to expose two corrupt police officers who have been running a protection racket, and could possibly be linked to the murder of a drug dealer.
2"The First Stone"Colin BatemanMorag Fullerton5.18m12 October 2007
Rebus is called to investigate when the naked body of the Moderator Elect of the Church of Scotland is found in a local cruising spot. Forced to deal with ongoing political battles between the church and its ministers, Rebus must solve the case in time for the gathering of the General Assembly.
3"The Naming of the Dead"David KaneMartyn Friend4.74m26 October 2007
Rebus investigates when an unidentified body is found in the grounds of a local Edinburgh hotel which is due to play host to the World Trade Summit. When another body is found in the grounds of Edinburgh castle, Special Branch intervene and warn Rebus off the case.
4"Knots and Crosses"Roger GartlandRoger Gartland4.94m7 December 2007
Rebus finds himself being investigated by an old friend after a murderer walks free on a technicality. Matters are made worse when the suspect and his brother are found dead, and the prosecutor in the case is found to have been paid off to discredit Rebus and his colleagues.

Differences between the Hannah and Stott eras

The first four episodes, starring John Hannah, are very different in both format and style. Hannah's portrayal of Rankin's world-weary detective was questioned by many who knew the books, as he did not physically match their image of John Rebus; Hannah himself has said he felt forced into the role, having been executive producer, when his own choice for the role, Peter Mullan, was rejected by STV. However his interpretation of the inspector is acknowledged to be deeper than the later productions, using narration to expand the viewers insight into the characters thoughts, or to reveal background information,[4] (which never occurs in Ken Stott's appearances). The earlier stories also retained the darkness of the novels and were more faithful to the original storylines,[4] while the longer run times meant they could be less ruthless with Rankin's many asides and sub-plots.

Series revival

In February 2008, ITV announced that it had cancelled the drama series, amid reports that Ken Stott had told producers he did not want to continue in the role of Rebus. ITV indicated that "one-off specials are a possibility for the future."[5]

In April 2011, it was reported that Rebus could make a return to television. A spokeswoman for STV confirmed a comeback was on the cards: "We fully intend to bring Rebus back in the future. There are no firm plans yet, but it will return."[6]

However, Ian Rankin has announced since that he has purchased the rights back to the TV series and that he will not bring Rebus back in the format it has been presented previously, having not been a fan of the 45 minute format of the last series. Whether a new Rebus series will be made is unknown.[7]

DVD releases

All 5 series have been released on DVD in the UK through various companies.[8][9][10]

In Region 1, Koch Vision released the first two series on DVD on 10 January 2006.[11] Series 3-5 were released by Acorn Media between 2006 - 2008.[12][13][14]

In 2008 Delta released series one and two on a Region 0, 4 disc DVD boxset.[15]


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