Rebus (TV series)

For information on the Rebus word and picture puzzle see Rebus.

Rebus is a British television detective drama series based on the Inspector Rebus novels by the Scottish author Ian Rankin. The series was produced by STV Studios for the ITV network, and four series were broadcast between 26 April 2000 and 7 December 2007. The first series starred John Hannah as DI John Rebus; and was co-produced by Hannah's own production company, Clerkenwell Films. After Hannah quit the series, the role of Rebus was re-cast, with Ken Stott appearing as Rebus in three subsequent series, which were produced in-house by STV.

DVD cover (Series 2–4)
GenreCrime drama
Created byIan Rankin
StarringJohn Hannah
Ken Stott
Gayanne Potter
Claire Price
Sara Stewart
Jennifer Black
Ron Donachie
Ewan Stewart
Jenny Ryan
ComposersSimon Rogers
David Ferguson
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original languageEnglish
No. of series4
No. of episodes14 (list of episodes)
Executive producersEric Coulter
Philip Hinchcliffe
ProducersAlan J. Wands
Murray Ferguson
Production locationEdinburgh
CinematographyAlasdair Walker
EditorsChris Buckland
Jon Gow
Running time60–120 minutes
Production companiesSTV Studios
Scottish Television
Clerkenwell Films
Original networkITV
Picture format16:9
Audio formatStereo
Original release26 April 2000 (2000-04-26) –
7 December 2007 (2007-12-07)

The first series is 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.[1] However his interpretation of the inspector has been viewed as deeper than the later productions, using narration to expand the viewers insight into the characters thoughts, or to reveal background information,[2] which never occurs during Stott's tenure. The earlier stories also retained the darkness of the novels and were more faithful to the original storylines,[2] while longer running times meant that each story could be less ruthless with Rankin's many asides and sub-plots.

In February 2008, ITV announced that Rebus had been axed, amid reports that Stott had told producers he did not want to continue in the role. ITV indicated that "one-off specials are a possibility for the future."[3] In April 2011, it was reported that the series could make a return to television, and 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."[4] However, Rankin has since announced that he has purchased the rights to the TV series back, and that he does not intend to bring Rebus back in the present format, having criticised the shorter format of the final series.[5]


All three Stott series were released on DVD in the United Kingdom in 2007.[6][7][8] In Region 1, Koch Vision released the first series on DVD on 10 January 2006.[9] Series two through four were later released by Acorn Media between 2006 and 2008.[10][11][12] In 2008, Delta released the Hannah series in a four-disc box set.[13]


Episode listEdit

Series 1 (2000–2004)Edit

The fourth and final episode was originally due for broadcast on 20 September 2001 but was indefinitely postponed following the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center on 11 September 2001 and didn't air until four years later during a re-run of the series on ITV3 and the subsequent repeats on Alibi, Drama, and STV2 (formerly STV Glasgow and STV Edinburgh) having never been broadcast on ITV.

Episode Title Written by Directed by Viewers
Original airdate
1 "Black & Blue"Stuart HepburnMartyn Friend7.7026 April 2000 (2000-04-26)
Based on Black & Blue (Rankin novel)
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 Phillips5.89STV: 15 July 2000
ITV: 6 September 2001 (STV: 15 July 2000
ITV: 6 September 2001
Based on The Hanging Garden (Rankin novel)
Rebus investigates a suspected case of human trafficking and a growing territory war between gangster Tommy Telford and the jailed 'Big Ger' Cafferty. Rebus' daughter Sammy is knocked down in apparent hit-and-run. Can Rebus head off trouble, and can he track down his daughter's assailant?
3 "Dead Souls"Stuart HepburnMaurice PhillipsTBA13 September 2001 (2001-09-13)
Based on Dead Souls (Rankin novel)
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 Moore0.521 November 2004 (2004-11-01) (ITV3)
Based on Mortal Causes (Rankin novel)
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)Edit

Episode Title Written by Directed by Viewers
Original airdate
1 "The Falls"Daniel BoyleMatthew Evans9.002 January 2006 (2006-01-02)
Based on The Falls (Rankin novel)
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 trail of a stalker targeting a university student.
2 "Fleshmarket Close"Daniel BoyleMatthew Evans6.276 March 2006 (2006-03-06)
Based on Fleshmarket Close (Rankin novel)
Rebus investigates the death 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)Edit

Episode Title Written by Directed by Viewers
Original airdate
1 "The Black Book"Daniel BoyleRoger Gartland5.688 September 2006 (2006-09-08)
Based on The Black Book (Rankin novel)
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 rein him in.
2 "A Question of Blood"Matthew EvansMatthew Evans5.2515 September 2006 (2006-09-15)
Based on A Question of Blood (Rankin novel)
Rebus investigates a mass shooting at a local sports college, which has claimed the lives of two students and a 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 Evans5.8122 September 2006 (2006-09-22)
Based on Strip Jack (Rankin novel)
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 Gartland5.7029 September 2006 (2006-09-29)
Based on Let It Bleed (Rankin novel)
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)Edit

"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 19 October 2007, but was postponed for reasons unknown. It was eventually broadcast on 7 December 2007. It bears the name of a Rankin book, but does not share the plot.

Episode Title Written by Directed by Viewers
Original airdate
1 "Resurrection Men"David KaneRoger Gartland4.815 October 2007 (2007-10-05)
Based on Resurrection Men (Rankin novel)
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 Fullerton5.1812 October 2007 (2007-10-12)
Based on The First Stone (short story)
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 with the body of a naked woman. 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 Friend4.7426 October 2007 (2007-10-26)
Based on The Naming of the Dead (Rankin novel)
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 Gartland4.947 December 2007 (2007-12-07)
Based on Knots and Crosses (Rankin novel)
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.


  1. ^ Fulton, Rick (13 May 2011). "In the lap of the Gods but John Hannah just can't get the work he wants in the UK". Daily Record.
  2. ^ a b "John Hannah vs Ken Stott: Who's The Better Rebus? | Rebus | Drama Channel". 28 May 2015. Retrieved 21 July 2017.
  3. ^ Leigh Holmwood (22 February 2008). "ITV ditches Rebus as axe looms over several underperforming shows | Media". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 July 2017.
  4. ^ "News – The Scotsman". Archived from the original on 1 February 2013. Retrieved 21 July 2017.
  5. ^ John Dingwall (14 September 2012). "Ian Rankin has rights back for Rebus". Daily Record. Retrieved 21 July 2017.
  6. ^ "Rebus : Seasons 1–2 [DVD]: John Hannah, Maurice Phillips, Martyn Friend: DVD & Blu-ray". Retrieved 21 July 2017.
  7. ^ Ken Stott (Actor). "Rebus : Seasons 3–4 (6 Disc Set) [DVD]: Ken Stott: DVD & Blu-ray". Retrieved 21 July 2017.
  8. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 28 June 2011. Retrieved 10 September 2017.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  9. ^ "Rebus: John Hannah, Sara Stewart, Ron Donachie, Gayanne Potter, Michelle Fairley, Paul Cunningham, Russell Barr, Mark Bonnar, Emma Currie, Hugh Ross, Anna Hepburn, Danielle Cook, David Moore, Maurice Phillips, Don Bell, Ben Brown, Ian Rankin, Mark Greig, Philip Palmer, Stuart Hepburn: Movies & TV". Retrieved 21 July 2017.
  10. ^ "Rebus – Set 1: Ken Stott, Claire Price, Jennifer Black, Tony Donaldson, Natalie Dormer, Andrea Hart, Richard Johnson, James McAnerney, Eileen McCallum, William Ruane, Elayne Sharling, Sharon Small, Alasdair Walker, Matthew Evans, Chris Buckland, Alan J. Wands, Eric Coulter, Daniel Boyle, Ian Rankin: Movies & TV". Retrieved 21 July 2017.
  11. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 29 June 2011. Retrieved 10 September 2017.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  12. ^ "Rebus – Set 3: Ken Stott, Claire Price, Jennifer Black, Gregor Gillespie, John Hannah, Sara Stewart, Gayanne Potter, Ron Donachie, Andrew Barr, Rony Bridges, Norman Campbell Rees, Forbes KB: Movies & TV". Retrieved 21 July 2017.
  13. ^ [1][dead link]
  14. ^ a b c d "Top 30 Programmes – BARB". Retrieved 11 February 2016.

External linksEdit