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‘Karen Pirie’ — everything you need to know about the latest ITV crime drama

Karen Pirie star Lauren Lyle at the STARZ Outlander Season 5 Premiere in 2020.
Lauren Lyle (above) stars in Karen Pirie. (Image credit: Michael Kovac/Getty Images for STARZ)

Karen Pirie is a brand new crime drama coming to ITV. Following in the footsteps of Grace, ITV has another feature-length crime miniseries based on one of the biggest names in crime fiction on the way. 

The series is not based on Peter James’ books, though! This time, ITV have turned to legendary Scottish crime author, Val McDermid. The miniseries is based on the first Karen Pirie novel, The Distant Echo, and has been adapted by Emer Kenny. Val promises that "audiences are in for a treat"!

Since Karen Pirie is coming from World Productions (the same company behind Line of Duty and Bodyguard!) it's almost guaranteed to become one of the best ITV dramas.

Here’s everything you need to know about Karen Pirie...

When is Karen Pirie on TV? 

ITV has not officially confirmed a release date for Karen Pirie; when they do, we’ll update this guide! 

Will Karen Pirie be shown in the US? 

There are currently no plans to show the drama in the US, but this is likely to change and we will update this guide as soon as anything is confirmed. 

How many episodes of Karen Pirie are there? 

The first series of Karen Pirie will be three episodes long, and each episode will run for 120 minutes.

Karen Pirie cast 

Lauren Lyle (Outlander) will star as the titular detective in Karen Pirie. According to ITV, Karen is “a young and fearless Scottish investigator with a quick mouth and tenacious desire for the truth.”

Lauren says: “I am completely overjoyed to be bringing the formidable force that is DS Karen Pirie to life through Emer Kenny's slick adaptation. The world Emer has created using the backbone of Val McDermid's much loved books is electrifying and hooked me immediately.

“I couldn't ask for a more creative, supportive and energetic team to be joining. I'm so thankful to Val, Emer, World Productions and ITV for welcoming me wholeheartedly on board.”

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Joining Lauren are Emer Kenny (Harlots) as Karen’s friend River Wilde, Chris Jenks (Sex Education) as Jason ‘Mint’ Murray and Zach Wyatt (Blithe Spirit) as DS Phil Parhatka.

Anna Russell-Martin (Casualty) will play teenage murder victim Rosie Duff, and Jhon Lumsden (Pancake), Jack Hesketh (Besa) and Buom Tihngang (Death in Paradise) will play Sigmund ‘Ziggy’ Malkiewicz, Tom ‘Weird’ Mackie and Alex Gilbey, the three students originally suspected of her murder.

Michael Schaeffer (The Salisbury Poisonings), Ariyon Bakare (His Dark Materials) and Alec Newman (Unforgotten) will play the three boys as adults. 

Karen Pirie plot 

ITV has revealed what will happen in the first episode! We’ll see DS Pirie reopening the historic case of Rosie Duff’s murder twenty fives years on after the cold case becomes the subject of a provocative true-crime podcast.

Rosie was originally found murdered in the Scottish university town of St Andrews back in 1996, and three drunken students (Tom, Jason and Alex) were discovered at the scene who claimed to have found the body. Although suspicions fell upon the boys, there was a lack of forensic evidence, so no charges were made. 

Now the case is back in the public eye, it appears that someone is willing to risk everything to keep the truth hidden. Do the three men know more than they let on all those years ago? How flawed was the original investigation? Will Karen finally uncover the truth of what happened that fateful evening?