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Karen Pirie — release date, trailer, cast, plot and everything you need to know

Karen Pirie key art featuring Lauren Lyle
ITV's new cold case murder drama, Karen Pirie features Outlander's Lauren Lyle (above). (Image credit: ITV)

Karen Pirie is an exciting new crime series coming to ITV on Sunday, September 25. Following on from Grace, ITV has commissioned another feature-length crime miniseries that's based on the works of another massively popular crime writer. 

This time, ITV has turned to legendary Scottish author, Val McDermid. The Karen Pirie miniseries is based on the first book in the series, The Distant Echo (opens in new tab), and has been adapted by EastEnders' 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!) and its got such big writing talent behind it, the show could well be on track to become one of the very best ITV dramas out there.

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

When is Karen Pirie on TV? 

Karen Pirie begins airing on ITV on Sunday, September 25 at 8 pm. The remaining two episodes will then air on a weekly basis. 

Will Karen Pirie be shown in the US? 

We still haven't heard anything about a potential US release date, though as soon as we learn more we'll be sure to update this guide. 

DC Jason Murray (Chris Jenks) speaks to DS Karen Pirie (Lauren Lyle) at her desk

Karen speaks with DC Jason Murray. (Image credit: ITV)

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. 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 adult versions of the three boys.

Karen Pirie (Lauren Lyle) and Phil Parhatka (Zach Wyatt) relaxing in a living room

Karen and Phil find a moment to unwind during the case.  (Image credit: ITV)

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?

Is there a Karen Pirie trailer?

Yes! The full trailer introduces the case and sees Karen and her team starting to get to the bottom of things in what will be Karen Pirie's first murder case. By the sounds of things, the original investigation was clearly mishandled. Hopefully, they'll finally manage to uncover what really went on all those years ago. Check the trailer out below:

What happened in episode 1?

In the first episode of Karen Pirie, we were introduced to the titular detective as she takes on a cold case, that has been put back into the public sphere after appearing on a true crime podcast. It's the case of Rosie Duff, who was originally found murdered in 1996.

We were introduced to Rosie, who was a barmaid, as well as the three friends who frequented her pub: Ziggy, Alex and Weird, who also claimed to have found her body in the graveyard where she had been stabbed to death.

In the present day Ziggy seems to be riddled with guilt, but Alex and Weird tell him to keep it together and it's clear they're hiding something from that night, as they claimed Rosie didn't attend a party but she did and had a confrontation with Ziggy.

Ziggy becomes a key suspect in the case, but they're unable to question him further after he's hit and killed by a car, and we have no idea who the driver was. Is someone trying to silence Ziggy?

Right now everyone's seemingly under suspicion, including Rosie's bothers, so we'll have to tune in to see how the case develops further.

Martin Shore
Staff Writer at WhatToWatch.com

Martin is a Staff Writer with WhatToWatch.com, where he produces a variety of articles focused on the latest and greatest films and TV shows. 

Some of his favorite shows are What We Do In The Shadows, Bridgerton, Gangs of London, The Witcher, Doctor Who, and Ghosts. When he’s not watching TV or at the movies, Martin’s probably still in front of a screen playing the latest video games, reading, or watching the NFL.