'Murder Island' — release date, writer, premise, and everything you need to know

Ian Rankin
'Murder Island' is written by crime author Ian Rankin. (Image credit: Getty Images)

Murder Island is the latest thrilling show from Channel 4, where teams of two are invited to take on the role of detectives and solve a murder mystery. The series wants to find out if two average people can work with a team of experts to crack the case and bring the suspect to justice.

This exciting new series is in a similar vein to Channel 4 series Hunted, where teams attempt to evade capture from a group of current and former police and intelligence officials. Only this time, they're the ones trying to figure out who's behind the murder before any of the other teams do.

Not only that, but crime writer Ian Rankin [who wrote the Rebus novels] is attached to the project. He's the one writing the ambitious series, and teased: "When it comes to writing a whodunit I usually call the shots, taking the reader only to the places I want them to visit and showing them only the characters I want them to see. 

"Murder Island is different. The detectives can follow any strand, uncovering clues as they go and asking the suspects any questions they like. Will I manage to stay one step ahead of them? I think I’ve constructed my twistiest story yet – so let’s see!"

Here's what we know so far...

Murder Island release date

Murder Island will begin on Channel 4 on Tuesday, Oct 5 at 9.30pm. The second episode will air on Tuesday, Oct 12 at 9.15pm.

What is Murder Island about?

Murder Island will see true crime fans and armchair detectives seeing if they've truly got what it takes to solve a murder mystery, and they'll get a helping hand from police resources to gather crucial information about the case.

Shot on the remote Scottish island of Gigha, the thrilling six-part series is based around a murder plot which is written and developed by Ian Rankin himself. It's up to the amateur detectives to see if they can crack the case. There are eight suspects in total, each with their own unique profiles and potential motives.

Ian told us: “Nothing like this has been done before where it's a blend of a game show and this fictional whodunnit but you're also learning how the police go about this. It's like dropping real people into Broadchurch!”

Who is Murder Island's writer Ian Rankin?

Ian Rankin is an Edinburgh-based crime writer, known for novels such as Black & Blue, Knots and Crosses, and In a House of Lies. His work has also been adapted for the small screen, as ITV's Rebus was based on his most famous character DI John Rebus.

Speaking about his involvement in the series, Kelly Webb-Lamb, Deputy Director of Programmes and Head of Popular Factual at Channel 4, said: “We are incredibly excited to be working with the world-renowned Ian Rankin, STV Studios and Motion in making this ambitious, challenging and genre-busting series. In a television first, members of the public step into the crime scene and compete to solve the murder.”

Who are the civilian detectives?

Those working to solve the murder have been split into teams of two and can range from couples to next-door neighbours. Here's what we know about our civilians hoping to crack Ian Rankin's compelling case!

Sarah & Richmond

Sarah and Richmond Murder Island

(Image credit: C4)

Sarah and Richmond are engaged, have been together for four years and have one daughter together. Sarah studied criminology and sociology at university, a course she loved, but followed a different path once she graduated and now works in recruitment. Meanwhile, ex-footballer Richmond now volunteers as a football coach for local children.

Richmond had a heart attack while on the pitch playing football, and this incident has completely changed how the couple view things. As a result of this, they now grab every opportunity they can with both hands, and don't take anything for granted. They are also obsessed with true crime documentaries and their favourite date night involves them studying a murder mystery with a bottle of wine and a notepad.

They describe themselves as being "fiercely competitive" and Richmond backs his ability to read people's body language, making him confident that he can spot when someone's lying. Have they got what it takes to solve this case?

Andrew & Nick

Andrew and Nick Murder Island

(Image credit: C4)

Andrew and Nick are brothers-in-law, and are keen to crack Ian Rankin's case. They have actually known each other for years as their parents are friends and Nick is now married to Andrew's sister. Andrew works as a marketing manager for a craft beer company, and Nick now works as a digital director in tech having previously served as an officer and captain in the British Army.

In addition to this, Andrew comes from a long line of serving police officers with his father often sharing fascinating stories and insights from his time working in the force, in the hope that his children would follow in his footsteps (but none did!). For Andrew, taking part in Murder Island is his chance to show his father that he could've been a detective.

Both Andrew and Nick were brought up with a healthy sense of competition, with Nick relying on his analytical mind to help him with the case while Andrew says he'll bring instinct and what he's learned his father's experience to the table.

Chrissie & Caroline

Chrissie and Caroline Murder Island

(Image credit: C4)

Chrissie and Caroline have been best friends for over 30 years, and even moved next door to each other five years ago which now sees them chatting endlessly over the garden fence. They've been there for each other through thick and thin, offering support during divorce, bereavement, and the ups and downs of family life. They're now hoping their strong bond will assist them in Murder Island.

Combining their life experience and their love of crime shows such as Line of Duty, Chrissie and Caroline hope to be the ones to bring the killer to justice. Caroline describes herself as 'gung-ho' and will gather as much information as possible while Chrissie's approach sees her standing back and observing to make sure they haven't missed anything important.

Together they want to fly the flag for mature, strong women and give the younger generation a run for their money. What they don't have in technical expertise they hope to make up for with common sense and years of experience.

Dot & Rox

Dot and Rox Murder Island

(Image credit: C4)

Dot and Rox are best friends who have been inseparable for five years, first meeting at a pub they both worked in. It's got to the point where they're so close that Dot can be found having a cup of tea with Rox's parents, and Dot will turn up to Rox's flat unannounced. 

This duo values their ability to work as a team, and hope that their collective skills will help them get to the bottom of the mystery. Dot has recently completed a Private Investigation course too and hopes to swap her career pulling pints for one picking criminals. Meanwhile Rox currently works for a property lawyers and is about to start an Open University criminology course to see if she can also pursue a career in detective work.

They're both very interested in solving problems, even practicing their sleuthing skills on their sisters. A collective love for sniffing out injustice is what inspired them to apply for Murder Island, and they want to prove to friends, family and themselves that they have what it takes to solve a murder case.

Who are the experts?

Our amateur detectives aren't alone in solving this case, as they'll be assisted by a team of experts along the way. Let's meet them...

Murder Island experts

Murder Island experts Simon Harding, Parm Sandhu and Graham Mcmillian  (Image credit: C4)

Simon Harding

Simon is a towering 6ft 4 man and has dealt with over 80 murders in his time working as Detective Chief Inspector for The Met's Specialist Crime Unit. He won National SIO (Senior Investigating Officer) of the Year Award in 2020 and has been a homicide SIO for the past 4 years. He has worked for the past 27 years as a detective specialising in murder and terrorism and has dealt with a number of high profile cases. 

He retired from The Met this year, and is now the chairman of Sutton United Boys Football and manages the under 15s team which he says is much harder than his day job.

When asked what advice he'd give new detectives, he said: "Treat people how you want to be treated yourself. Don't talk down to someone just because you're wearing a uniform. New detectives have got to be ready for the long hours, the unsociable hours, the cancelling of home functions... if you haven't got a strong person behind you or family it can be quite devastating."  

Parm Sandhu

Parm was the highest-ranking Asian female police officer in The Met, and she retired in 2019. She is the only non-white female to have been promoted through the ranks from Constable to Chief Superintendent in The Met's 192-year history. She is a trained SIO on murder investigations and was born and raised in Birmingham.

The lowest point in Parm's life was when she had a forced marriage at the age of 15, which she left at the age of 21 along with her baby son. She arrived in London and had friends to help her get back on her feet, and by the time she was 25 she had turned her life around and joined The Met. Since then she has led national counter-terrorism teams, and fraud and cyber investigations.

When asked about the authenticity of the crime scenes on Murder Island, Parm described them as "fabulous", adding: "For the main crime scene they've built a proper home. It's not just one flimsy little room. You can go in the kitchen, the living area, the bathroom, everything. There's a bed, clothes, diaries, photographs, and the actual scene has the blood, the fingerprints, knocked over cups and things. It's very realistic."

Graham Mcmillian

Graham is a retired Detective Inspector, who worked in the Serious and Organised Crime Unit at Bedfordshire Police. He was in the army for 8 years before joining the police, where he spent nearly 25 years. Graham is a tier 5 level interviewer and a hostage and crisis police negotiator, with plenty of experience working on cases involving homicide, kidnap and blackmailing, as well as child sexual exploitation and tackling organised crime gangs.

His work has been featured on 24 Hours in Police Custody, and he has coached police in interviewing techniques and helps author Susie Steiner with her crime writing where he advises on plots. Outside of work he is passionate about football and both plays and supports, with his team being Everton.

He's already noticed a few mistakes from our amateur detectives, revealing: "We've seen [mistakes] already in the crime scene, some of them just walk through blood and introduce footprints into the scene. Another is believing some people at face value and not checking. "

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Lucy Buglass
Senior Staff Writer

Lucy joined the WhatToWatch.com team in 2021, where she writes series guides for must-watch programmes, reviews and the latest TV news. Originally from Northumberland, she graduated from Oxford Brookes University with a degree in Film Studies and moved to London to begin a career writing about entertainment.

She is a Rotten Tomatoes approved film critic and has a huge passion for cinema. She especially loves horror, thriller and anything crime-related. Her favourite TV programmes include Inside No 9, American Horror Story, Stranger Things and Black Mirror but she is also partial to a quiz show or a bit of Say Yes to the Dress