Rebus: release date, cast, plot, trailer and everything we know

Richard Rankin as John Rebus for Rebus on BBC One
Richard Rankin as John Rebus. (Image credit: BBC)

The long-awaited Rebus reboot sees Richard Rankin playing the Scottish detective during his early years. Based on Ian Rankin's novels and written by Gregory Burke, the new crime drama follows DS John Rebus in his late thirties as he tackles a recent divorce and a demotion to Detective Sergeant. 

"I’m thrilled that Rebus is coming to the BBC," said Ian Rankin. "A great cast and a compelling story — I really can’t wait for viewers to see it. Rebus has been a big part of my life for a long time now. To work with Gregory Burke to create a new story that sees him navigate life as a younger man in a contemporary (and ever-changing) Scotland has been a truly fascinating process."

Meanwhile, the show's lead says he is thrilled to be playing a character so steeped in TV history... “It’s been an honour taking on the role of Ian Rankin’s renowned John Rebus," explains Richard Rankin. "A character enjoyed by so many in such a fresh and original adaptation.”

As to how he approached the character, Richard says: "I started with the language, the accent and the dialect were important to get right. So vocal coaching was a regular thing. I also took to the source to gain an understanding of what made Rebus 'Rebus'. There were significant things that stood out for me. His military career for one. I felt this should be incorporated more into his base psychology. Even though it might not be written in our script, he was successful in his SAS selection. He’s a military man. I started with the question, 'how does this inform the character?'"

Here's everything we know... 

Rebus release date 

Rebus was released on BBC One on Saturday, May 18 at 9.25 pm. However, BBC Scotland viewers got it one day earlier on Friday, May 17 at 10 pm. Rebus then continues on BBC One on Saturday evenings, while it's being shown on Fridays in Scotland. All six episodes are available now on BBC iPlayer.

Richard Rankin as John Rebus for Rebus on BBC One

He's back!  (Image credit: BBC)

Is there a trailer for Rebus?

Yes, the trailer sees Rebus battling crime and trying to do his job in the police, but it seems sometimes things aren't as easy as they should be...

Rebus plot

An official BBC synopsis reads...

"Set in Edinburgh, the six-part series reimagines John Rebus as a younger Detective Sergeant drawn into a violent criminal conflict that turns personal when his brother Michael, a former soldier, crosses the line into criminality. 

"Rebus finds himself torn between protecting his brother and enforcing the law to bring Michael to justice. This epic series explores family, morality and class through an emotionally-charged story, set against the Scottish landmarks that Rankin’s readers know so well."

Richard Rankin as John Rebus for Rebus on BBC One

Michael and John Rebus.  (Image credit: BBC)

A previous synopsis from the show's original broadcaster, Viaplay, described DS Rebus as being at a 'psychological crossroads' following an altercation with an infamous Edinburgh gangster. It also hinted the 40-year-old detective's personal life is in a bit of a mess... 

"At odds with a job increasingly driven by corporate technocrats, involved in a toxic affair he knows he needs to end, and all but supplanted in his daughter’s life by his ex-wife’s wealthy new husband, Rebus begins to wonder if he still has a role to play – either as a family man or a police officer.

"In a world of divisive politics and national discord, does the law still have meaning, or is everyone reverting to an older set of rules? And if so, why shouldn’t Rebus do so too?”

Ian Rankin Rebus

The books are based on the works of Ian Rankin  (Image credit: Getty)

What happens in episode 1?

Crime drama based on the novels by Ian Rankin, reimagining the character John Rebus as a younger detective sergeant drawn into a violent criminal conflict that turns personal when his brother, a former soldier, crosses the line. Rebus finds himself torn between protecting his brother and enforcing the law to bring Michael to justice.

What happens in episode 2?

Under pressure to close their investigation quickly, John and Siobhan track down a witness to the assault on Jimmy McJagger, while Michael attempts to share his newfound wealth, even as the consequences of his actions lead to disaster. Rhona weighs a life-changing offer for her daughter Sammy, and John is perturbed as hisenquiries leads him uncomfortably close to home.

Rebus cast

Richard Rankin – no relation to the source material’s author – plays the lead in the reboot. He follows in the footsteps of fellow Scottish actors John Hannah and Ken Stott, who led the ITV version 20 years ago.

Richard says: "Ian Rankin’s books have got such an enormous fan base. Whenever the series comes up people are always very excited about the prospect of seeing one of their most beloved detectives come back to the screen. Ian Rankin has sold over thirty million copies of Rebus and it’s been translated into at least thirty six languages so it’s an absolute privilege to have been given the honour of bringing Rebus to life again."

Richard Rankin as John Rebus for Rebus on BBC One

Lucie Shorthouse as Siobhan Clarke, Rebus’s investigation partner. (Image credit: BBC)

Alongside Richard Rankin as DS John Rebus, the series also stars... 

  • Lucie Shorthouse (Line of Duty, Ten Percent)
  • Brian Ferguson (The Ipcress File, Spanish Princess)
  • Amy Manson (The Nevers, The Diplomat)
  • Neshla Caplan (The Rig, Scot Squad)
  • Noof Ousellam (Vigil, Guilt)
  • Stuart Bowman (The Serpent, Bodyguard)
  • Caroline Lee Johnson (Trying, Ridley)
  • Sean Buchanan (Censor, Mary Queen of Scots)
  • Thoren Ferguson (The Midwich Cuckoos
  • Michelle Duncan (Baptise, Elizabeth is Missing).

Ken Stott Rebus

Ken Stott played DI John Rebus for three series in ITV's original crime drama. (Image credit: ITV)
Sean Marland

Sean is a Senior Feature writer for TV Times, What's On TV and TV & Satellite Week, who also writes for He's been covering the world of TV for over 15 years and in that time he's been lucky enough to interview stars like Ian McKellen, Tom Hardy and Kate Winslet. His favourite shows are I'm Alan Partridge, The Wire, People Just Do Nothing and Succession and in his spare time he enjoys drinking tea, doing crosswords and watching football.