LUCIE Shorthouse knew that John Rebus was a big deal but it wasn’t until she started filming the new TV adaptation that she realised quite how big.

“The audition came to me and I’d heard of the books but hadn’t read them – I’d been in Waterstones and they’re always in the prime crime spot,” she told The National.

The actor found out pretty quickly though that she was about to become part of a world beloved to so many Scots with her role in the latest adaptation of Ian Rankin’s iconic novels.

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Shorthouse will star as DC Siobhan Clarke and spoke to The National about why the new series might not be what you expect, the show’s leading man Richard Rankin and dealing with spoilers.

‘A reimagining’

The first Rebus novel, Knots and Crosses, was published back in 1987 and has been a phenomenon ever since, with the 24th entry in the series – A Heart Full of Headstones – released in 2022.

Considered a staple of the “tartan noir” genre, thirteen of the novels were previously dramatised for ITV with John Hannah and Ken Stott taking on the iconic role.

However, Shorthouse promises that the new series promises to offer something a little different while still staying true to the source material.

“I think it’s a testament to how timeless these stories are and their richness that we’ve been able to make this,” she said.

“We had a fantastic script and I think Ian’s pleased with it from what I’ve heard. It’s only since we wrapped that I’ve got more into the books which I think is a good thing because it can be overwhelming.

“You can end up going against the instincts which got you the job in the first place.”

A complicated character

The new series focuses on a young version of Rebus who finds himself drawn into a violent conflict that becomes personal when his brother ends up involved.

In the midst of all this is Shorthouse as DC Siobhan Clarke, who ends up working with Rebus.

“She’s the young upstart in the force,” the actor explains.

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“She’s got there through an accelerated leadership pathway, a sort of shortcut. Something that Rebus and arguably other more old-school people wouldn’t respect as much.

“They’ll think all this and so she’s combatting that but she’s paired with Rebus which is intimidating but she tries to match his energy.

“They’re paired for a reason. She’s by the book and he’s more outlandish. They have some teething problems let’s say.”

Shorthouse admits she enjoys talking about her character as it saves her delving too far into any key plotlines which are understandably kept under wraps.

“I do ramble on,” she jokes.

“It is tough but my arc is slightly different to everyone else. I’m only on about my character so I bypass other plot points which is quite clever for me.”

Much of the show was filmed in Edinburgh although some interior shots were completed in Glasgow with Shorthouse (below) saying she was pleased to get a chance to explore.  

The National: Image Credit: Jack Alexander

“I love Scotland anyway because of the Fringe. There’s arguably nowhere else in the world supporting artists like that,” she says.

“Filming there when it wasn’t on was weird, I was expecting people handing out flyers and I got to explore Glasgow as well.

“I loved it to the point where I’m so eager to continue on.”

The new Rebus

It’s safe to say the new Rebus, Richard Rankin, isn’t shy from taking on roles in big series given his role in Outlander as Roger Wakefield.

Unlike in that show though, he’s now the leading man and has the daunting task of portraying one of Scotland’s most iconic literary characters.

Asked about working with the Scottish actor, Shorthouse said: “I think he’s so fantastic. He’s so talented, so considered.

“He’s at the top of his game leading and that’s such a responsibility. He did it with such grace and warmth.

“The culture when filming, I know everyone says ‘oh it’s like a family’ but it genuinely was and that comes from your number one.

“It has a domino effect if he isn’t like that. You can’t not fall in love with him.”

She does add however though that despite the serious nature of Rebus, the pair had a sibling-like relationship.

“He’s a bit annoying but I’m annoying to him, it’s a bit like the characters,” she says, laughing.

“We’d be doing serious scenes and then end up singing the Backstreet Boys. I so hope I get to work with him again.

“I don’t want to be blacklisted but I haven’t actually seen Outlander so I didn’t know what to expect but he kept getting mobbed. I remember thinking I need to start being nice to you, you’re a big deal.”  

All six episodes of Rebus will arrive on BBC iPlayer on Friday May 17 while episode one will also air that same evening on BBC Scotland at 10pm and on BBC One on May 18 at 9.25pm.