Sunday, 4 November 2012

Imagine on Ian Rankin, BBC1

Ian Rankin (right) with presenter Alan Yentob. Pic: BBC
Rebus fans must catch this Imagine documentary on Tuesday on BBC1, entitled Ian Rankin and the Case of the Disappearing Detective (10.35pm). A nice portrait of the hugely popular Edinburgh author, the show is also a compelling insight – for writers and and wannabe writers – into the writing process. It features a video diary by Rankin that begins in January this year as he embarks on writing Standing in Another Man's Grave, the comeback for his best-loved, alcohol-drenched, now-retired detective hero Rebus. It begins with Rankin dredging through notes scribbled on restaurant napkins and other odd bits of paper, and newspaper clippings, looking for an idea. What often grips him is 'anything to do with old cases,' Rankin says. 'I'm a bit lazy. I read at least one newspaper a day and pretend it's research.'
He also reveals he's never watched an episode of ITV's Rebus series, starring John Hannah and then Ken Stott, because he didn't want the actors to influence his writing of the character (as happened with Colin Dexter and Morse). Happily, Rankin comes across as grounded, curious about the world, friendly and witty.

• Meanwhile, over at ITV, two good-looking dramas have been signed up. Life of Crime is described as a 'gritty, urban' drama, starring Hayley Atwell as a risk-taking policewoman who becomes obsessed with catching the killer of a 15-year-old girl. Interestingly, the three-parter tracks her character over three decades as she rises through the ranks. Murder on the Home Front sails close to the ground covered by the recent The Bletchley Circle, but it is based on true events taken from the memoirs of Molly Lefebure, who was secretary during the Second World War to the Home Office Pathologist and pioneer of modern forensics, Keith Simpson. The Blitz offered good cover to murderers and criminals, and our hero, Dr Lennox Collins (Patrick Kennedy), has his work cut out getting his superiors to accept his new thinking on chemical tests, preserving crime scenes and the workings of the psyche. Molly Cooper will be played by Tamzin Merchant.