And a griz­zled de­tec­tive walk into a writer on how she casts a wide net

Strikes from the cob­bles of Ed­in­burgh to the sands of Cephalo­nia

The Sunday Post (Dundee) - - NEWS -

Doc­tor Who was one of the first pro­grammes that 59-year-old Rona can re­mem­ber watch­ing while grow­ing up in Aberdeen­shire, and the ex­pe­ri­ence stayed with her.

“I was only about three years old and Wil­liam Hart­nell was the Doc­tor – it was the first se­ries,” she said.

“A scene ter­ri­fied me and I can re­mem­ber watch­ing it from be­hind the sofa. I shouldn’t have been view­ing it at all but my brother had it on.

“Of course, you don’t think you will ever have the chance to write for Doc­tor Who but when I was at the start of my TV ca­reer, I went along to a BBC work­shop, and An­drew Cart­mel (script ed­i­tor) was there.

“I ap­proached him and asked what I needed to do to write for the show. We got talk­ing and he in­vited me on board.

“The BBC at the time wasn’t in love with Doc­tor Who and it was only be­ing kept alive by the hard­core fans, so the mak­ers were be­ing left to their own de­vices and there wasn’t much scru­tiny.

“The BBC didn’t have any ob­jec­tions that a baby writer was work­ing on it.

“I would al­ways like to write for it again but it’s about hav­ing the right idea at the right time.”

It was a dif­fer­ent process en­tirely with Re­bus: Long Shad­ows, an orig­i­nal story not based on any of Rankin’s pre­vi­ous tales about his Ed­in­burgh de­tec­tive.

“It was a good col­lab­o­ra­tion – I said I can do char­ac­ter and di­a­logue while Ian is very good with the plot.

“I read and re-read the books so I had a sense of the char­ac­ter. It’s writ­ten pri­mar­ily for Re­bus fans but works as a stand­alone for broader au­di­ences.”

Rona went to Birm­ing­ham, where the show opened, to see it but ad­mits that watch­ing it in Ed­in­burgh, where ac­tor Charles Law­son took ill on open­ing night, was a dif­fer­ent propo­si­tion.

“I was fright­ened and ter­ri­fied in equal mea­sure,” she laughed. “That’s the au­di­ence that knows. We can’t get any­thing past them there.”

Sofie Grabol and Jamie Sives in Rona’s James III

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