How to watch 'Rebus' online and from anywhere – all episodes available now

Detective Sergeant John Rebus (played by Richard Rankin) wearing a black jacket in Edinburgh old town
(Image credit: BBC)

A new incarnation of novelist Ian Rankin's much loved Edinburgh policeman, John Rebus, has been brought to life by fellow Scotsman Greg Burke. He is still dark and dangerous but now younger. Here's how to watch "Rebus" from anywhere with a VPN and potentially for FREE.

'Rebus' dates, channel, start time

"Rebus" season 1 premieres at 6 a.m. BST on Friday, May 17 (1 a.m. ET / 10 p.m. PT, Thursday, May 16).
• WATCH FREE BBC iPlayer (U.K)
Unblock any stream with NordVPN

For Ian Rankin, the man who created John Rebus, there was only one man he trusted to reimagine his most famous character  for TV — and that was Greg Burke, a writer he has known for over 20 years and who grew up just around the corner from him.

The new Rebus — a detective sergeant played by Richard Rankin (no relation) of "Outlander" fame — remains edgy and just the right side of dangerous, but is also more dynamic and 'hands on' than most contemporary fictional policeman. Personally, he is also at a psychological crossroads.

He is dealing with the consequences of a violent encounter with gangster Get Cafferty while in the midst of a toxic affair, and trying to maintain a relationship with his daughter (his ex-wife has remarried). Burke has also brought John's brother Michael, an ex-soldier who is broke and desperate, back into his life. 

What is a policeman to do when laws and rules conflict? That is the problem facing DS Rebus this time round. Read on for our guide to everything you need to know on where to watch "Rebus" (2024) online and potentially for free.

Watch 'Rebus' free online


"Rebus" (2024) is streaming for free on BBC iPlayer. All six episodes are available to watch now, starting with episode 1.

Brit abroad? You don't have to miss it if you a Brit exiled abroad because you can unblock BBC iPlayer with a VPN. We'll show you how to do that below...

Watch 'Rebus' from abroad

Thanks to the wonders of a VPN (Virtual Private Network), "Rebus" should be available to Brits no matter where they are. The software allows your devices to appear to be back in your home country regardless of where in the world you find yourself. Our favorite is NordVPN.


There's a good reason you've heard of NordVPN. We specialize in testing and reviewing VPN services and NordVPN is the one we rate best. It's outstanding at unblocking streaming services, it's fast and it has top-level security features too. With over 5,000 servers, across 60 countries, and at a great price too, it's easy to recommend.

Get 60% off with this NordVPN deal

Using a VPN is incredibly simple.

1. Install the VPN of your choice. As we've said, NordVPN is our favorite.

2. Choose the location you wish to connect to in the VPN app. For instance, if you're in the U.S. and want to view your usual U.K. service, you'd select U.K. from the list.

3. Sit back and enjoy the show. Head to BBC iPlayer and watch "Rebus."

Watch 'Rebus' by country

How to watch 'Rebus' in the U.K.

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(Image credit: Shutterstock)

If you live in the U.K., you will be able to stream every episode of "Rebus" for free on BBC iPlayer from 6 a.m. BST on Friday, May 17. 

Episode 1 airs on Saturday, May 18 on BBC One at 9.25 p.m. BST (4.25 p.m. ET / 1.25 p.m. PT), though viewers in Scotland can catch the debut episode a day earlier on BBC Scotland on Friday, May 17 at 10 p.m.,

Brits abroad for work or on vacation (and in possession of a valid TV license, obvs) can still catch the show by using one of the best VPN services, such as NordVPN.

Can I watch 'Rebus' online in the U.S.?

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(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Unfortunately "Rebus" is not yet available in the U.S. but Brits in the States for work or on vacation can watch the new show online with a VPN such as NordVPN. Choose U.K. and go to BBC iPlayer.

Can I watch 'Rebus' in Australia?

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(Image credit: Shutterstock)

According to Deadline, Australian network SBS has acquired the rights to broadcast "Rebus" in Australia, although an airdate is yet to be announced. If you are a Brit down under for work or on vacation, however, don't despair because you can watch your usual stream via a VPN instead. 

As we've said, our favorite VPN service right now is NordVPN.

'Rebus' cast and Ian Rankin Q&A

'Rebus' cast

Richard Rankin ("Outlander") as Detective Sergeant John Rebus

Brian Ferguson ("The Ipcress File", "Spanish Princess") as Michael Rebus

Lucie Shorthouse ("Line of Duty", "Ten Percent") as Detective Constable Siobhan Clarke


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 ("Baptiste", "Elizabeth is Missing")

Interview with Rebus creator Ian Rankin

Ian Rankin Q&A

What has the author and exec producer said about the new-look 'Rebus'?

How does the new series differ from your novels?

In the new incarnation, there's a fascinating focus on Rebus and his brother. There have been characters and situations in the books where I felt that in retrospect I didn't do enough with them. Rebus’ brother was a really interesting character in the books, and eventually I just let him go, and he never returned. During our various conversations early on, [writer] Greg Burke zoned in on that almost blood brothers thing or that Jekyll & Hyde thing where you can have two brothers who are close to each other, who love each other, but potentially can destroy each other. I just thought that was a really interesting route that Greg chose for the series to follow. He takes us into the Jekyll & Hyde nature of Edinburgh.

Why is Gregory the perfect person to adapt your novels for the screen?

I've known Greg for years. I'm a huge fan of his work on stage and on screen. When he was persuaded to take this on — and he took a bit of persuading because he had a lot on his plate at the time — I was delighted. He comes from the same place as me. We grew up four miles apart, which is where Rebus comes from. We never knew each other back then, but his very first play was called "Gagarin Way". Gagarin Way is a real street in a little village called Lumphinnans, which I used to go through every day on my way to school. Just as soon as I saw the phrase "Gagarin Way", I thought, “Oh my god, this guy obviously comes from the same part of the world as me,” so I sought him out.

Did you discover that you had a lot in common?

Absolutely. We've got the same working-class roots, we've got the same sense of Fife being a very close-knit place, a very tribal place, a place that had a lot of pride, a lot of industry, a lot of coal mining — most of my family came from coal fields. But that industry went and a lot of the pride then dissipated and people felt neglected. So Rebus and his brother have all of that in their DNA, and I think a lot of that comes out in the series. His brother still lives in Fife, he's not done as well for himself as Rebus has. He lives in a fairly scuzzy part of Fife, but he is trying to make a better life for himself, scratching a living as best he can. And there's Rebus who, as a detective, is on a pretty good salary. We’ve put him in a street where he can actually walk out of his front door and see Edinburgh Castle, which is a bit of a cheat. That's not where he stays in the books! But in the TV version, if he looks to his left, he can see the castle. So we get lots of lovely establishing shots.

Are you pleased with Gregory’s adaptation?

Very. I think long term fans will get a shock because they're seeing young Rebus. Richard Rankin is not in his 70s or his 60s or his 50s, so they're getting the quite macho Rebus from the early books, but set in contemporary times. We get the strength of Rebus as a quite a gung-ho cop, but set against contemporary issues, contemporary politics and contemporary problems that people have. At its best, a crime novel is a political novel insofar as it deals with the reasons why crime happens. A lot of the time it’s to do with people being stuck in a rut. They see no way out that is legal, and their life crumbles around them. So they turn to drugs and drink and that leads them to some very dark places. I think Gregory was interested in tackling some of those issues, and it works really well.

What further themes does Gregory address in Rebus?

There is great richness and complexity in his writing. He is also fascinated by the male ego. He's really interested in what normative masculinity does to men, and how it can twist them, and how it can cause them to do terrible things. That's been a theme that I think runs through quite a lot of his work: this notion of very strong, macho men, and that macho-ness isn't always good for them — in fact, it's never good for them. You've got that in the relationship between Rebus and his brother. When we first meet them in episode 1, they are having a punch-up in the living room. That says quite a lot about not only your relationship but also your background.

What do you think Richard Rankin adds to the title role?

Oh, he's terrific. I mean, you can't take your eyes off him. He's incredibly charismatic on screen. You're absolutely gripped by him. He's a lovely guy when you meet him but he completely inhabits the character. Rebus is attractive to women and attractive to men — you get all of that with Richard. Men are going to love watching him and women are going to love watching him. He just throws himself into it.

Why do you think the Rebus novels have struck such a chord all over the world?

The author is possibly the last person to know the answer to that question! I think Rebus is an engaging and complex character. He's charismatic, unlike his creator! But also we watch him age more or less in real time. So if you're a fan of the series, the Rebus you are reading about now is not the Rebus you were reading about 10 or 20 years ago. In the books he’s gone from being 40 years old, to being retired in poor health and getting on for 70. So it’s a very different world that he inhabits now. He’s no longer a serving police officer. He’s just a guy who wants to feel useful and wants to feel that he still has some skills as a detective, if only the world would allow him to use those skills. The world has changed around him and he has become a museum piece.

How does Rebus develop over this series?

While being a big macho cop, he realises that doesn’t mean he can operate in the world as well as he could if he were less like that. So he’s surrounded by cops who are younger, more touchy feely, liberal and college educated. His way of doing things is different and doesn’t always work. It isn’t always the best way to go about it. So there’s a lot of lessons being learned by him during the course of the six episodes.

How would you sum up this drama?

It has really good storytelling and great acting. It’s also a very physical piece of work. A lot of crime stories on television these days are interested in forensics, or they’re interested in the crime scene or whatever. This is really about what the job of being a cop does to you. Does it coarsen you? Does it mean you live an uglier life because of the job you do? Being a cop makes you very wary of the people around you and of relationships. You’re always mistrusting people or thinking they’re out to do something to you or get the better of you or get something over on you. So it harks back in some ways to the kind of classic macho crime stories that a lot of us grew up with. But at the same time, it’s got all the modernity you could ask for.

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Bill Borrows

Bill Borrows is an award-winning journalist, feature writer and columnist (Times Magazine/ Guardian/ Telegraph/ Daily Mirror/ Mail On Sunday/ Radio Times), author (The Hurricane: The Turbulent Life and Times of Alex Higgins) and book editor. A frequent contributor on talkSPORT and talkRADIO, his areas of specialisation include sport, history, politics, TV and film. He doesn’t get much free time but does admit to an addiction to true crime podcasts, following Man City home and away, and a weakness for milk chocolate cookies