In the 30 years since Trainspotting was first published, Irvine Welsh’s stories have conquered the worlds of books, film and theatre.
His first TV show, 2021's Britbox exclusive Crime, was no different and went on to become a hit around the world, with Dougray Scott picking up an International Emmy for his role as troubled cop Ray Lennox.
But as Welsh launched the second season of his series, he admitted he didn’t worry about the pressure of living up to the first run — because he’s always under pressure.
“The pressure is always there because all you want to do, on any project, book film script or TV script, is do the very best you possibly can and that never changes," Welsh tells Yahoo UK.
“That commercial thing doesn’t really impact on me psychologically — I just want to focus on what I’m doing. And do the best I can.”
The Scottish writer believes series two of his global hit, starring Scott, John Simm and Joanna Vanderham, is even better than 2021’s first outing which found an audience at home and around the world, particularly in the USA, after being exported via Britbox.
Telling the story of a troubled cops’ battle with his own demons and a succession of horrific murders and attacks, the hard-hitting series laced with dark comedy has moved from Britbox to ITVX for its second series.
In season one, Scott’s DI Lennox and his sidekick DS Amanda Drummond (Joanna Vanderham) hunted child killer the Confectioner, played by a terrifying John Simm, as they raced against time to find a missing girl.
The series also looked at Lennox’s troubled childhood and the abuse he'd suffered as a child – which fed into his burning desires to track down the worst offenders in Edinburgh, while also trying to manage his own addictions to drugs and alcohol.
Welsh, speaking at the launch of the new series at the Edinburgh TV Festival, has been delighted to return to the world of flawed cops and complicated villains once again.
Welsh once again created and wrote the series alongside regular screenwriting partner Dean Cavanagh and has high hopes for the return of Edinburgh’s hardest working detective.
He said: “It’s about building on the characters and what they did in season one, and seeing where they would go. But also giving them a little bit of a twist and more interesting stuff to deal with, and trying to surprise ourselves really when Dean and I are writing.”
The second season, based on Welsh's novel The Long Knives, sees Scott’s reformed addict and trauma survivor DI Ray Lennox investigate horrific crimes connected to the sex worker community in Edinburgh. Alongside the new heroes and villains Lennox meets, some familiar faces are returning.
“This season is much more complex, and you can see that from the stories. Ritchie Gulliver, (Derek Riddell) one of the bad guys from season one, is back and is much more pivotal now. We wanted to use what we had.
"We’ve even got the Confectioner (John Simm) back, in an almost Hannibal Lecter type role messing with Lennox’s head.
“We have these characters that are so established, why not use them again? People identify with them, as long as it’s dramatic and introduced in the story telling, why not?”
He has also worked to flesh out the ensemble, particularly in Lennox’s police colleagues.
“We have fabulous actors like Joanna Vanderham (DI Drummond), she’s brilliant, while Sarah McCardie (DS Gillian Glover) is absolutely fantastic – you can’t just have these people just handing Lennox a photocopied sheet, you have to get into those characters.
“We always wanted to think you’d want every character, even someone who’s only in it fleetingly, to have a spin off series with that character.”
Welsh admitted he was delighted with the success of season one, as the combination of hard-hitting drama and trademark black humour found great international success as well as domestic plaudits.
The success of the show could also be the springboard for further Welsh adaptations, with small screen versions of both Trainspotting itself and The Blade Artist, based on the later life of Robert Carlyle’s Trainspotting psychopath Begbie, reported to be in development.
Previous TV projects from Welsh and Dean Cavanagh have included films Wedding Belles and Good Arrows, but Crime is their first series.
Welsh commented: “With the first season of anything, you’re really trying to establish something and then let it fly in the second season, and that’s where we’re at now.
“With the launch, we’ve given it a really strong platform and it’s been around the world with Britbox and built up a cooler younger audience with ITVX and now had mainstream audience with ITV and this a really good launchpad."
Crime Series 2, available on ITVX from Thursday 21 September
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