Karen Pirie: cast of Val McDermid ITV crime drama series with Emer Kenny and Lauren Lyle - how many episodes?

The series is based on The Distant Echo the first of McDermid’s Karen Pirie books

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Val McDermid recently made waves when she disclosed that the phrase the "Queen of Crime" had been trademarked by Agatha Christie’s estate, meaning her claim to the title was jeopardised by legal red tape.

McDermid has a long way to go before producing as many works as Christie of course, but in current terms, she is at the pinnacle of her profession.

Her novels and stories have inspired TV shows in the past, like Wire in the Blood, and the latest - Karen Pirie - looks to be another great hit.

Here is everything you need to know about it.

What is Karen Pirie about?

Karen Pirie is a young female investigator battling for a place in a male-dominated world, who enjoys a Bacardi Breezer on the weekend and hails from the grittier side of Fife.

Unlike other modern-day TV crime fighters, she has no broken relationships to overcome nor a traumatic past, no psychic talents or superpowers; she is simply performing her job as a crime fighter - and performing it well.

Due to her determination, talent, and toil, Pirie happens to be very good at what she does, and when a cold case murder resurfaces, she lands herself a prominent role in the investigation.

When teenager Rosie Duff was killed in St Andrews in 1996, three students were discovered at the scene, but no charges were made since there was no forensic evidence.

Now that a true crime podcaster is looking for answers about the murder and why it was never solved, the case has been reopened, with Pirie at the lead.

Lauren Lyle stars as Karen Pirie in the ITV crime drama of the same name (Photo: ITV)Lauren Lyle stars as Karen Pirie in the ITV crime drama of the same name (Photo: ITV)
Lauren Lyle stars as Karen Pirie in the ITV crime drama of the same name (Photo: ITV)

Who stars in it?

The series sees Outlander star Lauren Lyle in the title role.

“It was really exciting to play, because it was like me thinking ‘how have I managed to get into this responsibility, of this character and this show, and can I do it?” Lyle toldThe Scotsman from her home in London.

“Karen is an underestimated, understated hero who is accidentally iconic in that she doesn’t mean to be cool or as good as she is. She’s willing to do whatever she needs to and has less of a boundary around rules and why she should follow them. Her drive is to do what’s right.”

Lyle credits the Karen Pirie team, creators of Bodyguard and Line of Duty, plus a supportive crew and cast for putting their trust in the 29-year-old to bring McDermid’s character to life.

To get the Fife accent right, Lyle, who was born and raised in Glasgow, spent time in and around Fife, researching the role.

The show, based on McDermid’s first Karen Pirie novel, also stars Emer Kenny (EastEnders’ Zsa Zsa Carter), who has adapted the book for the screen.

Kenny plays DS Pirie’s friend, River Wilde, while Chris Jenks (Sex Education) plays Jason “The Mint” Murray, and Zach Wyatt (Netflix’s upcoming The Witcher: Blood Origin miniseries) is DS Phil Parhatka.

McDermid said of the adaptation of her work: “It’s always exciting to see a project like Karen Pirie leave the page and head for the screen.

“We’ve been fortunate to secure a very talented and enthusiastic cast to bring The Distant Echo to life, and shooting in Scotland is definitely added eye-candy! Audiences are in for a treat.”

When can I watch it?

Karen Pirie began airing on Sunday 25 September on ITV.

The first episode is available to watch on-demand through ITV Hub, while subsequent episodes of the three-part series will also air on Sundays at 8pm.

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