Edinburgh author Jenni Fagan lifts the lid on turning Irvine Welsh’s novel Begbie into a TV drama

Edinburgh author Jenni Fagan will adapt Irvine Welsh’s novel The Blade Artist for a new TV series. Photo: Mihaela Bodlovic

Edinburgh author Jenni Fagan will adapt Irvine Welsh’s novel – which sees the seemingly reformed character return to the city from Los Angeles, where he forged a successful career as an artist and a new identity, as a Jim Francis.

Jenni Fagan, who is working with actor Dougray Scott’s new Scottish production company on the six-part drama, said it will be “supported by the dual energy of creation and destruction”.

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Fagan, who grew up in the care system in Scotland, said Begbie would have served “an extraordinary amount of time in prison” in the series, which sees him return to Edinburgh for the funeral of his murdered son.

Robert Carlyle will return to play Begbie in the new The Blade Artist TV series.

Fagan, a former punk and grunge singer who has established herself as one of Scotland’s leading literary talents over the past decade, will also work with Scott’s company Buccaneer to adapt her acclaimed novels The Panopticon and Luckenbooth to the ‘screen.

The Blade Artist was released in 2016, the year before Carlyle reprized his role in the long-awaited sequel to Danny Boyle’s Trainspotting.

Welsh is working on a second series of Crime, the drama he directed last year with Buccaneer, the production company which announced a new Scottish branch led by founders Tony Wood and Richard Tulk-Hart and Dougray Scott, who will return for another equally troubled outing in Edinburgh Detective Ray Lennox.

Fagan said, “Writing the adaptation of Irvine Welsh’s ‘The Blade Artist’ is an honor and a joy, the TV series will continue to push boundaries and create the kind of work that changes everything.

“Begbie is a man who has served an extraordinary amount of time in prison by the time we meet him again, and he is quite unexpectedly working as a successful commercial artist in Los Angeles.

“The adaptation of ‘The Blade Artist’ is a vital tribute to the limitations and restrictions of circumstance, heritage and institutionalization.

“It is underpinned by the dual energy of creation and destruction, showing how both can manifest with equal power. I look forward to working with the exceptionally talented team behind it all, including Robert Carlyle.”

Dougray Scott said, “I haven’t been more captivated or blown away by a writer since I read ‘Trainspotting.’

“Jenni Fagan has a unique, searing voice that resonates endlessly.

“Its characters give voice to the dispossessed and the unknown. “Luckenbooth is a sort of adult fairy tale that captivated me from the start. Scotland has another extraordinary literary talent.

An official announcement for The Blade Artist TV series last year by Buccaneer said: “Now known as Jim Francis, Begbie is a reformed character who believes he has found the perfect life.

“But a return to Scotland for the funeral of a murdered son he barely knows confronts him with a past he barely remembers and he soon discovers you can get the boy out of Edinburgh, but you can’t. get Edinburgh out of the boy.”

Welsh said at the time, “Begbie is Begbie and Robert is the longtime friend and collaborator who inspired the character with his incendiary portrayal.

“To say I’m thrilled that we’re coming together creatively on this project is obviously an understatement.”

Irene B. Bowles