THE final credits rolled a few minutes ago on the last ever episode of Life On Mars.
Now here’s the news that has had to be held back to avoid spoiling the end of the best British TV drama of the 21st century – so far.
It’s also time to disclose the secrets of the Life On Mars universe, and a conclusion which has earned itself a place in television history.
Fans already know that London filmed and set spin-off Ashes To Ashes will be set in 1981 and star Philip Glenister in the return of DCI Gene Hunt.
It was also known that John Simm – simply stunning in tonight’s finale – would not be reprising his role of Sam Tyler in the new series.
Now it can be revealed that Gene will be joined in the new BBC1 drama by DS Ray Carling (Dean Andrews) and DC Chris Skelton (Marshall Lancaster).
Filming begins this summer, with all three officers transferred from North West District CID to the Metropolitan Police.
And there’s so much more to tell.
Tomorrow’s MEN contains an exclusive interview with Life On Mars and Ashes To Ashes co-creator Matthew Graham.
Matthew wrote tonight’s last ever episode and he speaks for the first time about what it all means.
He also reveals the answers to the questions millions of viewers have been asking about both Sam’s fate and the “clues” which have been the subject of intense online debate.
And he talks about Ashes To Ashes, more general details of which will appear in tomorrow’s papers and online.
Sorry to sound a bit of a tease, but there will be a very special blog tomorrow morning, when, by agreement with Matthew and the LoM team, I’ll be free to publish everything online.
Update: The full interview with Matthew is now online at: Life On Mars: The Answers
For the moment, here’s just one short extract.
I asked Matthew what it was about the series that had really stirred people and made such a connection with a large audience.
His answer included the following:
“Ultimately, it’s not a cop show and it’s not a time travel show, it’s Alice In Wonderland, that’s what it is.
“That template of a journeyman, going through the looking glass into a magical world is an archetypal story, and people respond to archetypal stories.”
Fans will have spotted echoes and mirrors tonight from the very first episode of series one, including script lines and gestures involving Annie and Sam.
The spine-tingling episode one camera tracking shot around Sam during the song Life On Mars was also repeated up on the roof before he jumped, as the same track played.
That “false ending” completely fooled the audience at last week’s BAFTA premiere – they broke out into applause thinking it was the end.
And if you think that was clever, there was even a clue hidden in the final episode about the set up for Ashes To Ashes.
Key quotes from the LoM farewell included Sam’s conversation with spirit guide barman Nelson in The Railway Arms:
Sam: “Am I mad? Is this real? Come on, I just want to know the truth.”
Nelson: “We all want that, Sam. What’s real, what’s not?
“I see folk who walk about in a sunken dream because they feel nothing. Are they alive?”
Sam: “I wake up every morning and I tell myself I AM alive.”
Nelson: “When you can feel, then you’re alive. When you don’t feel, you’re not.”
And four personal favourites from the finale:
Sam: “I’m in a coma…Frank.”
Sam: “Good to see you Nelson.”
Sam (to Ray): “She sounds enigmatic.” Ray: “No, she’s from Barnsley.”
Phyllis: “I’m not just a sex goddess, you know boss.”
The choice of music tracks was spot on, including David Bowie’s Changes and Tom Waits’ I Hope That I Don’t Fall In Love With You.
And the song when Sam left hospital room 2612 in Hyde Ward to face life in modern day Manchester?
It was performed by Hawaiian singer Israel “Iz” Kamakawiwo’ole, who died in 1997 aged just 38.
Before you do anything else, I recommend you click here…and turn up your speakers.
Lots more tomorrow.
*What did you think of tonight’s ending? I’d love to know. Please scroll down to leave a comment.
Alice In Wonderland
Tom Waits: I Hope That I Don’t Fall In Love With You
David Bowie: Changes
Life On Mars Blogs
MEN Life On Mars TV Stories
And last, but not least, check out the regulars at The Railway Arms
Update: More Ashes To Ashes Blogs