Ashes To Ashes: I’m Happy, Hope You’re Happy Too

THE first screening of Ashes To Ashes tonight and a nervous moment for Life On Mars fans.
Could the spin-off series possibly live up to what has gone before?
Twenty minutes in and I still wasn’t sure.
But as DI Alex Drake (Keeley Hawes) walked into Luigi’s Wine Bar – the new Railway Arms – it suddenly all fell into place.
And by the end of the first episode there was a broad smile on my face, a warm glow in my heart and a sudden urge to order a case of Asti Spumante.
Ashes To Ashes is terrific.
Arriving on BBC1 next month, the eight-part series sees DCI Gene Hunt (Philip Glenister) transferred from Manchester to London.
The time shift from 1973 to 1981 opens up a whole new world, with old school cop Gene frustrated in an era of policing where he’s not seen as part of the future.
As fans will know, Alex was Sam Tyler’s (John Simm) psychologist in 2007 and finds herself back in 1981 after being shot in the head.
Having previously documented Sam’s journey to 1973, she thinks she knows exactly who Gene, Ray and Chris are – figments of her imagination.

But not everything is as she expects in a series with several twists and surprises.
Keeley dazzles as Alex, demonstrating just why she was given one of the most prized TV roles of the last year.
Phil is also on top form in the return of The Guv.

The music soundtrack – including Vienna by Ultravox and No More Heroes by The Stranglers – will have many searching through their record collection.
And any TV drama that drops in a mention of Coronation Street’s Betty Turpin is fine by me.
The launch was in a cinema close to Piccadilly Circus in London – the pic (right) is of the illuminations there late tonight.
Or last night if you want to be pedantic, this now being typed in the early hours of the morning.
It was also the first time the cast had seen the “fine cut” finished version, complete with music and completed film grading.
Relaxing with a glass of wine, Phil said: “It’s just got an incredibly different feel about it. It’s got its own identity.
“What I learned tonight is that it’s quite tongue in cheek, in many respects, which I really think is fabulous.”
Not all Life On Mars devotees will love Ashes To Ashes.
Some die-hard Sam fans may find his absence just too much to bear.
But from where I was sitting, Kudos and the BBC appear to have yet another hit on their hands with a series which may have an even wider appeal.
I also chatted again to Marshall Lancaster (DC Chris Skelton) and Montserrat Lombard (WPC Shaz Granger).

Co-creator and writer Ashley Pharoah was there, along with Keeley’s husband Matthew Macfadyen, who guest stars in episode seven.
Missing was Dean Andrews (DS Ray Carling). He was on a holiday booked before the date of tonight’s screening was fixed.
Also absent was co-creator and writer Matthew Graham, busy on a very exciting new TV project.
Aside from the cast, I was very pleased to meet both Yayster and Wibble from The Railway Arms – an essential destination for fans of both Life On Mars and Ashes To Ashes.
The embargo on interviews means there’s still a little while to wait before I can run the first major feature on Ashes To Ashes.
But for those who want to know, there are a few spoilers below, including news of Sam.
The last episode of Life On Mars featured Sam committing suicide in 2007 by jumping from the roof of his Manchester police HQ.
His leap also took him back to join Gene, Annie, Chris and Ray in 1973.
In the first episode of Ashes To Ashes, Ray explains to Alex how Sam had spent a further seven years with the team.
He tells her that Sam then died during a jewellery robbery the year before – 1980.
Sam’s car ended up in the river, but his body was never found.
Which, of course, gives some hope to those fans who believe Sam may return one day.
Ray also gives Alex some advice, which could be one of the most telling quotes of the opening episode.
He says she should stick with Gene Hunt. “Being with the guv is the right place to be.”
Gene is now divorced – the unseen Mrs Hunt finally had enough and left him.
And Alex proves more than a match for the former Sheriff of Manchester.
We’re off on a brand new journey, so fire up the Quattro and enjoy the ride.
Ashes To Ashes Blogs
Life On Mars Blogs
The Railway Arms
Asti Spumante


Filed under Ashes To Ashes

15 responses to “Ashes To Ashes: I’m Happy, Hope You’re Happy Too

  1. Emmie

    Thanks for this Ian! As if we all couldn’t wait for it to start already! Very much looking forward to the rest of your set reports.

  2. Blogggger

    Any snaps of the evening’s events?

  3. DorsetGirl

    Thanks for this update, Ian. I have my doubts about the “tongue in cheek” comment, but I’m still massively – and nervously – looking forward to this. The fact that you like it, as a Life on Mars fan yourself, definitely does give me hope, though.

  4. Ian Wylie

    Many thanks for the comments. It IS a different show to Life On Mars with a different feel. It’s natural that some fans may not take to it, but I really hope the vast majority will embrace Gene and co 1981-style. I just viewed it as an armchair fan and I wasn’t disappointed. But, of course, that’s just one person’s view. And Blogggger – it’s not really the done thing to take pics at a press launch when the main focus is on interviews. But there were photographers outside before the screening as Phil and the rest of the cast arrived, so I expect some images may turn up today / tomorrow.

  5. Rachel

    Getting more excited by the day, thanks for that Ian! Looking forward to your blog as the weeks go on.

  6. Chris

    Nervous but excited about ashes to ashes. I want it to be a differnent show to life on mars but at the same time carry on the story that life on mars gave us (if that makes any sense). I am amazed that they’ve killed off Sam, i thought he was destined to live a happy life in Manchester with Annie. I wonder if this is why Gene moves to London? Perhaps it was one of his operations that went wrong and so he decided to move to London for a fresh start? Will we see Gene grieve at all for his DI and friend? So many questions! If i could ask you one thing though Ian. I’ve read that when Matthew Graham created Life on Mars he always knew how he was going to end it. Is this the same with Ashes to Ashes? Does he know where he’s going with it and how he will eventually end it?All is he simply taking each episode and series as it comes? Thanks in advance!

  7. Ian Wylie

    Chris – as I understand it, Matthew does have a complete story arc for Ashes To Ashes and knows – assuming there is more than one series commissioned by the BBC – how it will eventually end. He has also gone or record as “never saying never” about a possible Sam return. We knew he wouldn’t feature in this first series so, personally, I don’t mind the story device used to explain his absence. As far as I can see, it leaves all options open while allowing A2A to move on as a new show.

  8. Edzel

    I’m one of the fans of Life on Mars who is trying hard not to miss Sam Tyler already… but I’m going to watch A2A because Gene Hunt is such a great character and it’ll be interesting to see how he works w/out Sam as straight man… love the twist about Sam’s missing body, there’s an opener if ever I saw one!!! Roll on Feb….

  9. Scarlet

    Hi there!
    You mentioned Matthew Macfadyen. Are you certain it was episode 7 he was to appear in? Thanks if you can share!

  10. Ian Wylie

    Scarlet – yes, it’s definitely episode seven.

  11. Janet

    Lovely to meet you too Ian!
    A couple of articles from today’s papers are suggesting that a second series has commissioned. Do you know if this is the case?

  12. Ian Wylie

    Hi Janet – my understanding is that the cast has, obviously, been optioned for a second series, which must be a fairly good bet. But as far as I know, the final decision will not be taken until after the usual analysis of ratings following the first ep etc.

  13. Janet

    Thanks Ian. Ashley Pharoah has just said likewise on The Railway Arms.

  14. Paul Sheehan

    Thanks for keeping us up to date on A2A. I am especially looking forward to the debut of Keeley Hawes – she is one of the most exciting actresses of her generation.
    I am sure her character will make for a great sparring partner with Gene Hunt. Let’s hope for a second series so that we get the return of Sam.

  15. stuart buck

    not too sure if i like this one as much as life on mars but we all love gene hunt. he has us laughing through life on mars and ashes to ashes but they should bring back sam tyler later on that would just make ashes to ashes.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s