DON’T blow those candles out yet.
As Gene Hunt told Alex Drake: “It’s all about timing, this life.
“We’ve still got things to learn, adventures to have.”
That includes the Ashes To Ashes series one DVD – out on May 5.
You may have all eight episodes archived on hard drive, DVD, iPod or VHS.
You may have watched each one several times.
But if you’re an Ashes fan, the box set is an essential purchase.
Thankfully, there’s no repeat of the Life On Mars’ Wild Horses / Lay Down DVD music substitutions.
At least in terms of what I consider to be – Ashes To Ashes aside – the three most important music tracks:
Vienna, Same Old Scene and Take The Long Way Home.
Watching the episodes again is a reminder of how much we would have lost had Kudos and the BBC decided not to produce a LoM sequel.
But I suspect the bits most fans will want to find first, via a suitably 1980s’ menu on Gene’s computer, are the extras.
Those special features are worth the price of the box set alone.
They include film of Philip Glenister sporting the biggest grin you’ve ever seen.
Here are just a few highlights from each section:
Episode one audio commentary with Keeley Hawes, director Jonny Campbell and producer Beth Willis (pictured):
1) Jonny reveals that Alex’s upside down world in the opening moments is also back to front. “It’s a mirror image of the shot. So that world doesn’t actually exist, as we see it.” Beth describes the look of Alex’s 2008 world as “ghostly”.
2) Jonny: “I quite lilke the idea of Layton being the mythological figure who transports Alex’s character, somehow, between Heaven and Hell. Like Charon. So a very different place to end up than Sam Tyler tucked up in a hospital bed.”
3) Jonny talks about the scene where Gene carries Alex into the police station and recalls Phil saying to him: “Shout cut, yer *******” – as he carried Keeley in for the tenth time. “He never grumbled.”
4) Comments from Keeley about the difficulty of portraying Alex in this fantastical world, wavering between life and death. “It’s a really odd thing to play.”
5) Things I Missed After Eight Viewings: The poster in Gene’s office of a Cortina crashed into a lamp post.
6) Evidence that Marshall Lancaster is every bit as sweet in real life as Chris is on screen. He was in an “absolutely terrified” Keeley’s very first scene. She recalls: “He went, ‘Welcome on board DI Drake.’ And it was all I could do to carry on. And he shook my hand. It was really lovely.”
7) Beth discussing the scene where Ray tells Alex about Sam’s fate. “We did have lines about Annie and what had happened to them as well, which we decided not to go down.” Ray also made clear in the cut scene that the 1981 police team no longer had any contact with Annie.
8) Talk of the “effortlessly cool” Gene Hunt joining the “iconic heroes” in Luigi’s mural during the classic Same Old Scene end sequence.
9) Style influences from films like The Long Good Friday and Sharky’s Machine.
Episode two audio commentary with Keeley Hawes, director Jonny Campbell and producer Beth Willis:
1) A researcher found the “Do what your mother says” Panorama clip of David Dimbleby – it was actually from a Jim’ll Fix It item.
2) The style of the main title sequence echoes the vertical blinds in CID.
3) Ray deprived of Guv Luv in this series.
4) The cast became so addicted to the dart board in CID that it wore out and a replacement had to be found. Guess who was the best player?
5) Things I Missed After Eight Viewings: The Clown leaning on a window sill of The Finish pub after the explosion.
6) Jonny talking about “The return of Heaven”.
Conducted by production designer Stevie Herbert, it includes a detailed look around Alex’s flat, Luigi’s Italian Trattoria, Alex In Wonderland on the CID set, plus other parts of the London police HQ.
The Car Explosion:
Phil explains: “I thought the ending was great. It kind of threw us because we didn’t know it was going to end like this.”
Some fascinating behind the scenes footage from the location shoot at Burgess Park, including a brief word with the multi talented Andrew Clover.
Seven in total, including: An encounter between Alex and Layton; Chris at Shaz’s bedside as Alex arrives; Alex talking to an unconscious Shaz about The Clown and Lord Scarman singing along to YMCA.
Life After Mars:
Series creators Matthew Graham and Ashley Pharoah discuss the creation of Ashes To Ashes, with contributions from Beth Willis, Jonny Campbell, Phil, Keeley, Dean, Marshall, Montserrat, Stephen Campbell Moore and others.
There are some hilarious outtakes of Ray in the gay club, while Dean hopes the writers might give his character “a string of ladies” in series two. “Nobody loves Ray.”
Matthew also has a message for online fans: “OK website people – there are no mistakes in Ashes To Ashes, only clues to a greater mystery.”
At the time of writing, the series one DVD is available to pre-order for just under £26 at both Amazon and Play.com.
It will keep us all company while we await those things to learn and adventures to have in series two.
Filming begins in late August for screening next year.
In the meantime…Fire up the DVD!
The Long Good Friday
Philip Glenister Official Site
Keeley Hawes Fansite
Dean Andrews Official Site
Andrew Clover Official Site
Ashes To Ashes Blogs
Ashes To Ashes TV Features
Life On Mars Blogs
The Railway Arms Ashes and Mars Fansite