Ashes To Ashes 3: Exclusive First Look

Warning: Your brain may explode

ASHES To Ashes third and final series. Episode one.

Destined to be discussed long into the night once it’s screened.

Firstly, let me say yet again that I know just how lucky I am to be able to see episodes of Ashes in advance.

Plus interviewing the cast on set and elsewhere.

But mixed with the excitement of seeing episode one is a sadness that now there are just seven left to go.

As we head towards what promises to be an epic finale to the Life On Mars and Ashes To Ashes journey.

Update 1: Episode one was due to be broadcast on BBC1 in the week starting Monday March 22.

Placed in the official BBC weekly listings yesterday.

But less than 24 hours later the schedulers changed their minds.

With series three now listed to be “shown at a later date”.

Let’s hope it’s only a short delay – I’ll update this blog again as soon as I know any more.

Update 2: The first ep will be screened at 9pm on Good Friday – April 2.

So to early impressions in what is, I think, the exclusive first review.

What can I say about Matthew Graham’s episode one without including any serious spoilers?

As you’d expect, the opening titles have been tweaked again.

Alex Drake’s (Keeley Hawes) updated voiceover alone is worth the long wait between series two and three.

We left Alex in a coma within a coma after she was accidentally shot by Gene Hunt (Philip Glenister).

Or at least that’s the best guess we have to be going on with as to where she is.

The action resumes three months on.

It’s 1983 and Gene has been on the run.

First in the Isle of Wight and then the Costa Brava.

But now he’s back in town and ready to clear his name.

The very first scene may surprise, along with the intense minutes that follow.

A2A3 ep 1 also giving us a glorious re-introduction to the Gene Genie.

En route to what may eventually be some pretty dark places.

Not forgetting a modern day TV news report from Lancashire.

The return of Ashes poses many questions:

Will we finally discover who Gene Hunt is?

At the centre of his kingdom and this universe?

Does he have secrets in his past that we don’t know about?

And just what is in Gene’s filing cabinet?

With Life On Mars bleeding into Ashes To Ashes, it’s not giving too much away to reveal that there is an early mention of Sam Tyler.

Although there is no sign of any return by John Simm, it seems clear that Sam will be a key off screen figure in this final series.

Along with an intriguing new character – DCI Jim Keats, played by Daniel Mays.

He’s from the Met’s Discipline and Complaints section, brought in to investigate the shooting of Alex.

As The Guv tells DI Drake: “If you shoot a fellow police officer, they get a bit annoyed about it.”

Jim Keats fits straight into Ashes like one of Gene’s driving gloves.

He appears to know a great deal about Gene, Sam and Alex and is certain to be pivotal over the course of the final eight episodes.

Possibly the most influential incoming “outsider” in all three series of Ashes.

More questions:

Can Jim help Alex get back to her daughter Molly in the present day?

If there even is a present day.

Or is Alex there to help him? Or for another reason entirely?

It’s a delight to be reunited with the rest of the CID family – Ray (Dean Andrews), Chris (Marshall Lancaster) and Shaz (Montserrat Lombard).

All three characters appearing stronger on screen than ever before.

Even the Quattro seems to have acquired extra final series zip.

Some ranks and relationships at Fenchurch East have changed.

While those who fear the dark side of Ashes can rest assured that there’s still plenty of humour sprinkled across the first 60 minutes.

To contrast with the latest mysterious figure in Alex’s life.

Ashes fans know that everything is significant.

They’ll be kept busy in episode one with lots of potential clues to the final destination of these characters.

Including fascinating final words from Jim for, first, Gene…and then Alex.

Special mention for yet another classic moment of screen photography in CID.

With everyone involved in this production hitting top gear for the final lap.

Earlier in the episode Alex and Gene are discussing how she was shot.

“Sometimes in life, you can’t help which way you fall,” she says.

A line later repeated to Alex by one of the characters in the crime story of the week – the kidnap of a schoolgirl, which obviously resonates with the DI “trapped” in 1983.

Is that line significant?

I’ve absolutely no idea.

But finding out is surely going to be the best fun you can have with a television in 2010.

Ashes To Ashes Blogs

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Philip Glenister Official Site

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32 responses to “Ashes To Ashes 3: Exclusive First Look

  1. I was around with Met in the Life on Mars period. It struck me as an almost perfect depiction of how things were at that time. Ashes, however, has very little that I recognise and I never truly enjoyed it. I did not understand why the Tyler theme was repeated with Keeley – lost in time was OK the first time but failed in Ashes.
    My 2P

  2. Izzy D

    Oh my lord, this has excited me beyond belief. It’s great to have your ever-teasing blogs back Mr Wylie! Right now, I’m intrigued more than anything as to where Keats has cropped up in the past- if he has at all- if he knows so much about Gene and Sam.

  3. Pingback: Ashes to Ashes series 3: Start date announced « Ashes on Mars

  4. Mariana

    Heeee, oh my God, I was excited already but now I can’t wait! Is it Ashes time yet?😀

  5. It’s wonderful to see you back blogging on Ashes Ian. Am really looking forward to hearing your thoughts as this momentous series progresses. The Railway Ams will be following you every step of the way.

  6. Oh, Wylie! That sounds sooo interesting. Thanks for giving us this little sneak preview. And not long to wait for the start of the series.

    As ever I’ll be reviewing the entire series as it goes out.

  7. Nynke

    Ohh… I’m on the edge of my seat again! I sincerely hope the air date won’t be pushed back too far – won’t be able to keep this up for long😉

  8. Emmiem

    Thanks for this Ian! I’m really looking forward to seing everyone back at CID and seeing what Danny Mays character of Jim Keats will bring to the dynamic.
    Also very interested to see where Ashes ends up in the scheduling. They are keeping us in suspense for sure!

  9. Fenchurcheast

    Ian, I am so jealous of your ability to see the future that I almost wish some clever sort would write an 8 part series about a brillant, devilishly handsome tv critic from Newcastle being possessed by the spirit of an unhealthily obsessed TV fan like me!
    Keep the the reviews coming, it’s only when it is gone that people will truly appreciate it and Phil will get his best actor award.

  10. Vivian

    I think it’s more likely that when it’s gone, people will forget all about it. Though some may cheer.

  11. Claire M


    All I’m bothered about is when it’ll *end* — don’t want it ending on my bday [7th June]
    Was completely involved with LoM, perhaps a bit too much, loved the music & much preferred that environment – luv that type of humour. It made me feel like I was actually *there*.
    I’m sad to say this doesn’t. I’ll still watch for Gene Hunt, but I do wish they’d left it alone.

  12. Haley K

    Oooh I cannot wait. I like LOM but I adore A2A. I find it infinitely funnier, creepier, and more compelling. It plays with your mind while you’re being entertained. It’s one of the few shows that’s sucked me in completely.

  13. Holy liftin’!!!
    Just going on what you’ve written… here’s my guess. It isn’t Alex’s coma/dream, nor is/was it Sam’s. It’s Gene’s!

  14. Claire M


    It’s only when it’s gone that we appreciate anything. Crikey that was deep.
    Tvor: I think the ending will be just that, or worse.

    I’ve read the odd article about it making us think about LoM & Gene in a different way & it fills me with dread.

  15. P

    excellent news – really looking forward to reading more – great blog Ian.

  16. Charlie Artist

    Thanks so much for this insight, Ian. Makes me almost too excited to form coherent sentences!!
    Your views I have always trusted – 100% – so am very glad to hear that you absolutely love episode 1!
    I know I’ll love all the eps, no matter what, and have complete faith in everyone involved – I think in the long build up, although it has been enormous fun on the forums, some have been frustrated, scrutinizing every little invisible detail and thrashing out theories, to the point where everything is heightened, tense and some are very nervous/lacking faith in the ability of everyone involved to deliver the series we know this could be, but I think we should remember that we only love it so much BECAUSE the writers/cast/crew have made 2 absolutely phenomenal series so far, so lets trust them, sit back, relax and enjoy what is to be a wonderful ride…and at the end of the day, there is to be one outcome, that’s the way it is… even if it’s not what we envisaged, we should allow ourselves to completely go with the flow and enjoy every second!

  17. Vivian

    What if we hate it though, and don’t trust them because we think it’s a dogs breakfast and they ruined Gene? The ending will probably make us even more furious, especially if they re-write what they told us in LoM, which looks inevitable now that they are reintroducing Sam in conversations at least, and possibly the young Sam returning storyline. Hmmm – didn’t see that one coming. **sigh**
    I’m with Claire M, I wish they’d left it alone.

  18. Superb!

    Although, for me anyway, Ashes to Ashes never quite captured the magic of Life on Mars, it will be good to see it back.

    If nothing else, it will be good to see more 80s classic cars, including the quattro!

  19. Claire M


    I fell in luv with Gene in all his lardy, paunchy glory, & I’d have preferred him to stay that way.

    I still luv him — I think I will until I die — & I know a few people like him [!!] but I’m sad to say that John Culshaw [who imitates him] does him better.

    In our house, “redefine” is just a poncey word for “dumb down/ruin”.

  20. Vivian

    Hear hear Claire! They’ve changed the character and ruined him completely now with all this poncey romance too. That’s not the Gene Genie. By the way, I love your last sentence. Classic!

    Life on Mars Gene for us all the way🙂

  21. Claire M


    Gene is that iconic he’s helped me through some very difficult times (“we can’t change this world” etc.), cheered me up when I’m feeling blue ……..

    Why does he even *need* to have a “big secret” or *be* anything ?? Knowing me, I’ll be so put off I’ll end up getting rid of his memorabilia because it’ll be money & time wasted –- thank god it was bought for me. That’s what I find truly sad.

  22. Franco

    The character of Gene Hunt in Ashes was a sensible development and, i think personally, is better. In Life on mars Gene Hunt was no doubt very entertaining, but almost for the novelty value in that he was so ignorant that it was verging on ridiculous. In Ashes, Philip Glenister shows himself to be a very talented actor, creating a whole new dimension to the character. He is more of a shaken man and is verging on depressed, which is reflected through the both the era the show is set in and also the events which have affected his life since LOM. The Gene Hunt of Life On Mars was ruthless, arrogant and ignorant, the Gene Hunt of Ashes is still ruthless, not quite as ignorant or arrogant, and is some-what afraid for himself, and needs help not only professionally but emotionally, which adds a whole new edginess to the show. With all this said, the charcater still delivers the flair and brilliant one-liners that we came to admire in the first place, while adding a more human aspect. This character development was the only way in which Gene Hunt could grace our screens again, and for the best TV character of the last 10 years to bow out after only 2 series would have caused more grief than, i think, a worthy follow-up series.

    • Donna-D

      Best comment I’ve read so far and echoes what I have thought – LOM was amusing, subtle and showed Gene as a character to laugh at with his ‘outdated’ opinions, yet A2A has showed his vulerable side – maybe he picked it up from Sam, and makes him a more believeable and admired man.
      I initially thought A2A was a poor comeback to LOM but after watching it several times (got the boxsets!) the subtle nuances have drawn me in and have enjoyed it just as much as LOM – the two can’t be compared as they have their own merits and draw you in with their twists and turns and shocking outcomes.
      It has been necessary to develop Gene’s character – he’s become 3 Dimensional rather than the cartoon/stereotype he first appeared. You couldn’t possibly have another three series with him being the original Gene Genie, would get tiring and not as funny.
      Considering what he’s been through – divorce, his 2 superiors turning out corrupt, gaining trust in Sam and losing a close friend, deaths of innocents and the downfall of his first love – the Met, it’s natural for him to be bordering on depression.
      I’m finding him to be a more believable character and start caring what happens to him rather than Alex – maybe that’s what series 3 is leading up to. Roll on April 2nd!!

  23. Vivian

    Sorry, but I couldn’t disagree with you more. I find A2A a complete embarressment and Gene to be so ridiculously watered down and changed that he may as well be a different person. The one-liners are tired and childish now and the whole thing smacks of something that should have been put out of it’s misery years ago.

    Claire M – I’m sure you’ll have very happy memories of LoM Gene that you’ll treasure for ever. Don’t let this dumbed down sequel ruin things for you.

    • Franco

      In sense i can appreciate what you are saying. Upon first viewing Ashes i was underwhelmed, but it grew on me episode by episode and i came to be more absorbed by it than i ever was by life on mars. I agree that it has not quite hit the peak that life on mars achieved in terms of general storylines, but the show is certainly the best thing on TV when its on. In a way im somewhat anxious of what the final series holds and to honest im not fussed if everything is revealed as long as it is as groundbreaking an ending as the franchise deserves, and i have confidence that the professionals behind will deliver. And if it isn’t, life goes on…it is just a TV show at the end of the day. I’ve gained satisfaction from all 4 series so far, and when the show’s gone, people may find they’re missing it more than they thought…After all, some people make it out to be the worst Tv show they’ve ever laid eyes on, and if we’re being honest theres many that are much worse…

  24. Claire M


    Thanks Vivian.

    My parents have said there were men like him about in the ‘70s. I don’t know whether there were or not but I’d’ve loved to be able to find out !!
    When he insulted someone you actually *learnt* something without even realising. When LoM was on, nobody was allowed to ring up/come ‘round unless the house was on fire/they were dying !!

    I just don’t find him believable now. He’s more like a character – which at the end of the day is exactly what he is – but you couldn’t *see* it although you knew in the back of your mind. I don’t know any men who act like he does now.

    I won’t be getting the box set — the series 2 finale frightened me so much it’s not worth it.

  25. Vivian

    I appreciate what you’re saying Franco and I wish I could have enjoyed it too but I just found it contrived and dismal and the whole will they-won’t they romance aspect is just tired and cringeworthy and an embarressing thing to do to the iconic character that is Gene Hunt. Of course there are programmes that are much worse, but compared to the original LoM series it just seems incredibly poor. I find it hard to believe the same people wrote it, to be frank.

    I really don’t care what the ending is. I had my ending in LoM and no matter what they do at the end of A2A it won’t affect my viewpoint.

  26. Claire M


    I don’t want to see Gene & Alex get it on for obvious reasons. If I wanted to see “will-they-won’t-they” so badly I’d watch a soap.
    I wish I could say the same, Vivian. Dad thinks Gene will die at the end when the Quattro blows up. When LoM was on we got the ending *exactly right*.

    It was perfect. I still can’t listen to ‘Life On Mars ??’ without crying.

  27. Ian, with your latest update I am more excited than ever for this new series. Sounds like Mr Graham has written quite an episode to get us in to things!

  28. Claire M


    I’ve enjoyed & still enjoy discussing both shows (& Gene !!) & would drive everyone mad without a place like this. I don’t think I’ll ever stop liking Gene. He is part of me now, like my luv for old rock/blues – you don’t just *go off* something you’ve liked for this long.

    I find the idea he might/might not be real ridiculous & can’t get my head round all the excitement. Fair enough, it’s on soon, but in 2mo it’ll be gone & we’ll all think “was that *it*??!!”

  29. Pingback: Ashes To Ashes: Philip Glenister Extras « Life of Wylie

  30. Pingback: Ashes To Ashes: I’ll Be Watching You « Life of Wylie

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