NOW, where were we?
The final series of Ashes To Ashes begins on BBC1 at 9pm on Good Friday.
I’ve seen preview DVDs of the first two episodes and can say without a shadow of a doubt that Ashes has upped its game.
With quite brilliant performances from Philip Glenister, Keeley Hawes and the rest of CID.
Plus the truly exceptional Danny Mays as Jim Keats.
Not forgetting the considerable skills of Ashes and Mars co-creators and writers Matthew Graham (ep one) and Ashley Pharoah (ep two).
I’ve watched both episodes more times than is probably healthy – and fully realise the frustrations of fans waiting to see them for themselves.
But please don’t be jealous.
You’ve got eight left to look forward to – and I’ve only got six.
Hopefully you will already have read my exclusive first review of episode one here.
Plus last Friday’s MEN interview with Phil here.
Some of them, and others, will also appear in the listings magazines and elsewhere later today, along with lots of “specials” shot for each publication.
As ever, I could only squeeze part of my chat with Phil into the 1,000-word MEN feature.
So below are selected extracts of some parts of the interview I couldn’t fit in.
Although this is always subject to change, for those asking…my interview with Danny Mays should be published next week along with another blog ahead of episode one.
My interview with Keeley Hawes is due to be published to tie in with episode two – an ep I will also, of course, preview in this blog when the time comes.
With blogs to follow each week as in previous series.
I also know how much audio extracts are appreciated by those able to access them.
So here are a few I’ve edited from my interview with Phil and saved in MP3 format.
As you may have read in the feature, our final series conversation took place in his dressing room on set in Bermondsey just days before filming ended in February.
The first audio file below is longer than the rest and includes a mention of “these little babies” – a reference to Gene’s snakeskin boots, which Phil had on at the time:
1. Will there be any ambiguity about Gene at the end? What will you miss most about him?
2. Giving up the role of Gene Hunt?
3. Ashes and Mars bleeding into each other?
4. Gene Hunt’s relationship with Jim Keats at the start?
5. Has the way the ending has translated on screen exceeded your expectations?
6. Gene’s journey in this series? And will the ending divide opinion as Mars did?
7. Catching up with the American adaptation of Life On Mars?
8. Are you going to take any souvenirs away from the set?
Some of the interview extracts below are included in the above audio files, but by no means all:
Sadness on set as the end of filming nears?
“It’s difficult to say, really, because we’ve been so full on, we haven’t had time to think about the ending, really. We’re just getting through it and just doing the best we can for it to reach its conclusion. So we’re just knuckling down and I’m sure the after-effect will be when we’ve actually finished filming and it’s out there and done and we’ve stopped talking about it.”
“I don’t think anybody’s going to take it. (laughs) It’s too big. People have already been eyeing what they want. I quite fancied nicking the Quattro, actually. I might put a bid in for that. Put it in my garden. No, there’s a just little thing of a mock-up of Gene Hunt doing his firearms course, a certificate thing. I might nab that and put it on the wall.”
Giving up the role of Gene Hunt?
*It’s a real tough call because it’s been such a fantastic part to play from my point of view, from any actor’s point of view. It’s a gift of a part. It’s the freedom of the character – again to say to whoever says, “Well you can’t say that.‘ And you say, ‘I can. It’s not me saying it, it’s Gene Hunt saying it. We’re an eighties‘ cop show, so bugger off, please.‘ We’re very much about self-censorship, we know where to draw the line. We’re not stupid, we’re all grown up and we’re all reasonably intelligent, so we’re not going to push the boundaries to the point where we’re going to take the mickey.”
Gene’s relationship with Jim at the start?
“Frosty, to say the least. It’s a great new dimension in many respects and it’s a carry on from Roger Allam’s character and Adrian Dunbar’s character, there’s a sinister underbelly going on with Jim Keats. He’s come into the station, he’s of equal status to Gene and they have very, very different methods of working and it causes a catacalysm for all the other characters who are in the middle of this war, or feud, whatever you want to call it. They just play off each other. They have been real fun scenes, actually, to do with Danny, some really cracking scenes.”
Catching up with the American adaptation of Life On Mars?
“Funnily enough, I caught an episode. It was almost like destiny. I recorded an ep which was on last week because I’d only seen the pilot. And I thought, ‘Well, I ought to have a look at an ep that is well into the series.’ And it was this ep where they’d been called to an Irish bar that had been blown up. The bar was called Glenister’s. (laughs) And it was just really odd to switch on and to see all these characters coming on and going, ‘Man, what is this place? This is Glenister’s. This bar is iconic man.’ So I had a little chuckle there, called the wife in and said, ‘There you go, I’ve cracked America.’”
*The photographer I mentioned clicking away in the background in my feature interview with Phil was from the Radio Times. You can see how Mr Glenister looked at the time in two photos from that session here and here.