“WHATEVER you think it is you’re looking for, forget it. It doesn’t exist.
“Sometimes you just have to take a leap of faith.”
The pipes are calling in Ashes To Ashes final series episode five.
Perhaps my favourite hour so far as Mars meets Ashes and we turn a corner into the final straight.
Written by Tom Butterworth and Chris Hurford, it features the glorious return of Det Chief Insp Derek Litton (Lee Ross).
Or as Gene Hunt calls him: “Detective Chief Inspector ******* Litton.”
Who must surely win a BAFTA for Best Arrival By A Guest Artiste In A Series We Have Shamefully Neglected.
Hunt (Philip Glenister) and Litton have a history which stretches all the way back to Life On Mars series one.
Now the regional crime squad boss is down from Manchester along with Det Insp Geoff Bevan (Nicholas Gleaves).
The “tache twins” are on the hunt for northern comedian Frank Hardwick (Roy Hudd) and all too ready to inform “Geno” that he has gone soft.
All three main guest performances are a joy to watch – with Lee and Phil, in particular, sparking off each other like the opening of a Watneys Party Seven in an electricity sub-station.
Some have already spoiled the pre-titles sequence, which is a shame. I won’t be doing so here.
We learn that Gene served a total of eight years with Litton “in the same manor”.
Plus more about the Sam Tyler (John Simm) mystery.
The ability of this series to switch from knowing comedy to chilling drama is demonstrated yet again in episode five.
Including, for me, the most moving Ashes moment yet and another extraordinary scene that made me physically shiver.
It feels like the key unlocking in a big door, the light shining through and yet you still can’t really be sure exactly what is on the other side.
The pace definitely quickens in this visit to Fenchurch East, which is relatively Jim Keats-lite to make room for everything else that is happening.
Chris (Marshall Lancaster) and Ray (Dean Andrews) are preparing for their performance on stage at the Opportunity Cops Police Gala.
With Alex (Keeley Hawes) and Shaz (Montserrat Lombard) trying to cope with the invasion of the two “cavemen” from the north.
Former Doctor Who star Camille Coduri makes a brief but memorable appearance as Gloria, alongside “toy boy” Chris.
And let’s hear it for Joseph Long as long suffering Luigi. He gets just a few brief seconds on screen but still manages to make an impression.
There’s one element of the story of the week that I can’t make sense of, even after watching it three times. Is it a clue in itself to the bigger picture?
I wrote more notes about episode five than any other so far this series – and I usually write a lot!
But can only use a small fraction of them here to avoid spoiling the ep.
What I can say is that, for those who like that sort of thing, Gene looks particularly…I think the expression is “hot”…this week.
And keep your eyes on Alex / Keeley’s face as Gene talks to her in CID and then walks away from her desk. Just magic.
It’s around 34 minutes in and during the second background playing of The Sun Goes Down by Level 42.
Mars fans will also enjoy all the Manchester references, including a mention for The Railway Arms.
As someone called “chipbutty” – no doubt not a bio-yoghurt fan (copyright Matthew Graham) – wrote on the online fan forum of the same name this week:
“This series is like a book I can’t put down but I can only read a chapter a week. I really can’t wait for the next episode.”
Things to look out for in episode five include:
1. More stars.
3. A choirboy.
4. Jenny Eclair.
7. Sapphire and Steel.
9. A big bloke beating up a black guy.
10. Another kiss.
*Ashes To Ashes final series episode five is on BBC1 at 9pm on Friday.
*My interview with Keeley Hawes will be published later this week. I’ll post an update both here and via Twitter when it goes online.
Music tracks this week include:
Ashes To Ashes: Philip Glenister Extras
Philip Glenister Official Site
The Railway Arms Ashes and Mars Fansite