Ashes To Ashes: You Will Know

“THOSE two should either get a room or kill each other.”

It’s the morning after the night before. Alex is confused and Gene is angry.

The last ever episode of Ashes To Ashes is a real knockout from the opening minute.

Moving on to, among other things, Farringfield Green, a scarecrow, those video tapes and Wham!

Before we reach The End.

Gene Hunt promised “one hell of a last chapter” and he is a man of his word.

Written by co-creator Matthew Graham, it’s an epic farewell that packs a strong emotional punch.

Providing answers on a relatively simple, yet satisfying, last page.

Keeley Hawes said her husband Matthew Macfadyen “cried like a girl” when he saw the “bittersweet” final minutes.

Really? I mean, for goodness sake, it’s only a TV programme, isn’t it?

Needless to say, I also had tears streaming down my face the first time I watched the conclusion.

And the second, third, fourth and fifth time.

I expect it’ll be like that even on repeat viewings 20 years from now.

In the same way that It’s A Wonderful Life gets me every Christmas – and, no, that is not a clue of any sort.

There are no major spoilers in this blog. No hidden hints about who may, or may not, appear in the last hour. Or details of what happens.

Those of us who were also Life On Mars fans have invested five years of our viewing lives in Gene, Ray and Chris.

Including two years with Sam and Annie and three with Alex and Shaz.

So whatever the fate of the Fenchurch East CID team, it was always going to be beyond sad to say goodbye to them.

Take some comfort in the fact that the time is right for these cherished characters to depart at the end of the planned three series story arc.

I’m sure that, like Mars, the end of Ashes will divide opinion.

Some may hate it – especially those with impossible expectations of what a TV drama like this can deliver.

We all view things in different ways. So no doubt there will be heated debates and critics eager to have their say.

But I hope the majority of viewers will see it for what it is and embrace what I believe is a near perfect conclusion to five years of magnificent, classic TV.

Enthralling drama that absorbed and obsessed its audience in what might be, for some, a once in a lifetime experience, sending them on a journey those on the outside will never understand.

Brought to a close with some of the most powerful performances of all shades you will ever see on screen.

I’ve been privileged to see some marvellous moments of television in the half century since I moved on from Andy Pandy.

Also lucky enough to interview many of those involved in creating them.

Yet none has engaged my emotions more than the world of Mars and Ashes and its examination of the important things in life.

Like love, friendship, loyalty and The Guv.

Now we’ve reached the end of that long and winding road and it’s time to say farewell to Gene, Alex, Ray, Chris and Shaz.

Will Alex get home to Molly? Who is the ghost PC? What happened to Sam? Who is buried in that shallow grave? What do those stars mean for Chris, Shaz and Ray? Is Jim Keats to be trusted? And who is Gene Hunt?

As the clock ticks towards 10pm on Friday, you will know.

Be prepared. It’s going to be emotional.

Despite those tears, I’m happy.

Hope you’re happy too.


My final things to look out for Ashes list is simple: The future work of all those who have given so many, so much pleasure, including:

1. Philip Glenister
2. Keeley Hawes
3. Dean Andrews
4. Marshall Lancaster
5. Montserrat Lombard
6. Daniel Mays
7. Geff Francis
8. Joseph Long
9. Ashley Pharoah
10. Matthew Graham

…plus the 100 or so people listed on the end credits, regularly and shamefully squeezed on screen by the BBC, including producer Howard Burch, directors David Drury, Alrick Riley and Jamie Payne, music composer Edmund Butt, costume designer Rosie Hackett, director of photography Balazs Bolygo, the other writers, camera operators, script editors, production team, stunt co-ordinator, sound engineer, art director, make-up artists, assistant directors…

*The final episode of Ashes To Ashes is screened on BBC1 at 9pm on Friday.

Music tracks this week include:

Mars Meets Ashes: Keeley Hawes

Ashes To Ashes: Daniel Mays

Farewell Gene

Ashes To Ashes: Philip Glenister Extras

Ashes To Ashes Blogs

Philip Glenister Official Site

The Railway Arms Ashes and Mars Fansite

Luigi’s Ashes Fansite

BBC TV Blog: Matthew Graham

Follow Keeley Hawes on Twitter

Follow Dean Andrews on Twitter

Follow Matthew Graham on Twitter

Follow Ian Wylie on Twitter


Filed under Ashes To Ashes

42 responses to “Ashes To Ashes: You Will Know

  1. charlotte

    ARGH!!!!!!!!!! Not given anything to go on….. is the “knockout” a sly reference to “It’s a Knockout” which some TV mag reviews have already stated is there?

  2. Hollie

    Oh we have Phil Collins again! They’re too good to us with this music, aye. I’m really rather sad now, and also very confused, I want it to get to Friday so I can see it, but I want this week to be one of the longest of my life. *flails* Thank you for your amazing blogs, too. Always manage to make the week seem that much longer, in a good way.🙂 (although, I did miss you’re “Things to look out for…” though.)

  3. Sarah

    I have to say that just reading this blog about the last episode is making me feel emotional, I haven’t stopped thinking about what’s going to happen in the Ashes finale since the end of Friday nights episode. It was the first thing I thought of when I woke up yesterday morning, I dreamt about it last night… crazy. I’d consider myself a normal, well balanced 33 year old woman yet I’ve found myself totally wrapped up in this little world, whatever it might be. I don’t have any preconceived ideas about what I think should happen, or even want to happen, I just hope it’s not too heartbreaking for Gene, Alex, Shaz, Ray and Chris… as for Keats – it’s a real sign of a good actor and an incredibly powerful script when they can make you despise a character with passion.

    Thank you Ian for all your Ashes blogs, I’ve really enjoyed them and will miss them almost as much as the programme itself.

    • Natalie

      That’s so funny, I dreamt about it too! I have been completely obsessed since last Friday’s episode and having seen the final I am still completely obsessed!

  4. Gaelle

    Thanks for this, Ian, I’m going to miss your weekly Ashes to Ashes blogs. I’ve been following them for three years now, since A2A began, and I’ve really enjoyed reading these previews from someone who is obviously as much a fan of the show as us.

    And thank you for not giving any hints for this episode😉 It’s going to be very emotional, that’s for sure. I can’t wait, even though I don’t want it to end! Just one question: will you be making a final Ashes to Ashes blog after the episode’s aired?

  5. Jasmine

    Thanks Ian for all your Ashes blogs. I love reading them and am always looking out for the ’10 things to look for’!

    Part of me will be sad that Ashes will well and truly be over, but to actually know what it going on will be so surreal. This week is going to drag out so long, I just know it is!

    I too was wondering whether the ‘knockout’ reference referred to something particular which most of us have learned about…

    And as for the last few lines ‘I’m happy, hope you’re happy too’😉, thanks for building up so much suspense!

  6. Ian

    I am crying just reading this, so a small river will probably be flowing through west London on Friday night.

    Your passion for Mars and Ashes has been palpable from the outset Ian, and having you on this 5 year journey with us has been a true privilege. I know you have listed above all the important players in the making of these two staggeringly exceptional tv shows, but YOU should be on that roll call too. Your blogs, articles and tweets of the last half decade have made all of this that little bit more special for every one of us. We all owe you a massive thank you for that.

    And knowing that you are happy with the outcome means that I will be able to sleep that little bit easier between now and Friday too!

    I hope you do continue to follow the cast in their next endeavours. And then tell us all about it on here.

    And finally, thank you for the FANTASTIC support that you have shown The Railway Arms over the past 5 years. We appreciate it hugely and will miss you enormously.

    Janet x

  7. Emma L

    I cried just reading your blog. What a lovely tribute, we have trusted and been enthralled with the writers and what they have provided over the years, I can’t say that any decision they make will upset me enough to really ruin the whole series for me. I believe it is their work, and what they have done so far has blown my mind unequivocally, whatever happens on friday I will cry none the less.

    I shall miss your Ashes blog Ian, thank you for your time and effort as well.

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  9. Emily

    Oh goodness!! Just reading this blog makes tears spring to my eyes! I can’t believe this time next week it will all be over. Ashes to Ashes and Life on Mars has been pure brilliant BBC drama – I cannot fault it one bit.
    Episode 8 sounds completely incredible and whilst part of me never wants to see it and for our beloved Guv to live on forever, I can’t wait to find out how the genius writers have completed everything. I have total faith that Gene, Alex, Chris, Ray, Shaz, Sam and Annie will all get the send-off that they deserve (maybe not Keats! mwahahahaaa) Bring on Friday!!!
    Thank you for all of your blogs and I’d like to echo what Gaelle said above – will you do a final blog after ep 8?😀

  10. Thank you – I’m humbled by all the comments. No more hints, I’m afraid, but there will be one more blog after the episode has screened.

    Janet – this blog would have been so much the poorer without the magnificent support of you and all your colleagues at The Railway Arms.

  11. Just to say – thanks Ian.

    Your passion for Life On Mars and for Ashes To Ashes has been wonderful to share. I am ready and waiting for that finale.

  12. “THOSE two should either get a room or kill each other.” Great opening line for the blog there Ian!

    These blogs have been awesome all the way through. Look forward to reading your final send-off and can’t wait for Friday this week. I’m not going to make anymore speculations because my head hurts but Phil Collins again this week – I’m happy, always thought that song was used brilliantly in Series 2 so good to see it popping up again.

  13. Maria

    I have few words to add..But the phrase

    ” A gentleman and a scholar”

    Thank you Ian for your wonderful blogs over the last five years.

    With regards


  14. Lisa

    I am going to miss my weekly date with you Ian – what will we do with ourselves when Ashes to Ashes finishes ? This is the one program that I have to watch and throughly enjoy each week; I cancel my friday night out with friends (very sad I know) for the eight weeks it is on.
    Thank you for all the time and effort that you have put into your weekly reports. xx

  15. Ian,
    I am tears typing this. I can’t quite believe there’s just one episode left. Friday will be difficult to get through but we all will.

    I feel as if I’m in a bit of karmic debt to all involved in the show. Little did I know 5 years ago that this show would, in some very profound ways, change my life. I don’t think that “Thank You” really does it justice. But it’s all I can manage at the moment.

    And Ian, I can honestly say that your blogs were a highlight and companion piece to the Mars/Ashes story. You’ve been enthusiastic, honest and fair with each episode review and interview. And as Janet said above, you forever have a place of honour at The Railway Arms. Your support of our site has been much appreciated. I know that we will all continue to follow your blog and give you the support we always have.

    Friday can’t come soon enough.

  16. Ian, your judgement on matters relating to Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes has always proved correct, so I am looking forward to seeing what transpires. As this is your penultimate entry on the subjects (save for any future retrospectives), may I say (in more than 140 characters) how much I have enjoyed this journey with you. You’re like a friend who watches with us, and as you have said in this post, you have the same emotional investment in this series over the last five years as we do.

    Thank you for writing not just as a journalist who understands us, but as a viewer with whom we have a kinship.

  17. Zoe

    Wow what a journey it has been, and now the end is in sight.

    I remember seeing that first trailer for ‘Life On Mars’ where Sam was travelling in the modern day car that suddenly transformed into the 70’s one, and I thought “Hmmm that looks intriguing, might give it a watch!” Little did I know then that it was the start of something that would keep me gripped, and keep my brain ticking over into the wee small hours with every twist and turn and mind boggling theory for years to come.

    I want to give you my most heartfelt thanks, Ian for being a big part of that whole experience with your excellent blogs. I will miss them and the show so much, as I know you will too.

    I found episode 7 to be almost unbearably sad at times and it has left me feeling quite apprehensive about the ending. However I’m glad it left you feeling satisfied and happy, and yes, I hope I will be happy too🙂 xx

  18. Paul Taylor

    Wonderful blog Ian. Here’s looking forward to a fitting end for Gene and co.


  19. woothiswildcat

    Thank you Ian Wylie for all your wonderful blogs on A2A. I discovered you somewhat late, but have read them all including the older ones as I have gotten drawn into my “once in a lifetime” obsession with both these shows. I think this is a lovely and fitting final blog full of your obvious love and respect for these shows. It’s wonderful to read a blog that isn’t full of criticism and trying to show how much smarter you are than the show’s creators. Why do people want to read grumpy blogs? I have loved your writing about these shows and look forward to reading more from you about others. Thank you for this final piece. You are appreciated very much across the pond as well as in the UK!

  20. Anna

    If anything could make me love this magnificent show more than I do already, it’s been this blog. It’s been such a treat to come here each week and read your previews. They’ve always left me buzzing with anticipation but never given anything away that has left me feeling spoiled.

    Thank you, so much.

  21. charlotte

    Where will you move on to when the series has ended? I’m already waiting for the joint LoM and A2A box set with commentary!

  22. Thank you Ian, for all the fantastic Ashes blogs you’ve written over the last few years. Have thoroughly enjoyed and looked forward to all of them.

    Can’t quite believe I’m about find out who Gene Hunt really is! Life On Mars and Ashes to Ashes – the only TV programmes I’ve ever actually cancelled nights out for. I’ve got so much admiration for the writers of these shows – what a talent, along with every actor/actress who’s been involved and brought each character to life so superbly. As you pointed out, everyone involved behind the scenes, in this masterpiece of television, also deserves great credit.

    Strangely as the end draws near, I can’t get the image of Gene and Sam dancing to ‘Jean Genie’ in that nightclub scene and it makes feel like crying! Whatever happens this Friday, I think that’s how I’ll always remember him!

    Goodbye Gene Genie and the gang. It certainly has been emotional.

  23. Izzy

    I don’t why, but having you post this blog on my birthday makes it seem even more like the end of an era. . . my childhood is officially over, and 5 years of incredible drama is nearly at an end.

    I just want to thank you Ian for all your hard work over the years- you are just a big a part of the LOM/A2A universe as the rest of the cast and crew, and I can’t wait to continue reading your other blogs.

  24. Neon

    thank you again for posting your thoughts – I will miss your Ashes blogs and “treasure-hunt” lists!

    What a journey it has been. I don’t think I have ever been involved in so much speculation and theorising for a TV show – no doubt there will be the odd snippet left unanswered to keep the theorists amused – but I shall miss it all by the time the end-credits roll on Friday.

    What a show! What a run! What an impact! I miss it already…

    Neon xx

  25. Misa

    I’m really looking forward to the last episode, but I also have some trepidation. It’s going to be so hard to say goodbye to this show, one of the few highlights of my week, harder still to say goodbye to Gene.

    I have no doubt that not everything will make me happy, but I’m determined to watch, stew and review.

    It has been a pleasure and a priviledge. Thank you.

  26. Mary

    Never commented on your blog before but love reading, not much to say only that reading this the tears have started for me already friday can’t come quick enough and can 9pm onwards last forever!..i can’t believe how invested in all these characters i have become, i too will watch these dvds for years to come.
    I’m watching and writing from ireland and cannot for the life of remember how i linked into your blog most likly the Railway Arms but i have thoughly enjoyed it all with many other of your blogs on TV also i’m pretty certain i have watched or recorded other series after reading your take on it.
    So along with the Thanks to Cast, Crew, Writers and Producers of the wonderful Journey that has been Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes, Thank you too Mr Wylie

  27. John R

    Thanks for the blog Ian.

    As much as I’ve been waiting for the final episode the realisation of whats about to happen only hit me reading the blog entry today. No more Geneiverse to look forward to!! LOM & A2A has meant alot to me for the last 5 years. I have no doubt I’ll still be rewatching it 50 years from now!!

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  29. DorsetGirl

    I can’t believe I’m crying just at reading this! I can hardly wait for Friday evening but at the same time I’m dreading it.

    Ian, your blog was the very first place I ever posted a comment online: before I discovered The Railway Arms, before I got into fandom, the ending of Life on Mars left me needing somewhere to connect with others who had loved it as much as I did, and I found your blog via google. I’ve been reading it ever since and you never fail to encapsulate the episode in a way which makes me even more keen to see it.

    Jack Yan has summed it all up beautifully in his comment above, and I thank you for – how can I put it? – being on our side and respecting our wish to see the programme as the makers intended, without knowing what’s going to happen in advance.

    I hope you will be writing about programmes I’m watching in future; thank you so much for the part you’ve played in this journey, and I wish you every possible success and happiness for the future.


  30. Kenny

    Is the ghost, the young PC, Gene Hunt?

  31. lindalove

    all I can say is….SOB!

  32. Rachael Winspear

    Hi there, only just found your site although I have been a huge of fan of LOM & A2A since the very first episode, I have loved the 80’s backdrop as I am a proper 80’s girl but totally have to echo what Sarah has said about the fact that this is on her mind completely since the last episode, I read another website which people used to express their opinions on what happened in the episodes and it seems they have a far bigger insight that I have! Now I have a million questions about whats going to happen but I will be so upset if Gene turns out to be a baddy I am sure he did nothing to Sam as after watching clips of LOM on youtube they had huge admiration for each other I cannot wait for Friday and will be recording this to watch over and over whilst we wait for the box set to be released, great blog Ian, well done

  33. HappyLady

    Can only concur with sentiments expressed above, I’ve been a fan since LOM Series 1 and regularly enjoyed your blogs Ian, but never posted here before. So my thanks to you as well, as well as the Railway Arms for enhancing my enjoyment of all 5 series!

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  35. Your blogs have been a pleasure to read – a real part of the A2A viewing experience. I’m going to miss them almost as much as the show itself.

  36. Ian

    Your blog has been (and I’m sure will continue to be) one of the best of it’s kind on the net…and believe me I read a lot of them.

    Thanks for all your insightful comments throughout the years.

    We are all going to miss Gene and Co. but at least we will all miss them together, so perhaps some comfort can be gained from that thought.

    LOM and A2A have tapped into something important to many living in the UK. That in this politically correct, scared to voice any personal opinion nation we live in, there is room for a little balance.

    Gene’s attitudes couldn’t really work in today’s society, but having said this, Sam found something refreshing in the freedom the 1970s gave him, even choosing to return to the time he felt most ‘alive’…and Alex warmed towards the raw black and white attitudes that Gene displays in the 1980s….not the snidey and picky attitudes displayed by Keats.

    Maybe, perhaps maybe, we can all learn to loosen up just a bit. Living without fear of litigation and critisism, and not looking for opportunities to sue or deride others at the drop of a hat (or slip of the foot).

    Oh and dare I say…(on dangerous ground here)…judging from the comments I get re. Gene on Twitter, a lot of people actually do like men being manly and women being womenly…after all, it’s the differences between us that make us more interesting to one another isn’t it?….Is that really so bad?

    This needn’t mean men becoming beasts towards women and women becoming antagonistic towards men. Why don’t we just enjoy ourselves?

    Thanks again Ian and long may you continue…and thanks to everyone involved with LOM and A2A.

  37. Ian,
    I came across your blog only recently, but I was ready to actually plough through your archives and read all the stuff you’ve written about LOM and A2A just for the fun of it from literally the first sentence. Thanks a bunch!🙂

    Regarding the finale: I’m going to cry my eyes out, aren’t I? *sighs and stocks up on the tissues*

  38. Amanda

    I am happy too. Despite even more tears.

    Thank you for making this series even more enjoyable. I’ve loved your lists of things to look out for and wish I’d found your blog five years ago.

    BTW I wasn’t far off the mark in the end.🙂

    Thanks Ian.

  39. Claire M


    I’ve been on hols when the last ep was on & chose to have it recorded. I got mum to text me the ending – she did. I want to see it, but at the same time I don’t.
    I like going on the Railway Arms (even though it’s a shame it’s just the website & not the actual pub) but now A2A is over I can’t help feeling I won’t have anything left to go on there *for*

    Oh we do. I can’t say anything about politically incorrect times (I was only born in’83) but used to know someone who’d say “get back in the kitchen woman!!” “I was only 18 y.o. then (27 in a couple of weeks) & I thought the sun shone out of him. I’m drawn to men like that even now – it probably won’t get me anywhere but it doesn’t really bother me to be honest. Luv older rock anyway, even got some red nail varnish because a lot of the women in ‘The Sweeney’ seem to have red nails. (still Hunting for Gene with no luck)

  40. Needless to say, I also had tears streaming down my face the first time I watched the conclusion.

    And the second, third, fourth and fifth time.

    I expect it’ll be like that even on repeat viewings 20 years from now.

    In the same way that It’s A Wonderful Life gets me every Christmas
    and that is what can happen when an open heart encounters quality, [in film and T.V. and real life], and depth and truth of what humans can be [with some Help]

  41. love your post Jack Yan
    and a number of the others…
    have to say, this is the first time I have ventured out in commenting online after the last episode..
    re-watched the last 2 eps. yesterday..when I got more quality time than I had on Fr. night..
    have been almost afraid, in a way, in case some pour cold water on a Soul experience which raises deep thoughts and ponderings [as have encountered that from certain cynics…the bitter cold water, for some reason]
    but, Ian, you are not like that..thankfully, and you “got it”!
    I just know raises even Bigger questions🙂
    also…thanks to Ashley and Matthew, and all the took so many risks..well done.

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