THE first screening of Ashes To Ashes tonight and a nervous moment for Life On Mars fans.
Could the spin-off series possibly live up to what has gone before?
Twenty minutes in and I still wasn’t sure.
But as DI Alex Drake (Keeley Hawes) walked into Luigi’s Wine Bar – the new Railway Arms – it suddenly all fell into place.
And by the end of the first episode there was a broad smile on my face, a warm glow in my heart and a sudden urge to order a case of Asti Spumante.
Ashes To Ashes is terrific.
Arriving on BBC1 next month, the eight-part series sees DCI Gene Hunt (Philip Glenister) transferred from Manchester to London.
The time shift from 1973 to 1981 opens up a whole new world, with old school cop Gene frustrated in an era of policing where he’s not seen as part of the future.
As fans will know, Alex was Sam Tyler’s (John Simm) psychologist in 2007 and finds herself back in 1981 after being shot in the head.
Having previously documented Sam’s journey to 1973, she thinks she knows exactly who Gene, Ray and Chris are – figments of her imagination.


JUST returned from interviews with Philip Glenister and Keeley Hawes ahead of the launch of Ashes To Ashes.
Due to the embargo on publication, and as with the set visit interviews last year, I still can’t reveal any of the content.
But I’m glad to say that unlike the rain pouring down outside the interview room, the outlook for A2A looks very bright indeed.
There shouldn’t be too long to wait now.
TV schedules can often be compared to shifting sands.


HERE’S the first officially released pic of new BBC1 drama Ashes To Ashes.
It shows Keeley Hawes as DI Alex Drake and Philip Glenister as DCI Gene Hunt – both sitting on the bonnet of his Audi Quattro.
The “behind the scenes” photo was taken during a break from rehearsals on set.
It was released this morning as part of BBC1’s Winter / Spring 2008 launch, although many other unofficial pics have already appeared.
As regular readers will know, my Ashes To Ashes interviews are embargoed until nearer transmission.
So, at present, I’m unable to say any more.
But it’s not too long now before the new series bursts on to the screen.
For the moment, here’s today’s latest BBC release:
“Gene Hunt is back, bigger and brasher than ever before – but he’s no longer the self-styled ‘Sheriff of Manchester’.


THE postman knocked once today with something rather special.
It’s just three minutes and 27 seconds long, but packed full of joy.
Gene Hunt, played by Philip Glenister, rides again in the first promo DVD for BBC1’s Ashes To Ashes.
Screen grabs are strictly forbidden.
But I can give you a flavour of what we’ll all see in a matter of months.
Mild spoilers ahead for those who want to avoid:
Emerging from his 1981 office, Gene says, as we knew he would: “Right, let’s fire up the Quattro.”
Happily, there’s no sign that the passage of time has mellowed DCI Hunt.
He tells one bad lad: “Anything you say will be taken down, ripped up and shoved down your scrawny little throat till you choke to death.
“Gene Hunt: Chapter one, verse two.”


JUST back from a day of interviews on the set of Ashes To Ashes.
All of the material has to be held until nearer the start of the eight-part BBC1 series next spring.
But I can say that the cast were on fine form as they filmed scenes in the new London CID office.
That included Philip Glenister (DCI Gene Hunt), Keeley Hawes (DI Alex Drake), Dean Andrews (DS Ray Carling), Marshall Lancaster (DC Chris Skelton) and Montserrat Lombard (WPC Shaz Granger).
They are currently shooting episodes five and six, while this afternoon saw the read through of the scripts for episodes seven and eight.
We also spoke to writers and creators Matthew Graham and Ashley Pharoah, plus producer Beth Willis and costume designer Rosie Hackett.
It’s clear from talking to all those involved that Ashes To Ashes is going to be far more than simply a Life On Mars spin-off.