THE brilliance of Life On Mars does not diminish.
Re-watching old episodes is a reminder of just how good the series was.
And of John Simm’s superb performance as Sam Tyler.
Much of the focus since the series ended has fallen on Gene Hunt, played by Philip Glenister.
That continues in The Real Life On Mars, a new documentary on BBC4 this Monday night.
There’s a feature on the film – part of the Britcop season – in that day’s MEN.
Update: The online version is here.
Co-producers Simon Brown and Steve Bradshaw say: “We talk to ex-cops, criminals, academics and writers to discover the truth behind Seventies’ policing – and how much we’ve gained and lost.”
Life On Mars co-creator Matthew Graham is one of the contributors.
He explains how he discovered the character of Gene had been underwritten.

THERE are many things that keep me awake at night.
The heat, the cold, taxis dropping people off at 4am after a night out, taxis picking people up at 4.05am for the airport.
Last night – or was that this morning? – it was this trailer (below) for the American version of Life On Mars.
(Click on pause if you want to read this first)
Hour after hour I awoke with a start, wondering what I could say about it.
It seems a long time ago that I was on the set of Life On Mars in Manchester being told about a possible US version.
The talk then was of Ally McBeal creator David E Kelley coming to visit The Railway Arms as part of his preparation.
I’m not sure he ever made it.
But he did go on to create and produce the American pilot.

GENE Hunt really will be ‘avin ‘oops after a new TV deal with Italy.
BBC Worldwide has sold both series of Life On Mars to Italian state broadcaster Rai Due.
So it’s spaghetti hoops all round for Manchester police team Gene, Sam, Ray, Chris and Annie.
And surely our good friends in Italy will also want to follow this purchase up with a double helping of Ashes To Ashes?
Though what they will make of Luigi’s 1981 Italian Trattoria is anyone’s guess.
Life On Mars has now been sold to over 40 international broadcasters, including Australia – where the final episode has just been screened.
Aussie newspaper The Age said it came close to qualifying as the best ending ever.

IF you are a fan of Sam, Gene and co, there is only one book you need for Christmas.
Life On Mars: The Official Companion Volume Two.
It’s as essential as a bacon bap while reversing a Cortina at speed.
Published earlier this month, the arresting companion is written by Guy Adams and designed by Lee Thompson
There’s also some added fun from Nicola Bourne, who runs the equally essential fansite by the name of The Railway Arms.
Having enjoyed Volume One so much, I sought out the follow up in my local Waterstones and even paid full price – £16.99.
But as I’m sure you are aware, it can be purchased for less online.
Thought you knew everything there is to know about Life On Mars?
Think again, sunshine.
This labour of love includes creator Matthew Graham revealing how John Simm almost ended up in a Cyberman suit, chased by Gene Hunt dressed as Jon Pertwee.

THERE are moments in life when you know you are very lucky to be in the right place at the right time.
Elling at The Bush Theatre in west London was one of those moments last night.
Downstairs, TV coverage of Liverpool’s penalty shoot-out victory over Chelsea, to reach the Champions’ League Final, gripped a packed bar.
Upstairs, drama of a different kind entranced a sold out fringe theatre of 80 ticket holders.
Some 85 per cent of the audience was female. Many, no doubt, were attracted by the presence of Life On Mars star John Simm.
I went expecting him to be brilliant, astonishing and totally different to his last TV character – Sam Tyler.
John was all three and much more as Elling, one half of an odd couple released from a Norwegian mental asylum.
Together with roomate Kjell Bjarne, played by former Teachers star Adrian Bower, they were placed in a state apartment in Oslo.

THE debate about the final episode of Life On Mars has certainly thrown up some interesting viewpoints.
Some fans continue to ask questions at The Railway Arms.
Named after Manchester CID’s 1973 local, it’s a brilliant fan site with some of the most passionate and intelligent comments to be found on the web.
It also demonstrates how a TV drama can spark creativity, humour, fun, serious debate, empathy and friendship via the world wide inter-web.
If you were a fan of the BBC1 series, then it’s a place you must seek out.
Members of the TV team, including John Simm and Dean Andrews, have also contributed their thoughts there from time to time.
And Life On Mars co-creator and lead writer Matthew Graham called in again this afternoon to “draw a line under a few points”.

IT’S out today with some great extras for fans.
Many will head straight for disc 4 and behind the scenes film: The End of Life on Mars.
Here are just a few extracts:
Matthew Graham on Sam’s return to 1973: “He chooses to go back to that world where he feels more alive than he’s ever felt.”
He adds: “We wanted him back in ’73, but it was how he got there. I think that was where the suicide thing really kicks in.
“Should he commit suicide. Is it suicide? I don’t think it’s suicide in his mind. It’s not suicide at all.
“He’s not running away from responsibility and from his life. He’s actually running towards responsibility. He’s running towards doing the right thing. He promised Annie he’d be there for her and he’s going back.”

“YOU can never be sure how it’s going to go down,” said Life On Mars co-creator Matthew Graham.
“You always know that with this show, there’s such a high level of expectation as to what it should be.
“Everyone has their own theories.”
We were talking just a few days before Tuesday night’s BBC1 screening of the last ever episode.
As it goes, the final 60 minutes has provoked a reaction, I suspect, beyond even the wildest dreams of Matthew and the rest of the TV team.
And it has sparked its own legacy – an explosion of debate which looks set to go on for weeks, months and even years to come.
Over at The Railway Arms, a poll shows that more than 81 per cent of fans have given the farewell episode a maximum rating, voting it one of the best.
And a further 11.8 per cent said it was very good.
A Digital Spy poll has some 61 per cent of people voting the episode “excellent” with 20 per cent rating it as “very good” and six per cent “good”.

WAS he mad, in a coma, back in time, or all three?
Millions of viewers saw the stunning finale to Life On Mars last night at the end of a two year TV rollercoaster ride.
In an exclusive first interview, lead writer and co-creator Matthew Graham spoke to me about both the conclusion of the BBC1 drama and the new spin-off series Ashes To Ashes.
And he revealed that – at its heart – Life On Mars was all about Sam In Wonderland.
There’s a feature in today’s MEN, but I thought fans of the show, including the regulars at The Railway Arms, would appreciate the long version, plus a few extras..
After all, there are things that people just need to know about LoM, nominated today as Best Drama Series in next month’s BAFTA TV Awards, with John Simm winning a hugely deserved Best Actor nomination.
The series is also nominated for the Pioneer Audience Award, voted for by the public.
So with apologies for a very unusual blog entry today, below are some of the secrets of the Life On Mars universe.
First, more good news, as I revealed here last night.

THE final credits rolled a few minutes ago on the last ever episode of Life On Mars.
Now here’s the news that has had to be held back to avoid spoiling the end of the best British TV drama of the 21st century – so far.
It’s also time to disclose the secrets of the Life On Mars universe, and a conclusion which has earned itself a place in television history.
Fans already know that London filmed and set spin-off Ashes To Ashes will be set in 1981 and star Philip Glenister in the return of DCI Gene Hunt.
It was also known that John Simm – simply stunning in tonight’s finale – would not be reprising his role of Sam Tyler in the new series.
Now it can be revealed that Gene will be joined in the new BBC1 drama by DS Ray Carling (Dean Andrews) and DC Chris Skelton (Marshall Lancaster).
Filming begins this summer, with all three officers transferred from North West District CID to the Metropolitan Police.