IT looked like yet another quiet evening in with a tin of ‘oops and a Life On Mars DVD.
Then the postman delivered an invite to a night out with Gene Hunt.
“There’s no dress code,” the DCI explained on mug-stained North West District Police headed paper, “but try and make an effort, eh?
“The place will be packed with birds, so unless you’re a Catholic priest you might want to try and impress them.”
The occasion was tonight’s London cast and crew premiere of Life On Mars – The Finale.
(Don’t worry about having your enjoyment of next week’s final episode ruined. This blog remains spoiler free and you’ll find no clues below)

“SAM. I appear to have killed a man…”
The penultimate episode of Life On Mars highlights a cast and crew working together as a team at the very top of their form.
Screened on BBC1 at 9pm this Tuesday, the mystery of why modern day detective Sam Tyler is in 1973 Manchester continues to unfold.
DCI Gene Hunt (Philip Glenister) is arrested for murder and asks Sam (John Simm) for help.
Is the arrival from Hyde of acting DCI Frank Morgan, played by Ralph Brown, significant?
Does this spell the end of the Gene Genie?
And why is the CID office so tidy?
One thing is certain – the final moments will have fans counting down the minutes to the last ever episode on April 10.

IS television run by “a lot of fools”?
That’s the view of Life On Mars star Philip Glenister, who thinks television is “screwed up”.
In an interview with today’s Radio Times he also described reality shows as “sadistic” and said EastEnders was “up its own ****”.
You could be forgiven for thinking that Glenister had sent his no-nonsense Manchester cop DCI Gene Hunt along for the chat.
But he has always held strong views about the industry he works in and one he has known since an early age.
His father John was a cameraman turned TV director and elder brother Robert – star of Hustle – went into acting before him.
I’ve interviewed Phil several times and he’s always good company, with a sharp sense of humour.
And he’s not afraid to speak his mind.

IT has been a real joy to write about Life On Mars.
We all see things in different ways. But, for me, it’s one of the greatest TV dramas ever to grace the small screen.
There are now just three episodes left on BBC1 before fans finally discover how the series ends.
I’ve been lucky enough to see all three – including episode eight of this second and final series.
I can’t, of course, reveal anything about the fate of Sam, Gene. Annie, Chris, Ray and co.
But I can say that I absolutely loved the ending.

THERE’S a cracking episode of Life On Mars to enjoy on BBC1 tonight as the final series reaches the half way mark.
Episode four is the one featuring the Cheshire wife-swapping party, Sam not wearing his leather jacket and the arrival of Tony and Cherie Blair.
It’s also the story which includes no fewer than three ex-Corrie actresses and one current Rovers regular.
You can read more here in today’s MEN feature interview with Marshall Lancaster, who plays DC Chris Skelton.
Having also seen episodes five and six, Life On Mars appears to be getting better the closer it moves towards the final curtain.

BIDDING has now started for the real star of Life On Mars.
Gene Hunt’s Ford Cortina has burned its last rubber in anger on the mean streets of 1973 Manchester.
As detailed in a previous blog entry here, the car is being sold on eBay, with all proceeds going to Comic Relief.
You can check out the auction here, along with some photos of what you’d be buying.
There’s also more info from the Gene Genie himself.

THE stars of top TV dramas get all the limelight. But they’re usually among the first to credit the production teams who bring them to the screen.
Read the closing titles for Life On Mars and you’ll realise just what a team effort the BBC1 hit is.
So there was much sadness when stunt co-ordinator Peter Brayham died in December.
One of the world’s top stuntmen over the last 40 years, he worked on five episodes in the first series of Life On Mars and a number in the second.
John Simm told me: “He was a lovely guy who worked on both series and was brilliant at stunts. He was also a stunt guy for The Sweeney. It’s a tragedy.”

A man walked up to Liz White when she was on location filming Life On Mars in Manchester.
“Tell that Gene Hunt he’s got it spot on,” the bystander informed her. “I was a policeman in Manchester in 1973 and that’s exactly what it was like.”
I met up with Liz , who plays WDC Annie Cartwright in the BBC1 drama, twice last year.
Once was on set with John Simm and Philip Glenister in Manchester. The other time was in London for the launch of Jimmy McGovern’s The Street, in which she also appeared.
Filming Life On Mars was a long slog for the cast and crew, who also had to contend with a studio filled with dry ice for many of the scenes at the police HQ.

THAT would be the Camberwick Green episode in the new series of Life On Mars.
The freeze frame button on my remote is worn out after watching episode five, which sees Sam Tyler tripping the light fantastic.
Among Sam’s white light visions is a mystery face, possibly from his 1973 future. And wouldn’t you just know it, there’s something strange on the TV.
There are also plenty of potential clues for fans searching for the answer to the central mystery at the heart of the BBC1 series.

LIFE On Mars star Philip Glenister confirmed tonight for the first time that he is set to return in sequel Ashes To Ashes.
Appearing as a guest on BBC Radio 4’s Loose Ends, he was asked if it was true that the Gene Genie would appear again in the new project, set in the 1980s.
“Yes…possibly,” replied a cagey Glenister, being interviewed in the studio on his 44th birthday.
“I don’t want to talk about it too much because I don’t want to detract from this series.
“But there is talk that DCI Gene Hunt might return Miami Vice style.”