IT starts on the day Alex Drake was shot by Arthur Layton.
Ending with a stunning revelation for the Detective Inspector trapped in 1982.
I have just watched the first episode of Ashes To Ashes series two.
And I’m still trying to get my breath back.
The long wait has been worth every single nano-second – here’s the exclusive first review.
Gene has returned to his table in Luigi’s and all is well with the world.
On the evidence of the first hour, series two is more assured, hitting its sure-footed stride with a menacing dark edge.
Philip Glenister and Keeley Hawes act their nylon socks off.
At ease with each other in a terrific TV double act.
With superb support from Dean, Marshall and Montserrat.
In among some delicious detail for those trying to work out “the bigger picture”.

THE Ashes To Ashes series two press pack has arrived.
Be warned…there are spoilers ahead.
So don’t read on unless you want to know.
Firstly the press pack reveals “the face from the past” which we were asked to keep quiet about.
Step forward Manchester newspaper reporter Jackie Queen, played by Ruth Millar.
She appeared alongside Gene Hunt in episode six of Life On Mars series one – the Manchester Gazette siege.
And will return to meet up again with Gene in episode four of the new Ashes series.
More than that, I cannot say…just yet.

DON’T get too excited.
The embargo is still in place on Ashes To Ashes material.
But I spoke again this afternoon to Dean Andrews (Ray) and Montserrat Lombard (Shaz).
Along with the rest of the cast, they’ll be busy this week filming a special BBC1 trailer for the second series.
Having already been hard at work on finishing touches to the eight new episodes, including dubbing.
Quite aside from other promotional work.
Everyone connected with Ashes knows that fans are frustrated and desperate for news.

THE busker started playing his guitar as I walked towards the escalator heading up to the street.
Piccadilly Circus underground station in London at 1pm today.
And his choice of song?
Stairway To Heaven.
I felt a sudden shiver down my spine.
Not due to any resemblance between an ascending Piccadilly Line escalator and the title of Led Zeppelin’s classic song.
With all due respect to Eros, Piccadilly Circus isn’t most people’s idea of paradise.
More to do with the fact that I was on my way to interview Philip Glenister ahead of the second BBC1 series of Ashes To Ashes.

THE sun burst out from behind rain clouds when I arrived at the Ashes To Ashes set this afternoon.
Philip Glenister (Gene Hunt) and Keeley Hawes (Alex Drake) were filming today.
Along with Dean Andrews (Ray Carling), Marshall Lancaster (Chris Skelton) and Montserrat Lombard (Shaz Granger).
Phil very kindly looked through a 1982 copy of the MEN I dug out from my loft.
While producer Beth Willis was on hand to provide an overview of the second series.
The team are about to start filming episodes five and six and are on course to finish the entire shoot in early February.
I’ll be doing more interviews with cast members ahead of the start of the new eight-part series.

WASN’T it great to see the Ashes To Ashes cast back on screen last night?
Complete with Alex’s new hairstyle and those much trailed highlights for Chris.
Though, sadly, no sign of Shazza.
I’ll be going on set soon for interviews ahead of the second series.
Though, as usual, the material will be embargoed until nearer transmission next year.
So in the meantime, let’s reflect on last night’s Top Gear Meets Ashes To Ashes in aid of Children In Need.
If you haven’t donated any cash yet, now’s a good a time as any.
Click here to go to the official Children In Need site.
The running sum raised at the end of the show at 2am today was £20.99m.

WELL, it’s been a while.
Filming for the second series of Ashes To Ashes is approaching the half way mark.
I’ll be on set to talk to the cast later this month.
And, hopefully, also talking to Philip Glenister at the launch of his ITV1 drama Demons the following week.
Phil gave an update on the new series of Ashes when he was interviewed on BBC Radio Five Live this afternoon.
As we know. It’s set a year on in 1982 – the year of the Falklands War.
He told the always excellent Simon Mayo that he hoped it would be screened on BBC1 from next March.
Update: My hunch had been that this may be the last series of Ashes To Ashes.
And that Phil was possibly getting ready to say farewell to Gene Hunt.

DON’T blow those candles out yet.
As Gene Hunt told Alex Drake: “It’s all about timing, this life.
“We’ve still got things to learn, adventures to have.”
That includes the Ashes To Ashes series one DVD – out on May 5.
You may have all eight episodes archived on hard drive, DVD, iPod or VHS.
You may have watched each one several times.
But if you’re an Ashes fan, the box set is an essential purchase.
Thankfully, there’s no repeat of the Life On Mars’ Wild Horses / Lay Down DVD music substitutions.
At least in terms of what I consider to be – Ashes To Ashes aside – the three most important music tracks:

IF you were hooked by Ashes To Ashes, then there’s one essential bookmark to have on the world wide interweb.
Fans at The Railway Arms have been able to take ownership of both Life On Mars and Ashes To Ashes.
At the same time they’ve exposed some of the nonsense spouted by certain headline-grabbing TV “critics”.
It demonstrates a healthy shift in power from those with an axe to grind and column to fill, to viewers who are more intelligent than many in the media and TV world think.
As Alex Drake said: “Imagine that.”
A number of the posts are more eloquent and perceptive than anything you will read elsewhere.
Is Gene Hunt real? Will the clown return for series two? And did you realise Philip Glenister’s eyes are the colour of the sea?