WHEN the TV awards are handed out next year, two names should be at the head of the list.
Philip Glenister and Keeley Hawes have brought Gene Hunt and Alex Drake alive on screen.
Which is quite an achievement when you step back and consider the basic premise of Ashes To Ashes.
The relationship between Gene and Alex ranges from exasperation to genuine affection and love.
No more so than in this week’s series finale.
If you haven’t done so already, you can read my preview of the final episode here.
Regular readers will know of my admiration for Keeley Hawes’ acting.

ALEX Drake takes the long way home in the final episode of Ashes To Ashes.
Philip Glenister and Keeley Hawes said it would be a very good and satisfying ending.
They weren’t wrong.
The final hour of series one, written by Ashley Pharoah, is a classic.
Among many highlights is a speech from the unbreakable Gene Hunt destined to be carved in the annals of TV history.
He also provides a last line to warm the hearts of Gene fans across the globe.
Chris ends up locked in a cell with, among others, Lord Scarman and music star Tom Robinson.
As with Life On Mars, there are echoes and mirrors from the very first episode.
And a revelation that turns Alex’s view of the world upside down, much like the camera angle in the opening moments some eight weeks ago.

YOU see it unfold with a horrible inevitability.
And then comes the sense of stunned disbelief.
Episode seven of Ashes To Ashes contains a big shock.
I’m not going to spoil the work of series co-creator and episode writer Matthew Graham by discussing the circumstances.
And I would advise fans to avoid any tabloids who may be tempted to run further details about this week’s episode.
Last Thursday’s end titles trailer left viewers with a sense of foreboding about what may lie ahead.
As this week’s episode begins, the Clown warns Alex: “Something dreadful is going to happen. I’m going to take someone.”

THERE’S a real treat this week for Gene Hunt fans.
It involves The Guv, a gun and a plate glass window.
Someone, somewhere, just has to turn it into a poster.
It’s an iconic moment in another great episode of Ashes To Ashes.
Episode six, written by Mick Ford, might just top everything we’ve seen before.
After a scintillating start, it’s a spine-tingling, scary and emotional ride to the end titles.
Then, just as the hairs on the back of your neck are pleading for rest, there’s a real shock in the trailer for episode seven.
Fans of the sexual chemistry between Gene and Alex should order in catering packs of pink wafers.
Philip Glenister is at his imperious best as DCI Hunt roars off to solve a Post Office blag.

THE jeans are tight and the hair big when you step back in time on the set of hit TV drama Ashes To Ashes.
It’s 1981, nearly dinnertime and former Sheriff of Manchester Gene Hunt is wearing in his cowboy boots as Alex Drake adjusts her perm.
The job of ensuring actors Philip Glenister and Keeley Hawes look the part, along with the rest of the cast, is down to costume designer Rosie Hackett, who spent months researching the era.
There’s an interview with Rosie in today’s MEN but, like Chris Skelton in his white jeans, it was slightly squeezed for space.
So I thought fans might like the option of reading this fuller version online.
Rosie’s father Bert Hackett is a celebrated cartoonist for The Birmingham Post but started as a graphic illustrator at the MEN.
She began her own career as a fashion stylist on music videos in the later Eighties, including several for Annie Lennox. “You can work off memory, which is exciting because it all starts to come back to you,” explains Rosie.

ALEX Drake walks with dinosaurs in this week’s visit to 1981.
We’ve already seen her dead on a 2008 slab in the trailer, with that single bullet wound to the forehead.
There’s more to see as those visions and flashbacks continue in Ashes To Ashes.
Episode five – surely we can’t be over half-way already? – is destined to be known as “The Gay Episode”.
It’s yet another great hour of TV. Well, 56 minutes and 13 seconds if you’re being pedantic.
Dan Fredenburgh guests as ruthless killer and drug dealer Simon Neary with Russell Tovey as his young boyfriend Marcus.
Highlights? There are many:
*The fury of Gene Hunt, making his mark.

STEADY now, ladies.
Gene Hunt looks particularly windswept and interesting as he emerges from his red Audi Quattro this week.
Even better, The Guv has finally got Luigi to serve him a pint of beer.
Episode four of Ashes To Ashes is, in my humble opinion, the best yet.
To cut a long story short, it’s a tale of murder, spooks, feminists and that shock for Alex Drake (Keeley Hawes).
Gene (Philip Glenister) reckons murder is always about “money, sex or bloody women”.
Writer Mark Greig gives him some great lines, including one that should become standard issue against conspiracy theories.
There are poignant scenes as Alex goes back to her 1981 childhood home, filled with precious memories.

THE BBC is to screen tonight’s episode of Ashes To Ashes despite concern about its content.
The decision comes in the wake of the verdicts in the Suffolk murders trial, which a jury returned this afternoon.
Steve Wright, 49, of Ipswich was found guilty of murdering five women, who were working as prostitutes.
He will be sentenced tomorrow at Ipswich Crown Court.
Tonight’s scheduled episode of Ashes To Ashes involves a police investigation into the murder of a young choir girl and rape and attempted murder of a prostitute.
It also includes scenes which feature a prostitute being abducted and threatened with death.
After hours of deliberation, BBC executives decided to go ahead with tonight’s episode of the drama, the third in the new series.

CARDS on the table, as Alex Drake said last week.
Episode three of Ashes To Ashes, screened tomorrow night, is my least favourite so far.
It’s nothing to do with the subject matter – the treatment of rape victims and prostitutes in the 1980s.
More linked to some uncharacteristic leaden lines, a few unconvincing scenes, plus an altogether odd feel to a generally slower paced episode.
Having said that, it’s still not to be missed – and I did like the episode more after re-watching it a second, third and fourth time.
There’s an extract from Larry Grayson’s Generation Game via the TV in Alex’s second floor flat above Luigi’s.
Also more of the fleeting light that appears to be linked to Alex’s daughter Molly.
We meet the 1981 version of Molly’s godfather Evan White.

GENE Hunt inspired by Manchester United boss Sir Alex Feguson.
Philip Glenister banned from driving the Ashes To Ashes Audi Quattro.
Both stories have appeared in a certain newspaper this week.
At least one of them is, how shall we say, a touch economical with the truth.
Let’s take the Fergie claim first.
It appeared the morning after the United v City Manchester derby under the headline: “Hunt Has Fergie In His Genes.”
The story provided an excuse for a mocked up pic of Gene – but with Ferguson’s face superimposed – beside Alex Drake (Keeley Hawes).
And the intro read: “Ashes To Ashes star Philip Glenister has revealed his inspiration for TV’s gruff detective Gene Hunt – Man Utd boss Sir Alex Ferguson.”
I’ve since checked with Phil and, as I suspected, he maintains he said no such thing.
Since series one of Life On Mars, he has told the story of how he researched the role of Gene Hunt.