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definition - Ashes_to_Ashes_(TV_series)

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Ashes to Ashes (TV series)

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Ashes to Ashes

Ashes to Ashes title sequence
GenreTime travel
Police procedural
Created byMatthew Graham
Ashley Pharoah
StarringPhilip Glenister
Keeley Hawes
Dean Andrews
Marshall Lancaster
Montserrat Lombard
Country of originUnited Kingdom
No. of episodes16 (List of episodes)
Executive producer(s)Jane Featherstone
Simon Crawford-Collins
Matthew Graham
Ashley Pharoah
Producer(s)Beth Willis
Running time60 minutes
Production company(s)Kudos Film & Television
Original channelBBC One
Picture formatPAL (576i)
Original airing7 February 2008 - Present
Preceded byLife on Mars
Related showsLife on Mars (American version)
The Girl of Yesterday (Spanish version)
External links
Official website

Ashes to Ashes is a British science fiction/police procedural drama television series, produced by Kudos for the BBC and created by Matthew Graham and Ashley Pharoah. It serves as the sequel to the BAFTA-winning Life on Mars.[1][2] The series tells the fictional story of Alex Drake (played by Keeley Hawes), a police officer in service with London's Metropolitan Police who is shot in 2008, and inexplicably regains consciousness in 1981.[3]

The series' first episode reveals that in the present day, Drake has been studying records of the events seen in Life on Mars. Upon waking in the past, she is shocked to meet returning character Gene Hunt (Philip Glenister), who she has learned of from her research. Throughout the series, it is ambiguous to both Drake and the audience whether the character is dead or alive in the present day.

The series began transmission on BBC One in February 2008. A second series began broadcasting in 2009. A third and final series has been commissioned to be shown in 2010.[4]



Throughout the first series, Ashes to Ashes was broadcast weekly on Thursdays on BBC One at 9:00PM, with the episodes directed by Jonny Campbell, Bille Eltringham and Catherine Morshead. Filming for the second series began in 2008, and began airing on 20 April 2009 in the same timeslot. The second series takes place six months after the first, set in 1982 during the Falklands War.[5]

A third and final series has been commissioned, and filming of the final eight 60-minute episodes began in late 2009, to be broadcast in spring 2010.[6] The series will be shot in HD.[7] In an interview with SFX, series co-creator and executive producer Matthew Graham stated that he is considering making a 3D episode.[8] Once again, the series will move on a year, this time to 1983.[9] Philip Glenister, speaking on the BBC One Breakfast TV programme on 8 June 2009, announced that the third series will be the last.[10] Producers have revealed the climax of the show will reveal who the character of Gene Hunt really is.[11]

The programme premiered on American television on 7 March 2009, available on both cable and satellite. The second series was to begin broadcast on 2 May 2009, but instead has been postponed.[12] In Australia, Series 1 of Ashes to Ashes commenced on 10 August 2009 on ABC1, with the second series also shown later that year. In Portugal, the show is broadcast on Fox Life, while in Latin America, the series is shown on HBO Plus.


Episode guide

The first series is set in 1981, and consists of eight episodes, mainly by creators Ashley Pharoah (episodes 2 & 8), and Matthew Graham (episodes 1 & 7). Other writers for the series were Julie Rutterford (episode three) and Mark Greig (episodes 4 & 5), who worked on the parent series, "Life on Mars". The remaining episode (6) was written by freelance writer Mick Ford. The series deals with Alex trying to figure out what happened to her parents, whose lives are connected to the political unrest of the time, especially Margaret Thatcher's campaign and Lord Leslie Scarman's attacks upon the police. Alex is haunted by the Clown from the music video of David Bowie's "Ashes to Ashes", in a similar way to how the Test-Card Girl spoke to Sam Tyler in "Life on Mars". In the last episode, the clown's identity is revealed.

The second series is set in 1982, against the political background of the Falklands War. Again the second series has eight episodes. The first episode of the series was written by Ashley Pharoah, and deals with the cover-up of a police officer killed in a nightclub. As the series progresses, Alex's comatose body is found in present day 2008. As Gene finds himself confronting a corrupted force, Alex begins receiving a string of phone calls from a man called Martin Summers, another patient at the hospital Alex has been moved to. Summers proves to be a formidable adversary, his actions eventually lead to a shocking murder and the most tense confrontation yet between Alex and Gene.


The soundtrack features contemporary songs by British groups of the period such as punk period survivors The Clash and The Stranglers, New Romantics such as Duran Duran and Ultravox, synthpop such as Jon & Vangelis and OMD, as well as the later period Roxy Music and The Passions' sole hit single, "I'm in Love with a German Film Star", from 1981. A scene in the second episode, "The Happy Day", set at The Blitz features Steve Strange playing himself performing "Fade to Grey" by Visage. The last episode in Series 1 ends with "Take the Long Way Home" from Supertramp's Breakfast in America 1979 album. Episode 2 also contains the classic Madness song "The Prince".

A CD soundtrack, Ashes to Ashes, from the first series of the show was released on 17 March 2008.[13] A CD soundtrack, Ashes to Ashes - Series 2, from the second series of the show was released on 20 April 2009.[14] An official website was created to promote it http://www.thebackintimes.com.

During the second series, 1980s background music (some of which had been used during the show) was available to UK digital TV viewers by using the red button immediately after the show. Clips from Top of the Pops, The Old Grey Whistle Test and other 80s BBC TV music programmes were introduced by Philip Glenister in his guise as DCI Gene Hunt were looped for the remainder of the evening of transmission.

Depiction of the early 1980s

As with the parent series, there are anachronisms. At least one, however, is intentional: the Audi Quattro was not available in right-hand drive in the United Kingdom in 1981, only in left-hand drive. The car shown in the TV series is the 1983 model, with slight changes to the headlights and other features.[15] Philip Glenister admitted that the production was aware of this and said, "But who cares? It's a cool car." and mused that Hunt probably got it as a dodgy German import.[16]


Based on overnight returns, The Guardian reported that audience figures for the 7 February 2008 broadcast of the first episode, in a 9:00 pm slot on the flagship channel, BBC One, were 7 million: about 29% of viewers. The figure was "in line with the final episode of Life on Mars in April last year, though well up on the earlier show's second series debut of 5.7 million two months earlier," but The Guardian noted "the heavy publicity blitz this week for Ashes to Ashes" as a factor in its success against the opposition.[17]

Critical reception to the first episode of the series was mixed,[18] with positive reviews from The Daily Telegraph,[19] The Herald[20] The Spectator,[21] and the New Statesman[22] and negative reviews from The Times,[23] The Sunday Times,"[24] Newsnight Review,[25] The Guardian[26] and The Observer, which criticised the episode's direction, structure and tone (although it did praise the costumes and art direction).[27] The national free sheet, Metro, gave the episode four stars as "a vote of faith" on what it described as "a dodgy start".[28]

The Guardian reported on 15 February 2008 that, with 6.1 million viewers and a 25% audience share, the ratings for the second episode, shown on 14 February, were down by almost one million on the first, comparing overnight returns. It still did well against the Lynda La Plante police procedural Trial & Retribution, which fell to a series low on ITV.[29] The fifth episode, broadcast 6 March 2008, attracted 6.6 million viewers according to overnight returns.[30] With this episode, The Daily Telegraph stated that "Ashes to Ashes stepped out of the shadow of Life on Mars."

After the final episode of the first series, The Daily Mirror stated that although one or two episodes were lacking, in the end it was a satisfying finish to a series which had a lot to live up to, and deserved a second series.[citation needed] Addressing press complaints about the quality of Keeley Hawes' performance, Philip Glenister defended his co-star, stating, "It's a hellishly difficult thing to come into and I've seen how hard she works and how brilliant she is. To all those detractors, they're just plain wrong."[31]

Entertainment news website Digital Spy praised the show's return with cult editor Ben Rawson-Jones describing the opening episode of the second series as "greatly promising".[32] It was watched by 7.01 million viewers.[33][34]

The second series has been nominated for The TV Dagger at the 2009 Crime Thriller Awards. Keeley Hawes and Philip Glenister have received nominations in the Best Actress and Best Actor categories respectively.[35]

DVD releases

TitleRegion 2Region 4Episodes
Ashes to Ashes: The First Series5 May 20081 October 20091-8
Ashes to Ashes: The Second Series13 July 20095 January 2010 [36]9-16


  1. http://www.bbc.co.uk/pressoffice/pressreleases/stories/2009/03_march/26/ashes.shtml
  2. BBC Press Office (2008-01-17). "Programme Information - Network TV Week 6 - Unplaced". Press release. http://www.bbc.co.uk/pressoffice/proginfo/tv/wk6/unplaced.shtml#unplaced_ashestoashes. Retrieved 2008-01-17. 
  3. "Ashes to Ashes - swapping the Ford Cortina for an Audi Quattro, DCI Gene Hunt rolls up his sleeves and embraces the Eighties in sequel to Life On Mars". BBC. 2007-04-11. http://www.bbc.co.uk/pressoffice/pressreleases/stories/2007/04_april/11/ashes.shtml. Retrieved 2007-04-11. 
  4. "Final series of Ashes to Ashes will 'reveal all' about Gene Hunt". Telegraph. 8 June 2009. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/tvandradio/5476451/Final-series-of-Ashes-to-Ashes-will-reveal-all-about-Gene-Hunt.html. Retrieved 2009-06-08. 
  5. "Press Office - Ashes To Ashes series two press pack". BBC. 2009-03-26. http://www.bbc.co.uk/pressoffice/pressreleases/stories/2009/03_march/26/ashes.shtml. Retrieved 2009-03-31. 
  6. http://www.bbc.co.uk/pressoffice/pressreleases/stories/2009/09_september/25/ashes.shtml
  7. http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2009/06/hd_masters_conference_keynote.html
  8. "the leading science fiction, fantasy and horror magazine". SFX. 2009-04-20. http://www.sfx.co.uk/page/sfx?entry=ashes_to_ashes_returns. Retrieved 2009-06-08. 
  9. http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/tv/a176390/tube-talk-goes-to-the-tv-quick-awards.html
  10. "Entertainment | Arts & Culture | One more series for TV's Ashes". BBC News. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/arts_and_culture/8089176.stm. Retrieved 2009-06-08. 
  11. "Entertainment | Ashes to Ashes gets third series". BBC News. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/8089163.stm. Retrieved 2009-06-08. 
  12. "Message from the Action Man: BBC America Pulls "Ashes to Ashes" Season Two, Slots "Primeval" Season Three Instead". http://www.televisionaryblog.com/2009/04/message-from-action-man-bbc-america.html. Retrieved 2009-05-03. 
  13. "Music - News - 'Ashes To Ashes' soundtrack announced - Digital Spy". Digital Spy<!. 2008-03-05. http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/music/a90882/ashes-to-ashes-soundtrack-announced.html. Retrieved 2009-03-21. 
  14. "Ashes to Ashes Official Soundtrack Website". The Back in Times. 1982-06-08. http://www.thebackintimes.com. Retrieved 2009-06-08. 
  15. [Expression error: Missing operand for > "Philip Glenister interview"]. In Gear supplement, The Sunday Times. 
  16. Nathan, Sara (2008-01-17). "Ashes to Ashes: Dust to dust". The Sun (News Group Newspapers). http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/showbiz/tv/article695618.ece. Retrieved 2008-01-17. 
  17. Ashes burns up the opposition, The Guardian, 8 February 2008
  18. A perfectly smooth change of gear, by Robert Hanks, The Independent, 8 February 2008. Retrieved 08 02 2008.
  19. Last night on television: Ashes to Ashes (BBC1) - Cutting Edge: Who Killed the Playboy Earl? (Channel 4) by Gerard O'Donovan, Daily Telegraph, 8 February 2008
  20. Back in the Day when PC meant Copper by David Belcher, The Herald, 8 February 2008
  21. In praise of Ashes to Ashes, by Matthew d'Ancona, The Spectator, 8 February 2008
  22. Let's do the time warp again, by Rachel Cooke, New Statesman, 7 February 2008
  23. Ashes to Ashes, TV review by Andrew Billen, The Times, 16 January 2008
  24. A A Gill (2008-02-10). "Attenborough takes on reptiles in Life in Cold Blood". Sunday Times (London: Sunday Times). http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/tv_and_radio/article3320129.ece. 
  25. NewsNight Review, 7 February 2008, on BBC iPlayer, duration 35 minutes, requires Windows XP or Windows Vista
  26. Sam Wollaston (2008-02-08). "Last night's TV". The Guardian (Guardian). http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2008/feb/08/television.tvandradioarts. 
  27. Kathryn Flett (2008-02-10). "Fading hopes of Life after Mars". The Observer (Observer). http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2008/feb/10/television.tvandradioarts. 
  28. Keith Watson (2008-02-08). "Ashes To Ashes could be a slow-burner". Metro. http://www.metro.co.uk/metrolife/article.html?in_article_id=97913&in_page_id=9. 
  29. Almost 1m viewers desert Ashes to Ashes, The Guardian, 15 February 2008
  30. The Guardian: Up from the ashes, 7 March 2008
  31. "BBC Newsbeat: Glenister defends ''Ashes to Ashes'' co-star". BBC News. 2008-03-13. http://news.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/hi/entertainment/newsid_7293000/7293756.stm. Retrieved 2009-06-08. 
  32. "Is 'Ashes to Ashes' back in style?". Digital Spy. 2009-04-22. http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/cult/a153227/is-ashes-to-ashes-back-in-style.html. Retrieved 2009-06-08. 
  33. BBC Press Office. "Network TV BBC Week 16 Highlights 18–24 April 2009". Press release. http://www.bbc.co.uk/pressoffice/proginfo/tv/2009/wk16/. Retrieved 2009-04-07. 
  34. Ashes fires back for second series - Media Guardian, 27 March 2008
  35. Allen, Kate (7 September 2009). "Coben, Cole, Atkinson vie for crime awards". The Bookseller. http://www.thebookseller.com/news/96297-coben-cole-atkinson-vie-for-crime-awards.html. Retrieved 7 September 2009. 
  36. http://www.ezydvd.com.au/item.zml/810090

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