Life on Mars Wiki
Gene Hunt
Series: Life on Mars (UK)
Ashes to Ashes
Rank: Detective Chief Inspector (1973)
Police Constable (formerly)
Year of Birth
Date of Death
2nd June 1953 (Aged 19)
The Guv
The Gene Genie
The Manc Lion
Gordon Brown
The Lion of Fenchurch East
Nigel Perkins
Significant others: Mrs Hunt
Alex Drake
Actor: Philip Glenister
US equivalent: Gene Hunt (Major Tom)
Spanish equivalent: Joaquín Gallardo

Detective Chief Inspector Gene Hunt (1934–1953 onwards) was the often brutal, self-important superior officer of DI Sam Tyler in 1973 and DI Alex Drake from 1981 to 1983. In 1980, following the apparent death of Tyler, he transferred from Manchester to Fenchurch East in London with his colleagues. In reality, he was a young police constable in 1953 who was shot dead and awoke in the same decade in the supernatural plane of existence which came to be known as Gene Hunt's World. Although he forgot or suppressed this fact, he believed it was his duty to assist those who had been victim of trauma to accept their death so they were able to progress to "the pub" and move on.


Early Life[]

The ghost of 19-year-old Gene Hunt (played by Mason Kayne) (A2A Series 3: Episode 1)

Gene Stephen Hunt was born in 1934 in the south of the county of Lancashire. His childhood was very harsh because his father was an abusive drinker who often beat him and his brother Stuart due to a "harsh Lancastrian upbringing". As a teenager, he discovered that his brother was a drug addict. Hunt attempted to reform him until he ran away from his family and was never seen again (LOM Series 2: Episode 5). At the age of 17, he performed his National Service and joined the police two years later. In 1953, at the age of 19, Hunt became a Police Constable (presumably for the Lancashire Constabulary). PC Morrison became his mentor and guide (A2A Series 3: Episode 8).


During the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II on 2 June 1953, on his first week on patrol as a constable, Hunt, Morrison, and their colleagues were on duty in Farringfield Green near the town of Horwich. When one of his colleagues gave PC Morrison whisky, he became inebriated and left to celebrate with the local villagers leaving Hunt alone. He heard a noise from an isolated farmhouse and presumed that some young people had broken in so he decided to investigate. In order to enter the property, he kicked the door open and was shot in the head by an unknown man with a shotgun (who was either an armed burglar or in fact the real owner of the house). To hide the evidence, his body, along with his uniform and his warrant card, were buried in a shallow grave beside a scarecrow and the man who killed Hunt fled the area. His body was not discovered until 2008 by some travellers in the area (A2A Series 3: Episode 8).

Gene Hunt's World[]

Following his death, Hunt awoke in the supernatural world known as "Gene Hunt's World" in the same decade as his death. For 30 years, he forgot about his death by drowning it with alcohol (A2A Series 3: Episode 8).

Eventually, he joined the Manchester City Police (which merged into the Manchester and Salford Police in 1968) where, as a young Manchester constable, he worked with Harry Outhwaite — a legendary D-Day veteran who was accepting bribes from a local gangster. Seeing it was the right thing to do, Hunt reported Outhwaite to his superior officers, which resulted in Outhwaite's suicide due to humiliation and Hunt losing his reputation. A month later, he accepted his first bribe which he deeply regretted (LOM Series 1: Episode 4). Prior to 1968, he entered a relationship with an unnamed woman and married her.

In 1968, when the Manchester and Salford Police was formed, Hunt was promoted to Detective Inspector and transferred to "A" Division, CID of the Stopford House police station under DCI Harry Woolf, who became his mentor. Before Sam Tyler (John Simm)'s arrival in 1973, Hunt was promoted to Detective Chief Inspector by Woolf (who had been promoted to Detective Superintendent) (LOM Series 2: Episode 1).

As the archangel of his own "kingdom", he was joined by DS Ray Carling (Dean Andrews), DC Chris Skelton (Marshall Lancaster), WPC Annie Cartwright (Liz White), and several other police officers who had been killed in the near future whom he would help reach "the pub". (A2A Series 3: Episode 8)

Life in 1973[]

"A word in your shell-like, pal" - Hunt introduces himself to DI Sam Tyler. (LOM Series 1: Episode 1)

As the Detective Chief Inspector of Manchester CID, Hunt is respected by the subordinate members of his team. When DI Sam Tyler arrives at CID in the first episode of the series, Hunt is quick to make it clear that he is Tyler's superior. He demonstrates his willingness to accept bribes from criminals — a practice which he continues until local crime boss Stephen Warren murders a girl for helping Tyler in Series 1: Episode 4. In episode 2 of the show's second series, it is discovered that Woolf is corrupt and was the mastermind behind several robberies. Hunt, despite his fierce loyalty, brings down Woolf.

Although Hunt's method of policing is brutal at times, his goal is very clear: locking up bad people. He is initially disdainful of female police officers, however he tolerates WPC Annie Cartwright's promotion to CID in the second series, and accepts her as a part of the team.

Hunt's major rivals in the police force are DCI Litton (Lee Ross) of the Regional Crime Squad, and DCI Frank Morgan (Ralph Brown), who replaces Hunt when he is accused of killing a man in Series 2: Episode 7. In the show's final episode, Morgan goes so far as to set up Hunt and his team to confront train robbers without arranging the promised backup, in the hope of eliminating Hunt by killing him.

Gene Hunt first refers to himself as "The Gene Genie" in Life on Mars Series 1: Episode 3. This is a play on the David Bowie song, "The Jean Genie", released in late 1972 and heard in Series 1: Episode 4. Hunt refers to himself as the Gene Genie more frequently in the sequel series, Ashes to Ashes, and his character theme music on the later programme is an instrumental version of "The Jean Genie" (retitled "Gene Genie"), created by series composer Edmund Butt.

The 1980s[]

It is revealed in the first episode of Ashes to Ashes ("Deja Vu") that, following the events of Life on Mars, Hunt worked with Sam Tyler for another seven years before Tyler's apparent death during a high-speed pursuit. Shortly thereafter, Hunt transferred out of the Greater Manchester Police, to the Metropolitan Police Service, alongside Ray Carling and Chris Skelton. They are joined by WDC Sharon Granger (Montserrat Lombard).

Set in 1981, Ashes to Ashes sees Hunt divorced, and having replaced his trademark Cortina with an imported Audi Quattro. Hunt remains as determined as ever to crack down on crime in his area, but has become somewhat more professional in his behaviour, secure in his authority, and organised in his approach since the 1970s. He has embraced some aspects of modern policing, but is convinced that old-school policing methods are on their way to being excised from the force, along with the officers who still practice them. He also meets Alex Drake during a police drugs raid on a party, unaware that she, like Tyler, has travelled into his timeline from the future. At first, Hunt mistakes her for a prostitute. They work together, along with Carling, Skelton and Granger until 1983, when it is revealed that they are all dead, and this world is a purgatory for dead coppers.


The first series of Ashes to Ashes, set in 1981, reveals Hunt to have divorced and replaced his Ford Cortina from Life on Mars with an Audi Quattro, which his actor, Philip Glenister explained as being imported from Germany. He is also portrayed as being more professional, less aggressive, and calmer than when last seen in Life on Mars, set in 1973. Hunt first meets Alex Drake, the protagonist, during a police drugs raid at a party. Initially, he mistakenly believes that she is a prostitute, and is unaware that, like Sam

Alex accuses Gene of stopping her from getting home

Tyler, she has travelled back in time from the future. He takes her in for questioning, only to discover that she is his new Detective Inspector. 

During the series, the main storyline follows Alex Drake in her struggle to return to the present day. In order to do this, she believes that preventing the death of her parents, Tim and Caroline Price, will enable her to return. While watching the death of her parents in the finale of the first series, she discovers that the person she remembers taking her hand as a child was Gene Hunt and not Evan White as she previously thought. This leads her to question if Hunt is real and not a figment of her imagination.


The second series, set in 1982, introduces a new storyline in which Hunt and Alex Drake work together to expose corruption within Fenchurch East CID. As well as the corruption storyline, Drake is stalked by Martin Summers (Gwilym Lee & Adrian Dunbar), who also claims to be from the future. After several discoveries and unofficial investigations led by Hunt and Drake, it is revealed that the newly introduced character, Charlie Mackintosh (Roger Allam) is heavily involved in the corruption. During episode four, after finding out that Hunt and Drake know about his corruption, Mackintosh shoots himself and with his dying words warns them of "Operation Rose", but dies before he can reveal more details. Summers, also involved in Operation Rose, plants a tape stolen from Drake on Hunt's desk on which she had questioned his existence and motives. After playing the tape, Hunt furiously demands an explanation from her, who is forced to explain that she is from the future, which enrages Hunt, thinking that Drake has taken him for a fool.

During the series, Hunt and Drake begin to notice that files and evidence have gone missing. Eventually it is revealed that Chris Skelton had been paid large sums of money to undermine the investigation into Operation Rose, and had done so in order to pay for his wedding to Shaz Granger. Without informing those involved in Rose that Skelton has been discovered, Hunt uses him to gain information. It is revealed that Rose is the code name for an upcoming robbery of a van carrying gold-bullion, masterminded by corrupt officers. After a heated argument with Drake, Hunt suspends her and confiscates her warrant card, threatening to kill her if he finds her involved in the following day's events.

During the finale, Hunt shoots Martin Summers dead in order to save Drake's life and accidentally shoots her afterward. With no witnesses, he is accused of attempted murder. After being shot, Drake awakes in the present day to be greeted by her surgeon and her daughter Molly, but observes Hunt screaming at her through hospital TV screens to wake up. She realises that she is now in a comatose state in 1982, and that the 2008 world she has woken into is illusory.


During the first episode, it is revealed that, following Hunt's accidental shooting of Alex Drake, he was accused of attempted murder and fled to the Costa Brava and Isle of Wight for three months. After waking Drake from her comatose state, Hunt is suspended by Jim Keats, from the Discipline and Complaints Department (D&C), who has been sent to assess Fenchurch East CID in the wake of Drake's shooting and as part of Operation Countryman. Keats unofficially assures Hunt's team that he will file a good report about them, before privately telling Hunt that he "hates him", "knows what he did three years ago" and will "dismantle the station around him".

Also, the nature of Sam Tyler's death is questioned by Drake and Keats. Drake conducts an unofficial investigation into the events, and requests old witness statements and reports on Tyler's death along with the leather jacket he was seen wearing during Life on Mars. Drake later finds Hunt burning the files and jacket. As well as this, she is haunted by a police officer with injuries to his face, and finds a picture of the officer taken earlier without injuries in Hunt's desk.

In Episode 6, Hunt leads a riot control unit into the HM Prison Fenchurch, to quell a major riot. However, the overwhelmed officers are forced to retreat, and, in the confusion, Sergeant Viv James is captured by the rioters. Hunt later sends Ray and Chris in undercover as reporters, but they are exposed and captured. The orchestrator of the riot, Jason Sachs, consequently ties Ray, Chris, and Viv to an electrified metal wall, which will be activated when the riot control unit led by Keats storms into the building to rescue the hostages. A prisoner who escaped during the chaos, Paul Thordy, reveals that Viv actually supplied Sachs with a firearm. Gene and Alex then turn off the electrics in the building, saving Chris and Ray. After freeing them, Gene pursues Sachs, who has taken Viv hostage: Sachs then fatally shoots Viv, who is discovered by Keats, and dies, much to the devastation of a distraught Gene, who blames himself for Viv's death.

During the penultimate episode, Drake asks Hunt if he killed Sam Tyler, with Hunt explaining that Tyler had been acting "weird" and asked for Hunt's help in faking his own death. However, the vision that Drake has of the police officer with injuries to the side of his face is connected to Tyler's presumed death, and a roll of undeveloped film apparently reveals where the policeman is supposedly buried. Along with this, Shaz, Ray and Chris all have visions of stars, as if looking up at the sky, and hear strange voices as described by Chris as Nelson (Tony Marshall), the publican from Life on Mars, asking him what he would like to drink.

Gene is left on his own outside the Railway Arms


During the last episode, Hunt is revealed to be part of a supernatural world, a form of limbo, populated by dead police officers. His role has been described as an "archangel", helping the souls in a place between "earth and heaven" to get where they wanted to be. His role is to take them "to the pub"—moving on to a "heaven" beyond. It is later revealed that Hunt had done this for many officers before, including Sam Tyler and, presumably, Annie Cartwright. It is revealed that the main characters of the show are all dead. Shaz Granger was stabbed during the 1990s while trying to stop a car thief, Chris Skelton was shot dead during a firearms incident, and Ray had killed a young man and his DCI had covered it up; the guilt overwhelmed him, leading to his suicide. Because of the period of time each had spent in limbo, they had all forgotten their previous lives, something which had also happened to Hunt.

The uniformed police officer haunting Drake is revealed to be Hunt, killed as a young constable after a week in the police by an armed burglar on Coronation Day in 1953. His body is buried where Drake expects to find Tyler's body, but instead she finds Hunt's original warrant card. In reality, his grave is left undiscovered until 2008 when it is found by a group of travellers.

Hunt characterizes his younger self as "skinny," headstrong, and full of male bravado; he confesses that he'd completely forgotten about his past. Keats, confronting Hunt along with the rest of his team, destroys his office to reveal the universe outside and accuses Hunt of manufacturing his own fantasy world, in which he'd entrapped the souls of Shaz, Chris, Ray and Alex. Keats then convinces everyone else except Alex Drake to accept a "transfer" to his own department, but with Alex's help, Hunt persuades them to return.

Afterward, Hunt takes Ray, Chris, Shaz and Alex "to the pub"—The Railway Arms, a favoured hangout in Life on Mars, where they are greeted outside by Nelson. Ray, Chris and Shaz enter, but Keats appears and tries to persuade Alex to come with him. This attempt fails when Alex realizes, observing Keats' wristwatch frozen at 9:06, that she has also died in the real world. Hunt is able to persuade Alex to accept her death and enter the pub, but not before they share a kiss.

In the closing moments, the series comes full circle back to Life on Mars as another officer from the future appears wondering, like Alex and Sam, who has changed his office, and wondering where his mobile is, and Gene Hunt ventures out to greet him in his usual fashion—using exactly the same words he used to greet Sam Tyler in his first ever scene in Life on Mars: "A word in your shell-like, pal."

After 1983[]

"A word in your shell-like, pal" - Hunt greets his new DI in his final appearance scene. (A2A Series 3: Episode 8)

Following the departure of his former colleagues, Hunt returned to his office in Fenchurch where he was immediately approached by a New Arrival who had died in the year 2009. Presumably, he worked alongside Hunt as his Detective Inspector just as Tyler did in 1973.


Personality and appearance[]

The character of Gene Hunt is politically incorrect, having been described as an old school

Gene Hunt as he appeared in Ashes to Ashes

copper. It is said that the character thinks of himself as a sheriff at high noon in a western genre film. Philip Glenister, the actor who plays Hunt has described his character as "intuitive" and "instinctive". Glenister has also drawn similarities between Hunt and football managers, José Mourinho and Brian Clough on account of his "arrogance" and way of thinking.

Throughout both Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes, Hunt often makes comical remarks, which have led to him being labelled a folk hero and cult figure by a national newspaper. During Life on Mars, Hunt is described by the protagonist, Sam Tyler, as an ""overweight, over-the-hill, nicotine-stained, borderline alcoholic homophobe with a superiority complex and an unhealthy obsession with male bonding" to which Hunt responded "You make that sound like a bad thing." The BBC explains that in Ashes to Ashes, Hunt's personality remains unchanged, apart from him "losing grip on the power he had as a police officer".

During Life on Mars, Hunt often wore a beige camel coat with a white shirt and striped tie, grey suit and trousers with white slip on shoes, typical of the period. In Ashes to Ashes, he is often seen wearing a black suit, Crombie coat and snakeskin boots.


Gene Hunt often maintains a "love-hate relationship" with Sam Tyler and Alex Drake, the main protagonists of Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes respectively. Throughout Life on Mars, the source of disagreements between Hunt and Sam Tyler are their differing policing methods. Such as, Hunt has been described as "not being scared of throwing a few punches to get a result", whereas both Tyler and Alex Drake are present day detectives who value forensic evidence and thorough investigative techniques rather than corruption and violence.

Gene and Sam often had disagreements about each other's policing methods

John Simm, the actor who plays Sam Tyler, has stated that both his character and Hunt have a grudging respect for the other's approach to policing as well as Hunt seeing much of his younger self in Tyler. However, Hunt and Tyler's relationship eventually improves after Tyler returns to the present day only to kill himself so that he can return to save Hunt and the team, however Hunt does not know this. During Ashes to Ashes, information about Sam Tyler can be seen on the walls of Hunt's office in Fenchurch East Police Station.

During the first series of Ashes to Ashes, Hunt's relationship with Alex Drake is much of the same as with Tyler. The pair are always arguing with each other and both disagree over the other's methods. In episode four of series one, Gene and Alex end up getting locked in a vault at Edgehampton; it gets so hot to the point where they both strip off. Gene tells her he'd rather suffocate than boil. When Alex asks Gene if she will die, he puts his arm round her shoulders and she snuggles up to him, resting her head against his chest. When they are eventually rescued by Chris, Ray and Shaz, the pair are clearly embarrassed at being found in this position. As usual, Gene later goes back to his usual sarcastic self.

In episode six, Gene has to come to Alex's rescue when she finds herself gagged and bound in Chaz Cale's industrial freezer. He is later seen emerging from it carrying Alex in his arms before performing CPR on her. She wakes before he can give her mouth to mouth. However, by the second series Hunt and Drake's relationship developed in a positive way. Both characters now respect each other and argue less along with sharing a distinct sexual tension with each other.

By the third series of Ashes to Ashes, Hunt and Alex's relationship becomes strained when DCI Jim Keats begins to plant seeds of doubt in Alex's mind about the nature of Sam Tyler's death, however Alex's faith and love for Gene makes her unwilling to believe that he would murder Tyler. In the penultimate episode of series three Alex and Gene dance in her apartment along to Spandu Ballet's 'True'. She rest her head on his shoulders; the pair then look up into each other's eyes before nearly kiss but are interrupted by Keats. At the end of the third series, Alex and Gene share a kiss.

Throughout both Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes, Ray Carling and Chris Skelton are described as being "ever-faithful" to Hunt. Carling is described as Hunt's "right-hand man when it comes to fighting, shooting, gambling and the ladies". However, in Life on Mars, Carling feels threatened by Hunt and Tyler's relationship feeling "mortified that he's lost his mate and drinking partner", whereas Chris Skelton finds his loyalty "torn between Gene and Sam".

Behind the Scenes[]

DCI Hunt as he appeared in Life on Mars.

Bantam Press have published two books written from the in-character perspective of Hunt; The Rules of Modern Policing, and The Future of Modern Policing. The character is portrayed as a "politically incorrect chauvinist" who has no qualms about using violent tactics in order to get a result. He has a love/hate relationship with his Detective Inspectors, Sam Tyler (John Simm) and Alex Drake (Keeley Hawes), the lead protagonists of Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes respectively, whilst commanding fierce loyalty from his junior officers, DS Ray Carling (Dean Andrews) and DC Chris Skelton (Marshall Lancaster). The character received much critical and public acclaim for his role in Life on Mars, being dubbed both a "national hero" and an unlikely sex symbol, as well as being voted Britain's favourite TV hero. Ashes to Ashes provoked more negative reviews, with accusations of repetition of material, alongside mounting concern that Hunt's bigoted ideals made him a "pin-up boy for the Daily Mail".

  • While the 'Rose Tyler/Doctor Who' origins of Sam's surname are well-documented, it seems at least possible that Gene may have been named with the graphic Cockney rhyming slang "Berkshire Hunt" in mind.

Key Life Events[]


Of the main cast of both series, Hunt is the first character to be brought into the time period that he was originally from when he passed away, the first being Ray Carling.

Characters of Life on Mars/Ashes to Ashes
Sam tyler thumb.jpg  Gene hunt thumb.jpg  Cartwright thumb.jpg  Ray carling thumb.jpg  Skelton thumb.jpg   Alex drake thumb.jpg   Sharon granger thumb.jpg
Sam Tyler / Gene Hunt / Annie Cartwright / Ray Carling / Chris Skelton / Alex Drake / Sharon Granger