|Series:||Life on Mars (UK)|
Ashes to Ashes
Detective Inspector (acting, 1983)
|US equivalent:||Det. Ray Carling|
|Spanish equivalent:||Raimundo García|
Detective Sergeant Ray "Raymondo" Carling was a detective of the Manchester and Salford Police and the right-hand man of DCI Gene Hunt throughout the 1970s. In 1980, he transferred to Fenchurch East in London with his superior officer Hunt and his peer DC Chris Skelton. In 1982, he was promoted to Detective Inspector after Hunt was forced into exile. In reality, Carling was a Detective Constable of the Greater Manchester Police in 1972 who committed suicide and awoke in Gene Hunt's World.
Real Life and Death
Raymond Carling was born in Lancashire on 11 April 1945 near the end of the Second World War (A2A Series 2: Episode 5). His father and grandfather were members of the British Army who presumably fought in the war. Many years later, he joined the local police constabulary, which merged into the Manchester and Salford Police, which in turn became the Greater Manchester Police. Eventually he became a Detective Constable under an unnamed DCI.
In the Spring of 1972, Carling applied for Basic Army training, which he failed. This led him to become severely depressed and dependent on alcohol, because he felt he was a disappointment to his father and grandfather. One night at a pub, he took out his anger on an intoxicated young man, whom he eventually killed. This was covered up by his DCI, which resulted in Carling sinking into a deeper depression.
On 1 May 1976, during the FA Cup Final, Carling committed suicide by hanging himself in his living room. (A2A Series 3: Episode 8)
Life on Mars
In Life on Mars, Ray is a detective in the 'A' Divison of the Manchester and Salford Police force. He initially takes a dislike to DI Sam Tyler (John Simm), since he hoped to get a promotion to Detective Inspector. He works closely with Gene Hunt and admires him greatly, not just because of the way he does things, but also as a sort of father figure that he never had. Ray also works well with Chris Skelton, and the two seem inseparable. In Ashes to Ashes, however, this friendship is tested after Chris takes his first backhander from a robbery, in order to pay off a loanshark he got involved with to pay for his girlfriend, WPC Sharon/Shaz Granger (Montserrat Lombard)'s engagement ring.
In Series 1: Episode 7, Ray is given the chance of proving himself, after Gene puts him in temporary charge of the station. While Gene and Sam head out to the local takeaway for a meal, Ray tries to get information out of small-time drug dealer, Billy Kemble, by using Gene's methods. When Gene and Sam return to the station, they find Kemble dead. Upon further investigation, Ray is found responsible for the death of this inmate, and realises that he can't be Gene or follow in his footsteps. He is disgraced and reduced to the rank of detective constable, although he is reinstated as detective sergeant later in the series.
Ashes to Ashes
Ray is transferred along with Gene Hunt, and Chris Skelton to the south of the country where they join the Metropolitan Police Service in London. Each of them retain their rank. The events of Ashes to Ashes, however, take place in 1981 with the arrival of Alex Drake and following the death of Sam Tyler.
Along with Chris and Shaz, it is revealed that Ray Carling also died in the real world in 1976. As a young DC, he commits suicide by hanging himself in a bout of severe depression, self-doubt, and alcohol abuse. Carling reveals it was primarily guilt caused by his accidental killing of a young man, which was white-washed by his DCI. He also felt he'd failed his father and grandfathers, who were all army sergeants, after he flunked basic training for entry to the British Army — a theme which runs through the series. We know he died in 1976 as on the TV in the room in which he committed suicide, the 1976 FA Cup Final between Manchester United and Southampton is being shown live.
In Gene Hunt's World, however, he "goes to the pub" at the same time as Alex, and in the company of Chris and Shaz. Shaz even jokes that it should be Ray and Chris getting married, an idea that makes Ray very uncomfortable, but which he fails to reject outright.
Ray has the black-and-white, carved in stone worldview of a 'real man' of his era. He supports Manchester United, one of the few deviations from his hero-worship of Gene Hunt, although he seems equally passionate about 'footy'. Ray carries a tremendous burden of expectation, given his family's history of service to Queen and country.
Of the main cast of both series, Ray is the second and final character to be brought into the time period that he was originally from when he passed away, the first being Gene Hunt.
|Characters of Life on Mars/Ashes to Ashes|
Sam Tyler / Gene Hunt / Annie Cartwright / Ray Carling / Chris Skelton / Alex Drake / Sharon Granger