Life on Mars Wiki
A2A Episode 2.jpg
The Happy Day
Written by: Ashley Pharoah
Director: Johnny Campbell
Antagonists: David Bonds
George Bonds
Previous episode: Deja Vu
Next episode: Nothing Changes

The second episode of the first series of the British time travel police procedural television series, Ashes to Ashes, was first broadcast on 14 February 2008. The episode, known erroneously as "The Happy Day", was produced by Kudos Film & Television for BBC One.


As the royal wedding of H.R.H. Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer approaches, Hunt is determined to keep a protest about the Docklands redevelopment under control. Meanwhile, a DeLorean-driving playboy attracts Alex's attention.[1]

Opening titles narration[]

"My name is Alex Drake, I've just been shot and that bullet's taken me back to 1981. I may be one second away from life or one second away from death. All I know is that I have to keep fighting, fight to live, fight to see my daughter, fight, to get home."


Alex is watching television when she sees her mum on the TV talking about a case she has undertaken. All the officers are on high alert as Prince Charles and Lady Diana are to be married in a couple of days. Gene and Alex go to talk to David Bonds who is protesting, in his pub, on the refurbishment of the East End. He agrees to not cause any trouble until after the royal wedding. Gene tries to force Alex to have her bottom stamped as property of the station, an apparent tradition in the Metropolitan Police where the male officers moon her afterwards. Alex refuses. A message comes in from an apparent bomber after a stray dog is blown up by dynamite. The message says that "next time it's moore" and although everyone else assumes it to be a spelling mistake, Alex notices the note's perfect grammar and says if they can get that right then they can spell correctly. Chris says Moore might refer to Bobby Moore but is dismissed. Shaz suggests Daniel Moore, a man who is redeveloping parts of the East End. Hunt assign Chris to find which magazines the letters in the note came from.

Gene and Alex go to visit Moore who declines their offer of protection. Alex is immediately attracted to him. Back at CID, Chris has found the source of all the letters except the O's. Moore appears at the station and takes Alex for a drive in his De Lorean. When they park, Alex says she hears a ticking sound and they both struggle to get out of the locked car. The bomb turns out to be a fake to scare Danny, and he asks if the offer of protection still stands. Alex is visibly shaken by the fake bomb. Gene sends Alex saying she is no good to them being in the state she's in. At a restaurant Alex asks if Danny will be able to surprise her and he takes he to the Blitz, a famous London nightclub of from the era. They meet Shaz and Chris there and Alex is having a great time. She sees the Clown on the stage and follows him only to find him gone. The next day Alex tells Gene she recognises the weird 'O's in the letter and that they were on the shirt of Bonds' son. Gene is reluctant to bring the boy in until Alex agrees to let him stamp her butt. He is arrested and questioned but doesn't say anything. Whilst Gene is trying to stamp Alex, the Bonds' representative arrives: Caroline Price, Alex's mother.

Chris comes back from Bonds' pub with another stick of dynamite and they question George again with Price in the room. The suspect is charged and Caroline asks Alex for a drink. She asks Alex to spy on her fellow male workers and when she refuses Caroline says she's glad the only thing Alex shares with her daughter is her name because she would be ashamed to have Alex as a daughter. In revenge Alex goes to sleep with Danny but when reaching his office discovers him having sex with someone else. Gene suspects that George's father, David Bonds, is the actual bomber and brings him in for questioning. George confesses to protect his father. As George is being booked, Hunt pulls out a plastic bag and tosses it to Mrs Bonds and Mr. Bonds ducks under a desk thinking it to contain dynamite. Mr. Bonds was the actual bomber (having previously been an explosive expert serving in North Africa during the Second World War). At Danny's party to celebrate the wedding however Alex notices Bonds' son acting suspicious. Alex and Gene shout to everyone to run and Bonds shouts "we are all prostitutes", a reference to his favorite song by The Pop Group, before blowing himself up. Caroline comes to apologise to Alex for misjudging George's character and then announces she is going to spend time with her daughter. Alex looks out to see Gene and the rest of the squad mooning her as part of the deal.

Cultural References[]

  • This episode begins with Alex watching BBC's Nine O'Clock News presented by John Humphreys. He presented the programme from 1981–1987. She then changes channels to Panorama, the BBC's long-running current affairs and documentary show (1953 to present) presented by David Dimbleby (1974–1981). The clip is in black and white which the BBC had stopped using by the mid-seventies. David's father Richard Dimbleby had commentated on the Queen's coronation in 1953. Next, Alex sees Angela Rippon's intro to the BBC programme "Wedding Interview", broadcast at 6.00pm on Tuesday 28 July 1981, a fifteen minute programme containing a five minute interview with Prince Charles and Lady Di on the eve of the Royal Wedding conducted by Angela Rippon and Andrew Gardener. Also seen is a brief clip of the opening sequence of Nationwide: A Royal Celebration broadcast on Wednesday 29 July 1981 at 3.30pm. Later in this episode, a clip from this show featuring Sue Lawley is shown.
  • Chris says, "Guv's like a dog on a hot tin roof," referencing the Tennessee Williams play and film, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.
  • Chris says, "this is the last place left Guv. All the rest have been compulse—compulse…? They didn't want to leave but they had to." Chris is trying to refer to a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) which allows councils to obtain land or property without the consent of the owners, usually in the case of motorway construction and town or city re-development.
  • Red braces are mentioned, referencing the US film Wall Street, (released in December 1987) about a young accountant, Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen), desperate to succeed in the stock market who becomes involved with a wealthy unscrupulous corporate raider, Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas), who wore red braces. Gekko's catchphrase was, "Greed is Good". (In the UK, "braces" are used to hold up loose fitting trousers; in the US, these items are called "suspenders". In the UK, "suspenders" are what connect a lady's stockings to her garter belt, or, in the UK, "suspender belt".)
  • When Alex and Danny enter the Blitz nightclub, Alex says, "thanks George"' to the coat room attendant. This is a reference to Boy George, who was the coat-room attendant at The Blitz in 1981 before finding fame with the band Culture Club.
  • The band playing at the club that Alex and Danny (as well as Chris and Sharon) visit is Visage, who were performing "Fade To Grey". The band was composed of Steve Strange (appearing in a cameo in this episode as the on-stage singer), Midge Ure, Billy Currie, John McGeogh, Rusty Egan and Dave Formula. Sandrine Gourrio (mis-credited as Sandrine Gourrou), who joined the band in 2005, also appears. Although the song is announced as Visage's "new single" in the episode, "Fade To Grey" had been released the previous November.
  • Gene refers to Chris as "Ironstein", referencing Ironside, the late 60s-early-70s US cop show (known as A Man Called Ironside on BBC1) starring Raymond Burr as wheel-chair-bound detective Ironside, and Einstein, the famous German scientist who formulated the equation E=mc(squared).
  • "We Are All Prostitutes" was a single from the post-punk band The Pop Group.
  • Gene enquires, "Fine Fare?" after asking Mrs Bonds for another Garibaldi biscuit, to which she replies, "Presto's." Fine Fare and Presto were both UK supermarket chains. Fine Fare disappeared in the late eighties and Presto the late nineties. Later in this episode Chris returns to the station with the dynamite in a Presto plastic carrier bag with the slogan "You'll be impressed in Presto" on it.
  • David Bonds says, "Hitler couldn't drive my dad out of this pub," and "no poxy Docklands Development is going to succeed where the Luftwaffe failed. We ain't going nowhere." German bombing of London during World War II caused massive damage to the docklands area. Following post-war rebuilding in the 50s, the area became very profitable. From 1960–1980 all of London's docks were closed, leaving eight square miles of derelict land in East London. In 1981, the London Docklands Development Corporation was formed by Michael Heseltine to redevelop the area. The LDDC was accused of favouring elitist luxury developments rather than affordable housing for local communities who felt their needs were not being addressed. The LDDC was wound up in 1998.
  • Gene says, "since H.R.H. was sent a letter-bomb in May…" On 5th May 1981, a letter-bomb addressed to Prince Charles was found at the Post Office sorting office on New Oxford street.
  • Gene says to Alex, "we need to stamp your arse." Alex is surprised: "I beg your pardon?" Gene continues, "it's a tradition, when a woman joins the Met, skirt up, stamp your bum with today's date, down the pub, and you get to see us moon you." Alex replies, "you must be joking." Gene is not joking. Jackie Malton, a former Detective Chief Inspector and the first woman to join the Met's Flying Squad, said, "in my day, you used to get your bottom stamped with the CID stamp," when interviewed in 2008 for BBC Four's The Real Life on Mars programme, first broadcast Monday 11 August 2008.
  • "Bernie … the bolt," says Gene in the scene with the naked anarchists, etc., referencing the catchphrase from The Golden Shot (ATV, 1967–1978) in which contestants fired bolts at targets to win prizes. Bernie would place the bolt in the crossbow when Bob Monkhouse spoke the phrase.
  • Ray says "the pink or the brown", whilst this is a snooker phrase it also references a joke about Steve Davis who at the time was world snooker champion, being in bed with a lady and being unable to decide whether to go for the pink or the brown.
  • "Bobby Moore" is mentioned by Chris in the scene with the note from the bomber, and Ray mentions Escape to Victory. Bobby Moore was a famous football player in the 60s and 70s and captained the English team that won the world cup against Germany in 1966. Escape to Victory is a film made in 1981 in which he appeared as one of an allied team of POWs who play an exhibition football match against a German team and find themselves involved in a Nazi propaganda stunt during World War II. The film was released on 30th July 1981.
  • Gene refers to Alex as "Jean Brodie" after the character created by Muriel Sparks in the novel The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, in reference to the ITV series from 1978.
  • Gene says to Shaz, "when I want advice from a lobotomised Essex girl, I will ask, OK?" In the UK, the term "Essex girl" is a derogatory name for a promiscuous and unintelligent young woman originally from Essex.
  • Talking to Alex about Danny Moore, Gene says, "a personal friend of the great 'andbag herself, so behave yourself," refering to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
  • Investigating the source of the cut-out letters used for the bomber's letter, Chris says, "three of the letters are from the Mirror, two from a Millwall programme, and this curly thing 'ere—" Alex interjects, "the apostrophe?" Chris continues, "Yeah. It's from the Woman's Weekly, I think." He finishes, "it's these weird 'O's though. I can't seem to find them anywhere." "The Mirror" is The Daily Mirror, a national daily newspaper; A "Millwall programme" is a football programme, an A5-sized booklet sold at football grounds; and Woman's Weekly is a woman's magazine first published in 1912. The "weird 'O's" are known as "circle As" and are a well known anarchy symbol (a capital "A" within a circle) used by post-punk bands such as Crass.
  • Danny Moore drives a DeLorean motorcar in this episode. The car plant in Ireland ceased production in 1983.
  • Moore says to Alex, "you're an enigma wrapped up in a riddle." This is a misquote of part of a speech by Winston Churchill during World War II. "I cannot forecast to you the action of Russia. It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma, but perhaps there is a key. That key is Russian national interest."
  • Gene says, "just letting you know they could get to you Anytime, Anyplace...", referencing the TV ads for Martini, which had the slogan "Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere".
  • Gene tells Ray to "get some kip." Kip means sleep.
  • Moore mentions clown phobia. Coulrophobia is the fear of clowns.
  • Gene says to Alex, "you think our future king of England wants to become a tampon, so your views don't count," referencing the 1992 so-called "Camilla-gate" tapes. A transcript of the tape, recorded by a scanner on 18 December 1989, was first published in Australian magazine New Idea in 1992, and first published in the UK 17 January 1993 in The Sunday Mirror and Sunday People. There are two brief sections Camilla asks Charles what he will turn into, "a pair of knickers?" to which he replies "or, god forbid, a Tampax, just my luck." Later, Camilla speculates that Charles could come back as a box. Charles says, "what sort of box?" and Camilla replies, "a box of Tampax so you could just keep going."
  • Gene says, "let the old man go. I'm gonna squeeze 'is son's zits till I hit 'is nervous system." The US term for acne, spots, or pimples was first popularised in the UK by comedian Jasper Carrot in the late 70s.
  • Barry Manilow is mentioned.
  • Gene tells Alex to "lay back and think of Cheltenham" when he is going to stamp her bum, a bit of word-play on the UK phrase "lie back and think of England," meaning to grit your teeth and endure when doing something you find unpalatable.
  • Alex says, "I've had dinner with Germaine Greer, you know." Germaine Greer is an Australian feminist writer/journalist famous for her involvement with the publication OZ in the 60s, and later for writing The Female Eunuch.
  • While scanning the newspaper microfiche, Alex stops on a page with a notice for Operation Drake commemorative covers (a special edition of postage stamps from the Post Office on a piece of card, similiar to a first-day cover). Operation Drake was a two-year (1978–1980) round-the-world sea-faring expedition involving 414 young explorers from 27 countries aboard the four-masted saling ship Eye of the Wind. Prince Charles was its patron.
  • Alex mentions mentions The Id.
  • Gene says "Careful Bols, that Formica was hewn from above the hills of Florence", Formica is a heat resistant, wipe clean plastic laminate of paper or fabric with melamine resin usually used on tables in UK cafe's pubs and bars. It was invented in 1912 and is manufactured in England by Fletcher Building.
  • Alex says, "I'm lost, but now I'm found." Gene remarks, "Kenny Rogers?" Alex continues, "Book of Luke, chapter 15," refering to the parable of the prodigal son. The final line is, "He was lost, and is found." It may be more familiar as, "I once was lost, but now I'm found," from the lyrics of the song "Amazing Grace". Kenny Rogers is a US country and western singer/songwriter best known in 1981 for the song, "The Coward of the County".
  • Luigi says, "can I offer you desert, Signor Hunt?" Gene replies, "Dessert Luigi. How many times? 'Desert' is somewhere Montgomery gave your Nazi mates a bloody good hiding," refering to Field Marshall Montogomery who led the western desert campaign in North Africa against German commander Rommel, the Desert Rat. During World War II, Italy under Mussolini (Il Duce) allied itself with Nazi Germany for many years.
  • Talking to George Bonds, Alex says, "I've seen where this ends, George. Boys who haven't been born yet, so full of hate that they strap bombs to themselves to obliterate innocent people," refering to Muslim suicide bombers. This strategy was first employed by the Tamil Tigers in Sri-Lanka in 1987 by their Black Tiger Unit.
  • Shaz, watching the Royal Wedding in the CID room, says, "that's a lovely dress. That's Emanuel," refering to the royal wedding dress designers David and Elizabeth Emanuel.
  • Gene says, "all talk and no trousers," mixing the northern expression, "all mouth and trousers" which means to engage in empty boastful talk but with no real substance to back it up, with the expression, "all talk and no action," which means the same thing.
  • Danny Moore, in his speech near the Bonds' pub, mentions "barrow boys", "wide boys" and "ducking and diving". A barrow boy is a street seller of, traditionally, fruit and vegetables from covered movable stalls or barrows in London markets such as Covent Garden, also known as coster-mongers. "Wide boy" is a term for a man who lives by his wits, akin to a "Spiv" in the 1940s, "wide" in this context meaning sharp-witted. "Ducking and diving" means to be involved in many different money making schemes, not always honest ones.


Keeley Hawes and Rupert Graves have worked with each other previously in the ITV TV Movie The Blonde Bombshell—The Story of Diana Dors

Some extras in the Blitz Club scene were from Electric Dreams Promotions, who actually run regular 80s club nights in London, including a club actually called 'Ashes to Ashes' at The London Stone, and are friends with Steve Strange.


Cast Notes[]

Andrew Clover's website describes his role as "the Angel of Death". [2]



  • Swords of a Thousand Men - Tenpole Tudor Released in 1981
  • The Prince - Madness Released in 1979
  • Body Talk - Imagination
  • Money (That's What I Want) - The Flying Lizards
  • Fade To Grey - Visage (Steve Strange appears in this episode playing himself performing the number on stage at The Blitz Club)
  • Souvenir - Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark
  • We Are All Prostitutes - The Pop Group (The title of this song features in slogans adopted by a bomber who opposes the redevelopment of the Docklands.)
  • Geno - Dexys Midnight Runners Released in 1980
  • (We Don't Need This) Fascist Groove Thang - Heaven 17
  • I Hear You Now - Jon & Vangelis
  • Show Me - Dexys Midnight Runners
  • Gertcha - Chas and Dave Released in 1979


The Guardian reported on 15 February 2008 that, with 6.1 million viewers and a 25% audience share, the ratings for this 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.[3]


  1. Episode synopses, Ashes to Ashes, episodes 1 and 2, BBC Press Office, 28 January, 2008
  2. Andrew Clover's website, "This autumn, however, I've been playing the Angel of Death in Ashes to Ashes, and have felt more comfortable." accessed 11 February, 2008
  3. Almost 1m viewers desert Ashes to Ashes, The Guardian, 15 February, 2008
Smallwikipedialogo.png This page uses content from a deleted Wikipedia article. The original article was at Episode 2 (Ashes to Ashes). The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with Life on Mars Wiki, the text of Wikipedia is available under the GNU Free Documentation License.

Episodes of Life on Mars/Ashes to Ashes
Life on Mars:
Series 1 (2006): Episode 1   Episode 2   Episode 3   Episode 4   Episode 5   Episode 6   Episode 7   Episode 8
Series 2 (2007): Episode 1   Episode 2   Episode 3   Episode 4   Episode 5   Episode 6   Episode 7   Episode 8  
Ashes to Ashes:
Series 1 (2008): Episode 1   Episode 2   Episode 3   Episode 4   Episode 5   Episode 6   Episode 7   Episode 8  
Series 2 (2009): Episode 1   Episode 2   Episode 3   Episode 4   Episode 5   Episode 6   Episode 7   Episode 8  
Series 3 (2010): Episode 1   Episode 2   Episode 3   Episode 4   Episode 5   Episode 6   Episode 7   Episode 8  
Mini Episodes:
Fire Up the Quattro (2008)   Ashes to Ashes does Sport Relief (2010)