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A2A Episode 3.jpg
Nothing Changes
Written by: Julie Rutterford
Director: Bille Eltringham
Antagonists: Ryan Burns
Previous episode: The Happy Day
Next episode: The Missing Link

The third episode of the first series of the British time travel police procedural television series, Ashes to Ashes, was first broadcast on 21 February 2008. The episode, known erroneously as "Nothing Changes", was produced by Kudos Film & Television for BBC One.


With a serial attacker at large, Gene and Alex investigate a rape allegation from a prostitute. However, the case is in jeopardy thanks to an unreliable witness and the status of the suspect.

Cultural references[]

  • This episode begins with Alex watching Larry Grayson on The Generation Game. Grayson hosted the BBC TV game show from 1978–1982.
  • When Gene breaks the gnomes open to reveal packets of cocaine, he says, "Who's your mother, Marianne Faithful?" Marianne Faithful (1946–) is a British singer, songwriter, and actress whose career has spanned five decades. She had a much-publicised relationship with Mick Jagger and wrote for and influenced the Rolling Stones. She was also well known for her severe dug problems which left her living on the streets in the early 70s. Although she was recording again in 1981, she would continue to be plagued by drug abuse issues into the late 1980s.
  • At three points in this episode when handling the gnomes—by Ray at the scene, Chris back at the station, and Alex when she picks one off her desk and drops it in the bin—gnome-like laughter can be heard. This is a subtle reference to the David Bowie single, 'The Laughing Gnome'. First released in 1967, it was a flop, but was a chart hit when re-released in 1973, and flopped once more when re-released in 1981.
  • Alex mentions a "cognitive interview procedure." Cognitive Police Interviewing was developed in 1984 by Geislmein and Fisher and their colleagues in response to ineffective police interviewing techniques.
  • Gene says, "more beaks than Daffy Duck at a family knees-up", referencing the famous Warner Brothers cartoon character created in 1937. "Beak" is a UK colloquialism for a judge or magistrate, and a "knees-up" is a party.
  • Alex asks, "Where's the rape suite?" It was Charles Stewart, a BAFTA award winning director and cameraman, and Roger Graef's controversial TV documentary "A Complaint of Rape" (1982), filmed as they followed the Thames Valley police, that led to a major change in the way rape victims in the UK are interrogated. Victims had previously been questioned at the police station by male police officers who acted on the crude theory that if the victims couldn't stand up to their interrogation then they would be unable to survive the court cross-examination process. In the case covered by the documentary, because of the lack of forensic evidence, virtually the entire case rested on a brutally raped 14-year-old girl's ability to withstand what many felt was a merciless cross-examination in court. Rape suites are now set up in private houses where the victim can tell their story to a specially trained female officer, out of uniform and without fear of intimidation.
  • Alex says, "God is in the detail." The expression "God (is) in the detail(s)" expresses the idea that whatever one does should be done thoroughly; i.e. details are important. While many have used the expression, its originator is unknown. Sam Tyler uses the same phrase in Life on Mars Series 2: Episode 5.
  • Ray says, "oh, it's all right, lads. Wonder Woman's 'ere", referring to the DC comics female superhero created in 1939 by Charles Moulton Marston, in reference to the US TV series starring Lynda Carter (1977–1980).
  • Referring to Rosebury-Sykes, Gene says he's "a member of the funny hand-shake brigade", meaning that he is a Freemason.
  • Alex mentions the Yorkshire Ripper, referring to UK serial killer Peter Sutcliffe who was responsible for murdering a series of women from 1975 until he was caught in January 1981.
  • Ray burns his lip on a toasted sandwich, or so he claims, when he uses the stations new Breville sandwich toaster. Though such devices had been around since the mid-70s, they became more prevalent in homes in the UK in the eighties.
  • Chris, referring to Alex punching Gene, says, "she's like Joe Bugner in a frock", "Joe Bugner", was a famous Hungarian born English boxer, (later he moved to Australia) who at the time of this episode had retired for the third time and would make another comeback in 1982. Gene refers to Bugner in Life on Mars Series 2: Episode 7.
  • Gene reckons that Alex's friends are "more the old Pimm's-on-the-lawn brigade." Pimm's is an alcoholic fruit cup drink, some say liqueur, drunk mainly by the upper crust at such events as the Henley Regatta and Wimbledon.
  • Gene says, "I bet you'er on first-name terms with them Armstrong-Jones's," referring to Princess Margaret and her husband Anthony Armstrong-Jones. They were divorced in 1978.
  • Alex, talking to Gene, who is in fancy dress as Clint Eastwood's cigar-smoking spaghetti-western character "the man with no name", says, "you know, they say that a big cigar makes up for a less-than-impressive manhood." Gene remarks, "not this hombre, sweetheart." Alex continues, "it might do it for Monica Lewinsky, but it does nothing for me", Gene says, "Monica who?" and Alex ends with, "some girl who was attempting to go down well in the Whitehouse," referencing US President Bill Clinton's affair with Whitehouse intern Monica Lowinsky.
  • Chris, seeing Alex drag Ray off to dance, says, "jammie bastard," a UK phrase meaning "lucky", as in, if there were only two buns left you'd get the one with jam on.
  • Chris mentions "distemper", which is a viral disease that mostly affects domesticated dogs and ferrets. It is a single-strand RNA virus of the family paramyxovirus, a close relative of measles and rindpest.
  • Ray impersonates Spit the Dog when talking to Nina Akiboa. "Spit" was the hand puppet creation of Bob Carolgees and he regularly appeared with the puppet dog on Saturday morning kids' show Tiswas in the late 70s and early 80s. He was a one-note creation which basically reacted silently to Bob and spat. Bob tried to follow this puppet with Cough the Cat but this one didn't catch on with the public.
  • Trixie says, "I want justice" to which Gene replies, "tough tits! You've got me instead." "Tough tits" is a UK term meaning "hard luck".
  • Gene says, "You've got as much chance of of convincing this jury as Michael Foot has of becoming prime minister." Michael Foot was the leader of the Labour party in 1981, and never did become prime minister.


Cast Notes[]

Andrew Clover's website describes his role as "the Angel of Death". "This autumn, however, I've been playing the Angel of Death in Ashes to Ashes, and have felt more comfortable."


  • The Connaught Bridge, which would not have been built, is visible in the boat scene.



  • Staring at the Rude Boys - The Ruts
  • It's Different for Girls - [Joe Jackson
  • Let's Stick Together - Bryan Ferry
  • Over You - Roxy Music
  • Making Your Mind Up - Bucks Fizz
  • Ay Ay Ay Ay Moosey - Modern Romance
  • Planet Earth - Duran Duran
  • Happy Birthday - Altered Images
  • Autonomy - The Buzzcocks
  • Doors of Your Heart - The Beat

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)