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A2A Episode 4.jpg
The Missing Link
Written by: Mark Greig
Director: Catherine Morshead
Previous episode: Nothing Changes
Next episode: The Smoking Gun

The fourth episode of the first series of the British time travel police procedural television series, Ashes to Ashes, was first broadcast on 28 February 2008. The episode, known erroneously as "The Missing Link", was produced by Kudos Film & Television for BBC One.


CID uncover a plot to sell nuclear secrets to the Revolutionary Workers' Front, but Gene and Alex end up being trapped in a secret government facility in Edgehampton.

The investigation leads them to a feminist socialist group that was connected with the victim, and it is found that Martin Kennedy had been leaking information from Edgehampton to them. Edgehampton was the government nuclear weapons facility where he worked. Gene believes the murder occurred for simple reasons but Alex is sure it's conspiracy.

Photos of Caroline Price in a compromising position with Evan White are then found at Martin's workshop.

Alex and Gene use fake ID badges and a deciphered code to break into a secure vault in the Edgehampton facility to look for more clues. However, they end up trapped in a hot and airless vault.

Cultural references[]

  • The Fandango is mentioned.
  • Gene says, "off 'is noddle on acid, thinks 'es Superman." Noddle is a UK term meaning head or brain, acid is LSD, and Superman is the famous DC comics superhero created in 1938 by Siegel and Schuster.
  • Gene says Martin Kennedy "kept a stack of Color Climax close to his left hand", referring to the hardcore porn magazines produced by the Color Climax Corporation in Denmark starting in 1969, although only watered down soft-core versions were generally available through sex shops in the UK at that time.
  • Gene says "What if Lee Harvey Oswald shot Elvis and they both flew over the moon?" Lee Harvey Oswald was shot dead by Jack Ruby after being arrested for assassinating president John F. Kennedy during a motorcade at Dealey Plaza in Dallas Texas on 22 November 1963. Elvis Presley is the famous US rock 'n' roll star who died in 1978 but who many people claim is still alive. Tales of sightings of Elvis have been manyfold.
  • At Caroline Price's home, Alex picks up a purple-haired Troll doll. These were first created in 1959 by Thomas Dann, a Danish fisherman and woodcutter. The dolls have had brief periods of popularity in the UK and US in the 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s.
  • In her bedroom at Caroline's house, Alex picks up a Jackie Annual. This was the annual hardback edition of Jackie, a UK magazine aimed at teenage girls published by D.C.Thompson from 1964–1993.
  • Gene and co head to The Red Lion pub to break up the RWF meeting. The Red Lion is the 2nd most popular name for a pub in the UK and over 600 pubs are so named, and as such the name can stand for the archetypal UK pub.
  • At the RWF meeting, Sara Templeton refers to US president Ronald Reagan stockpiling neutron bombs. The neutron bomb is a fission fusion thermo-nuclear weapon designed to release a large portion of its energy as energetic neutron radiation, rather than explosive energy. It was conceived by Samuel T.Cohen in 1958 and testing of the device began in 1963 at the US underground test facility in Nevada. Development of the bomb was postponed by president Jimmy Carter in 1978 following protests against plans to deploy neutron warheads in Europe. Ronald Reagan restarted production in 1981. Three types of neutron weapon or ERWs (enhanced radiation weapons) were built: the W66 warhead for the anti-sprint missile system deployed in 1975, retired in 1976; the W70 Mod 3 warhead for short range tactical Lance missiles; and W79 Mod 0 developed for artillery shells. These last two were retired by president George H.W. Bush in 1992 following the end of the cold war.
  • Chris says, "We both like Kim Wilde". Kim Wilde, (the daughter of 60s pop singer Marty Wilde who had a hit with "Teenager in Love"), the blonde-haired English pop singer, became well known when her first single, "Kids in America" (released 26 January 1981) charted at no.2 in the UK charts. She had four more top 20 hits in the 81/82 period. From 1983 her singles failed to dent the top 20.
  • Referring to photos he has obtained from the RWF women, Ray says, "got these from one of the boilers." "Boiler" is a northern term for an unattractive woman.
  • Viv translates one of the cypher codes as "Artemis" and Alex says, "Artemis, goddess of the Hunt." Artemis, the daughter of Zeus and Leto, and twin sister of Apollo, was the Hellenic goddess of the hunt, wild animals, wilderness, childbirth, virginity, and young girls. Bringing and relieving disease in women, she is often depicted as a huntress with a bow and a quiver of arrows. Artemis 81 was a three-hour play by David Rudkin broadcast by the BBC on 27 December 1981.
  • Gene says, "You're the one pushing the Scooby Doo bollocks!" referring to the Hanna Barbera cartoon "Scooby Doo, Where Are You?" created in 1969 in which Fred, Velma, Daphne, Shaggy and his talking dog Scooby Doo investigated mysteries. "Bollocks" in this sense means "rubbish" or "nonsense".
  • MI5, is the Secret Service (more commonly known as MI5 (Military Intelligence, section 5), the UK's internal counter-intelligence and security agency.
  • Gene says, "What if Denis Thatcher was the fifth man?" Denis Thatcher was Prime Minister Magaret Thatcher's husband, and "the fifth man" relates to the 1960s Cambridge spy ring controversy. Anthony Blunt was publicly unmasked as the fifth man in 1979.
  • Chris refuses to get Shaz a "Marathon". Marathon was the UK brand name of the US candy bar Snickers created by the Mars company, which consisted of nougat, peanuts, and caramel coated in milk chocolate. In 1990, the UK version was renamed Snickers when Mars decided to align the UK product with the global Snickers name. Not to be confused with Mars's US-only Marathon bar, which was a braided eight-inch strip consisting of chocolate and caramel. Sold in the US from 1973-1981, this was a similar product to Cadbury's Curly Wurly.
  • Gene says, "Oh, the Prices again. Curiouser and curiouser." This is a quote from Lewis Carroll's novel Alice in Wonderland. Alice says, "curiouser and curiouser" as she grows larger after eating the "eat me" cake.
  • Alex says the names on the deciphered list are old tube station names. These are: Aldersgate, which is now the Barbican station on Aldersgate street; Chigwell Lane, which is now Debden station on Chigwell Lane; Dover street, which is now Green Park station; and, as Alex states in the episode, Gillespie Road is now Arsenal station, named after the football stadium; and Eastcheap is Monument Station, named after the monument to the Great Fire of London, known simply as the monument.
  • Gene says "I'm a copper, I don't like those spooky dooky bastards, especially when they've been eating my porridge," referencing the children's story Goldilocks and the Three Bears. "Spooks" is a term given to undercover operatives of government agencies. Originally a US term, it was popularised in the UK by BBC TV series Spooks (2002–2011) Keeley Hawes had a regular part as MI5 agent Zoe Reynolds in series 1 and 2, but her character was exiled to Chile in episode 6 of series 3.
  • The term "smoke and mirrors" is an expression for a deceptive, fraudulent, or insubstantial explanation or description, that originates from the magician's trick of covering their movements with the use of smoke and mirrors. "Smoke and Mirrors" is also the title of the last episode of series 2 of Spooks.
  • Gene says "As long as the trains run on time", referencing the statement that fascism wasn't all bad as "under Mussolini the trains ran on time."
  • In this episode, Alex, on the wall under her calendar of months leading to her parents death, has a Pop Group We Are All Prostitutes poster.
  • Throughout this episode, a variation of the question, "who killed Kennedy?" is heard, although this refers to the character Martin Kennedy, it is also a subtle reference to the assassination of US President John F. Kennedy on 22 November 1963 in the Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas by Lee Harvey Oswald.
  • After Alex has closed the vault door at Edgehampton, Gene says, "oh, well, thank goodness you've found us this ideal little 'iding place, 'eh Julian? All we need do now is wait for Timmy the bloody dog to raise the alarm", referencing Enid Blyton's series of books featuring The Famous Five (1942–1963) the five were George (short for Georgina, a tomboy), Dick, Anne, with Julian the leader, and Timmy the dog. Also featured were George's Aunt Fanny and Uncle Quentin. Two series were made by Southern TV in 1978/1979 and The Comic Strip presents... parodied the gang in their first show screened on Channel 4 Five Go Mad in Dorset on 2 November 1982. Sam Tyler mentions The Famous Five in Life on Mars Series 2: Episode 8.


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." accessed 11 February, 2008

The episode contains a number of nods to the 1985 BBC TV nuclear conspiracy thriller Edge of Darkness, written by Troy Kennedy Martin and directed by Martin Campbell (the name of the man killed for leaking information in this episode is Martin Kennedy). According to writer Mark Greig, "one of my favourite tv series of all time... not only does the ep reference it on numerous occasions, the structure itself is an homage. It's even got a dead daughter putting in an appearance!"


  • In the scene in the evidence room the gnomes containing cocaine can be seen in the background.



  • To Cut a Long Story Short - Spandau Ballet
  • Green Door - Shakin' Stevens
  • Girls on Film - Duran Duran
  • Enola Gay - Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark
  • London Calling - The Clash
  • Love Action (I Believe in Love) - The Human League
  • Reward - The Teardrop Explodes
  • Police and Thieves - The Clash

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)