Life on Mars Wiki
A2A Episode 7.jpg
Charity Begins At Home
Written by: Matthew Graham
Director: Catherine Morshead
Antagonists: Gil Hollis
Ska boys
Previous episode: Over the Hill
Next episode: Alex's Big Day

The seventh episode of the first series of the British time travel police procedural television series, Ashes to Ashes, was first broadcast on 20 March 2008. The episode, known erroneously as "Charity Begins At Home", was produced by Kudos Film & Television for BBC One.



A man who raised twenty thousand pounds for charity is the victim of an armed robbery. Pressure from senior officers in the station cause Gene Hunt to go "the extra mile" but despite his efforts the only leads are pointing to the man who raised it himself - Gil Hollis. Alex Drake is convinced that he knows more than he lets on and tries to help him regain his memory with no success. Gene is humiliated on the live TV show Police Five attempting to appeal to the public to come forward and help with the investigation. In his frustration he attempts to beat information out of Gil. Alex has Hunt removed from the case and discovers evidence that Gil shot himself and faked the robbery to keep the money for himself. Unfortunately Gil has fled and is nowhere to be found.

That night, while the team update Hunt on their hidings, Gil confronts them and shoots at the restaurant. After a face off with Gil and Gene, they give chase, with Shaz first on the scene.

Shaz attempts to arrest Gil and in doing so ends up getting stabbed with a briefly seen knife that Gil is still holding after using it to recover the stolen money from behind the advertising board. When the rest of the team arrive, with uniformed back-up, they find Shaz wounded and apparently close to death.

Chris is distraught. Although Gil is already in custody, and in handcuffs, Gene stands by and allows Chris and Ray to beat up their prisoner, despite the objections of Viv. Chris punches Gil in the face and he falls to the ground. Chris and Ray then violently kick him again and again as he lies on the ground.

Alex, refusing to lose control and to give in to death, continues to perform CPR until Shaz revives. Sharon complains to Alex that she "doesn't like clowns" and Alex realises that Sharon is seeing the same clown that haunts her.

Cultural references[]

  • Police Five, presented by Shaw Taylor, with police officers in the studio asking for the public's help in catching criminals, was a five-minute show screened at Saturday teatime just before the news. It began on ATV London in 1962 and was quite revolutionary for the time. The Saturday version was a London-specific regional programme. ATV ran a Midlands-only version during the week and later many other regions copied the format for their own local shows. Granada TV called theirs Police File. In 1968 it transferred to LWT, after ATV lost the London franchise. LWT moved the programme to Sunday afternoons at 1.00pm and in the mid-70s, added an expanded 15-minute version before News At Ten appropriately titled, Police One Five. The show ran successfully until it was cancelled in 1992. During the run, it also spawned a for-kids version, Junior Police Five for which Shaw Taylor originated the catchphrase, "and remember, keep 'em peeled!" which he later also used on the adult version.
  • During his Police Five appearance Gene says, "Don't have nightmares; no, do have nightmares" referencing the catchphrase used on the series, Crimewatch, a later BBC version of the Police Five idea/format with police officers in the studio asking for the public's help to catch criminals. The BBC version usually lasted an hour or more. It originally aired as Crimewatch UK. in 1984 (and was spoofed by UK comedian Bobby Davro as "Crimewatch O.K.") and was presented by Nick Ross and Sue Cook. Sue left in 1995. Her replacement was Jill Dando, who was murdered in 1999. Nick was replaced in 2007 because of his age. The current host is Fiona Bruce. Nick Ross's catchphrase at the end of each edition was, "Don't have nightmares".
  • As Gene's look-alike on the Police 5 programme puts on sunglasses, Chris says, "Move over, Lewis Collins, eh?” Lewis Collins (1946–) is an English actor best known for his tough-guy role as Bodie in the crime drama, The Professionals (1977–83).
  • When Ray’s look-alike on the Police 5 programme appears, wearing jewellery, Chris does a Jimmy Savile impression: " Jingley jingley. Jingle jangle…" Sir James Wilson Vincent Savile, OBE, KCSG (1926–2011) was a British disc jockey, television presenter, and tireless charity fundraiser. In 1980, he was well known for his BBC television show Jim'll Fix It, (1975–84) which granted the wishes of several viewers (usually children) on each programme. Savile was frequently spoofed for his distinctive appearance, which almost always consisted of a track suit or shell suit, along with gold jewellery. Savile also fronted a series of commercials promoting seatbelt use which used the phrase “Clunk! Click! Every trip.” Ray recites the slogan in Series 1: Episode 8 of Life on Mars and DI Alex Drake would say the same thing to Ray in Series 1: Episode 8 of Ashes to Ashes. Jimmy Savile's voice on the radio gives DI Sam Tyler information on his condition in Series 2: Episode 8 of Life on Mars.
  • Chris mentions that he has recorded the Police Five show on his Betamax VCR. Betamax (or "Beta") was Sony's home videotape format. Although slightly smaller and slightly better than Beta, it was eventually squeezed it out of the market by JVC's VHS format.
  • Gene says, "Raymondo, pull in all our regular snouts." A "snout" is a police informant.
  • Ray says, "be all over it like red dots on a tart's mini." This is a play on the expression, "all over it like a rash," and "mini" is UK slang for a woman's genitals.
  • Leaving with Alex to try to jog Gil Holis's memory, Gene says, "I'm going to go and do a bit of mind-reading with Uri Geller here." Uri Geller (1946–) is a self-proclaimed psychic known for his trademark television performances of spoon bending and other supposed psychic effects, from the 70s onward. Geller has been accused many times of using simple conjuring tricks to achieve the effects of psychokinesis and telepathy.
  • Shaz says, "Ding Dong, Avon calling" referencing the catchphrase of the Avon perfume company adverts (the doorbell rings, ding-dong—"Avon calling"). Their salespeople, working on commission, sold perfumes and cosmetics door to door. Gene uses the same phrase in Series 1: Episode 8 of Life on Mars.
  • Ray says of his TV double on Police Five, "I don't look like Eddie Yeats." Eddie Yeats was a lovable, overweight binman played by Geoffrey Hughes on Granada TV's soap opera Coronation Street. Eddie lodged with Stan and Hilda Ogden and appeared on the show from 1974–1983.
  • Terry Wogan is heard on the radio twice in this episode. Sir Michael Terence Wogan, KBE, DL (1938–) known as Terry Wogan, is a veteran Irish radio and television broadcaster who has worked for the BBC in the UK for most of his career. Before he retired from the weekday breakfast programme Wake Up to Wogan on BBC Radio 2 on 18 December 2009, Sir Terry had a regular 8 million listeners, making him the most listened-to radio broadcaster of any European nation. Sir Terry has been a leading media personality in the UK since the late 1960s and is often referred to as a national treasure. He is perhaps best known in the UK for his BBC1 chat show Wogan, for his work presenting Children in Need, and as the host of Wake Up to Wogan, which he was still hosting in Alex's time.
  • The Chief Superintendent says he is a friend of "Syd Little". Syd was the guitar-playing straight man to Eddie Large who formed the comedy duo Little and Large who were famous in the late 70s and 80s. Syd was tall and skinny with glasses and Eddie was short, fat, and curly haired. Chris and Ray stand in front of a poster of them at the TV studio, indicating that they are the Little and Large of Fenchurch East.
  • The Chief Super also mentions Juliet Bravo, and The Gentle Touch which starred the curly haired Jill Gascoine. Juliet Bravo was the first BBC cop show to feature a uniformed female police chief as the lead character, and The Gentle Touch on ITV was their first to feature a female police detective inspector as the lead character.
  • Alex refers to the thieves as "hoodies", a term Gene is unfamiliar with (see below). The term "hoodies" was first used in the UK during the 90s when the sweatshirt with attached hood became popular amongst teenagers. Young troublemakers are often referred to as "gangs of hoodies".
  • When Alex calls the thieves "hoodies", Gene responds "They're blaggers, not characters from Watch with Mother." Watch with Mother was a banner title used from 1955 to early 1973 in BBC Radio Times TV listings for a number of different BBC shows aimed at pre-school kids that were stripped Monday to Friday on BBC1. Notable series include: Andy Pandy, The Woodentops, The Flower Pot Men (known as Bill and Ben), Pogle's Wood and Camberwick Green. The programmes continued to be shown after the name "Watch with Mother" was dropped, and were replaced in 1980 by See-Saw.
  • Gene says to Gil Hollis "whilst we're tripping the light fantastic of your mind…" "Tripping the light fantastic" is a term that means to dance nimbly or lightly.
  • Roger De Courcey and his cheeky hand-puppet Nookie Bear became well known in the UK in 1976 when Roger won ITV talent show New Faces. Roger and Nookie appeared in their own ITV children's series in 1981 titled Now for Nookie made by Southern TV.
  • Gene says "We're talking about villains, not the bloody Waltons", referring to the US TV series The Waltons (1972–1981) about a wholesome family growing up in rural Virginia during the depression, and in later episodes, the Second World War. Each episode finished with a shot of the house at night with the family saying goodnight to each other: "Good night, Mary Ellen; good night, John Boy" etc. It was screened on BBC2 in the UK.
  • Gene and co. use Dinky toy cars when plotting out Gil Hollis's attackers' escape route. Dinky toy cars were originally manufactured by the Meccano company in 1934. The range became popular from 1954 when for the first time the cars were sold in individual boxes. Their main rival from 1956 were Corgi toy cars manufactured by the Mettoy's company. In 1964, Tri-ang toys took over the parent Meccano company. Dinky cars stopped being made in November 1979.
  • Also during the above scene, Gene, Chris, Ray, and Shaz mention the names of eighties, nineties and noughties boy-bands: New Kids on the Block, Take That, East 17, Backstreet Boys, and Busted.
  • Chris impersonates Miss Jones and Rigsby from the YTV sitcom Rising Damp (1974–1978). Miss Jones was played by Frances De La Tour and Rigsby by Leonard Rossiter.
  • Commenting on the idea that one of Gil's attackers was female, Chris says "Think she wears heels or comfortable shoes?", intimating that she may be a lesbian.
  • Alex says the robbers are suffering from "Bonnie and Clyde Syndrome". Bonnie and Clyde were notorious depression-era bank robbers who were shot to death by US law officers in 1934. And Gene says "syndromes are named after films?", refering to the 1967 US film Bonnie and Clyde starring Faye Dunaway as Bonnie Parker and Warren Beatty as Clyde Barrow, and directed by Arthur Penn.
  • Ray mentions "Roadrunner Syndrome" referencing the famous Warner Brothers cartoon character created by Chuck Jones in 1947, always foiling Wile E. Coyote, running away after using his trademark "Beep-beep" sound.
  • Shaz quotes the line, "Diligence is the mother of good fortune," correctly identifying it as being form Don Quixote. Don Quixote is a novel written by Miguel de Cervantes in the early 1600s. It is considered to be a founding work of modern Western literature, and one of the greatest works of fiction ever published. Shaz says she learned the quote from University Challenge, a British quiz programme featuring university teams competing against each other. Produced by Granada Television and filmed at Granada Studios in Manchester since its inception, University Challenge aired for 913 episodes on ITV from 1962 to 1987, presented by quiz master Bamber Gascoigne.
  • Alex mentions that her father used to read her to sleep with extracts from The Lion , The Witch and The Wardrobe, part of the famous Narnia series by C.S. Lewis.
  • Songs of Praise is mentioned. This was a religious TV programme featuring hymns sung at various churches around the UK and screened on Sunday evenings on BBC1. Thora Hird is most commonly associated with the show.
  • Ray says Alex is like "Quincy". Quincy M.E. was a US pathologist/detective show in the 1980s starring Jack Klugman as the title character (the M.E. stood for Medical Examiner).
  • Chris mentions Friday the 13th Part 2, a US slasher film released on 1 May 1981, about the ski-masked Jason Voorhees killing students at Camp Crystal lake.
  • At the crime scene, Gene says "Examine some sheep's entrails, see what we can learn from them", referring to the ancient practice used by the Babylonian and Roman civilizations to gain insight into a question or situation by literally examining the intestines of an animal.
  • As Gil Hollis does a little dance by the billboard, Gene says "He's turning into Al Jolson now." Al Jolson (1886–1950) was an American singer, comedian, and actor. In his heyday, he was dubbed "The World's Greatest Entertainer".
  • OCD is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, an anxiety disorder in which repeating actions such as closing a door a certain number of times, or placing objects in a certain order, work to calm the sufferer's anxiety. OMD is Orchestral Manoevres in the Dark, a synth-pop group founded in 1978. Their first hit record was "Enola Gay" in the mid-eighties.
  • FYI means, "for your information". It is a common form of modern internet slang/jargon, though like a lot of this jargon, it first originated in the late 50s/early 60s between scientists working on computer research at MIT in the US. An early example of its use in popular culture can be seen in the Twilight Zone episode, "One for the Angels" made in 1959.
  • FBI is the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the American national police force.
  • Garfield suction-cupped plush toys for car windows first appeared in 1988 in the US, and were a phenomenon across America.
  • Gil mentions "picking windfalls", referring to apples (or other fruit) that has fallen from trees.
  • Alex mentions Glastonbury 1992, referring to the annual music festival of contemporary performing arts held on Michael Eavis estate in Plimpton, Somerset. It was first held on 19th September 1970.
  • Gene quotes the lyrics of the Vera Lyn song, "We'll Meet Again".
  • Ray says to Alex "If you were a bloke I'd knock ten bells out of you", referencing the old nautical term for a punch up, "to knock seven bells out of you", which later became "to knock (or kick) seven shades of shit out of you".
  • After Gene is suspended for attacking Gil Hollis, he says he will go to Bognor. When he returns to the station, he is asked, "Not off to Bognor then?" to which he replies, "Bugger Bognor!", quoting the famous alleged last words of King George V.
  • When Chris invites Shaz to go with the team to check the portaloo, he says "We can fight crime together, like MacMillan and Wife", to which Ray remarks, "more like B.J. and the Bear". MacMillan and Wife was, like Columbo, a part of the NBC Mystery Movie series, before becoming a series of its own. It starred Rock Hudson as MacMillan, a police commissioner, and Susan St James as his wife, and was very popular in the 1970s. B.J. and the Bear was a short-lived late-70s US series about a truck driver and his pet chimpanzee named Bear.
  • Gene mentions Ed "Stewpot" Stewart and Junior Choice. Ed Stewart was a disc jockey on BBC Radio 1 who in February 1968 took over from Leslie Crowther as the presenter of Junior Choice, a programme that played requested songs and records from children of all ages. He stayed as host for eleven years until Tony Blackburn took over in 1980. His time on the show is remembered for the often played link/jingle of a cockney boy saying "'Allo, darling" and laughing, which became a trademark of his. Also during this time he presented, from 1975–1979, the Friday kids TV show Crackerjack on BBC1.
  • Gene says "According to the great British public, Gil Hollis is Britain's answer to Mother Theresa." Mother Theresa was a Roman Catholic nun who spent much of her life working among the poor. Gene calls Sam Tyler "Mother Theresa" in Series 2: Episode 6 of Life on Mars.
  • Ray says "Not gonna do these telethons too often, or I'll be skint," to which Chris remarks, "nah, people aren't gonna do this daft rubbish every year are they?" an ironic comment on the BBC's annual Children In Need programme which started in 1980 and did continue every year. Sir Terry Wogan, who is heard in this episode (see above), is a regular presenter of Children in Need.
  • Ska music originated in Jamaica in the early 1960s. It was revived in the UK in the late 1970s and early 1980s by such bands as Madness and the Specials who were part of the 2Tone movement. The 2Tone record label was created by Specials keyboardist Jerry Dammers. The label promoted racial unity at the time when racial tensions were running high in the UK.
  • After Gil is harangued by the ska boys, Gene says, "Turn that racket down, otherwise I'm gonna pull you in and force you to listen to Val Doonican 'til you top yourselves, got it?" Val Doonican was an Irish singer who regularly appeared on UK TV (1965–1968) on ITV/ABC and from (1970–1986) on BBC1. He often sang songs sitting in a rocking chair. "Top" is UK slang for "kill".
  • At Luigi's, when Alex, Ray, Shaz, and Chris arrive to give their findings to him, Gene says "What is this? Scooby Doo?" and Luigi says "You pesky kids have solved the crime" — again referencing the Hanna-Barbera cartoon series, Scooby Doo, Where are You? and its sequels.
  • As Gil Hollis shoots up the restaurant, Luigi is puzzled when Chris says they're under attack. Ray yells, "Attack! Attack! Tora! Tora! Tora!" Tora! Tora! Tora! is a 1970 American-Japanese war film that dramatized the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The title is made up of the code-words that were used by the Japanese to indicate that complete surprise was achieved, "tora" meaning "tiger". On 5 October 1981 (very close to the date of this episode), UK group Depeche Mode would release their first album, Speak & Spell containing a the song, "Tora! Tora! Tora!"
  • Gene says to Viv "He's 'ell of a batsman that Gordon Greenidge", referring to the former member of the West Indies cricket team who played from 1974 to 1991.



  • The Man with the Child in His Eyes - Kate Bush
  • Police on My Back - The Clash
  • One Day in Your Life - Michael Jackson
  • Fame - David Bowie
  • Reunited - Peaches & Herb
  • William Tell Overture - Gioachino Rossini
  • Dancing in the City - Marshall Hain
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)