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A2A Episode 8.jpg
Alex's Big Day
Air Date: 27 March 2008
Written by: Ashley Pharoah
Director: Johnny Campbell
Antagonists: Tim Price/The Clown
Arthur Layton
Previous episode: Charity Begins At Home
Next episode: Series 2: Episode 1
Fire Up the Quattro

The eighth episode of the first series of the British time travel police procedural television series, Ashes to Ashes, was first broadcast on 27 March 2008. The episode, known erroneously as "Alex's Big Day", was produced by Kudos Film & Television for BBC One.


It's the biggest day of Alex's life: the day her parents were killed. She believes that if she can prevent this from happening she can leave the prison of 1981 and get back to her daughter Molly. With Gene waylaid by a station inspection, Alex needs to use every ounce of her strength and energy to stop the elements coming together, throw a cog into the wheel of fate, and finally return home.


Hoping to prevent her parents from being killed by a car bomb, Alex turns it into a case for CID. In an effort to relay the seemingly implausible knowledge of her parents' imminent deaths, she discreetly places a phone call to her own phone and pretends to receive a call from an informant with information concerning a terrorist attack against Tim and Caroline Price. The information draws little interest from her colleagues; however she enlists Ray to help her with the investigation.

Alex goes to see Layton thinking he will plant the bomb but he doesn't tell her anything.

Viv reveals that Lord Scarman is coming to investigate the station. Gene focuses his efforts on making the station look its best for Scarman's visit and locks Chris in a police cell, informing him that he is locking him up for indecent exposure and instructs him to let Scarman know how hospitable their custody has been.

Meanwhile, Alex goes to meet Timothy Price and tries to convince him to leave the city by telling him that somebody is plotting to kill him. He is slightly surprised to learn that Alex knows Evan, commenting that he is "A very charming man". Tim thanks Alex for her concern but tells her that he receives such threats all the time and as such he will not heed her warning. Frustrated, Alex takes measures to ensure the attack will not occur; remembering that (amongst other details) the car was a Ford Escort, Alex locates the most likely vehicle and destroys it. She then plants drugs in the Price's house giving cause to arrest them.

Gene Hunt stands up to Lord Scarman

Scarman's visit is going well, despite showing an immediate interest in Alex's illustrations of a whiteboard, illustrating the forthcoming bomb plot to kill her parents, seen by the others as "a crime that hasn't yet happened", but just when he is about to leave the station Alex arrives with the Prices to lock up. On seeing his friends arrested Scarman decides to stay. After voluntarily spending time in police custody, Scarman begins to see the station as it really is and announces that it is a disgrace. Gene doesn't care, triumphantly exclaiming that, to the great appreciation of his officers, "You can despise us; you can disown us; you can even try and close us down but you will never break us, because we are police officers; we are brothers; we are un-bloody-breakable!"

Gene then informs Alex that he has had to release a furious Tim and Caroline Price, who are already pursuing legal action. Alex becomes irate, only to be interrupted by an unsettling call from her informant - who turns out to be Layton. As she and Gene drive to see Evan, Ray confirms that Layton has been bailed by the Prices' legal team. Alex is shocked to learn from Evan that the car her parents borrowed (and would subsequently be killed in) was not the car she destroyed, it was Evan's.

Alex arrives at the scene and sees things she recognises from her flashbacks, realising everything is happening just like she remembers. As Caroline shouts for the young Alex, DI Drake witnesses Layton and Tim exchange a nod, Tim acknowledging him and making the sign of the cross. He then removes his glasses and slowly transforms into The Clown. Alex quickly comes to the realisation that The Clown is her dad. He winks at Alex before the car explodes to the line "one flash of light." Alex is launched backwards before she breaks down crying.

Gene rushes to the young Alex's aid and carries her away. Alex is confused by the fact that Gene was actually there, and that he is part of her memories from when she was younger. Later, Evan, Alex and Gene watch a tape made by Tim saying he killed them all because of Caroline and Evan's affair. Evan takes Alex into his care and a clue to Gene's overall role is given when he tells the young Alex as she leaves, "Any problems, just call the Gene genie." Alex asks Gene how he was there when he isn't real. Gene responds "I'm everywhere, Bolly. I was needed and I was there." This statement leaves Alex to question whether 1981 is in her head after all.

Cultural references[]

  • Lord Scarman (29 July 1911 - 8 December 2004) was an English barrister and judge who served as a Law Lord, for the court of Appeal, until his retirement in 1986, his judgements include up holding the blasphemy conviction against Gay News in 1979, ruling against the GLC's (Greater London Council) low-cost public transport policy in 1981 and upholding the ban on trade unions at the GCHQ headquarters in 1985. He is best remembered for chairing the inquiry into the 1981 Brixton riots in London. He also chaired inquiries into the 1969 Northern Ireland riots from 1969-1972, the Red Lion Square disorders in 1975, and the Grunwick dispute in 1977.
  • Gene mentions Ian Botham (born 24 Nov 1955), England test cricket captain in 1980 and 1981.
  • At Luigi's, Gene tells Alex, "There's a VHS of They Died With Their Boots On upstairs." This was a 1978 spaghetti western, originally released in Italy as Silver Saddle and directed by Lucio Fulci, about a man who avenges the murder of his father. It is also the title of the 1941 western bio-pic of General Custer that ends with the Battle of the Little Bighorn that starred Errol Flynn and Olivia De Haviland and was directed by Raoul Walsh. At one point Custer (Flynn) promises his troops he will teach them "to endure and die with their boots on".
  • After apologising to Ray, Alex says "Clunk-click, every trip." This was the slogan used in a series of UK public information films fronted by Jimmy Saville commencing in 1972 which were sponsored by 'The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents' to encourage the use of car seat belts (also at the time known as safety belts). Ray used the same expression in Series 1: Episode 8 of Life On Mars.
  • The red balloon which Alex follows to safety and is seen throughout the series, is a subtle reference to the 1956 french film The Red Balloon, in which a young boy is adopted by a sentient balloon.



  • 2-4-6-8 Motorway - Tom Robinson Band
  • Sing if your Glad to be Gay (sung by cast in the cells) - Tom Robinson Band
  • YMCA (sung by cast in cells) - The Village People
  • In the Navy (sung by cast in cells) - The Village People
  • Ashes To Ashes - David Bowie
  • Take The Long Way Home - Supertramp

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)