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The second episode of the second series of the British science fiction police procedural drama series Ashes to Ashes was broadcast by BBC One on 27th April 2009.


A car chase results in the death of a Romany man and Gene's dangerous driving comes under scrutiny. When his senior officer steps in to offer Gene a way out, it smacks of a cover-up to Alex and her trust in Gene starts to waver. As their paths diverge, Alex is approached by a mysterious stranger whose presence in this world terrifies her, but whose offer is surely too good to be true?

Cultural references[]

  • Looking at the overturned Austin Princess, Gene says, "death of a princess" referencing the ATV drama-documentary broadcast 9 April 1980. It was a highly controversial account of young Princess Masha'al and her lover who were executed in Saudi-Arabia in 1978. Both the American and UK broadcasts of the film caused livid protests and strong diplomatic, economic, and political pressure from the Saudis.
  • This episode begins on Tuesday 4th May 1982, two days after HMS Conqueror, a Royal Navy Churchill class nuclear submarine, sank the Argentine Battleship the General Belgrano during the Falklands conflict. We see the Sun newspaper with the infamous headline "Gotcha" published that day, though this headline only appeared on early northern editions — southern editions had the toned-down headline "Did 1,200 Argies Drown", and a BBC News Report on the sinking of the ARA General Belgrano on TV in the CID Room early in the episode. Later we see BBC footage of Ministry of Defence Secretary Ian McDonald announcing the news of the destruction of HMS Sheffield by Argentine fighter planes using Exocet missiles.
  • Superintendent Mackintosh (SuperMac) refers to a famous number of adverts for "Super Glue" that features a man "stuck to a board swinging from a helicopter." However, TV adverts featuring a reluctant man in a white overall who is stuck to a board swinging from a helicopter were for Solvite wallpaper adhesives that had been running since 1979.
  • When asked what his star sign is Gene says, "Serpico", referring to the US movie released in December 1973 about NYPD officer Frank Serpico. It covers 12 years from 1960–1972 when Serpico, after working his way up the ranks to plain-clothes detective, decides to expose all of the police corruption that he has witnessed. Al Pacino starred as Serpico in this Sidney Lumet film.
  • Gene says Mac "is as bent as a ten-bob bit," misquoting the UK colloquialism, "as bent as a nine-bob note". A shilling coin was referred to as a "bob" and ten-shilling notes were in circulation up to 1971 when the UK went over to the decimal system. A ten-bob note was legal tender, and therefore having a nine-bob note would have been dodgy or bent.
  • Gene says, "In the words of Marlon Brando,'Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer'". This is a reference to the film The Godfather released in 1972, though it was Al Pacino who spoke the line.
  • Gene says at the gypsy camp, "what is this, a remake of Paint your Wagon shit-coloured?" Paint your Wagon was a 1969 American film musical comedy starring Clint Eastwood and Lee Marvin set in a mining camp in Gold Rush California. It was also the title of a five page article by Sir Hugh Casson, who was the professor of the school of design at the Royal College of Art, on the most appropriate colours to paint static caravans in the U.K. which appeared in the A.A.'s Drive magazine in 1970.
  • When Ray informs Alex that Jed's body didn't make it to the mortuary, he says, "the Gypsy creams nicked it". Gypsy creams were a traditional UK biscuit akin to custard creams but with an orange or chocolate filling, which have disappeared from the market in recent years.
  • When Alex is talking to the old Gypsy woman, Gene says, "Is this a magical ride to the wrong side of the wardrobe?" referencing C.S. Lewis's book, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe in which children enter the world of Narnia via a wardrobe at their uncle's house.
  • Gene says "Who are you, Marjorie Proops?". Marjorie Proops (1911–1996) was a UK journalist, who worked as an "agony aunt" for the Daily Mirror newspaper in the 70s and 80s. Her column was called "Dear Marje".
  • Shaz says she's going "home to watch Fame". Fame (1982–1987) was a US TV series based on the Alan Parker film of the same name released in 1980, about the pupils and teachers at The New York School of Performing Arts. First broadcast in January 1982, it was a mix of drama and music.
  • Picking Alex up on the way to the gypsy camp Gene says, "tasty as Jane Fonda on a Bap". Jane Fonda (born 21 December 1937) was an American actress who rose to fame in the 60s in such films as Barbarella and Cat Ballou. In 1982 she made the first of her 20 aerobic exercise videos.
  • Gene refers to Alva as "Preggy Sue", referencing the Buddy Holly song "Peggy Sue", recorded in 1957.
  • Alex finds a Sooty doll in Alva's caravan and a Sweep doll in a box marked 'contents of Princess' in the CID room. Harry Corbett 1918–1989) created the glove puppet Sooty in 1952, renaming the puppet known as Teddy he had acquired in 1948 and painting its ears black. Later in 1957, Harry added Sweep to the act, a dog with black floppy ears and a red nose. Harry had a long run on BBC TV from 1952–1968 and on Thames TV from 1968–1975, when, after a heart attack he handed over Sooty and Co.'s TV appearances to his son Matthew Corbett.
  • Freemasonry takes quite a bashing in this episode. The entire elaborate initiation ritual is reduced to Gene swearing to keep everything secret and to protect his fellow masons regardless of what heinous crime they have committed. In fact, initiates are required to affirm their belief in God, are lectured on morality and virtue, and swear not to improperly reveal the secrets or mysteries of masonry. Masons are strictly forbidden from breaking the laws of God or man and must adhere to the principles of truth, charity, and brotherly love.
  • Mac and Dr Battleford mention "square-dealing" and being "on the level". These are phrases sometimes used by Masons to recognise each other in public. In Freemasonry, working tools such as the square and the level are used as symbols to teach morality. Masons are told to meet "on the level" (as equals) and part "on the square" (having dealt fairly). However, in this episode, these phrases are turned into code-words used to solicit favouritism from a fellow mason.
  • The Masonic handshake began in the medieval period as a way of telling if a person was a properly trained stonemason, as only true masons would be taught the handshake. It survived into the modern Masonic period as a way for freemasons to recognise each other in public.
  • After Dr Battleford tells Alex that his relationship with Alva was "love, actually", Alex says, "oh, it was Love Actually? More like Four Benzos and a Funeral," referencing the Richard Curtis comedy films Love Actually (2003) and Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994).
  • Referring to Alex, Gene says, "She goes on longer than the Eurovision Song Contest". The song contest was originated by Swiss TV in 1956 and has been screened by BBC TV from 1957 to the present. It is an annual live TV show that lasts for five or six hours.
  • Gene says, "What is this? The rumble in the bloody jungle?" referencing the famous Ali versus Foreman boxing match held in the Mai 20 Stadium in Zaire on 30 October 1974 and promoted as "The Rumble in the Jungle".


  • DCI Gene Hunt -- Philip Glenister
  • DI Alex Drake -- Keeley Hawes
  • DS Ray Carling -- Dean Andrews
  • DC Chris Skelton -- Marshall Lancaster
  • WPC Shaz Granger -- Montserrat Lombard
  • Sgt Viv James -- Geff Francis
  • Detective Superintendent Mackintosh -- Roger Allam
  • Molly Drake -- Grace Vance
  • Luigi -- Joseph Long
  • Martin Summers (voice)-- Adrian Dunbar
  • Dr Battleford -- Joseph Millson
  • Alva -- Ellie Paskell
  • Old Mother -- Paola Dionisotti
  • Terry -- Dean Bardini
  • Mechanic -- Darren Clarke


  • Back of Love - Echo and the Bunnymen Released in 1982.
  • Stool Pigeon - Kid Creole and the Coconuts Released in 1982.
  • Tempted - Squeeze Released in 1981.
  • Tosca E Lucevan Le Stelle - Giacomo Puccini
  • I Second that Emotion - Japan
  • In the Air Tonight - Phil Collins
  • Town Called Malice - The Jam
  • Come on Eileen - Dexys Midnight Runners
  • Messages - OMD
  • Wishing - Flock of Seagulls

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)