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The third episode of the second series of the British science fiction police procedural drama series Ashes to Ashes was broadcast by BBC One on May 4, 2009.


A series of attacks are planned by animal rights activists, and the first victim is the young daughter of a vivisectionist. Gene orders his team not to sleep until those responsible are found, but the only lead points to an imprisoned hunger-striker with no contact to the outside world. As Alex and Gene disagree on who could be responsible, the campaign starts to claim more casualties - and it's a race against time to stop it.

Cultural references[]

  • Alex watches Tony Hart on the BBC TV art series for kids, Take Hart (1977–1983), and gets involved in the Morph sequence, though the show was not running in May 1982. Tony Hart was an artist/cartoonist who presented art shows for kids on BBC TV. His TV career began in 1951, contributing art and illustrations for Saturday Special, a BBC kids' show presented by Peter Butterworth and Janet Brown. This led to other early shows such as Playbox (1954) a BBC kids' panel game, Ask your Dad, Disney's Wonderland, Stories in Pictures, Blue Peter, and Tich and Quakers with ventriloquist Ray Alan. He first became well known in his own right for co-presenting Vision On (1964-1976), a series aimed at deaf children, with Pat Keysall. In 1977 he began the first series of his own, Take Hart, for which he invented the character of Morph, a piece of plasticine that morphed into a man-shaped figure. The stop-frame animation was carried out by the now-famous Aardman animation studios. Morph was so popular amongst the kids that he was given a series of his own in 1980, The Amazing Adventures of Morph and later The Morph Files (1995). Hart continued to appear with Morph in such series as Hartbeat (1984-93) and Smart Hart (series 1 and 2: 1999/2000).  Vision On is mentioned in Series 1: Episode 3 (Life on Mars) of Life on Mars .
  • When talking about PC Hales being moved from prison to prison, Gene says "so he's the Alan Whicker of remand prisoners, what does that prove?" once again referencing the globe-trotting reporter Alan Whicker, who became famous for his Whicker's World series, both on BBC TV and ITV. The last series broadcast in 1990.
  • Chris mentions "pedalos", referring to the two-man boats operated by pedal-power, akin to the mechanism used in children's toy pedal cars at the time.
  • Whilst discussing the possibility that a postman may be blown up by a mail bomb, Gene says "Oh look here's the postie now, eyebrows singed, leg 'anging off, but 'ay, least 'es still bloody whistling", referencing the 1967 figure The Whistling Postman made in Germany by the Griesbaum company of a postman with an inbuilt whistling mechanism. This is not to be confused with the 1950s Yorkshire singer Joe Beck, "The Singing Postman", famous for his tune, "Have you Got A Loight Boy?".
  • Gene says "Ray, ditch Bugs Bunny", referring to the dead rabbit, referencing the famous Warner Brothers cartoon character created by Charles "Bugs" Hardaway in 1938. His catchphrase was "What's Up, Doc?"
  • Shaz says she popped out to get a Curly Wurly.
  • Gene says to Alex, "Thank you Miss Marple", referencing the famous character created by Agatha Christie in 1926. In 1982 the character was still best known for being played by Margaret Rutherford in a series of feature films in the 60s. The BBC began their TV adaptations with Joan Hickson in 1984.
  • Whilst Chris is reading out details of a bomb attack in 1975, Gene says, "what is this? Jackanory?". Jackanory (1965–1996) was a daily (Monday–Friday) fifteen-minute programme first broadcast on BBC1 in Jan 1965 at 4.45pm. It was designed to give kids an interest in reading and featured celebrities of the day reading from well-known and new books for children, and has become synonomous with telling tall tales.
  • Gene says to Robin Elliot, "not exactly Bobby Sands are you?", referencing the H-Block hunger striker Robert Gerrard "Bobby" Sands, a member of the provisional IRA who died while on hunger strike on 5th May 1981.
  • Catching Ray combing his moustache Gene says "Sorry, is this an incident room or the make-up counter at Kendals?" referring to Kendals, Deansgate, Manchester, a department store established in 1832.
  • Chris picks up a copy of Dr Alex Comfort's book, The Joy of Sex, a friendly sex manual written and published in 1972.
  • At the university science lab, Chris, whilst picking up a can of green paint, gets some on his (or rather Shaz's) denim jacket, which he is wearing, and on his hands. He replies to Ray's taunts by saying, "You wouldn't like me when I'm angry", referencing the US TV series The Incredible Hulk (1977–1982). David Banner (Bill Bixby) says, "don't make me angry; you wouldn't like me when I'm angry," to reporter Jack McGee (Jack Colvin) in the pilot film, referring to his transformation into the green-skinned Hulk of the title. This sequence was then used as part of the opening titles on the regular series that followed.
  • After entering the student bar, Gene switches off the TV set just as the titles of Top of the Pops start. Top of the Pops, the BBC's chart music show which began in 1964, was screened on Thursdays at 7.30pm in 1982.
  • Talking to the students, Gene says about the TV news, "that's that short programme between The Magic Roundabout and Play School". The Magic Roundabout (BBC:1965–1977) was a five-minute French stop-frame-animated kids' show featuring Florence and Dougal (English narration by Eric Thompson) regularly screened on BBC1 at 5.35pm or 5.40pm Monday–Friday. It was seen as a touchstone of the drug culture in the 70s and 80s. Play School (1964–1996) was a programme for pre-school children which usually went out on BBC2 at 11.00am (Monday–Friday). When BBC Schools programmes, which ran from approximately 9.00am–3.00pm, were moved exclusively on to BBC2 in 1983, it was moved to 10.30am and 3.55pm on BBC1.
  • After receiving some heckles from the students, Gene says, "What do you think this is, University Challenge?", referring to the Granada TV programme where two university teams competed against each other in a quiz compered by Bamber Gascoigne from 1962–1987. It was based on the NBC TV show College Bowl (1959–1970) which began as an NBC radio quiz in 1953.
  • Chris says he is against animal cruelty when asked by the students. He qualifies it by saying, "Well, like them P.G. Tips ads, some of those monkeys in dresses are actually blokes—well not blokes—no, monkeys in dresses, it's not natural", referring to the famous UK TV ad campaign for P.G. Tips tea which featured anthropomorphised chimpanzees wearing human clothes. The best remembered versions in the 70s were the monkeys shifting a piano ("Mr Shifter") and one featuring a Tour de France setting finishing with the line "Can ya ride tandem?". Later 80s/90s ads had a James Bond theme.
  • Gene mentions "the Oxford bloody union" referencing the famous university debating forum.
  • Talking to Alex on the phone, Gene says, "this come from Skeletor?" referring to Robin Eliot. This is a reference to the nemesis of US TV cartoon character He-Man, in the cartoon series made by Filmation, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. It was was first broadcast in the US in 1983, although the action figures the series was based on first appeared in 1981.
  • At the end of the episode, Gene, arriving back at CID, kicks the chair of a snoozing detective and says "Oi! Rip Van Wanker", referencing the famous story of Rip Van Winkle who slept for a hundred years.
  • Alex asks Gene if he left the red rose on her desk, to which Gene replies, "No, I did-bloody-not! What do you think I am the Milk Tray Man?", referring to the long-running series of TV ads for Cadbury's Milk Tray (assorted chocolates in a box) . The ads ran from 1968–2003 and featured the Milk Tray Man, a tough James Bondesque action man dressed in black who would go through hell or high water to surreptitiously deliver a box of Milk Tray to the bedroom of a glamourous lady, and leaving a calling card with the box, "All because the lady loves Milk Tray".


  • DCI Gene Hunt -- Phili 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
  • Robin Elliot -- David Bradley
  • Jeremy -- Rory Kinnear
  • Jeremy's Wife -- Sarah Annis
  • Adrian -- Graeme Rooney
  • Nigel Pattison -- Robert Portal
  • Charlotte Pattison -- Lauren Brooks
  • Prison Warden -- Colin Haigh
  • Cleaner -- Patricia Gannon
  • Cleaner -- Sophie Duval
  • Doctor -- Matt Warman
  • News Anchor -- Guy Lankester


  • The Great Advance - Francis Monkman
  • Food For Thought - UB40
  • DA DA DA - Trio
  • Eye of the Tiger - Survivor
  • Is There Something I Should Know - Duran Duran
  • Lies - Thompson Twins
  • The Lion Sleeps Tonight (Wimmaway) - Tight Fit
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)