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The fifth episode of the second series of the British science fiction police procedural drama series Ashes to Ashes was broadcast by BBC One on 18 May 2009.


A violent burglary sends the team to Alex's (future) in-laws' house, where she comes face-to-face with Peter, the 14-year old father-to-be of Molly. There's a clash of interests when Alex wants to help Molly's grandparents, but Gene is more interested in going after a scoop that will bury the press interest in police corruption once and for all. When Alex is presented with an offer that could get her back to Molly, will she be able to refuse it?

Cultural references[]

  • Alex sees Keith Harris and Orville on TV speaking about her. Keith and his puppet bird first appeared on BBC TV in The Keith Harris Show (1982–1990).
  • When Chris spots Alex comforting Mrs Drake, he says, "it's all gone a bit Martina Nvrat, Nvrt, Nvr … that tennis bird", referring to Martina Navratilova, the famous Czech-American female tennis player, who in 1981 had publicly admitted that she was a lesbian.
  • "Metal Mickey" is the nickname of suspect Mickey Dillon. Metal Mickey was a cute silver comedy robot, created by Johnny Edwards, who first appeared on Southern TV kids show Saturday Banana in 1978. Later, LWT gave him his own series, The Metal Mickey Show (1980–1983).
  • This episode takes place in November 1982. After Alex remarks that Metal Mickey has a (steel) plate in his head Gene says, "Any luck he'll be picking up that new channel", and Chris chimes in, "I've only seen that Countdown on it. Proper ambulance chaser telly, it'll never last." Gene continues, "Course it won't. TV in the afternoon, it's for greasy students and the clinically insane." Chris finishes with, "And my auntie Irene—mind you she is insane—she thinks she's married to Malcolm Muggeridge". They are referring to the start of Channel Four on 2 November 1982. The first programme screened was the daily words and number quiz Countdown, presented by Richard Whiteley. Malcolm Muggeridge was a Catholic journalist and BBC TV personality.
  • After Ray has finished beating Metal Mickey, Gene says, "This has been as useful as a new pair of slippers for Douglas Bader," referring to RAF Group Captain Sir Douglas Bader (21 February 1910–5 September 1982), who lost both legs when his plane crashed in 1931, but who went on to be a fighter pilot during World War II. He was shot down in 1941 and spent the rest of the war in German POW camps. He left the RAF in 1946.
  • Gene asks, "Any biscuits?" to which Elsie Staines replies, "Flapjacks". In the UK, a flapjack is a home-made baked bar cooked in an oven-tin and cut into rectangles. It is made from rolled oats, butter, brown sugar, and golden syrup or honey.
  • The song, "Don't Fence Me In" is mentioned. The cowboy song was written by Cole Porter in 1934 from a text by poet and engineer Robert (Bob) Fletcher.
  • Elsie Staines says, "Pebble Mill's on and I never miss", referring to Pebble Mill at One, the BBC TV afternoon magazine show which was broadcast live from BBC Birmingham's Pebble Mill studios from 1973–1996.
  • Millwall is mentioned, a London football club. Their fans would gain an unfortunate notoriety in the 80s, as including some of the most passionate contributors to the hooligan community.
  • Chris says to Metal Mickey, "come on Bungle, where's George?" referencing Bungle the bear and George the pink Hippo from ITV's Rainbow (1972–1992), a programme aimed at pre-school children.
  • Alex asks Mickey if he wants to "end up with a voice like a Bee Gee?", a reference to the British/Australian singing group the Bee Gees, well known for their high falsetto singing voices, parodied by Phil Nice on the "Hee Bee Gee Bees" single "Meaningless Songs (in very high voices)" released by Original records in 1980.
  • Alex says, "I don't want to paraphrase Dorothy Parker, but I don't think we should put all our eggs in one bastard." Dorothy Parker (2 Aug 1813–7 June 1967) was an American poet, short story writer, critic, and satirist, best remembered for her wit, wisecracks, and her eye for 20th century urban foibles. Alex's line puts together the well known phrase, "don't put all your eggs in one basket," with a quote from Dorothy Parker on her abortion, from the book You Might as Well Live by John Keats (1970): "It serves me right for putting all my eggs in one bastard."
  • Boris Johnson is used as an alias by Martin Summers.  Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson (1964–) is a British politician, who was first elected Mayor of London in 2008. Initially coming to public attention as a journalist, he was previously editor of The Spectator magazine (1999–2005) and the Member of Parliament for Henley from the 2001 general election to 2008. His term ended in 2016, when he was succeeded by London's first Muslim mayor, Sadiq Khan.
  • Gaynor Mason mentions Clint Eastwood, a reference to his film character "Dirty" Harry Callaghan.  Chris mentions Dirty Harry in Series 1: Episode 3 of Life on Mars .
  • Ray says of his wish to join the army, "There could be another Falklands." The Falklands War ended with Argentina's surrender on 14 June 1982.
  • Chris gives up smoking after Alex tells him it lowers the sperm count, and takes to eating "Golden Wonder" crisps to compensate for the nicotine "buzz". At the time, "Golden Wonder" and their older rival, "Smiths", were the two best selling brands of potato crisp in the UK.
  • Molotov cocktails and cocoa are mentioned.
  • Gene asserts that, "Elsie is not a sponger." In the UK, the term "sponger" is usually used to denote a person or family soaking up money from relatives or the welfare state, instead of working for a living.
  • Gene mentions alternative comedians. Alternative comedy had began in London clubs in 1979. Various acts had appeared occasionally on TV. In 1982, alternative comedians made a real impact on TV with two series, The Comic Strip Presents... debuting on 2 November on Channel Four's First Night, and The Young Ones (the anarchic sitcom) on BBC2 on 9 November.
  • Gene says, "We have the public's confidence in us going down faster than Linda Lovelace", refering to the American porn actress Linda Lovelace, known for performing deep throat fellatio in the hardcore porn film Deep Throat (1972). Gene mentions Linda Lovelace in Series 2: Episode 5 of Life on Mars .
  • Gene refers to Gaynor Mason as "Goldilocks".
  • Ray says, "Whatever next? Norman Hunter dressed up in frilly frocks, Geoff Capes starts playing with Barbie dolls, Elton John fancies blokes, I don't get it!", Norman Hunter was a former football player for Leeds United in the 60s and 70s. Geoff Capes at the time was an athlete, strongman, and highland games competitor. In 1982 he won 1st place in the European Strongest Man competition and 4th place in the World's Strongest Man competition. Elton John is a famous British singer, songwriter, composer, and pianist. Although he had told Rolling Stone magazine in 1976 that he was bi-sexual, it wasn't until after his divorce from his wife Renate Blauel in 1988 that he publicly announced that he was gay. 
  • Shaz says that Chris thought Boy George was a woman, referring to the heavily made-up lead singer of new romantics band Culture Club, who became well known after their single "Do You Really Want To Hurt Me", released 1 September 1982, became a number one chart hit.
  • At the end of the episode, Shaz tells Chris that they are going to see "Tootsie" at the flicks. "Tootsie" was a film starring Dustin Hoffman as out-of-work actor Michael Dorsey who resorts to pretending to be Dorothy Michaels to get work on a US TV soap opera. It was released on 17 December 1982 in the US.


  • 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
  • Luigi -- Joseph Long
  • Martin Summers -- Adrian Dunbar (first appearence)
  • Gaynor Mason -- Sara Stewart
  • Marjorie Drake -- Sophie Stanton
  • Bryan Drake -- Rory Macgregor
  • Peter Drake -- Perry Millward
  • Elsie Staines -- Rita Davies
  • Mickey Dillon -- Neal Barry
  • Gang Member -- Ben Bishop


  • Funeral Pyre - The Jam Released in 1981.
  • Going Back to my Roots - Odyssey
  • Atomic - Blondie Released in 1980.
  • Under Pressure - Queen and David Bowie
  • Guido E Luisa (from the soundtrack of Frederico Fellini's "8 and a half") - Nino Rota
  • Food For Thought - UB40 Released in 1980.
  • Temptation - New Order Released in 1982.
  • Speed of Life - David Bowie Released in 1977.
  • Just the Two of Us - Bill Withers
  • Embarassment - Madness
  • The Man Who Sold the World - David Bowie
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)