Life on Mars Wiki
LOM Episode 14.jpg
A Deadly Drug
Written by: Guy Jenkin
Director: Andrew Gunn
Antagonists: Toolbox Terry
Big Bird
Previous episode: The Kidnapping
Next episode: The Shooting

The sixth episode of the second series of the British time travel police procedural television series, Life on Mars, was first broadcast on 27 March 2007. The episode, known erroneously as "A Deadly Drug", was produced by Kudos Film & Television for BBC One.


As heroin hits the streets of Manchester for the first time, CID and DCI Hunt want culprits for the smuggling, the dealing and ensuing violence, which becomes difficult when Annie Cartwright is kidnapped by the smugglers. As Sam tries to get to the source of the influx of this deadly drug, he finds himself intractably drawn to a beautiful young woman who was witness to a heroin-related shooting... and who, he later realises, is the mother of his girlfriend in the future. At the same time, Sam's 'visions' reveal that his girlfriend has decided to stop visiting him in hospital, as she can't keep waiting for him to wake up.


DI Sam Tyler dreams about Maya, his girlfriend before his accident, fearful that she is bidding him farewell in the present day.

Dipak Gandhi, a Ugandan Asian, is found shot in his record shop with heroin in his pocket and taken to hospital in a coma. Sam hears his name called out from another room, only to discover the voice is coming from the present day via a radio transmitter. The voice belongs to Maya and Sam desperately responds to no avail. He then finds a young lady called Layla hiding in the shop. She claims she was just a customer who hid after hearing gunshots.

Sam believes the drugs were planted, but finds that the racial prejudice of his fellow policemen works against his theory. DCI Gene Hunt and the gang visit local drug dealer Rocket to learn more. After some testicular torture, he confirms to Gene that Dipak was selling heroin from his shop. Sam is still unconvinced.

Layla admits that she was working as Dipak’s accountant. She tells Sam she didn’t speak the truth before because the police don’t care about his race.

Maya pops up in a screening of a Bollywood film whilst Sam visits a local community centre. She says goodbye to him, saying that she’s given up and won’t be visiting anymore. Sam searches for the radio to try and make contact.

Meanwhile, at least seven people have recently died due to heroin overdoses, with Gene very angry at this. A man named Toolbox—a local enforcer whose work is tolerated by the police—visits Rocket with some ferrets to bully him into revealing more information. It works, and he says that Dipak’s brother Ravi is behind importing the drugs.

Layla is interrogated by Gene and Sam about Ravi, who was seen with her earlier in the record shop. Gene takes Sam aside, telling him not to overdo the "Good Cop" bit. Sam believes Layla is telling the truth, but Gene disagrees, pointing out that, "She's as nervous as a very small nun at a penguin shoot." Layla later admits she is romantically involved with Dipak. This disgusts Gene, but Sam rushes to her aid by saying that he dated a Pakistani woman once because he loved her. This incurs more abuse from Gene. Later, Layla’s house is scrawled with racial abuse so she stays with Sam, with her personality reminding him of Maya. The following morning WDC Annie Cartwright pays Sam’s flat a visit and is taken aback to find he has female company.

Ravi, taken in for questioning, reveals he saw a white man leaving the shop when he paid his brother a visit, only to find he’d been shot. DC Chris Skelton then enters the room to break the news that Dipak has died. Sam takes issue with Gene for his insensitivity to the news, but the copper retorts by stating that his brother was a drug addict and hadn’t been seen for ten years.

The police take a look at Dipak’s corpse and Sam makes the grim discovery that a fresh stab wound has been made in the hospital, with an attempt to conceal it by knifing him through the gunshot wound. Ray, who was guarding him, says the only person to have paid a visit was Layla. She then confesses that her real name is Lesley Roy—the name of Maya’s mother—and that she is pregnant, but planning an abortion.

Sam pays the local Asian community centre a visit, only for the place to be attacked by a couple of skinheads. He chases them and catches one, who claims that the Asians are smuggling things into the country and that he knows when and where they do it.

The police investigate the warehouse, where they find several Asians unloading items such as carpets and crockery. However, Sam accidentally uncovers bags of heroin stashed away in a secret compartment of one of the crates. Gene calls in Toolbox to explore the matter further.

Sam and Annie track down Ravi, who claims innocence but agrees to come in for questioning rather than face Toolbox. Sam is suddenly struck down from behind and wakes up to find himself bound and gagged. Gene arrives on the scene to set him free, but there’s no sign of Annie or the assailants.

The police pay Toolbox a visit, but his Asian rugs alert Sam to his double dealings. Toolbox’s female accomplice shoots Ravi, but Chris puts a bullet in her before she can do any more damage. Rocket, who was also in on the act, is also arrested. They find Annie tied up, but safe.

Sam pays a visit to Layla at the hospital. She has changed her mind about having an abortion and has an ultrasound scan and says she will (after a suggestion from Sam) call the baby Maya if it’s a girl.

Gene is busy keeping an eye on Ravi, who is in a hospital bed recovering from being shot. He tells Sam that his brother is dead. Together, they hang around Ravi’s hospital bed and put the music up loud, much to the nurse’s annoyance, and causing her to threaten to call the police on them.


Cultural references[]

  • After experiencing Gene’s alarming driving, Sam quips, “You know, Starsky and Hutch have got a lot to answer for.” Starsky & Hutch is an American television series that ran from 1975–1979 on the ABC network. It followed the adventures of two Southern California policemen, David Michael Starsky (Paul Michael Glaser) and Kenneth 'Hutch' Hutchinson (David Soul) The show was known for its spectacular car chases and aggressive stunt driving. In the UK, it debuted in 1976 and has been rerun enough over the years for Sam to be familiar with it.
  • When Annie discovers a mysterious liquid on the victim’s body, Gene says, “no, that's a drip from my fried egg butty, love. Well done, Miss Marple.” Miss (Jane) Marple, is a fictional character appearing in 12 of Agatha Christie's crime novels and in 20 short stories. She is an elderly spinster who lives in a small village and acts as an amateur detective. In 1973, the character was not the staple of television drama she would later become, but the character was still very well known.
  • Sam says "Well, it's better than even I expected. Copper leaps to a conclusion, then finds the evidence to fit. Birmingham Six, here we come." The Birmingham Six were convicted of the Birmingham pub bombings of 21 November 1974 and sentenced to life imprisonment. At a third appeal against the convictions, in 1991, the Court of Appeal considered that new evidence discredited both the men's confessions and critical forensic evidence against them, making the convictions unsafe. The case has subsequently been held up as an exemplar of corrupt police work.
  • Discovering that Dipak is not as dead as Ray thought, Gene tells him, “go on, Dr Kildare, get an ambulance.” Dr James Kildare is a fictional character who was portrayed in films, radio, and television from the 1930s to the 1970s. In 1973 the character was still well known from the 1960s American TV show starring Richard Chamberlain. Annie also mentions Dr Kildare in Series 1: Episode 1.
  • Layla tells Sam that she came to the record shop to “see if he'd got the new Neil Young.” Neil Percival Young (1945–) is a Canadian singer-songwriter who is widely regarded as one of the most talented and influential musicians of his generation. Having been with Buffalo Springfield and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, by 1973 he had firmly established himself as a solo performer. At that time, the newest Neil Young album was the now-classic Harvest. In Series 1: Episode 1, the Neil Young album, Everybody Here Knows This is Nowhere, is displayed in the window of the Vinyl Heaven record shop.
  • Layla describes Dipak as, “one of those Ugandan Asians that Idi Amin kicked out. Idi Amin Dada (1925–2003) was a military leader and President of Uganda from 1971 to 1979. He seized power in a military coup in January 1971. In August 1972, Amin declared what he called an "economic war", a set of policies that included the expropriation of properties owned by Asians and Europeans. Uganda's 80,000 Asians were mostly from the Indian subcontinent but born in Uganda, their ancestors having come to Uganda when it was still a British colony. Amin issued a decree ordering the expulsion of the 60,000 Asians who were not Ugandan citizens. Most of the Asians with British passports, around 30,000, emigrated to Britain.
  • To refute Sam's accusation of prejudice, Ray says, “hey, I've got nothing against Gunga Dins.” Gunga Din (1892) is a poem by English writer Rudyard Kipling (1835–1936). The poem is a rhyming narrative from the point of view of a British soldier, about a native water-bearer who saves the soldier's life, but dies himself. It is especially ironic that Ray uses this as a crude racial term, since the poem portrays the native Indian as the hero while the British soldiers are seen as cruel and ultimately inferior to Gunga Din.
  • Sam refers to the Ugandan Asians as “Gujarati”. Gujarati, or Gujaratis, are an ethnic group that is traditionally Gujarati-speaking and can trace their ancestry to the state of Gujarat in western India.
  • Drug dealer “Rocket” has a poster of A Clockwork Orange on his wall. A Clockwork Orange is a 1962 novella by Anthony Burgess which was turned into a film by Stanley Kubrick in 1971. The poster shown in the episode is not for the movie, but for the book. This design was created by David Pelham. With Kubrick's film version imminent, the director refused to grant publisher Penguin the use of any stills for a book cover, so Pelham (having just been let down by a colleague) had to come up with something overnight in his flat. Having seen the film, he used its visual language (there are no mentions of bowler hats in the book, for example) but focused on the eye of main character Alex.
  • Layla pulls down a Jimi Hendrix poster to reveal "NF" sprayed on the wall behind it. James Marshall "Jimi" Hendrix (1942–1970) was an American guitarist and singer-songwriter. He is widely considered to be one of the greatest guitarists in musical history, and one of the most influential musicians of his era across a range of genres.
  • Layla pulls down a Jimi Hendrix poster to reveal "NF" sprayed on the wall behind it. The National Front (NF) is a far right, white-only political party whose major political activities took place during the 1970s and 1980s. Its popularity peaked in the 1979 general election, when it received 0.6% of the overall vote. Although considerably less popular in 2006, the NF still fielded election candidates and Sam would have known of them.
  • Layla puts Elton John's "Rocket Man” on the record player. Sir Elton Hercules John, CBE, (born Reginald Kenneth Dwight, 1947–) is a British rock singer, composer, pianist, and occasional actor. He has worked with lyricist Bernie Taupin as his songwriting partner since 1967; they have collaborated on more than 30 albums to date. In his four-decade career John has sold more than 250 million records, making him one of the most successful artists of all time. "Rocket Man (I Think It's Going to Be a Long Long Time)" is a song composed by John and Taupin that first appeared on John's 1972 album Honky Château and reached #2 in the UK charts.
  • Gene, showing his 'appreciation' of women detectives, asks Annie to “detect me a nice packet of Garibaldis, love.”
  • Gene remarks that, “the dealers are all so scared, we're more likely to get Helen Keller to talk.” Helen Adams Keller (1880–1968) was an American author, political activist, and lecturer. Both deaf and blind, Keller made a remarkable journey from isolation imposed by a near-complete lack of language to international acclaim as the living symbol of the power of human courage and intellect. Contrary to Gene’s faulty history, Keller in fact learned to speak, and spent much of her life giving speeches and lectures.
  • Gene describes the injured Dipak as being, “about as lively as Liberace's dick when he's looking at a naked woman.” Wladziu (or Vładziu) Valentino Liberace (1919–1987) was an American pianist and vocalist famous for his flamboyant style both on and off stage. While Liberace never admitted being gay, his perceived effeminacy and the gossip published about him (as well as a palimony suit by a man claiming to have been his lover) were enough for him to be considered homosexual by the public.
  • Sam tells Gene, “I think we need to explore whether this attempted murder was a hate crime." A hate crime is a crime, usually violent, motivated by hatred or intolerance of another social group, especially on the basis of race or sexuality. Originally a U.S. term, the Oxford English Dictionary’s earliest citation is 1984 and Gene is unfamiliar with it. This leads him to retort, “What, as opposed to one of those ‘I really, really like you’ sort of murders?”
  • When Sam points out that heroin is so new that users don’t know the dosage, Gene says sarcastically, “well, let's give 'em an instruction booklet, shall we? Show 'em how to inject a needle.” Supervised injection sites (SIS) (also known as safe injection sites) are legally sanctioned and medically supervised facilities designed to reduce nuisance from public drug use and provide a hygienic and stress-free environment for illicit drug users when consuming drugs, mostly injecting drug use. No doubt Gene would have considered such a thing incomprehensible, but in Sam’s time (2006) many cities around the world maintained or had tested such sites as part of a harm-reduction approach to drug problems.
  • In another tasteless speech, Gene speculates on the exotic allure of Asian women: “what, a bit kinky in the sack, are they? The Kama Sutra? A Thousand and One Nights? Fifty-seven varieties?” The Kama Sutra is an ancient Indian guide to various sexual positions. One Thousand and One Nights is a collection of Middle Eastern and South Asian stories and folk tales compiled in Arabic during the Islamic Golden Age. It is often known in English as the Arabian Nights. Many of these stories (Aladdin, Sinbad) are now well known fairy stories. Gene is possibly mixing this up with A Night in a Moorish Harem, a collection of erotic tales written by "Lord George Herbert" some time around 1900. It recounts a night spent by a shipwrecked British sailor in a Moroccan harem with nine concubines of different nationalities. Just for good measure, Gene throws in “57 Varieties”, the long-time marketing slogan of the H.J. Heinz Company.
  • When Toolbox and “Big Bird” tell Sam to leave Ravi to them, he says, “What, and let Ravi help out with the foundations of the M62?” The M62 motorway is a west–east motorway in Northern England, connecting the cities of Liverpool and Hull via Manchester and Leeds. The road is 172 km long; for 11 km it shares its route with the M60 motorway around Manchester. The motorway, which was first proposed in the 1930s, was built between 1971 and 1976. Sam’s comment refers to the criminal practice of hiding bodies at under large structures during construction.
  • The name of Ravi’s import business is "Across the Universe, Limited". "Across the Universe" is a song recorded by the Beatles. It was written by John Lennon (1940–1980), and credited to Lennon–McCartney. The song first appeared on the various artists charity compilation album, No One's Gonna Change Our World in December 1969, and later, in different form, on Let It Be, the Beatles' final released album.
  • After a touching moment, when Gene reveals to Sam that his late brother was a drug addict, Sam puts his hand on Gene’s shoulder. “There's no need to come over all Dorothy,” Gene responds. This is the usual slur on Sam’s manhood, but also another reference to the main character of The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy.
  • Gene is quite willing to entertain Sam’s ideas: “Oh, let's entertain it. Let's take it out for a prawn cocktail, a steak, and a bottle of Liebfraumilch. Liebfraumilch or Liebfrau(en)milch is a style of semi-sweet white German wine. The name is a German word literally meaning, "beloved lady's milk".
  • Lesley Roy goes by the name Layla Dylan through most of the episode, but explains to Sam, “that's not my real name; I just call myself after the music.” "Layla" is a song written by Eric Clapton (1945–) and Jim Gordon (1945–), originally released by their blues-rock band, Derek and the Dominos, on their album Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs (December 1970). When "Layla" was re-released on the 1972 compilation The History of Eric Clapton and then released as a single, it charted at #7 in the UK. It is considered one of rock music's definitive love songs. Bob Dylan (born Robert Allen Zimmerman, 1941–) is an American singer-songwriter, musician, poet and painter. He has been a major and profoundly influential figure in popular music and culture for five decades. Much of his most celebrated work dates from the 1960s when his songs such as "Blowin' in the Wind" and "The Times They Are a-Changin'" became anthems for the US civil rights and anti-war movements. His professional name, “Dylan” was chosen in admiration of the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas (1914–1953).
  • As Sam and Annie search a house for Ravi, there is a large and ornate wall hanging of a swastika on the wall next to the door. The swastika is an equilateral cross with its arms bent at right angles, in either right-facing form or its mirrored left-facing form. It is widely used in Indian religions, and the version in the episode is the Hindu sacred symbol of good luck. The symbol is stigmatised in many Western countries due to its association with Nazi Germany.
  • When the lights flicker, Gene remarks sarcastically, “yeah, well, thank God for OPEC.” The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries is an intergovernmental organization of developing countries founded in the early 60s and headquartered in Vienna. In 1973, during the Yom Kippur War, Arab members of OPEC implemented oil embargoes aimed at the developed world, initiating the 1973 oil crisis.
  • Gene is very annoyed with Chris’s incompetence and refers to him as "Noddy". Noddy is a character created by British children's author Enid Blyton, in books originally published between 1949 and 1963. He is a little wooden boy who lives in Toyland. Noddy is kind and honest, but he often gets in trouble, either through his own misunderstandings, or because someone has played a trick on him. He is childlike in his understanding of the world and often becomes confused as a result. Television shows based on the character have run on British television since 1955 and continue to appear to this day.
  • Gene tells Toolbox to do anything he has to to get information about Annie’s whereabouts from Ravi. He then turns to Sam and says, “got any objections, Mother Teresa?” Mother Teresa (1910–1997) was a Roman Catholic nun of Albanian ethnicity and Indian citizenship who founded the Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta, India, in 1950. For over 45 years, she ministered to the poor, sick, orphaned, and dying, while guiding the Missionaries of Charity's expansion, first throughout India and then in other countries. In the 1970s, she became well-known internationally for her humanitarian work and advocacy for the rights of the poor and helpless. Following her death, she was beatified by Pope John Paul II and given the title Blessed Teresa of Calcutta.
  • At the hospital, Layla tells Sam that she is only the seventeenth mum in Manchester to have an ultrasound scan. In 2006, every pregnant woman in the UK would have multiple scans. Although reasonably practical scanning equipment had existed for several years prior to 1973, many hospitals (like the fictional one in this episode) were only just acquiring the scanners.
  • In the hospital ward, the song, "Whisky in the Jar" by Thin Lizzy plays. "Whiskey in the Jar" is a popular Irish traditional song, set in the southern mountains of Ireland. It is about a highwayman, who is betrayed by his wife or lover. Thin Lizzy are an Irish hard rock band formed in Dublin in 1969. Their recording of “Whiskey in the Jar” reached no. 6 on the UK charts in February 1973.



  • "Dance with the Devil" - Cozy Powell
  • "Breathless" - Atomic Rooster
  • "Whiskey in the Jar" - Thin Lizzy
  • "Rocket Man" - Elton John
  • "Snow Flower" - Ananda Shankar
  • "I Had a Dream" - Audience
  • "Hot Sand" - Shocking Blue
  • "Traveller in Time" - Uriah Heep


  • This episode bears similarities to episode 5 of series 2 of Ashes to Ashes. Both Sam Tyler and Alex Drake meet the parents of their previous partners and the fathers of their partners are assaulted.

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)