Life on Mars Wiki
LOM Episode 15.jpg
The Shooting
Written by: Mark Greig
Director: S. J. Clarkson
Antagonists: Frank Morgan
Terry Haslam
Davie Mackay
Previous episode: A Deadly Drug
Next episode: Undercover

The seventh episode of the second series of the British time travel police procedural television series, Life on Mars, was first broadcast on 3 April 2007. The episode, known erroneously as "The Shooting", was produced by Kudos Film & Television for BBC One.


A water-tight court case fails to put away a local gangster. Unable to cope with a guilty man walking free, DCI Hunt turns to alcohol but soon finds himself in a spot of bother. When it appears as though Hunt may have killed someone, it's up to Sam, torn between Gene and his replacement, a DCI who actually uses Sam's modern police techniques and vocabulary, to help him out and Hunt calls Sam when he finds the body.


Boxing manager Terry Haslam is found not guilty of seriously assaulting retiring boxer Davie Mackay despite DCI Gene Hunt's testimony that he witnessed the brutal attack. The fact that Mackay claims he fell down the stairs didn't help the chances of a conviction.

Later that evening, DI Sam Tyler drives a severely intoxicated Gene back home, but the DCI directs him to Haslam's house instead. Gene storms out the car, puts a brick through Haslam's window, and pulls out his gun. Sam drags him back to the car with Haslam giving chase on foot. Further on, Gene realises he has left his gun behind and heads back, alone.

Next morning, Sam receives a call from Gene saying it appears he's killed a man. It transpires that he has woken up in Haslam's house to find him shot dead, with no recollection of events after leaving the pub. Sam finds Gene's gun, which has been fired, under the bed before the rest of the police turn up and arrest him.

An Acting DCI—Frank Morgan—is brought in from Hyde and both impresses and mystifies Sam with his very modern policing methods and public relations talk. When interviewed, Gene suggests that there was something suspect about Davie Mackay's behaviour in court and Sam pays him a visit. The boxer admits to stealing cash from Haslam, which prompted the beating.

Gene's drunk lawyer manages to secure his client's release, although Morgan insists that he secretly be watched. However, when Sam pays him a visit the next day, he discovers that the murder suspect has evaded the detection of DS Ray Carling and DC Chris Skelton, parked outside, by slipping away.

Sam visits Haslam's boxing gym and talks to trainer Pete Wilkes, who claims that Mackay didn't take any cash from the place, instead taking an envelope. He also implicates Gene Hunt with the letter, saying he and Haslam go back a long way. Following a road safety lesson with some children, WDC Annie Cartwright is told by Sam that he thinks a bribe for Gene was in the envelope. They are then called to the gym where Pete Wilkes has been murdered. Two witnesses claim to have seen Hunt at the gym shortly before the death. The news hits Chris and Ray hard as they are resigned to losing their DCI; they turn on Sam because of his closeness with Morgan.

Gene is waiting for Sam in his flat and pleads his innocence, whilst conceding that he used to take backhanders from Haslam. He claims that Haslam tried to blackmail him into not giving evidence against him in the assault case, but he had an attack of conscience and did so.

The pair head to the station with Gene in a rodent-inspired disguise so as to look at the details of the case more closely. They then pay the crime scene a visit in a bid to jog Gene's memory, but to no avail. However, Sam notices that Haslam's body was slumped on top of a heating vent which was preset to turn on at 2:00 every morning. This means that the time of death would have occurred hours earlier than previously thought.

Whilst driving through town, Gene recognises a familiar television shop that jogs memories from the night of the murder. An alibi is then found when an elderly lady says she saw him drunkenly relieving himself in a doorway that night—until a man matching Mackay's description bundled him into the back of a van. Gene then theorises that Mackay had motive for killing Haslam because he was supposed to have thrown his last fight—but didn't—thus incurring the assault.

After evading Chris and Ray yet again (with the help of another crook who owes Gene a favour), Gene—with Sam's help—confronts Mackay at the gym where the former boxer confesses all. Gene, returned to DCI duties, then lambasts his fellow officers for believing he was capable of being a murderer. However, they are all soon drinking to celebrate his proven innocence.

Sam meets Annie on her way out from the party and the pair almost share a kiss, but the departing Morgan ruins the moment. Sam has a quick word in private with him, and Morgan assures him he's not to blame that "Hunt's wriggled out of it" and that he is doing all he can to bring him back home. The ambiguity of this statement leaves Sam stunned...


Cultural references[]

  • When Terry Haslam aims a pretend punch at Gene before the trial, Gene remarks to Sam, “who does he

    Ali vs Bugner

    think he is? Joe Bugner?” József Kreul "Joe" Bugner (1950–) is a Hungarian-born British-Australian former top heavyweight boxer. He learned to box and spent his peak years in the United Kingdom. He was ranked among the world's top ten heavyweights throughout the highly competitive 1970s, fighting such opponents as Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, and Henry Cooper. In 1973, he had been boxing professionally for over five years and had won and lost the British and British Commonwealth heavyweight titles and was the current European heavyweight champion. Only two weeks before the events in this episode, Bugner narrowly lost a decision to Joe Frazier at Earls Court, London, in what many consider the best performance of his career.
  • The name of boxer Davey Mackay may be a reference to astrobiologist David S. McKay (1936–2013), who studied the possibly of life on Mars (the actual planet) and lectured widely on the topic. McKay's team published findings in 1996 regarding possible microfossil structures in Martian meteorite ALH 84001.
  • Sam tells Gene he was waving his gun about “like Charles Bronson on crack.“ Charles Bronson (born Charles Dennis Buchinsky,1921–2003) was an American actor best known for his "tough guy" image, particularly in the popular Death Wish series. Although the first of the series would not be released until 1974, Gene would have known him, not only for his western films, but for other famous roles such as in The Dirty Dozen. Bronson was a major star who was active until the late 90s (Death Wish V was released in 1994) and whose films were often re-run on television, and Sam would be familiar with his screen persona.
  • While trying to retrace Gene’s steps the night of the murder, he and Sam drive past a “Keep Britain Tidy” poster featuring Marc Bolan. “Keep Britain Tidy” is a British campaign conceived at a 1954 conference initiated by the British Women’s Institute. It became a company in 1984 and by 2006 was named ENCAMS. Over the years, the majority of their campaigning has been around the issue of litter, using the "Keep Britain Tidy" slogan from the beginning to Sam’s time and beyond. The same poster appears in Series 2: Episode 5, and another featuring Morecambe and Wise in Series 1: Episode 7.
  • Gene’s lawyer, Colin Merrick, argues for the Guv’s release by giving a rather drunken rendition of the song, "Go down, Moses". "Go Down Moses" is an American Negro spiritual. It describes events in the Old Testament of the Bible in which God commands Moses to demand the release of the Israelites from bondage in Egypt. In full, the verse he sings is,
No more shall they in bondage toil,
Let my people go,
Let them come out with Egypt's spoil,
Let my people go.
Go down, Moses,
Way down in Egypt's Land.
Tell ol' Pharoah,
Let my people go.

When he reaches the verse, Merrick starts to imitate Louis Armstrong. Louis Armstrong (1901–1971) was an American jazz trumpeter and singer from New Orleans, Louisiana. Starting in the 1920s as a talented cornet and trumpet player, Armstrong went on to become a giant figure in jazz and popular music, renowned for his virtuoso trumpet playing, engaging vocal style, and his charismatic personality. His distinctive gravelly voice was instantly recognizable from recordings spanning four decades. Armstrong recorded "Go Down Moses" with the Sy Oliver Orchestra in 1958, but this version did not include the verse Gene`s lawyer sings.

  • Both Annie and Gene get into a Tufty Fluffytail costume in this episode. Tufty Fluffytail, a childlike Red Squirrel character, was created in 1953 by Elsie Mills MBE to introduce clear and simple safety messages to children. The success of the character led to the creation in 1961 of the Tufty Club for children under five years of age, and more than 30,000 Tufty books about road safety were issued to parents. At its peak, there were nearly 25,000 branches of the Tufty Club throughout the UK, and by the early 1970s an estimated two million children were members. In 1973, the stop-frame animation public-information film featuring Tuffty, Ice Cream Van, in which one of Tuffty's friends is knocked down by a car when rushing to the ice cream van, was first screened on ITV. It was narrated by Bernard Cribbins. The movement continued well into the 1980s and is well remembered today.
  • Gene tells Sam, “if I go to Morgan, I go to jail. Do not pass Go, do not pause to say farewell to friends and family….” Gene is quoting the words of a card used in the Monopoly board game directing the player to the “Jail” space: “GO TO JAIL Go directly to Jail DO NOT PASS GO, DO NOT COLLECT $200”.
  • Gene tells Sam, “what I call a dream involves Diana Dors and a bottle of chip oil!” Diana Dors (born Diana Mary Fluck, 1931–1984) was an

    Diana Dors

    actress born in Swindon, Wiltshire. Considered the English equivalent of the blonde bombshells of Hollywood, Dors described herself as, “the only sex symbol Britain has produced since Lady Godiva.” Coincidentally, Keeley Hawes, who played Alex Drake in Ashes to Ashes, starred as the young Diana Dors in The Blonde Bombshell (1999).
  • The character of Frank Morgan is a reference to The Sweeney. His name is a pastiche of the character DCI Frank Haskins and Garfield Morgan, the actor who played him. It also can be seen as a reference to the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz as Frank Morgan was the name of the actor who played the Wizard in that production. Further references to The Wizard of Oz appear in the next episode.


  • "Many a Mile to Freedom" - Traffic
  • "Virginia Plain" - Roxy Music
  • "Evening Blue" - Traffic
  • "Cindy Incidentally" - Faces
  • "Done Me Wrong Alright" - Sweet
  • "Crossroads" - Cream
  • "Rock n' Roll Disgrace" - Sweet
  • "One of the Boys" - Mott the Hoople


  • Starting the interview with Gene, DCI Morgan states that the date is July 17th, 1973. This was a Tuesday.
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)