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Life on Mars/Ashes to Ashes
Series 3: Episode 1 (Ashes to Ashes)
Air Date 2 April 2010
Written by Matthew Graham
Director David Drury
Additional Information
Antagonists DCI Jim Keats
Marjorie Blonde
Episode guide
Previous Story
Series 2: Episode 8
Ashes to Ashes does Sport Relief
Following Story
Series 3: Episode 2

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The first episode of the third series of the British science fiction police procedural drama series Ashes to Ashes was broadcast by BBC One on 2nd April 2010.


After being accidentally shot by DCI Gene Hunt, DI Alex Drake wakes up three months later in 1983. The team is investigating the kidnap of a young girl, Dorothy Blonde, who was abducted as her stepmother walked her to school. With a £50,000 ransom demanded for Dotty's life, the team has to work fast. However, Dotty's father, David, wants to go it alone. And when newly promoted Ray panics while running the sting, it seems the family may have been better off without CID's involvement. Gene is forced to put his career on the line as he's unable to stand by and watch a young girl lose her life. Meanwhile, Alex is being haunted by the ghost of a young policeman, while the malevolent DCI Jim Keats advises her to be wary of Gene.

Opening titles narration[]

"My name is Alex Drake, and quite frankly, your guess is as good as mine."


After being accidentally shot by DCI Gene Hunt, DI Alex Drake has woken up in 2008. The world she is in now, though, doesn't feel as real as the world she left. This makes her send Molly to live with her father, because she feels she has to deal with her problems by herself. She keeps dreaming about Gene Hunt, and one day, while being in a supermarket, she notices that the characters on a DVD cover look like Gene, Ray, Chris and Shaz. As soon as she turns around she sees each member of the team staring at her from the countless televisions in the store and begging her to wake up. She runs outside, but Gene's face is on every screen everywhere.

She suddenly finds herself in a cell. She opens the window in the cell's door and she sees herself lying in a hospital bed, while the television gives the news of a police officer's body being found in a shallow grave.


Produced by

  • Howard Burch - producer
  • Simon Crawford Collins - executive producer: Kudos
  • Jane Featherstone - executive producer: Kudos
  • Matthew Graham - executive producer: Monastic Productions
  • Alison Jackson - executive producer: Kudos
  • Ashley Pharoah - executive producer: Monastic Productions
  • Piers Wenger - executive producer: BBC Wales


  • DCI Gene Hunt -- Philip Glenister
  • DI Alex Drake -- Keeley Hawes
  • DI Ray Carling -- Dean Andrews
  • DC Chris Skelton -- Marshall Lancaster
  • WPC Shaz GrangerMontserrat Lombard
  • DCI Jim KeatsDaniel Mays (first appearence)
  • Sgt Viv James -- Geff Francis
  • Luigi -- Joseph Long
  • David Blonde -- Simon Merrells
  • Marjorie Blonde -- Tanya Franks
  • Dorothy Blonde -- Jadie-Rose Hobson
  • Therapist -- Jane Bertish
  • Newsreader -- Matthew Anroliwala
  • Radio DJ -- Simon Bates
  • Young Man -- Luke Neal
  • The Ghost of Young PC -- James Mason (a.k.a. Mason Kayne) (first appearence)


  • Sex on Fire - Kings of Leon
  • Ride of the Valkries - Richard Wagner
  • Sweet Dreams - Eurythmics
  • Electric Avenue - Eddy Grant
  • Jessica - The Allman Brothers
  • Promised You a Miracle - Simple Minds
  • Da Da Da - Trio
  • Blue Monday - New Order
  • Under Pressure - David Bowie and Queen
  • Walking on Sunshine - Katrina and the Waves
  • Every Breath You Take - The Police

Cultural References[]

  • The metafiction sequence set in the present day showed several homages to Red Dwarf: Back to Earth. Not only were the show's characters shown on every television screen in the store, but the cast were depicted on DVD covers (similar to the DVD cases Kryten picks up in Back to Earth: Part 2). Red Dwarf: Back to Earth 1–3 were first broadcast on satelitte channel "Dave" from 10–12 April 2009.
  • Gene says, "You walked straight into the path of my shooter! I don't go firing magic bullets, they don't go bending in the air," referencing the 2008 US cult film Wanted starring James MacAvoy in which a secret organisation train their agents to be able, with the swing of their arm, to cause the bullets they fire to bend in the air. One sequence shows MacAvoy training by firing bullets at Angelina Jolie which bend around her.
  • Gene says to Alex, "We're a team, Bodie and Doyle. I'm the one in the S.A.S.; you can be the one with girl's hair". Bodie and Doyle are characters from the LWT series The Professionals which ran from 1977 to 1983 and starred Lewis Collins as Bodie (the one in the S.A.S.) and Martin Shaw as Doyle (the one with girl's hair, actually a bubble perm) with Gordon Jackson as C.I.5 boss George Cowley.
  • At the station Alex briefly hears a D.J. talking about Molly and herself on a portable radio. This was a recreation of "Our Tune". Simon Bates, who worked on BBC Radio 1 from 1976–1993, had a regular feature on his show called "Our Tune" which ran from 1980 and became a daily (Mon–Fri) fixture. Over the background track of Nino Rota's theme to Franco Zefferelli's 1968 film Romeo and Juliet, Bates would read a story from a listener, often starting with a happy courtship which would turn into some kind of tragedy such as illness or death. The item would conclude with a record requested by the correspondent.
  • Marjorie says she met David Blonde in Tandy's. Tandy was a chain of electronic stores in the UK from the early 1970s onward. In 1999, the UK stores were taken over by Carphone Warehouse and were either closed or turned into Carphone Warehouse outlets. The parent company Tandy, was an American company founded in 1919 by Norton Hinckley and Dave L. Tandy. Originally a leather goods shop, they changed direction when they bought out the electronics chain Radio Shack in the US in 1963. Along with Commodore International, Atari, and Apple, Tandy were one of the first companies to start the personal computer revolution in the US with their TRS-80 (1977) and TRS-80 colour (1980) line of computers.
  • Shaz says to Chris, "Told you reading Doris Lessing would broaden the vocabluary." Doris Lessing (born 22 Oct 1919) is a left-wing UK novelist.
  • Shaz says, "should have got a job at Peek Freans". Peek Freans was a UK biscuit maker's founded by James Peek and George Hender Frean in 1857. Their first factory was in Dockhead. In 1866 they moved to a new factory in Clements Road in Bermondsy, London. The UK factory closed in 1989. Celebrated biscuits invented by Peek Freans include Garibaldi (1861), Marie (1875), Chocolate Table—the first chocolate coated biscuit—(1899), and Bourbon (1910).
  • When Ray is brandishing a banana like a gun at Luigi's, Gene says, "Oi, Billy the Flid", refering to the punchline of the sick joke "What do you call a cowboy with no arms?" This refers to the victims of the drug thalidomide, which was used in the late 1950s and early 1960s as a morning sickness cure for expectant mothers, which resulted in severe birth defects such as missing limbs.
  • Gene says about Jim Keats's officers at Luigis, "I don't need an escort from Cannon and Ball", refering to Yorkshire comedy duo Tommy Cannon and Bobby Ball, who became well known with their LWT TV series, The Cannon and Ball Show (1979–1988). In 1983 they starred in the feature film comedy, The Boys in Blue, a remake of the Will Hay comedy Ask a Policeman about country coppers with no crimes to solve who, after inventing a few of their own, uncover a real gang of thieves.
  • Alex has Top Gear on her TV. Top Gear (1977–2001) was originally a regional car review show presented by Angela Rippon and made by BBC Birmingham for the BBC Midlands region. Later, it transfered to national BBC2 as a regular weekly series, where it became a magazine programme reviewing new car models and other car-related subjects such as road safety. Its main presenter at the time was William Woollard, who was also known for presenting Tomorrow's World on BBC 1. Other features included classic car events and motorsports, with Top Gear Rally Report presented by Tony Mason and Sue Baker. This version of the show ended in 2001. In 2002, it was revamped as more of a comedy vehicle with Jeremy Clarkson, James May, and Richard Hammond. In the clip on Alex's TV—a report on the Audi Quattro—the voice of presenter Tif Needel can clearly be heard. Tif, who was a former Formula One driver, began presenting for Top Gear in 1987. The Top Gear theme is "Jessica" by the Allman Brothers, which first appeared on their 1973 Album Brothers and Sisters.
  • Chris says, "Can I have a crack at Missile Command?", referring to the arcade video game released by Atari in 1980.
  • Camcorders were introduced in 1983. Sony's Betamax version, the Betamovie BMC-100P, was the first, followed by VHS camcorders from Panasonic, RCA, and Hitachi, that recorded on full-size VHS tapes. These models could not be held in one hand and were usually carried on the shoulder of the operator.
  • Gene says about David and Marjorie Blonde that they are "not quite Terry and June anymore, are they", referring to the BBC sitcom Terry and June (1979–1987) about a respectable middle class couple Terry and June Medford played by Terry Scott and June Whitfield. Scott and Whitfield had previously played Terry and June Fletcher in Happy Ever After (1975–1978).
  • On the kidnappers' videotape, and later when she is rescued, Dorothy Blonde's TV is tuned into Why Don't You...? (1973–1993), a BBC kids programme presented by kids. Up until 1976, it was usually screened during school summer holidays (Mon–Fri) on BBC1. Later, it was screened on Saturday mornings at Easter and Christmas holiday times.
  • Gene says about Alex, "She's a one-woman Open University course, Bamber Gascoigne in drag", refering to the BBC's University of the air, with its base in Millton Keynes, and ITV's University Challenge presenter, Bamber Gascoigne.
  • Gene says, "This is turning into the Claire Rayner show", refering to Claire Rayner's Casebook (1980–1984) a BBC TV series broadcast at 3 p.m. in which Agony Aunt Claire Rayner looked at specific problems of mental and physical health, and their interrelation (Tom Robinson appeared on the 10th March 1983 edition). Claire Rayner (22 January 1931–11 October 2010) was a former nurse and midwife turned journalist and author, best remembered for her many years as an agony aunt. She wrote advice and agony aunt columns for Hers (1962), Woman's Own/Woman magazine (1966–1988), The Sun (1973–1980), the Sunday Mirror and Today newspapers. She first appeared on TV on Pebble Mill at One in 1972, and later regularly appeared as agony aunt/adviser on TV-AM (1986–1992) and SKY satellite TV (1989–1990). She was also an author of many books of fiction and non-fiction. Her name became synonymous with the title "Agony Aunt" and a puppet version of her often appeared on Spitting Image.
  • Gene says, "I find stories like that work better on Nationwide", refering to the BBC TV magazine programme, which combined political analysis and disscusion, consumer affairs, regional eccentrics, light entertainment and star interviews, and sports reporting. It began on 9th September 1969 and ended on 5th August 1983.

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)