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Life on Mars

10/12/2005. Contributed by Jessica Martin

Buy Life on Mars in the USA - or Buy Life on Mars in the UK

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John Simm is transported back to the Seventies in Life on Mars, a new time-travel drama for BBC ONE from the makers of Spooks and Hustle.

John Simm (State of Play), one of the UK's leading actors, stars in Life on Mars, a drama from Kudos Film and Television, the team behind hit drama Hustle and the award-winning Spooks.

Simm plays Sam Tyler, a driven and ambitious young detective who is determined to keep the streets of 21st Century Manchester safe. However, the hunt for a serial killer becomes a personal vendetta when Sam suspects his girlfriend and colleague Maya (Archie Panjabi, Yasmin) has been kidnapped by the very man he's tracking down.

But after a near fatal car accident Sam wakes up, dazed and confused, in 1973, struggling to understand what's real. Has he gone back in time? Is he in a coma? Or has he simply gone insane? What follows is Sam's 21st century account of Seventies life feeling like a fish out of water.

He must come to terms with an unfamiliar environment and an archaic CID unit where, using his modern know-how, he is integral to the unit's investigation process as he learns how to adapt to their old-fashioned technologies and etiquettes.

Throughout the eight-part series, Sam works on some of the hardest cases he has ever been involved with, not least because he's faced with a world where witnesses are regularly intimidated, it takes two weeks to process forensics and his colleagues will nail their suspect whether they have the evidence or not. Sam's new boss is hard-nosed DCI Gene Hunt (Philip Glenister, Vincent), who gets results by trusting his gut instinct and, all too often, sheer brute force.

The rest of his team have similar attitudes towards their work.

DS Ray Carling (Dean Andrews, Between the Sheets) is untrusting of his new colleague and suspicious of his 'new-fangled' ideas, and DC Chris Skelton (Marshall Lancaster, Clocking Off) is cheeky but affable and keen to learn.

The only member of the team who has a less unruly and bigoted attitude is WPC Annie Cartright (Liz White, A Thing Called Love). She is an educated and open-minded woman who helps Sam in his quest to find the truth about his new circumstances, as well as battling to lock up the criminals of Seventies Manchester.

In episode one it becomes clear to Sam that the killer who is holding Maya in 2005 started his killing spree here and now in the early Seventies. Could catching the perpetrator be the key to Sam's return to the future?

Jane Featherstone, Joint Managing Director at Kudos Film and Television, and executive producer of Life on Mars, says: "Life on Mars is a fantastic idea which takes the cop show genre and gives it a unique, humorous and irresistible twist. By taking a character of our time and throwing him headfirst into our recent past, it gives us a chance to explore what makes us who we are today."

John Yorke, Controller of Continuing Drama Series and Head of Independent Drama at the BBC, explains: "The beauty of Life on Mars is that each week it concentrates on catching criminals through two completely opposing styles of policing. We put a modern DI bang in the world of the old school copper and so explore two totally foreign worlds. Sam is both repelled and fascinated by this prehistoric world, and the drama lies in how he tries to accommodate himself to life on a completely different planet."

Julie Gardner, BBC Wales Head of Drama, says: "We are delighted to have collaborated with Kudos on such an exciting and bold project as Life on Mars. And, to have such a talented cast can only highlight the quality of the writing and the production."

Life On Mars is created and written by Matthew Graham, Tony Jordan and Ashley Pharoah who all collaborated on BBC ONE hit drama Hustle, with additional writing credits for Chris Chibnall (All About George). Directors are Bharat Nalluri (Spooks, Hustle), John McKay (Canterbury Tales: The Miller's Tale), John Alexander (Cutting It) and SJ Clarkson (Footballers Wives) and it is produced by newcomer, Claire Parker.

The executive producers are Jane Featherstone (Spooks, Hustle) and Matthew Graham.

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