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Time travel to the 1980s

06/04/2007. Contributed by Jessica Martin

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

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After the finale of the sci-fi crime series Life On Mars on BBC One, the BBC has announced the next chapter - Ashes To Ashes. DCI Gene Hunt (Philip Glenister) is back in the 1980s but he's no longer the self-styled Sheriff of Manchester, and its a female cop from the future who has to cope with his funny little ways.

Flanked by his faithful sidekicks, Ray Carling (Dean Andrews) and Chris Skelton (Marshall Lancaster), and drawn to the action and intrigue of the London Met, Gene turns his attentions to taking on the "southern nancy" criminal scum. However, Gene does not expect to be thrown together with sexy, intelligent, DCI Alex Drake. Single mother to daughter Molly, Alex has rapidly risen through the ranks of the Met and, in the modern world of 2008, skilfully uses psychological profiling to capture suspects.

When Alex and her daughter are kidnapped she makes a daring attempt at escape, resulting in a horrific accident. Alex suddenly finds herself in 1981 interacting with familiar characters, not just from her own life-time, but also from the detailed reports logged by none other than Sam Tyler, which Alex has previously spent months pouring over.

Alex is ripped from her current world of sexual equality and respect in 2008 and finds herself opposite an arrogant fellow DCI in a Two Tone, New Romantic Eighties London with a soundtrack of Adam Ant, Roxy Music and The Human League ringing in her ears. Alex finds some of Gene's team has dispersed yet others, loyal as ever, are still in tow.

Now a technological whizz-kid in the squad's surveillance team, DC Chris Skelton has clearly moved with the times, along with a tight-permed DS Ray Carling who's keen to experience London's nightlife. Frustrated by each other's stubbornness, the friction between Alex and Gene heats up. However, as the two titans collide, it becomes apparent there is more than just a professional tension emerging.

With the producers' search to cast the strong-willed DCI Alex Drake currently underway, filming is due to begin in London this summer, for transmission on BBC One next year.

Jane Featherstone, Executive Producer for Kudos, told SFcrowsnest, "Ashes to Ashes is the next chapter in the life of Gene Hunt, as seen through the eyes of a modern, no-nonsense woman. It's a touch of Moonlighting teamed with a measure of Miami Vice. The search for Gene's sexy side-kick is definitely on; she'll hopefully give him a serious run for his money."

Julie Gardner, BBC Wales Head of Drama, added, "Sam Tyler took us on an amazing journey with Life On Mars but his story always had a definite life span. However, fans will be excited to learn that Gene Hunt lives on through Ashes To Ashes and we're certain they will love his Eighties escapades."

Ashes To Ashes is written and created by Matthew Graham and Ashley Pharaoh, two creators of Life On Mars, with additional writing credits for Mark Greig (Life On Mars), Mick Ford (William And Mary) and Julie Rutterford (Life On Mars). It is produced by Kudos, in association with Monastic Productions, the new production company of Graham and Pharaoh.

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