*Please note correct premiere date
THE '80S MAKE A COME BACK ON BBC AMERICA
- An all new U.S. premiere season of Ashes to Ashes -
BBC AMERICA's Ashes to Ashes, the critically acclaimed sequel to UK hit Life on Mars, continues by fast forwarding a year to 1982, where leg warmers are cool and fluorescent is the color of choice. While Thatcher is in her element at No. 10 Downing St, bullish Detective Chief Inspector Gene Hunt (Philip Glenister, Cranford, Life on Mars) is back, policing the streets in his politically incorrect and loud mouthed style. Ashes to Ashes Season Two premieres Tuesday, May 11, 10:00p.m. ET/PT.
Sassy Detective Inspector Alex Drake continues her fiery relationship with Hunt and though no nearer to getting back to her daughter, Alex believes she's suspended in time and finally understands how the world around her works. But when she starts hearing news from the future, she realizes nothing is as it seems. Clinging on to fast fading hope, she discovers she may not be alone in her predicament. A mysterious stranger who also seems to be stuck in 1982 is making Alex doubt her current world is merely a figment of her imagination. Is he a friend who can help her get home or a foe who will destroy all she knows?
And while Gene Hunt saved her younger self from the car bomb that killed her parents, can she ever trust him enough to share in her extraordinary scenario? As she struggles to stay alive long enough to find a way home, it appears she needs him more than ever before.
"Alex becomes much more part of the team," explains Philip Glenister. "But there is a police corruption theme running throughout the season so it does feel darker than season one; the corruption breeds a lack of trust and coherence which is unbalancing for everybody. However, viewers can still expect moments of high campness and there are some great one liners."
DC Chris Skelton (Marshall Lancaster, Life on Mars) and WPC Sharon "Shaz" Granger (Montserrat Lombard) couldn't be happier. He's still trying his best to be the perfect "feminist" boyfriend and wants to take his relationship to the next level, but predictably DS Ray Carling (Dean Andrews, Life on Mars) continues to tease him about his romantic gestures. Ray's also struggling to contain his emotions about the Falklands War, blaming the "Argies" and throwing his weight fully behind Maggie Thatcher. However, more testing times lie ahead for the trio.
Producer Beth Willis says, "The new season moves in a slightly different direction and we've really enjoyed developing the characters and Alex's journey further. Gene and Alex's relationship is so complex; it is very sparky and they obviously care for each other in a begrudging manner so it's interesting to see how this evolves. Ray and Chris are still by Gene's side, but when force legend Detective Superintendent "Supermac" Mackintosh (Roger Allam, The Queen, V for Vendetta) starts working with the team it looks as if Gene's equilibrium could be broken."
The arrival of "Supermac" seems like a blessing to the team because he's been hailed as a star within the force and someone not to be messed with. However, it's not long before Gene's gut instinct tells him something isn't quite right. Could this cop legend be up to no good?
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*** SPOILER ALERT***
When a dead man is found in a Soho strip club, it looks like a sex game has gone wrong. So when the deceased is discovered to be a police officer, Gene and Alex are ordered to keep the case under wraps. PC Sean Irvine was supposed to be clearing the streets of vice, but did he instead become seduced by it? When the pathologist uncovers signs that Sean was murdered, the team need to discover whether he was killed because he was a corrupt cop - or an honest one. As the case leads them into dangerous territory, Alex finds herself kidnapped by a man whose words threaten her whole perspective on this world. Only Gene can save her, but even if he gets there in time, Alex fears that someone else in 1982 knows her dark secret - that she's from the future. Meanwhile, sounds and messages from that future suggest to Alex that her circumstances have changed. Lying with a bullet in her head on the wet ground of an abandoned boat, is it possible that someone has discovered her? Episode 1 premieres Tuesday, May 11, 10:00p.m. ET/PT.
The team is on the hunt for major vehicle thief Jed Wicklow, but when a car chase leads to his death, Gene stands accused of causing it through reckless driving. Alex is adamant that there was something wrong with Jed at the wheel and wants to prove that the crash wasn't Gene's fault. The deceased Jed was a Romany gypsy, and hostilities run high on the camp as the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) heavy-handedly try to uncover the circumstances of his death. But in an investigation that's already met with resistance, someone in the police force also appears to be standing in their way. Gene needs to get the result he wants without treading on the toes of his revered superior, Detective Inspector Mackintosh (Roger Allam), known to all as Supermac. But will Alex be able to trust that he'll not take the easy option of a cover-up? As the divide grows between Gene and Alex, she gets another visit from the mysterious stranger whose presence could be the key to her finding her way home. Episode 2 premieres Tuesday, May 18, 10:00p.m. ET/PT.
Animal rights activists have threatened a series of attacks in London and the first victim - the daughter of a commercial laboratory owner - is in hospital. Gene orders his team not to sleep until those responsible are behind bars. Their first stop is a prison where Robin Elliot, a known animal rights activist, is serving time for killing a scientist in the '70s. Alex is convinced Robin knows about the planned attacks, but with no contact with the outside world, there doesn't appear to be any way for him to be involved. Robin's eerily prescient knowledge of the future makes Alex think he could be involved not only with the case, but also with her own fate. Having heard the voices of ambulance men, Alex worries that hope is fading for her survival in the present day. Gene skirts closely towards a dangerous conflict with Supermac, who warns him to toe the line or face the consequences. As Alex fights for her life and Gene fights for his career, can they prevent more casualties before time runs out? Episode 3 premieres Tuesday, May 25, 10:00p.m. ET/PT.
Gene Hunt is visited by a former adversary from his old stomping ground of Manchester. Journalist Jackie Queen had several run-ins with Gene in the past and this time she has a surprise in store - she's pregnant with his baby. Not one to miss out on a story, she's also investigating the disappearance of northern teenagers that have arrived in London. She wants help to find one in particular - her niece Rachel has run away and Jackie fears she's been lured into the seedy underbelly of the capital. Alex is suspicious of Jackie. Also, with the threat of a transfer haunting Gene, Alex is desperate they get to the bottom of the corruption she believes is in the police force. But as the investigation progresses, evidence leads them to a man named Jarvis. On the surface he's a legitimate business man, but they're convinced he's responsible for the murders of young girls. With an expensive lawyer and his smug demeanour, Jarvis appears untouchable and, worse, seems to have protection from within the Met itself. As the pressure mounts to find Rachel, the team is forced to acknowledge the force is being poisoned from the inside. Gene's loyalty is tested as he and Alex are forced to put a stop to it, however messy the consequences. Episode 4 premieres Tuesday, June 1, 10:00p.m. ET/PT.
When a violent burglary occurs at Alex's in-laws' house, she comes face-to-face with their son Peter - the 14-year-old future-father of Molly. Alex is desperate to help Molly's grandparents but Gene - wanting a big collar to bury the press stories of police corruption - dismisses the case as trivial. When the fingerprints from the crime scene reveal the burglar was George Staines (a notorious gangster, now supposedly dead), Gene realizes this could be the catch he's after. Alex remembers hearing stories about the burglary in her old life, and is convinced she'd remember if the culprit was as infamous as Staines. Gene's determined to uncover the truth and get the headline he deserves, but will Alex's loyalty to her in-laws and pent-up resentment of her ex-husband lead her down the wrong path? Alex finally gets to meet the mysterious man who has been circling her and he arrives with a proposition - is her desire to get back to Molly strong enough to become a corrupt cop? Episode 5 premieres Tuesday, June 8, 10:00p.m. ET/PT.
A dead body found floating in a canal is identified as Colin Mitchell, a man recently reported missing by his glamorous wife, Donna. Gene discovers that Colin worked for Trevor Riley, a nasty loan shark with a habit of hurting those who mess with him. A ruthless capitalist, Riley invokes terror in the community he controls and Gene sets his sights on bringing down this cocky, unscrupulous villain. Alex cannot shake the feeling that Donna is hiding something, and wants to use her profiling skills to explore the case further. However, her skills start to fail her as she undergoes surgery in the present to have the bullet removed from her brain. Alex can only wait to see whether she will pull through - and meanwhile Gene's determination leads him onto equally dangerous ground. Episode 6 premieres Tuesday, June 15, 10:00p.m. ET/PT.
What looks like a simple drugs drop at a building site turns into a murder case when CID finds a body buried in concrete. The site owner, Michael Lafferty, is working on major redevelopments to the London Docklands and is resistant to having CID trampling on his turf. A number of people think Lafferty is crooked - an eager young PC thinks he's paying off his superior officers, plus several of the Polish workers whom Lafferty exploits. All the while, Alex is waiting, convinced that she's recovering in the hospital and will wake up soon. As the case begins to clash with Alex's desire to get home, a huge obstacle starts to stand in her way. When something occurs that shatters her view of how this world operates, Alex is haunted by thoughts of her parents' death and whether she could have prevented it. Desperate to get out of this increasingly confusing place, Alex is pushed to the limit - just how far will she go to carve a path back home, and will she ever be able to share the truth with Gene? Episode 7 premieres Tuesday, June 22, 10:00p.m. ET/PT.
Alex has caught a hospital infection and knows the doctors are losing hope for her. Feeling ill, weak and estranged from Gene, she's terrified time is running out for her to get home. But when an informant is tortured and killed, Gene's convinced a major blag is about to happen and wants CID to fire on all cylinders to stop it. Alex desperately needs Gene's help, but to get it would involve telling him the truth about who she is and where she is from - the reality of which is surely too big for him to comprehend. As Gene grows increasingly suspicious of Alex's behavior, his head is also turned by Jenette, an attractive woman whose uncomplicated nature and simple belief in him offers him everything Alex can not. A wedge develops between Alex and Gene that threatens to rip the whole team apart - and their relationship is put to its toughest test yet in a heart-stopping showdown. Could this be the end of this new world for Alex Drake? Episode 8 premieres Tuesday, June 29, 10:00p.m. ET/PT.
PHILIP GLENISTER AS DCI GENE HUNT
It's true that over the last four years the public have taken the character of Gene Hunt to their hearts and Philip attributes this to Hunt's ideals.
"In this season of Ashes to Ashes, Gene is still out there being a maverick, but what I always say about him is that while he bends the rules, he never breaks them. He merely manipulates and stretches them a bit. If anything, he is a decent and honest copper and he'll usually only collar unsavory characters. I love the western connotation with Hunt - he is exactly like a Sheriff and sees himself very much in that guise. However, the problem is that he is out of his depth in the '80s metropolis of London and the bottom line is he is a '70s copper at heart."
In this second season of Ashes to Ashes the action moves on a year from 1981 to 1982 and the CID team face tough times.
"Alex becomes much more part of the team," explains Philip. "But there is a police corruption theme running throughout the season so it does feel darker than season one; the corruption breeds a lack of trust and coherence which is unbalancing for everybody. However, viewers can still expect moments of high campness and there are some great one liners."
Central to the police corruption theme is Gene's new boss, Detective Superintendent "Supermac" Mackintosh (Roger Allam), who arrives in the first episode determined to restore the reputation of the police in the eyes of the media and public.
"Supermac is a highly respected Superintendent who has been in the police force for a long time," says Philip. "He trained at Hendon and has come up through the police ranks which gained him a lot of respect from his colleagues on the force. Supermac enters CID and basically says that the police needs to regroup and be accountable. I think Gene agrees with him up to a point but then certain events lead him to question Supermac's motives."
Gene and Alex's relationship also continues to be fiery with a hint of simmering sexual tension beneath the surface. Does Philip think they would work as a couple?
"If you just had a show based on 'will they won't they' it wouldn't be that interesting; hopefully their relationship is a bit more complex than that," he replies. "It's the moment things spill over from a professional capacity to a personal one when complications set in and you start to question whether they would work as a couple. I think Gene is an enigma and I play him with ambiguity rather than having a preconceived idea of whether Gene fancies Alex or not. There are moments when he teases her and she teases him but Gene will never give anything away."
Philip admits that the long hours on set did take their toll but he clearly enjoyed working with the cast and production team who he shared plenty of laughs with.
"Shooting eight episodes took six months so it was a long shoot but a great bunch of people work on the show which is one of the joys of the job," he explains. "There were so many funny incidents; we laughed a lot - particularly Keeley and Dean who are real gigglers. In fact they are the troublemakers! Dean's laugh is like an animal's and Keeley will just crack up out of nowhere. She's pretty amazing because she can also cry on cue for scenes; her range of emotion is incredibly impressive."
Of course an interview about Gene Hunt wouldn't be complete without asking about the love of his life; the Quattro. Philip chuckles as he recounts his experiences of driving what many people consider an antique.
"The stunt guys could just whizz past the cameras and do handbrake turns. I then had to get in the car for the interior shots and there would be two cameras stuck to the front and one on the side. I'd have to make sure I didn't drive too close to the curb otherwise I would have taken one out on a lamppost. The camera stuck to the windshield also meant I couldn't see anything out the front and the heavy equipment combined with actors, who had spent five and a half months eating location food and syrup sponge, left the poor old Quattro scratching along the floor!"
"I always enjoy the driving stuff though, especially throwing around a car which isn't my own," adds Philip. "We had two Quattro's this time round so we weren't stuck if one broke down. In fact we did have a couple of instances with the Quattro while filming this season, both involving the stunt men and not the cast I hasten to add. First a stunt guy smashed one of the car's front lights when we were filming a chase scene and the two cars clipped each other. The second incident involved a scare when the Quattro had to hit one of the stuntmen. Unfortunately when the Quattro actually struck him he accidentally smashed the windscreen. Luckily he was alright."
KEELEY HAWES AS DI ALEX DRAKE
As Ashes to Ashes continues, DI Alex Drake and the rest of the CID team are searching for suspects in an underground sewage system. Luckily for Keeley Hawes this scene didn't set the tone for what her character could expect to get up to throughout the rest of the season.
She explains; "This season we get to see that Alex has calmed down a lot and has begun to settle into the '80s environment. She now considers the people around her to be friends and because we have moved on a year, things aren't quite so heightened for her.
"I've found Alex really interesting to play this season," continues Keeley, "because the lines are blurring between what she thinks is real and what isn't. She is now beginning to wonder whether the 2008 part of her life, including her daughter Molly, only ever existed in her head. It's definitely been an interesting angle to explore rather than the story simply concentrating on her trying to get back to the present."
Viewers are also introduced to an enigmatic stranger who is watching the DI and is trying to make contact with her in a mysterious manner.
"A strange man keeps leaving Alex roses which she initially thinks is another puzzle," Keeley explains. "She starts to investigate further believing that if she solves the puzzle she may be able to go home. There are certainly lots of twists but I can't give the game away!"
Since Alex first met her boss, the brash DCI Gene Hunt, the pair have often clashed and enjoy a tempestuous relationship. Viewers are used to their on screen bust ups and fiery exchanges, however, Keeley believes they share a mutual admiration for each other.
"They do still have their ups and downs," reveals Keeley, "but Gene is beginning to take on board different ways of policing and is starting to understand forensics and the importance of collecting evidence. Occasionally he and Alex are quite in tune and they definitely admire each other to a certain extent."
Keeley also reveals that there is a darker edge to this season.
"When DS Mackintosh joins CID as Gene's boss Alex instantly likes him but then she starts to see a darker side to his life," explains Keeley. "Roger Allam who plays Supermac is absolutely fantastic. He's brought a mysterious side to the character and a darker side to the whole seasons which we're all really pleased with. The script writers have also explored Dean, Marshall and Montserrat's characters more this seasons," explains Keeley, "and we get to see a lot more of Chris and Hazes relationship."
The '80s was a time of flamboyant fashion, bright make up and glitzy accessories and Keeley admits that she had far more costume changes during this season.
"We haven't gone down the silly '80s fashion route because I don't think Alex would wear those clothes," continues Keeley. "However, Alex definitely wears a lot more outfits in this season and in one episode I think I have eight costume changes. I had one quite brilliant outfit which was a shirt with a giant pussy bow, covered in little anchors, tight jeans with red stripes down the side and anchor earrings which were on chains. It really was quite something. I also had a great Japanese look at one point. The costume department have gone to town with the details this season."
Alex's hair has also changed from a poodle perm to a more grown out look with a fringe. Keeley explains the reason behind the change.
"My hair is now much shorter in real life because it had to undergo so much styling for the first season of Ashes followed by Mutual Friends that I had to chop it all off before it fell out. So for this season of Ashes I've now got a growing out perm - a bit like Cagney from Cagney and Lacey. Most of it is my own hair but I needed a bit of extra length at the back so I have a hair piece that clips on easily."
Although the drama itself is getting darker, Keeley admits that the set was full of laughs and there was good banter between cast and crew.
"We all get on really well, thank goodness, and there was constant laughter on set. Dean and I would regularly laugh together and in fact last season was the first time ever I've been asked to leave a set because I couldn't stop laughing at Dean. I can honestly say we were all a bit better filming this season but it was still very difficult not to crack up. However, laughing releases a lot of energy so I think it is a healthy thing on set."
A rare treat for Keeley was driving the Quattro; an experience usually reserved for the one and only Gene Hunt.
"I love driving the Quattro; the handbrake turns are particularly fun! However, there was one time when we were all in the car with a very expensive camera attached and Phil was driving. We were heading towards the end of the road, in the rain, and suddenly the brakes didn't work! It was a hairy moment but Phil is a very good driver and managed to stop the car; we are all still here thank God!"