Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Ashes Flashes Back To '80s

Julie Gardner, executive producer of the upcoming BBC spinoff of the hit time-travel series Life on Mars, told SCI FI Wire that Ashes to Ashes will display the fashions of the 1980s in all their Day-Glo glory. "It's kind of Miami Vice in London," Gardner said in an interview at the Television Critics Association press tour in Beverly Hills, Calif. "It's all those things you remember, all those terrible fashion faux pas from the '80s. So it's big puff-ball skirts and bright colors and lipstick and big hair. ... We're gong to do all of that. And, hopefully, the occasional speedboat on the Thames or something."

Ashes to Ashes stars Keeley Hawes (MI-5) as deputy inspector Alex Drake, a modern-day police officer who finds herself in a predicament similar to that of Sam Tyler (John Simm) in Life on Mars. But instead of traveling back to the year 1973, Alex arrives in 1981. There she'll encounter unreconstructed detective chief inspector Gene Hunt (Philip Glenister) and the rest of his team of officers.

Gardner said that there are hints in the final episode of Life on Mars that will explain how Alex happens to encounter the same characters. "There is a clue there about how you can sustain a format," she said. "Because there are some back-references to Life on Mars, but essentially Ashes to Ashes stands alone. And what's great for us is the central continuation. It's Gene Hunt, the character, and he's brought some of his team with him."

Although the central premises of the two shows are similar, the writers have been careful to differentiate Ashes to Ashes from its predecessor.

"Matthew Graham and the team, they've just come up with a fantastic way of how that central character, played by Keeley, a character called Alex, gets back into this world," Gardner said. "Looking at a different period, a different decade, looking at the '80s, immediately gives them a lot of new story, and there are huge twists and turns for what happens to Alex. And I'm really not going to reveal them. There's going to be lots of layers. In the same way that Sam had his own journey, lots of kind of layered backstories. Lots of questions about the world and quite what is happening."

The actors will gather next week in London for the first time to read through the first script in the series, which was written by creator and executive producer Matthew Graham. Ashes to Ashes will air in the United Kingdom next year. —Cindy White

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