Back during the pre-publicity for Ashes to Ashes, Matthew Graham and Ashley Pharoah started dropping hints that the apparently clear cut (or so they said) conclusion to Life on Mars, might not be as clear cut as it had seemed. Back then they were pretty adamant that everything had been going on inside Sam’s head – however now, in particular in an interview in SFX magazine, there were hints that Gene Hunt might be rather more than just an imagined character.
The running theme throughout the whole of Life on Mars was very much Sam’s uncertainty about what was happening. The big difference with Ashes to Ashes is that right from the start Alex Drake is certain that she is imagining everything, to the point that she will quite often refer to other characters as her constructs, or imply that they are imagined.
Then we had the final episode of series one, and much as with Life on Mars, it revolved around a key, life changing moment in the life of the main character, in this case the death of Alex Drake’s parents in a car bomb.
During the preceding episodes we’ve been seeing apparent splinters of the events of that day, however the big change between the splinters and what happens in the episode is that rather than her Godfather taking the hand of the young Alex, it is instead Gene Hunt who rescues the girl, and in clear parallels with the first episode brings the girl into the police station. Throughout the rest of the episode clues throughout the rest of the series have been connected, as, or so it seems Alex resolves the splintered memories of her childhood together, but the involvement of Gene Hunt, particularly when taken along with his comment to the young Alex that whenever she needs help she only needs to call on the Gene Genie, perhaps starts to answer the question as to why the adult Alex put Gene Hunt into her world – maybe the identical scenes from the first episode as Gene carries her into the police station are coming from her memories of childhood… Certainly with the pre-publicity hints, I wouldn’t be surprised if the next series is Alex starting to realise that Gene is somewhat more than just a construct. Having said that, Ashes to Ashes heading down that route will certainly start to throw a new light on Life on Mars…