BBC One drama Ashes to Ashes, which stars Philip Glenister as politically incorrect policeman DCI Gene Hunt, is to return for a second series in 2009.
The show, a sequel to Life on Mars, has received an average of 6.5m viewers since it began in February.
Julie Gardner, the BBC's head of drama in Wales, said she was "delighted" to be bringing back the "bold, confident storytelling and great characters".
The current series ended on Thursday with an audience of 5.4m.
Set in 1981, the police drama also Keeley Hawes as police psychologist DI Alex Drake.
The first episode, in which Drake wakes up in the 1980s after being shot in an incident in modern-day London, attracted 7m viewers.
Simon Crawford-Collins, from production company Kudos, said: "The Eighties have had a real revival over the past few months.
"Ashes To Ashes seems to have captured the imagination of the nation.
"I'm sure viewers will be desperate to know who's back in the second series but for now they'll just have to watch the last episode of series one to find out."
Filming for the next series will begin in the summer.
Story from BBC NEWS:
|Ashes To Ashes: An Afternoon In 1982|
THE sun burst out from behind rain clouds when I arrived at the Ashes To Ashes set this afternoon.
Philip Glenister (Gene Hunt) and Keeley Hawes (Alex Drake) were filming today.
Along with Dean Andrews (Ray Carling), Marshall Lancaster (Chris Skelton) and Montserrat Lombard (Shaz Granger).
Phil very kindly looked through a 1982 copy of the MEN I dug out from my loft.
While producer Beth Willis was on hand to provide an overview of the second series.
The team are about to start filming episodes five and six and are on course to finish the entire shoot in early February.
I'll be doing more interviews with cast members ahead of the start of the new eight-part series.
As Mr Glenister has already said, that’s likely to be in March.
Due to the usual embargo, I can’t reveal any of the content from the interviews until nearer transmission.
I know it’s frustrating for fans desperate for information.
But I promise it’ll be worth waiting for.
I was genuinely excited by what I heard today.
Series two is on course to be even better and more assured than the first.
With that added hint of darkness promised by writers Matthew Graham and Ashley Pharoah.
Along with all the other elements of the show many of us love to bits.
And more than a few surprises.
So let’s stick a calendar on our walls and count down the days.
Episode one will be here before you know it.
|Mars To Ashes: The Writers Talk|
ASHES To Ashes is set to get slightly darker in series two, on the road to unveiling greater mysteries.
That was one of the revelations at last night’s BBC Writersroom talk by Ashley Pharoah and Matthew Graham.
They are the Emmy Award-winning creators and writers of Life On Mars and Ashes To Ashes, among many other things.
Ashley and Matthew told a packed audience of some 140 people about their sheer excitement for series two, following the first storyline meeting last Friday.
They also explained how they lost a few of the battles about the tone of Ashes series one.
And how they plan to pull the rug from under viewers in the second, and possible third, series.
|Ashes To Ashes: Series Two|
WELL, it’s been a while.
Filming for the second series of Ashes To Ashes is approaching the half way mark.
I’ll be on set to talk to the cast later this month.
And, hopefully, also talking to Philip Glenister at the launch of his ITV1 drama Demons the following week.
Phil gave an update on the new series of Ashes when he was interviewed on BBC Radio Five Live this afternoon.
As we know. It's set a year on in 1982 – the year of the Falklands War.
He told the always excellent Simon Mayo that he hoped it would be screened on BBC1 from next March.
Update: My hunch had been that this may be the last series of Ashes To Ashes.
And that Phil was possibly getting ready to say farewell to Gene Hunt.
But it appears - ratings allowing - we will get a full three series.
Writers Matthew Graham and Ashley Pharoah have always said they need that many to tell the full story
Including the revelation of "the bigger picture".
Thanks to the ever watchful Wibble for pointing me in the direction of Michael Ball’s Radio Two interview with Phil on Sunday.
Asked how much longer Ashes could go on, Mr G replied: “I think there’s one more series in it.
“I don’t want to push it and for Gene to become a sort of caricature.
“But we’re contracted for another series after this and then, maybe, we’ll call it quits, we’ll call it a day.”
On Five Live he spoke about playing an iconic figure – and the danger of being typecast.
“I don’t think we’ll go any further than ’82…I think that…yeah.”
That prompted Simon to ask: "So is this the last series?"
Phil replied: “We’re contracted to do another series – so, we’ll see.
"But after that, I’m not sure, I think we might have run its course, actually.”
Here are some of the other highlights from the Five Live interview relating to the new series:
*“We’ve got quite a good police corruption storyline which will sort of be the underlying story for the first half of the series, which is quite fun…because there was quite a lot of it going on at the time.”
*As with previous series of Ashes and Mars, the writers put down in the script the choice of music they’d ideally like to be playing in the background. ”We were shooting a piece on Saturday where I have to be in the Audi Quattro. And we sort of spin it round and we’re looking for Alex Drake, and the writers had written, ‘The Eye Of The Tiger kicks off again.’ And you think, ‘Yeah.’”
*As already trailed, the second series of Ashes has gone darker. "Doing this series, we learned from the first what worked and what didn’t. We had chats and talks about it. So, hopefully, this series we’re more sure-footed, a bit more confident about where we’re going with this one – and we’ve brought in some new semi-regular characters.”
*”We’d had some criticism for Ashes – some of it justifiable, some of it unjustifiable. It’s a personal opinion but I think we got a bit too comedic in places and there was a danger of caricaturing the situation. That was my biggest concern about it. I think a lot of the unfair criticism was towards Keeley and her performance. And I think they got quite personal. I thought it was pretty much unfounded, really, and unfair. And when it becomes personal like that, I don’t think there’s any place for it, really.”
*He told how Harvey Keitel rang him for advice about playing Gene Hunt in the American version of Life On Mars. “He said, ‘You did a real good job on the English version and how am I going to follow you?’ And I said something really naff and rather luvvy-like…he said, ‘Have you got any notes?’ I said, ‘Just enjoy.’ I’ve seen the first episode and it is shot, virtually, exactly the same as our own version, down to the same camera angles, even the dry ice and the smoke in the background – it sort of defeats the object. You might as well just show ours.”
|'Mars' character to return on 'Ashes'|
Wednesday, December 17 2008, 07:44 GMT
By Ben Rawson-Jones, Cult Editor
Ashes To Ashes producer Beth Willis has revealed that a familiar face from Life On Mars will appear in the second season of the spinoff show.
Willis told Digital Spy: "We have a character from Life On Mars who will come up at some point during the series and that will inevitably reopen questions about Sam [Tyler]."
Discussing the possibility of a return to the franchise for John Simm, who played Tyler, Willis said: "I'm sure that would be an interesting thing to do but I think it would have to be story-led.
"What we know thus far is that Sam Tyler's car went into the river and he died. So that would be a bigger picture we are exploring if he were to come back."
|Ashes To Ashes: Keep The Faith|
DON’T get too excited.
The embargo is still in place on Ashes To Ashes material.
But I spoke again this afternoon to Dean Andrews (Ray) and Montserrat Lombard (Shaz).
Along with the rest of the cast, they’ll be busy this week filming a special BBC1 trailer for the second series.
Having already been hard at work on finishing touches to the eight new episodes, including dubbing.
Quite aside from other promotional work.
Everyone connected with Ashes knows that fans are frustrated and desperate for news.
And, yes, it does seem a long time since the first series was screened.
But the message is clear.
As Dean told me: “It’s definitely worth the wait.
“The storylines are great, there’s some great new characters coming in.
“There’s a lot of action.
“And you get to see the Gene Genie and all his gang.
“Better to get it absolutely right than rush it out and have one or two things that aren’t quite right.
“We can’t wait for it to come out and see what everybody’s reaction is.
“Fingers crossed, it’ll be a good one.”
Ashes To Ashes returns next month - with the exact start date still under wraps.
|Ashes To Ashes: Stairway To Heaven|
THE busker started playing his guitar as I walked towards the escalator heading up to the street.
Piccadilly Circus underground station in London at 1pm today.
And his choice of song?
Stairway To Heaven.
I felt a sudden shiver down my spine.
Not due to any resemblance between an ascending Piccadilly Line escalator and the title of Led Zeppelin’s classic song.
With all due respect to Eros, Piccadilly Circus isn’t most people’s idea of paradise.
More to do with the fact that I was on my way to interview Philip Glenister ahead of the second BBC1 series of Ashes To Ashes.
Was this a clue to the big mystery at the heart of Ashes and Life On Mars?
With somebody, somewhere, trying to tell me that, yes, Alex Drake really is stuck somewhere between Heaven and Hell?
Or just a meaningless co-incidence?
As with Life On Mars, Phil is tireless in his efforts to promote Ashes To Ashes.
Even though there must be times when he’s feeling absolutely knackered.
Having just finished a very long shoot.
He’s always polite, friendly and engaging company.
With plenty to say about Gene Hunt’s adventures in the second series of Ashes.
I know from the blog comments and emails that fans are desperate for news.
There’s so much to tell about the return of Gene, Alex, Ray, Chris and Shaz.
Sadly…and I hate typing these words again…not just yet.
The Ashes interviews and other linked material remain under embargo until closer to the date of transmission.
That’s just the way it works.
At the risk of repeating myself, it’s as frustrating for me as it is for you.
All I can say is that it’ll be worth waiting for.
Which is what we’re all going to have to do for a little bit longer.
As Phil’s website states, the new series is now due to start in April.
As also already reported elsewhere, he’s banished his Demons.
With everyone hoping a third and final series of Ashes will be green lit for filming later this year.
Everything I’ve heard over the last few months suggests we are in for quite a ride.
There’s every chance that creators Matthew Graham and Ashley Pharoah will be able to tell the full story via the third series.
Finally revealing that “bigger picture” and the “big mystery” about Gene Hunt.
Never mind the exasperating wait on the long escalator ride between series.
I’m looking forward to some brilliant television once it reaches 1982.
How about you?