The New Year brings a new season of drama and, for fans of cult television, two shows begin next week. Saturday sees the return of the supernatural series "Sea of Souls" for a third season. It stars excellent Scottish actor Bill Paterson as Doctor Douglas Monaghan with former "Monarch of the Glen" actress Dawn Steele (pictured) and Iain Robertson as his associates Justine McManus and Craig Stevenson. This year, instead of three two-part stories where each pair of episodes ran on consecutive evenings over three weeks, the season consists of six single-episode tales to be broadcast one a week.
On the BBC's website, Bill Paterson, explaining the success of "Sea of Souls", says, "People are fascinated with the paranormal and issues of reality. We are living in a non religious age but people are still trying to find extra terrestrial reasons for why things happen. Formal religion is the greatest psychic superstition of all and in the absence of that people often look for alternatives about lives continuing and messages coming from beyond the grave."
The second episode of the new series of "Sea of Souls" was shot in an old disused ironworks at night which Dawn Steele found horrible and spooky. She says, "When you're filming the kinds of scenes where the subject matter is quite disturbing and you're somewhere as vast and eerie as that, you can't help but get a shiver down your spine. There were a few times at the ironworks when I felt really spooked out, you know weird noises and tricks of the light - I was like: 'I want my mum - now!' "
The other show of interest, from the makers of "Spooks" and "Hustle", concerns a time-travelling cop who is transported back from the present day to 1973. "Life On Mars" stars John Simm as Sam Tyler (interesting surname!) who has to come to terms with an unfamiliar environment and an archaic CID unit. His new boss, DCI Gene Hunt, is played by Philip Glenister who sounds like a hard-nosed cop of the Regan variety. Sensitivity comes in the shape of WPC Annie Cartright, an educated and open minded woman played by Liz White.
The title "Life On Mars" comes from my favourite song by David Bowie, which can be found on his 1971 album "Hunky Dory". The eight-part series promises plenty of action and humour and, also like Seventies' cop show "The Sweeney", the cars play an important part! It also sounds as though there's a touch of "Crime Traveller" about this new series. I'm looking forward to watching both "Life On Mars" and "Sea of Souls".