Gene Hunt returned, last night, his reputation preceding him! And, I was along for the ride in the back of his Audi Quattro!! What a trip it was too. Laying my cards right on the table, I loved the opening episode of the new eight-part series “Ashes to Ashes”, successor to “Life on Mars”. I never got into the Seventies show which is strange in itself because that was the decade in which I grew up. The soundtrack is an important feature of both series and yet the Eighties was the decade when I began to lose interest in pop music of the time. But the producers have been clever enough to set the new show in 1981, before the Eighties have really gotten into full swing, which enables them to carry on using the music of the Seventies! Smart move!! Thus, many of the featured bands/artists originate, or were at their peak of success, in the preceding ten years. I absolutely adored the moment Gene and his fellow coppers sped through the Thames, in hot pursuit, to the guitar-crunching, keyboard-swirling, Hugh Cornwell-snarling sound of The Stranglers! I was at Uni in ’81, in the last year of my first degree, in a band called The Disturbed, and “No More Heroes” was one of a few cover versions we played to much acclaim. It was our calling card, if you like, and the energy of this particular scene, in “Ashes to Ashes”, brought it all back.
“No More Heroes” wasn’t the only song in the first episode to bring on feelings of nostalgia. Bizarrely, the show featured both “Vienna” by Ultravox and “I’m in Love with a German Film Star” by The Passions and I can clearly remember buying both records on the same day in Woolworths, in Beeston, while studying at Nottingham. There are so many records they could’ve chosen so it really made me sit up and take notice when the second of the pair filtered its way into my consciousness! As a teenager in the Seventies, two of my major influences were Roxy Music and David Bowie. Again, both featured in episode one. “Ashes to Ashes”, the song, is actually a sequel to the “2001: A Space Odyssey”-influenced Sixties hit “Space Oddity”, not the track “Life on Mars”, and details what happened to Major Tom once he returned to Earth from his voyage in space. The line “I’m happy, hope you’re happy too” was one of the driving forces of the narrative. Meanwhile, “Same Old Scene” by Roxy Music, from their penultimate album “Flesh and Blood”, closed the show, suggesting the familiar setup of the previous series is firmly re-established. For me, though, the male/female dynamic, of the two leads, is a more interesting one than the male/male partnership of the previous programme, and that’s despite my fondness for “The Sweeney”. Oh, and isn’t Montserrat Lombard cute as newcomer WPC Sharon “Shaz” Granger!