After the phenomenon that was Life on Mars, it was not too surprising that Gene Hunt would appear on our screens once more, in another Bowie-song-titled series. This time it is 1981 and the much-loved anti-hero and his team have been transferred down to London. The series has undergone a glamorous makeover and now we land at the beginning of the New Romantic movement. The new titles blare with squealy guitars, and of course Hunt has a shiny new car: the iconic Audi Quattro.
One member of the Life on Mars team is notably absent: protagonist Sam Tyler ended the series 2 finale by committing suicide, sending himself (temporarily) back to 1973 where he felt he belonged. Time moves differently there, and he spent six happy years in the seventies before his fate caught up with him. This time it is police
psychiatrist psychologist Alex Drake in the fish-out-of-water role. Back in the 2000s, Alex had been investigating Tyler's death, and therefore when she arrives in 1981, she has a little background knowledge of DCI Hunt, DS Ray Carling and DC Chris Skelton. Seeing that, as far as Alex is concerned, they and their world were dreamed up by a comatose Sam Tyler, and considering that her last memory was of being shot in the head, it is not unreasonable for her to assume that she too is unconscious and dreaming. Unfortunately for her, Hunt, Carling, Skelton and newcomer Sharon "Shaz" Granger won't accept their roles as sidekicks in her story, and object to this newcomer strutting around as if she is the only person who matters - or even really exists.
Introducing a strong-willed female counterpart to Sam Tyler - and one whose first 1980s outfit is that of a prostitute - adds a new angle to the love-hate relationship between old and new methods, and of course between the characters themselves. As far as Gene is concerned, Alex "Bolly-Knickers" is a posh, smug - but strangely sexy - know-it-all, and Alex considers Gene a misogynistic neanderthal (but ditto the strangely attractive factor.)