Back in February (remember February? Pubs and high streets and butterflying blithely in and out of shops and cafes as carefree as a 19th century Parisian flaneur? I digress), Den of Geek ran an interview with Life on Mars co-creator Matthew Graham.
Speaking with us to mark the forthcoming tenth anniversary of the Ashes to Ashes finale, Graham revisited his and Ashley Pharoah’s cult BBC sci-fi crime shows, and bemoaned the lack of a proper ending for John Simm’s character DI Sam Tyler.
“We never got to tie up John,” said Graham, referencing John Simm’s premature exit from the role after two series. (There were originally plans for a third and fourth, but an exhausted Simm asked to leave, not wanting to be away from his young family during filming.)
A revival idea however, that would give DI Sam Tyler a final exit and close the Life on Mars door for good, was in the works.
During a Twitter watch-along of Life on Mars’ first episode by Graham and Pharoah held last night at 7pm (part of the nation’s unofficially titled ‘Dear God, Some Distraction Please’ lockdown events programme) a little more was unveiled about what the writers had planned for the series’ return.
Calling it The Final Chapter, Graham confirmed that the revived series would be set in Manchester and London and that the plan, if commissioned, would be “4 or 5 episodes and then done.” Time-wise, the setting will be “partially in the 70s, partially in the 80s and mostly in an alternate NOW”.
In terms of returning characters, Graham promised that they were trying to get back as many characters from across both decades as possible, adding “When you wonder who will be coming back for The Final Chapter – think Avengers Assemble!”
In addition to Tyler and Philip Glenister’s Gene Hunt, Graham announced that DCI Litton, played by Lee Ross across both Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes, would be “back to get under Gene’s feet”. He also urged fans to remember Daniel Mays’ character Jim Keats singing ‘We’ll Meet Again’ as he walked away from Gene, teasing a return for the demonic Keats.
Juicier than that is the news that more meta shenanigans are on the way and The Final Chapter would feature a TV show-within-a-show, titled “Tyler: Murder Division.”
Graham ended with this final image:
All we need now is for the BBC to get on board this time around and commission the thing. (Well, that, and an end to the global pandemic that’s shut down drama productions around the world, but details, details.)
The Life on Mars Twitter watch-alongs continue every Wednesday at 7pm for the foreseeable. Use the hashtag #LifeOnMarsLive to get involved, and stream the episodes on BBC iPlayer.