It’s been more than a few years since John Simm let it be known that he’d be keen on a possible Life on Mars revival. Given that, each day that passed for any long-time Life on Mars fan was filled with hope of a possible return in the form of Lazarus.
While the creative team behind Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes had previously revealed that the script for the pilot had been completed, the next communication was not good. “Some sad news folks. After many months of planning, we will now not be making Lazarus. I can’t go into details but the hurdles were financial not creative,” said series creator Matthew Graham.
Whether or not the revival was meant to be, it reminded me about the greatness of the series starring Philip Glenister as the ultimate old-school DCI Gene Hunt and John Simm as DI Sam Tyler.
Primarily set in the 70s, the series with ‘the epic soundtrack’ centered around Tyler, a policeman in service with the Greater Manchester Police who, after a near-fatal car crash in 2006, finds himself locked in the world of 1973 working for the predecessor of the GMP, the Manchester and Salford Police, at the same station and location as he did in 2006.
Life on Mars ran for just two seasons and then morphed into the 80s sequel, Ashes to Ashes, starring Keeley Hawes (The Durrells in Corfu, Line of Duty, The Bodyguard, Stonehouse) as Alex Drake who, much like Sam Tyler met a speeding car, steps in front of a bullet taking her back to 1981 and the world of DCI Gene Hunt.
While LOM alumni, DCI Gene Hunt (Philip Glenister), DS Ray Carling (Dean Andrews) and DC Chris Skelton (Marshall Lancaster) made the transition to the 80s sequel, Hunt’s Ford Cortina wasn’t quite as lucky giving way to an Audi Quattro for Ashes to Ashes.
Back in 2020, series co-creator Matthew Graham had told LOM fans that the third and final series would be “…set partially in the 70s, partially in the 80s and mostly in an alternate now.” He also reassured fans who might have concerns about their favorite series returning, adding, “We would never make another Mars unless we really had something to say and could push the envelope all over again. Finally, we have something.”
Simm had similar thoughts early on about revisiting Sam’s fate. “I think there were three years between Life on Mars and [follow-up series] Ashes to Ashes that we could mine,” he said. “And, of course, it’s about time travel, so you can get away with anything with time travel.”
Tickets for the Lazarus table reading at BFI Southbank can be found here. This is awesome news! I. Can’t. Wait! Until then… pub?