BBC1 fires up 'Ashes' for ABC


BBC1 has commissioned a sequel to the hit time-travel cop drama "Life on Mars," which is being remade for the U.S. market by ABC.

The eight hourlong episodes of "Ashes to Ashes," set to air next year, will be set in the '80s, but John Simm will not reprise his role as Sam Tyler, the officer who wakes up from a coma in 1970s-set "Mars."

Instead, it will team tough Detective Chief Inspector Gene Hunt (Philip Glenister) with newcomer Alex Drake, a single mother and an officer in London's Metropolitan Police.

"Mars" proved to be one of the BBC's biggest hits of 2006, with the award-winning series regularly garnering audiences of more than 6 million for BBC1.

Made by Kudos Prods., the "Spooks" creator that recently was acquired by Elisabeth Murdoch's Shine Prods., the sequel will see a modern, no-nonsense officer transplanted into the sexist, macho police force of the early '80s, Kudos executive producer Jane Featherstone said.

" 'Ashes to Ashes' is the next chapter in the life of Gene Hunt as seen through the eyes of a modern, no-nonsense woman. It's a touch of 'Moonlighting' teamed with a measure of 'Miami Vice,' " she said.

"Ashes" is written and created by "Mars" creators Matthew Graham and Ashley Pharao, with additional writing credits for Mark Greig, Mick Ford and Julie Rutterford. It is produced by Kudos in association with Graham and Pharoah's Monastic Prods.