TV review: Ashes to Ashes
By Sian Brewis
So Spandau Ballet are selling out arenas, wet-look leggings are back in the shops and models are strutting down the catwalk wearing Dynasty-size shoulder pads.
If DI Alex Drake ever does come round from that bullet wound in Ashes to Ashes (BBC 1, 9pm) she will be thoroughly confused.
If it wasn’t for the posters covering every wall shouting: “Look! We are advertising bands from the Eighties” or the soundtrack, we could be fooled too.
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Perhaps that’s why the script keeps battering you with constant 80s references. Maybe they have to get one in every two minutes.
A coroner carrying out an autopsy suddenly pipes up, for no apparent reason, “I thought I’d be back for Russell Harty and corn beef hash tonight.”
The series opened in 2009 in a hospital, with nurses watching the TV news that DI Drake (Keeley Hawes) has not been seen since 10am that morning.
They were nursing a mysterious patient. Best not forget that, it’ll probably be important later.
“Wonder where she is?” muses one. Having a laugh in 1982 with DCI Gene Hunt, that’s what.
In the first five minutes there’s some saucy sex gags, they get covered in sewage, a huge phallic symbol is being carried down the street.
Carry on Up the Eighties, anyone?
DCI Hunt is still full of swaggeringly gobby machismo, and he’s got all the best lines - even if some of them were stolen from the Sweeney: “Get your knickers on, you’re nicked!”.
This time, thank God, there’s no evil clown lurking about. Now it’s all police corruption and a scary stalker from the future who is out to get Alex.
Keeley Hawes got a pasting for the first series, but thankfully she’s stopped all that moody moping about.
She is still doing a nice line in crying in front of the telly as messages from the future - in this case, a nifty Grange Hill cutaway - play out.
Bits of it, like roaring about in the Quattro to Duran Duran, worked a treat. Others, including a misguided Full Monty routine in a pub, fall flat.
There’s a great bit of mickey taking. As it’s the 80s, there’s no CSI, no computer graphics.
Instead, Gene gets a knock on the door from an excited Ray: “Fire up the photocopier!”
It can be kind of obsessive, this sci fi stuff. Once you begin trying to spot references, they are all over the place.
If the last series had the Scary Monsters (the menacing clown) this is Super Creeps. And they have a new super, to use rozzer speak. So is he the creep?
It made my head hurt, so I just stopped trying to keep up and enjoyed Gene Hunt’s interview technique.
Here he is, asking the widow of a vice cop who’s just been found dead in a strip club, dressed in ladies underwear: “Ever catch him going through your knicker drawer?”