Ashes to Ashes

IF you caught the first episode of new BBC drama Ashes to Ashes, some of the scenes may have seemed familiar.

That’s because much of the filming for the eagerly anticipated sequel to hit police drama series Life of Mars took place in Hackney.

The crew came to the borough last autumn for around three weeks, filming primarily in Albion Square, Dalston, and Christopher Street, near the City borders.

Life on Mars’ flashback to the 1970s proved to be one of its most popular elements. This time, it’s 1981 and the show’s central character, the politically incorrect DCI Gene Hunt, has moved from Manchester to join the Met Police in London.

Beth Williams, the show’s producer, said: “We thought we would bring him to London where his Northern views would come into conflict with ‘the Southern ponces’ he finds there.”

Keeley Hawes of Spooks fame, plays ambitious, psychological profiler, DI Alex Drake, who is dragged back in time and has to work alongside the unreconstructed Hunt, so sparks are set to fly.

During the filming, producers went to painstaking detail to ensure the locations looked as authentic as possible, clearing roads of vehicles so they could bring in 1980s vintage cars, searching for roads which still had buildings dating from that period, changing shop signs, removing satellite TV dishes, covering road markings and more.

The result is a stylish looking drama that puts policing in the context of race riots, the Thatcher years, leg warmers, big hair and the Rubik’s Cube.

Ashes to Ashes is on BBC 1, Thursdays, at 9pm.

All filming in Hackney is coordinated by the Council’s Film Office. It liaises with production companies and residents – whose support is vital. The Film Office is self-funding and all profits are fed back into community projects. Call Rebecca Staffolani on: 020 8356 3541; or visit: