Awesome To Awesome

I couldn't make yesterday's Q&A with Ashes To Ashes creators and writers Matthew Graham and Ashley Pharoah, due to some last-minute Doctor Who-related work. Which was a big shame - especially as I'd rush-watched the series in order to avoid any spoilers. I didn't even watch the whole thing - just episodes 1, 2, 7 and the climactic 8.

Don't worry, there'll be no spoilers here, in case you're waiting to catch up with it upon its May 5 DVD release, or simply from your DVD Recorder's hard drive. All I will say, is that this show probably is better than Life On Mars - funnier, more vibrant and even more clever. And one particular revelatory scene in ep 8 is one of the most brilliantly bizarre and chilling things I've ever seen in a TV drama. Superb stuff.

On promo discs for the DVD set, I've seen a fine documentary which looks into the making of the series. I'd never seen the real-life Gene Hunt, actor Philip Glenister, speak before, and it was interesting to see that he appears to have little of Hunt's accent, swagger or confidence. And yes, I do realise that this is what actors do. But I think that this slight, apparent shyness in Glenister probably accounts for Hunt's likeability, despite the character being a sexist, brute-ish anachronism. You can see that Hunt's really an insecure little boy in a brusque, burly shell, and his hilariously tense interactions with Keeley Hawes in the episodes I've seen so far were a joy to behold.

Series Two must happen. And who's posting a report of yesterday's Q&A, hmmm?


John Soanes said...

Ah, and there was me thinking your blog photo was ferociously inaccurate.

I went, I saw, and I've written a very slight report on it, but obviously you had to be there...


David Lemon said...

Hi Jason
I did indeed go. Both Ashley Pharoah and Matthew Graham were engaging speakers, though Matthew talked a fair bit more. There were, of course, a few idiot questions, some of which seemed to not even be questions eg a fella pointing out that the 'cold' grading of the 'real world' at the end of Life On Mars was designed to suggest it was a less appealing place to Sam Tyler. Once the speaker finished his spiel, all Matthew and Ashley could do was go 'Um, yeah'.

I left before the inevitable scrum around the writers (who'd agreed to chat in the bar) but here's what I gleaned:

1/As you probably know, 'Ashes' came from the BBC-specifically Jane Tranter, controller of, erm everything-asking if there was some way they could continue the world now that John Simm no longer wanted to don the leather jacket and flairs. They said they went away over a weekend and would only propose something if it really excited them.
2/ Rather than repeat the same dynamic as 'Life on Mars' they decided alex drake should be someone who'd read sam's file notes (hence the scene of Sam with a dictaphone at the end of Life on Mars) and be therefore more ironic and detached about what's going on. Ash;ey felt that, in a way Alex was like 'someone who'd seen life on mars the TV series'.
They also made the name adrogynous because they weren't 100& sure that alex was going to be a woman.
3/ The plan is for ashes to go 3 series and for the 2nd to be darker in tone than the first, which they felt may have been too 'playful' at times. There was also a suggestion of a wider mystery than 'will she get back to 2008?' relating to the 'Gene Hunt' world itself.
4/ Both writers felt that while mystery was essential to both 'Mars' and 'Ashes' the layering of mystery upon mystery a a la 'Lost'can end up getting ridiculous and impossible to top.
5/ As has been widely reported, 'Mars' was initially turned down by both the BBC and C4 and took 8 years to get off the ground.
The original title was the much less appetising 'Ford Granada'.
6/The american re-make is being written by David E Kelly. Mathew and Ashley have nothing whatsoever to do with it and would only say that the script they read was 'interesting'. As you probably know, both 'Mars' and 'Ashes' are owned by Kudos so it was never likely the creators would be involved in a US re-make any more than the creators of 'Spaced'.
7/Among the projects their new company Monastic Productions will be making is 'Bonekickers'. It's about archeologists and mixes CSI style investigation methods with historical drama flashbacks.
8/ They both recommended the writers academy. While I don't think it was going when they started out, between them they've written nearly 100 eps of eastenders, so you can't deny their work ethic.

A good talk, but I;m sure there'll be others. I've done a couple myself about 'faintheart' and if there's one thing hermit-y writers love it's talking about their work

Jason Arnopp said...

Thank you, Mr Soanes!

And what a diamond you are, Mr Lemon!

Sterling gents, both of you.