Following on from the season two finale of Life On Mars last night, the hit BBC1 show is to fast forward a decade into the 1980s.

While DI Sam Tyler, played by John Simm, has finally had his question "Am I mad, in a coma or back in time?" answered and has left the show, Life On Mars is to carry on with some familiar faces.

DCI Gene Hunt (Philip Glenister), Ray Carling (Dean Andrews) and Chris Skelton (Marshall Lancaster) will return in the new series, known as Ashes to Ashes, as they head south to tackle the "southern nancy" criminals.

This time its DCI Alex Drake's turn to time travel. As with DI Tyler, she finds herself back in time after a horrific accident.

If being flung back in time is not bad enough, DCI Drake is also faced with less sexual equality and respect with an 80s soundtrack of Adam Ant, Roxy Music and The Human League playing in the background.

Producers are currently searching for someone to play the feisty female lead. As well as being a "sexy sidekick" she will "hopefully give [Gene] a serious run for his money", according to executive producer Jane Featherstone.

"Ashes to Ashes is the next chapter in the life of Gene Hunt, as seen through the eyes of a modern, no-nonsense woman," Ms Featherstone added.

"It's a touch of Moonlighting teamed with a measure of Miami Vice."

Ashes to Ashes is expected to be shown on screens next year.

11/04/2007 12:12:32