Life on Mars creator confirms third and final series is in the works

Fire up the Quattro: Life on Mars is to return for a third and final series set in the 70s, 80s and an alternate present, its creator has confirmed.

The BBC series, which aired between 2006 and 2007 and followed a detective – presumed dead or in a coma after a car accident – who was transported back in time to 1970s Manchester.

A huge ratings success with an epic soundtrack and memorable central pairing of the cantankerous, sweary boss DCI Gene Hunt (Philip Glenister) and his time-travelling sidekick, DI Sam Tyler (John Simm), it also led to a 2008 spinoff, Ashes to Ashes, starring Keeley Hawes.

In a Twitter webchat to accompany an online watch-along for the show’s first two series, its co-creator Matthew Graham said: “We would never make another Mars unless we really had something to say and could push the envelope all over again. Finally, we have something.”

Seemingly confirming Glenister’s return, he added: “There are bad things and there are monsters. These things are real. But to get to you they have to get through the Guv [Gene Hunt]. And the Guv is putting his driving gloves on.”

Graham said the final series would be set in Manchester and London, “set partially in the 70s, partially in the 80s and mostly in an alternate now”.

He hopes that as many of its previous cast as possible will return, namechecking DC Annie Cartwright (Liz White) and DCI Derek Litton (Lee Ross). “When you wonder who will be coming back for The Final Chapter – think Avengers Assemble,” he said. Comprising four or five episodes, Graham also mentioned a possible show-within-a-show format, featuring a programme called Tyler: Murder Division.

Despite posting the tweets on 1 April, Graham later confirmed that it was not an April fool.

A previous revival was reportedly turned down by the BBC, according to Graham’s fellow creator Ashley Pharoah. In 2018, he said it had not made “financial sense” for the corporation to make a mooted 1970s-set Christmas special. The BBC is yet to confirm the series.