Daniel Mays joins Ashes to Ashes

THE THIRD and final series of cult BBC series Ashes To Ashes comes to our TV screens next week, and there s a major new character. Time-travelling copper Alex Drake is disappointed to wake up in a hospital bed still in the 1980s, having been shot by her b

THE THIRD and final series of cult BBC series Ashes To Ashes comes to our TV screens next week, and there's a major new character.

Time-travelling copper Alex Drake is disappointed to wake up in a hospital bed still in the 1980s, having been shot by her boss, Gene Hunt.

Hunt is suspended, Ray Carling has been promoted to Detective Inspector and is running the show and Chris and Shaz have ended their romance.

And Daniel Mays, 31, who grew up in Buckhurst Hill and went to West Hatch High School, Chigwell, joins the cast in the shape of discipline and complaints officer, DCI Jim Keats.


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Daniel - who starred in Mike Leigh films All or Nothing and Vera Drake, Channel 4's gritty Red Riding and BAFTA-nominated film Shifty - has just finished filming The Adventures of Tintin in the US with Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson.

He says of his new TV character: "Jim's a real pen-pusher who does everything by the book. He's precise and methodical and oversees all investigations undertaken by CID so that he can compile a report on Gene Hunt and his team.

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"Jim is that guy looking over everybody's shoulder and telling them how to do things correctly, which really gets under Gene's skin and leads to some great scenes of confrontation and conflict."

His character not only challenges Gene and all that he is and believes in, he also plays an integral part in tying up the story of Life On Mars, Ashes To Ashes, Gene Hunt and his kingdom.

He has to investigate the shooting of Alex Drake and determine if Gene should be allowed to carry on running his department.

For most people walking into Gene Hunt's world would be an intimidating prospect but Daniel decided, from the outset, how he wanted to portray Keats.

"The sparks really fly between the two of them and I made a choice to make Jim as strong, stoic and hard as Gene. I didn't want him to be seen as a pushover or wet in any way.

"My character really challenges the dynamic between Gene and Alex, but the thing that really winds Keats up is that Gene continuously calls him James, which is quite disarming for him.

"I found it refreshing to play someone with authority because, in the past, I've played a lot of troubled characters. I haven't played a disciplinarian before or someone so high ranking.

"The great thing about it is that you have to take on board the status of the character and the impact he has when he walks into a room which I quite enjoyed. It was certainly something new for me."

But with character tensions put to one side, were Philip Glenister, Keeley Hawes and the rest of the gang open to an outsider joining their team?

"They were all absolutely lovely," Daniel says, smiling broadly.

"I'd worked with Keeley on a film called The Bank Job and worked with her husband, Matthew Macfadyen, on Middletown, so she welcomed me with open arms and the rest of the guys were great to work with."

When offered the role of Jim Keats, Daniel admits he was slightly apprehensive because of the huge cult following for both Ashes To Ashes and its predecessor, Life On Mars.

"The fans love both shows so much and they love what Gene Hunt stands for, his characteristics and his relationship with Alex.

"I think the great thing about Ashes To Ashes is that it is very much its own show. However, an interesting factor of this series is that Life On Mars bleeds into it and the mystery surrounding Sam Tyler will be resolved along with Alex's story."

It's a far cry from working in Hollywood on the Tintin film.

"I play a double act with Mackenzie Crook, called Allen and Ernie, and it was shot on motion capture which was something I've never done before. It was a fascinating project and a once in a lifetime experience."

Ashes to Ashes is on BBC 1 on Friday, April 2.

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