Ashes to Ashes

Common Sense Media says

'80s-set British crime sequel is as good as the original.





What parents need to know

Positive messages

Alex is working through personal issues with her mother as she struggles to return to her daughter. The majority of officers and detectives are male, and they consistently exhibit sexist behavior toward their female counterparts. But ultimately the team is there for each other. Not a lot of cast diversity.


Episodes deal with violent acts like rape, drug trafficking, and murder. Guns are often fired, and people get shot (blood is sometimes visible); frequent scenes of people dying in explosions. Suspects and police officers are shown being punched, hit, and kicked. Officers are shown slamming suspects' heads into cars and being slapped in the groin. One scene features a naked suspect being forced to lie down on a pool table and have his genitals hit by a billiard ball.


Some strong sexual innuendo, including men grabbing women's breasts and references to "shagging." Nudity (bare buttocks) and simulated sex acts in some episodes. The female officers/detectives are sometimes required to dress up as prostitutes. Words like "hooker" and "shagging" are often used. There's also some discussion about a woman's virginity.


The word "pissed" (which means "drunk" in Britain) is used frequently. Stronger words like "hell", "arse," "ass," and "piss off" are also audible.


Popular '80s stars like Adam Ant and The Romantics are seen and heard. Brands like Tab soda are visible; Hunt drives an Audi Quattro, while Shaz listens to a Sony Walkman. References to Star Wars.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

The officers and detectives frequently drink together (wine, beer, champagne) after a hard day and often get drunk. The series also includes discussions about drug (mainly cocaine) smuggling; packages presumed to be cocaine are visible. As is typical with many British series, smoking is visible and frequent.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this follow up to British detective series Life on Mars has some intense content. Suspects and officers are shown being violently kicked, punched, and shot at, and explosions are frequent. There's also occasional nudity (bare buttocks) and simulated sex acts, and officers drink and smoke frequently (suspects are shown dealing cocaine). Language includes some salty British slang, as well as words like "hell" and "screwed." Although the behavior featured here is a little bit more "PC" than the original '70s-set series, male police officers still rough up suspects and exhibit lots of sexist behavior toward their female coworkers.

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What's the story?

ASHES TO ASHES, the sequel to the popular British crime drama Life on Mars, stars Keeley Hawes as Alex Drake, an ambitious, outspoken modern-day single mom/London detective who wakes up in the year 1981 after being kidnapped and shot. She soon discovers that she's now working with the infamous -- and rather insufferable -- Detective Chief Inspector Gene Hunt (Philip Glenister), who's been transferred to London from Manchester thanks to his unapologetically rough but successful tactics. Now living in a time when the police are unpopular and drug trafficking is rampant, Drake must learn to rely on very basic crime-solving technology and a brand new team, including Hunt's loyal Detective Sergeant Ray Carling (Dean Andrews), Detective Constable Chris Skelton (Marshall Lancaster), and Woman Police Constable Shaz Granger (Monserrat Lombard). But even as she diligently works cases, she never stops trying to figure out how to get back to her life -- and her daughter.

Is it any good?


Like its predecessor, this multifaceted series subtly follows the life of Gene Hunt as seen through the eyes of others (although Alex Drake is the "face" of the series, Hunt is the key returning character from Life on Mars), with the decade's significant cultural and political moments serving as the backdrop of his story. It successfully meshes poignant moments and subtle humor by combining the realities of 1980s British politics with the colorful glam culture the decade was known for. The show also borders on the surreal as plotlines from the present and the past come together, with simple crime solving scenes transforming into visually and psychologically abstract moments.

It's all pretty edgy, and it may not be the kind of thing that you want your tweens and younger teens to watch. Although a lot of the humor may go over young kids' head, there's plenty of violence, strong language, sexual content, and smoking (common in British series). But for older teens and adults looking for some sophisticated entertainment, it's a great choice.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about what life was like in the 1980s. How does the media depict life during that era? What kinds of things have changed over the years? What hasn't? Families can also discuss why behavior that was socially acceptable in the past is no longer OK. Do you think that people's attitudes about things like sexism and civil rights have changed over the years, or are there simply more laws that regulate things like harassment and police brutality? How do attitudes and laws governing these behaviors vary from country to country?

TV details

Cast:Dean Andrews, Keeley Hawes, Philip Glenister
Network:BBC America
TV rating:TV-14

This review of Ashes to Ashes was written by

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Parent Written byJWPublisher2 October 30, 2012

Ashes to Ashes for mature audiences only

This is a great show. Life on Mars was just as good but this is not for kids. The brief nudity and sex, excessive violence and swearing, police brutality and the death scene flashbacks make this show for an older audience. Don't get me wrong, this is a good show and i would suggest it to adults. Great shows come from BBC.
Teen, 17 years old Written bygoldenlion666 June 27, 2012

ashes to ashes

loved it very very interesting i would give in a cinema a 12a because contains moderate violence and language
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking


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