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24 September 2014
Life on Mars

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Characters & Actors

DI Sam Taylor

DI Sam Taylor - John Simm

Sam's a 21st century detective, who mysteriously finds himself working as a cop in the 1970s. Actor John Simm reveals more about his character.

"When you first see him, in 2006, he isn't particularly likeable; he's quite pedantic and doesn't seem to have much of a sense of humour. So when he wakes up in the seventies it's quite a shock to him.

"It's like some crazy mad dream he's having and he just can't wake up. That's a really frightening thought for anyone, to be trapped in a completely alien world. So he's a bit all over the place, as you would be. It really makes you think 'What if?'"

Sam has a new boss and work colleagues to contend with.

"He doesn't get off to a great start with his boss Gene. They develop a love/hate relationship although they do have a begrudging respect for each other's methods.

"Gene's the boss and the team have all learnt from him but Sam's methods influence the rest of CID especially Chris.

"Sam can't stand Ray but he likes Chris and he tries his best to teach him stuff. Even Chris thinks he's a little odd though. He says 'I don't underestimate you boss, I just don't understand you' and it's as simple as that. I think they probably all feel like that.

"Sam has the knowledge of how things are going to turn out and he knows about things like multi-tasking and taping interviews and they do it and they take it on board. His knowledge of the future is his only weapon and the only thing he can work with. And it's quite hard for Gene to take on board because he just thinks Sam's a nutter.

"But Sam learns from Gene too - a little humanity and using his gut instinct."

Best known for his work as a serious actor, in the likes of State of Play and Crime and Punishment, Life On Mars gave John the chance to do some comedy for a change.

"I do like doing comedy, I was in Spaced and I did a sketch thing with Steve Coogan once, and I've worked with Ricky Gervais.

"I worked with Philip Glenister a couple of times before on State of Play and Clocking Off which helped a lot. We just clicked, it was immediate and I was really glad when he got the part. I was so happy.

"I love that partnership that develops between Gene and Sam, it's fantastic and I think Philip is absolutely fantastic."

It's not clear whether Sam's still in a coma, completely mad or has really had gone back in time.

"I had to think along the lines of: if it happened to me, what would I do? Sam doesn't know what has happened but Annie's friend, Neil, tells him he's in a coma and so he believes him.

"He hears noises, he hears his mum's voice and doctor's voices, machines beeping so he really believes that he's asleep and he can't wake up.

"But, if he has travelled back in time, he could be in a Back to the Future* situation where his actions could have serious repercussions on the future.

"In Episode 1 he is faced with a dilemma where he has the power to change things. He has to seriously think about what he does because it could affect whether his girlfriend in 2006 lives or dies."

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