Ashes To Ashes
Philip Glenister plays DCI Gene Hunt
aka "The Manc Lion"
Background: Manchester CID
Next of kin: Divorced
What does Gene think of "newcomer" Alex?
When Alex arrives, Gene is immediately suspicious of her motives. The world around him is changing and he wants to cling on to what he knows. Alex drives him up the wall with her endless psychology and theories. He often complains she gives him brain ache and yet he knows that, when they work together, they make a good team. So sometimes, despite himself, Gene agrees to trust her. He's drawn to her and doesn't really know why; they're a great match.
Taking Alex's rank into consideration, how does Gene cope with working so closely with a woman?
Alex is tougher than any woman he's ever met – so although he takes every opportunity he can for a jibe about her being a woman, he also treats her like one of the team. Gene also has respect for ranks within the police force – so when Ray says women DIs "shouldn't be shag-worthy" and complains about her, Gene has a go at him for insulting a senior officer. He'd never admit it, but Gene is very protective of Alex.
Gene clearly fancies Alex – does he think they will get together?
If he does, he'd never admit it. Alex seems to get him by the balls; their relationship has a different dynamic to what he's experienced before. Alex is a female from the modern era and a police psychologist, so it's a different battle between them. There are elements of "will they/won't they?" and there is an attraction between them that viewers will find quite fiery!
Gene has the Scarman Report hanging over him which aims to phase out his way of policing. How does this affect him, for example, has Gene changed his ways and modernised his policing methods for Eighties London?
Fundamentally, Gene hasn't changed at all. Scum is scum wherever you are – London, Manchester, wherever – and Gene knows how he likes to deal with that. At the same time, Scarman's report is hanging over him (he actually meets Scarman in the flesh later in the series and gives him a piece of his mind) and Gene is determined to protect his team.
He occasionally admits very, very reluctantly that getting evidence is quite fashionable these days. What we see is a man losing his grip on the power he had as a policeman, the changing face of the police force, particularly the Met in London. He's trying to do the right thing, but finding it extremely difficult to fit in with the changing times.
Gene is now working for the Metropolitan Police. Why has he left his beloved Manchester behind and what does he think of the Southern criminal scum?
Gene never gives much away. We know he needed a change – his wife has left him, Sam has gone and the job came up so he took it. He also thinks he, Ray and Chris can show the Southern nancys a thing or two about how to police a community the right way.
There are quite a few high-speed chases in the series. How are you enjoying the Quattro and how does it compare to the Cortina?
I love it! The Quattro was one of the first four-wheel drives that properly clung to the ground – that's why everyone wanted one but we couldn't do Gene's high-speed handbrake turns so we had to fit a hydraulic handbrake so I could rag it round those corners! It's a two-door car as well, so Ray and Chris can only get out the back when I say so.
What's been your favourite scene to film?
That would have to be when we were on a speed boat going under Tower Bridge carrying machine guns. Say no more.
Do you have any favourite quotes from Gene this series?
"Today, my friend, your diary entry will read: took a prozzie hostage and was shot by three armed bastards."
"Careful ... this is one bloke you don't want letting his load off."
"Careful Bols – this Formica was hewn from the hills above Florence." (In reference to a naff table in Luigi's).
Are there any funny stories from your time on set?
Mooning with the boys on a Bank Holiday Monday night in the middle of Finsbury Square was pretty hilarious. After half a bottle of wine we all forgot our nerves and dropped our trousers for every take – even Keeley's close up. Her reaction is very real!
What were you doing in the Eighties?
Nothing as cool as Gene! I was just trying to get laid while listening to Human League, wanted to be Simon Le Bon and spent a lot of time squeezing my spots.
I remember [HRH Prince] Charles and [Lady] Diana's wedding because I went and slept on The Mall with some mates the night before so we could be near the front. On the day their carriage went past and they waved as they went by, I was convinced Diana gave me the eye. Who were we to know the fairy tale of the day would end in tears?