After being involved in a car accident in 2006, DCI Sam Tyler wakes up to find himself in 1973, the era of 'Sweeney' type policing, Mark III Cortinas, and flared trousers.
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Top Rated TV #249 | 9 wins & 30 nominations. See more awards »



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Series cast summary:
 Sam Tyler (16 episodes, 2006-2007)
 Gene Hunt (16 episodes, 2006-2007)
 Annie Cartwright (16 episodes, 2006-2007)
 Ray Carling (16 episodes, 2006-2007)
 Chris Skelton (16 episodes, 2006-2007)
Noreen Kershaw ...
 Phyllis Dobbs (16 episodes, 2006-2007)
Tony Marshall ...
 Nelson (12 episodes, 2006-2007)


After being involved in a car accident in 2006, DCI Sam Tyler wakes up to find himself in 1973, the era of 'Sweeney' type policing, Mark III Cortinas, and flared trousers.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Two cops in the same town at the same time... 33 years apart


Crime | Drama | Mystery | Sci-Fi


TV-14 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

24 July 2006 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Život na Marsu  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


(16 episodes) (cut) | (16 episodes)

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The series is named after one of David Bowie's most famous 1970s songs. The story of Gene Hunt continues in the spin off Ashes to Ashes (2008), named after one of Bowie's most famous 1980s songs. See more »


Sam Tyler: [credits introduction] My name is Sam Tyler. I had an accident, and I woke up in 1973. Am I mad, in a coma, or back in time? Whatever's happened, it's like I've landed on a different planet. Now, maybe if I can work out the reason, I can get home.
See more »


Featured in Timeshift: Creating 'Life on Mars' (2006) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

In the best BBC traditions
20 January 2006 | by (Bristol, England) – See all my reviews

This series harks back to the best of BBC drama, and is cast and designed to perfection - although one or two anachronisms do creep into the script from time to time. As if the accuracy of the Seventies setting wasn't enough of a draw, however, there's also the 'mystery' element, the fascinating question of whether or not the other characters all exist in Tyler's imagination - and, if so, what they represent. It would be easy (and I suspect too glib) to suggest that Gene Hunt is a personification of Tyler's aggressive nature (I mean, as names go *Gene Hunt* seems a bit of a heavy clue - maybe too heavy!) but if that *is* the case then presumably the two of them will have to be reconciled in order for Tyler to recover from his injuries. The most disturbing aspect of this as a theory is that it would make the series concept a finite one and by definition preclude a second series, and I'm already a life member in the Gene Hunt Fan Club - I think he's one of the most delightful new creations to appear on British television in a long time.

With 'New Tricks', 'Jericho' and now 'Life On Mars', the traditional British cop show seems to have received a new lease of life in the last couple of years. This was long overdue, but it's a thrilling prospect that we now have a new generation of heroes to set against the Bergeracs, Taggarts, Regans, Barlows and Dixons of earlier times. And if we *are* heading for a new Golden Age of British TV I would like to go on record, here and now, nominating Gene Hunt as one of its brightest ornaments already!

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