Keeley Hawes (‘Ashes To Ashes’) interview

As Ashes To Ashes returns to BBC One next month for a third and final series, DI Alex Drake (Keeley Hawes) is still trying to unravel the mystery of why she’s stuck in Gene Hunt’s world. Does the new member of CID overseeing Hunt’s empire hold the key, or is it his aim to turn Alex against Gene?

 

How does Series 3 begin?

“This series starts with Alex back in what appears to be the present day, but it soon becomes apparent that things aren’t as they seem and odd incidents start to happen. She realises that the reality she is in isn’t real and the Fenchurch East gang start to call her back to 1983 where she has been stuck in a coma for three months.”

After Gene rouses Alex from her comatose state, she returns to CID, desperate to try and solve the riddle of how to get back home to her daughter Molly. However, a new arrival at Fenchurch East starts to make her doubt the one person she thought she could trust…

“DCI Jim Keats is played by Danny Mays and he’s very charming to Alex. She likes him, despite the fact Gene has a different opinion. Gene and Keats’ relationship seems to take place behind closed doors and he acts very differently towards Gene than he does with the rest of the team.

“Keats tries to split up Gene and Alex’s partnership. Slowly but surely he starts to drive a wedge between the two of them and Alex starts to wonder if she can really trust Gene. Alex also believes that, if she can solve the mystery surrounding Sam Tyler, she’ll be able to get home and Keats points her in the direction of evidence which implicates Gene in his death.”

There may be a question mark over Jim Keats’ real intentions in Ashes To Ashes but what was the actor playing him like?

“Danny is absolutely lovely! He has to play a very difficult role and I think he’s done it brilliantly. I really enjoyed filming scenes with both Danny and Phil because they spar off each other so well.”

Ashes To Ashes is set in the Eighties so throughout its three-year run you’ve had to wear some amazingly colourful outfits, but what’s been your favourite costume from this series?

“Our costume designer has had more freedom this year and she’s done a gorgeous job. I really liked the outfit Gene gave to Alex in hospital which consisted of a t-shirt with the New York skyline on it and skinny jeans.

“I think it’s been easier this year because we haven’t been restricted to all the clothes for the series being originals from the period. There seems to be so much Eighties stuff in the shops at the moment that we actually went out and bought some clothes. The costume department also made a lot of things.”

Have you taken anything home with you?

“I have taken a couple of pairs of boots with me and I’ve got Alex’s white leather jacket which I think I’ll auction off for charity. I’ve also got the most fantastic pair of red Dorothy-style sequined shoes with a bow on the front of them. They remind me of the moment when Dorothy clicks her ruby shoes to go home.”

The finale of Ashes To Ashes is about to air and Alex Drake’s journey looks set to come to an end – how do you feel about the end of the series?

“It’s very sad in some respects because I’ve been working with the cast and crew for so long, but it feels the right time to finally find out the mystery surrounding Alex’s world. In this business you find people pop up all the time so you never know when you are going work with someone again.”