John Simm: ‘Life On Mars’ writers ‘found it hard to write for Sam Tyler’

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Speaking to Life Of Wylie to promote his new BBC One drama Exile, Simm explained his departure from the ’70s-set sci-fi/cop show: “I get bored – it was, ‘I’ve done everything I can with this character, there’s nowhere else I can go.’ There were so many different reasons and a lot of them were the fact that I couldn’t do anything else with Sam Tyler. He just became a sort of shaking his head and tutting. He didn’t get the funny lines in it.”

He continued: “I think they found it hard to write for him, whereas they got more and more pleasure of writing for Gene. Quite understandably, because he was a fantastic character to write for. And so I can feel a backlash coming – and I could in the back of my head with Life On Mars, that I thought we’d done enough. 16 hours non-stop on screen.”

Looking back, he added: “It’s only now, with years and years and years of hindsight that I think, ‘It was so iconic that show.’ But there’s no point regretting things like that. They did Ashes To Ashes and that was a great success and Phil’s done fantastically well out of it. I had great fun. And I’m quite pleased with my 16 hours of Seventies’ cop drama.”

Created by Paul Abbott (Shameless), Exile stars John Simm alongside Jim Broadbent and is written by Danny Brocklehurst (The Street, Clocking Off). The three-part psychological thriller begins at 9pm on Sunday 1st May on BBC One.