NINETEEN EIGHTY WHEN? KEELEY LOVES THE DODGY FASHION AND HAIRCUTS IN NEW LIFE ON MARS FOLLOW-UP Ashes to Ashes Star Too Young to Recall Show's Era

Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland), February 5, 2008 | Go to article overview

NINETEEN EIGHTY WHEN? KEELEY LOVES THE DODGY FASHION AND HAIRCUTS IN NEW LIFE ON MARS FOLLOW-UP Ashes to Ashes Star Too Young to Recall Show's Era


Byline: By Phil Penfold

KEELEY Hawes is about to become one of the most famous Eighties icons on TV but she doesn't really remember the decade.

At 31, the actress, who made her name in spy drama Spooks, is simply too young to have clear memories of Dallas, Maggie Thatcher, shoulder pads and jump suits.

So filming time travel drama Ashes to Ashes was a challenge for Keeley, who will play Alex Drake in the BBC1 show that starts on Thursday.

She said: "I may have been watching re-runs of The Magic Roundabout.

"I have vague memories of street parties for the wedding of Charles and Lady Diana, and that's about it.

"Oh, and I remember my gran nicknamed me Buzz after the character in the BT adverts of the time, who was a strange little yellow bird called Buzby. My lovely nan said I was just like him, always bouncing up and down on a wire, and full of energy."

The series follows up the adventures of the Life on Mars team, and in particular the defiantly non-PC DCI Gene Hunt. This time the action is set in London, it's 1981, Gene has left Manchester behind him, and Alex is a psychological profiler, who is propelled back from 2008 when she is shot by a villain from her past.

Keeley said: "I know it all sounds complicated, but you'll soon get the gist of what is going on.

"The thing about Alex is she knows she's living in a sort of parallel world, but all she cares about is that she gets back to her daughter, Molly.

"I was a huge fan of Life on Mars, I love Philip Glenister (who plays Gene) and when they offered me this role, I leapt at it."

Keeley says Ashes to Ashes is "one of the most challenging film dramas I've ever been involved with".

She added: "It's fun, it's escapist, it makes a few points about policing then and now, and it's very different.

"I read it at one sitting, which is always a good sign. I had a good giggle when I went for the costume fittings - because so much that was cutting edge fashion back then has come around again.

"So while you wouldn't catch me in ared leather mini skirt and black stockings with lacy tops in real life, they don't look that outrageous when you see me in them in the first episode.

"I was of the Madonna generation, really, and 1981 was the time of the New Romantics - some of the music is, actually, pretty good.

"I was just a girl in the Nineties, and I used to go clubbing then. I remember insisting on having a perm when I was quite young, though and it must have looked terrible. Lots of denim all-in-ones as a child too.

"There were one or two things in Alex's wardrobe that I was slightly tempted by, but the BBC hired everything in - and all the costumes had to go back to the proper owners."

Thank goodness, as it is unlikely Keeley's kids would approve of mum coming home like an Eighties fashion disaster.

Keeley and her husband Matthew Macfadyen have two children, Maggie, four, and Ralph, one. Keeley also has a seven-year-old son, Myles, from her first marriage to cartoonist and illustrator Spencer McCallum.

Keeley and Matthew met while they were making the first series of BBC espionage drama Spooks where she played enigmatic spy Zoe Reynolds.

She left Spencer after only five months of marriage but has always strongly denied that she and Matthew had an affair on the set of Spooks. However divorce was something that didn't come easily.

Keeley said: "When you're the child of parents who have been together for 40 years, you never believe divorce is going to happen to you."

Watch out for Matthew in one of the episodes of Ashes to Ashes, where he makes a guest appearance.

"It was hysterical", she said, "He wore this huge mullet wig. I could not wait for him to take it off. Every time I went near him on the set he got very defensive.

He kept on telling me 'Mind the mullet, mind the mullet. …

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