Life on Mars (UK)

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Name: Life on Mars (UK)
Abbreviation(s): LoM-UK
Creator: Matthew Graham
Tony Jordan
Ashley Pharoah
Date(s): 2006-2007
Medium: television series
Country of Origin: UK
External Links: Official BBC site
Gene Hunt, Sam Tyler, and "The Cortina"
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Life on Mars is a BBC series consisting of two seasons that contained eight one-hour episodes each. It followed DCI Sam Tyler, a Manchester police officer who finds himself in 1973 (and demoted to DI in this new time) after he is struck by a vehicle. It is unclear from the beginning whether Sam is hallucinating this while in a coma, insane, or if his presence in the past is in some way 'real.'

Fans reacted to the strong chemistry between Sam and his boss in 1973, DCI Gene Hunt. Both men are products of their respective times. Sam is much more politically correct, restrained, and bound by myriad rules and regulations, whereas Gene is undeniably homophobic, sexist, and willing to ignore police procedure. Dealing with Gene's racist language caused some stress within the fandom. Strong writing, compelling characters, and interesting insights into the procedural methods of policing during that time period won over a small but dedicated fanbase.

The show was most popular in the UK, its country of origin, although it has also gained a significant fanbase worldwide due to television broadcast in various countries. These include (but are not limited to): Australia, the US, Canada, Germany, Italy, and Spain. Its popularity overseas did not go unnoticed, and a US remake, Life on Mars (US), was created for the ABC network in that country.

In its country of origin, its popularity was deemed high enough to warrant creation of a Life on Mars spin-off series called Ashes to Ashes, which was created by the same people and carried the story of DCI Gene Hunt from 1970s Manchester to 1980s London.

David Bowie Influences

The show's title is a reference to David Bowie's 1973 single "Life on Mars?" and the soundtrack includes many Bowie songs. See [1].

LoM Fandom

There is a fair amount of fannish episode recaps and conversation; it's a small fiction fandom with het, gen and slash.

The first community for LoM-UK was Lifein1973, with an initial post dated January 24, 2006. The other main community online is The Railway Arms, which announced itself in a post at Lifein1973 on April 2, 2006. Both communities are still very active; Lifein1973 has always been the more fic-oriented of the two, but meta, stories, and general discussion are welcome at both. Due to the small nature of the fandom, Lifein1973 acts as both fanfic posting site and general noticeboard on LiveJournal; however other comms have been created over time to fill niche fandom needs (such as discussion of music, or writing/era research).

Noted for its distinct lack of wank, the only real challenge the fandom ever faced was with the airing of the finale, Episode 2.08 (episodes do not have names). The resolution of Sam Tyler's situation resulted in a strong but minor outcry and backlash (represented mostly at the LJ comm Jumping-Off). However, the situation was notable for not resulting in a fandom split, and while "2.08 Deniers" are still just as vocal in their varied displeasure about the final episode, their opinions are tolerated and accepted within the larger community. Some newer fans have expressed unhappiness with the fact that such disagreements exist at all, and a few have even left the fandom. However, on the whole, the differences in opinions within the fandom as a whole have negligible impact.


The most common pairing is Gene/Sam. Gene is married, although his wife is never actually seen in the show. Her existence is addressed in fanfic through a variety of ways, including Gene getting a divorce after meeting Sam to his being an adulterer (and, in one notable fic (need link!) Missus was turned into Gene's cat). Other slash pairings are generally given equal footing, despite being in the minority, and the fandom has a history of tolerance for any pairing a writer chooses to 'ship. Unusually, the most popular secondary slash pairing doesn't even include Sam or Gene, but is Ray/Chris, who are often featured as a side plotline in Sam/Gene stories. There are a few stand-alone Ray/Chris stories, though, and the pairing is always well represented in the annual LoM-Pornfest memes. Far down the list in popularity (although accepted by the fandom at large, in the generally tolerant and open-minded manner of LoM fen) are pairings such as Gene/Ray, Sam/Chris, Sam/Nelson, Sam/Fletcher, Sam/Crane, and Sam/Warren. Stories featuring Gene with anyone other than a member of his CID team are few and far between.

Sam/Annie is the most common het ship, though there are some stories that go back in time to pair Sam with his original (~2000 era) girlfriend, Maya Roy. Annie is almost never paired with anyone else, although sometimes she is introduced into Sam and Gene's established relationship, creating a threesome.

Femmeslash in LoM is severely constrained by the fact that the only main female character is Annie Cartwright. She is occasionally paired up with recurring character Phyllis Dobbs, a WC on the force, or minor characters who appeared in single episodes. Very, very few stories have attempted to slash any other female characters, although Missus/Phyllis has an incredibly small, devoted following.

See The Love Between Armed Bastards: Gene/Sam; archive link by Loz at The Shipper's Manifesto (2010)


As can be assumed, the majority of fanfic for LoM-UK focuses on the slash relationship of Sam/Gene. Second in quantity would be gen "buddy cop" stories featuring Sam and Gene, and after that the numbers fall fast on stories featuring secondary characters.

In general, AUs are not popular in LoM-UK, although a few exist. AR (alternate reality) stories that change major plot points are, however, some of the most popular. The fandom has a particular fondness for dark!fic and Sam!whumping, resulting in the humorously intended "Gene on a Hook 2008!" (GOAH'08) campaign, which was to encourage writers to whump on Gene Hunt for a change (the name of the campaign was taken from a comment discussion of how writers often like to hang Sam Tyler from a meat hook). Nonetheless, Sam!whumping remains the popular whumpage of choice.

There are a number of accepted tropes in LoM. In addition to Sam!whumpage, popular ones include first time and drunken sex, while top!Sam is rarer. However, as pointed out above, many tropes common to other fandoms (mpreg, for instance) are absent.


In LoM fandom ratings for fanfic are often expressed in Ford Cortinas of different colors (white, green, blue, brown and red).[1]

Notable fanworks


  • An Unhappy Man by dorsetgirl -- One major conundrum of the final episode was the introduction of the idea of a "real" Sam Tyler in 1973, who was actually Sam Williams on an undercover assignment. This beautiful and moving story details how a 1973 Sam Williams would come to believe he really is Sam Tyler from the future. It stands as one of the few attempts in fandom to address the mystery of "Sam Williams".
  • Autogenesis Series by draycevixen -- A wonderful and popular example of what is actually rather rare in LoM fanfiction: crack!fic. Drayce gives Gene Hunt's Cortina a personality and a name, and a plan of...action. A beloved and often referenced series.
  • Flash of Light by elfinessy -- This writer was one of the early stand out authors of LoM fic. Most of her work was done in the hiatus between season one and season two of the show, when wild speculation about the true nature of Sam Tyler's situation was all over the map. Her writing in general reflects the early tone of the fandom.
  • The Hookerverse by fiandyfic - The best (and perhaps only?) example of this kind of dark!fic AR taken to the extreme. LoM is not a fandom known for AUs or hooker!fic, so this remains the exception to the rule and is very well written as well. Not for the faint of heart, but the series is a classic in the fandom.
  • Looping by mikes_grrl -- Multiple realities are a staple of many fandoms, but they're not that usual here. This series contains the best and most wide-ranging use of screwed-up time-travel ever seen in the Life on Mars fandom. The author describes it as "time travelling, chaos-theory mind warping brain-crack angstiness". She also says, "It makes no sense on a good day."
  • One Life to Live by elfbert - An excellent example of the Ray/Chris pairing. Elfbert has championed Ray and Ray/Chris from the beginning, and her stories are popular in the fandom for bringing a textured and complex representation of Ray, who in the series is mostly seen as a foil for Sam Tyler.
  • Some Days Nothing Goes Right by evil_demandred: Posted on August 20, 2007, this was one of the first significant dark!fic stories written in LoM-UK fandom. A haunting, lyrical and disturbing work, it addressed several issues that most fanfic even now brush over, such as Gene's drinking and the homophobia of the era. NOTE: this fic involves character death.
  • Steady as she Goes by dakfinv -- The first part of this gen story was posted on July 7, 2007, and took nearly four months to finish. It is the first epic!fic ever completed in the LoM fandom. Dak, who has written extensively in the fandom, is still well known for this story and her particular brand of ruthless Sam!whumpage.
  • Ten Dozen Roses by lm_jillybean -- Posted September 2006, this story was instrumental in opening up a certain kind of dark!fic in the fandom, in which the characters were the dark forces. It was the inspiration for at least three other stories.
  • That Old Zen Paradox by halotolerant -- Posted September 2007, possibly one of the finest and most well loved of all Sam/Gene stories ever written, this is considered a classic and it is often recced as a "must read" to anyone entering the fandom. Referred to a lot.


  • Too Much Light In This Bar by AbsoluteDestiny is an absolutely hilarious vid showcasing the hilarious misery of Sam's life.
  • Anything Sam Can Do, Sam Can Do Better by Culf. Made when the US version was airing, this video tackles Sam's perfectionist tendencies within the show, and is also a meta commentary on the UK-vs.-US version debate done in a humorous and clever style.
  • Holding Out for a Hero by odessie is one of the most popular vids in the fandom. A lighthearted slashy look at Gene and Sam, it is wonderfully edited to a catchy song and encapsulates a lot of the romanticism of the fandom as a whole.
  • Falling Down by evil_demandred is a very popular and beautiful vid that captures Sam as Gene sees him: broken, but worthy nonetheless. Considered an artistic standout in the fandom.
  • Falling Down by quirkyoppossom is an intense vid that focuses on Sam's disjointed connection to his two realities. It is considered important because it is about Sam's travel, not his relationships, making it ver distinct from other vids out there.
  • Any Other World by Lucy Saxon. This is about Sam and his emotional pain and how he is anchored by Gene, a recurring theme in a lot of vids.
  • Any Other World by lidi. A rare crossover-vid, and one of the earliest fanworks made in response to John Simm's role as The Master.
  • All These Things I've Done by songstressyuna is a great example of the genre of vids that focus on Sam's psychological state in both 1973 and 2006.
  • Ballroom Blitz by Little Lindin is one of the few vids in LoM that is pointedly multi-ship - the vid examines Sam paired up with everyone (and everything, including the chimney).
  • This Town's Religion by Severa
  • Tik Tok by Culf
  • Where Is My Mind? by LittleLinden
  • The Bad Touch by Ishamaellives

Audio Fanworks

  • Shot by ferntree is possibly the ONLY audio mashup in the LoM fandom, and was certainly the first. Artfully done and considered a classic in a fandom that does not have much by way of audio fanworks.
  • Four Times Gene Hit Sam (And One Time He Didn't) by catwalksalone is one of the very, very few (three, perhaps?] audiofic in the whole of the fandom, and is certainly the best produced.







  1. ^ Ford Cortina rating system explained on the lifein1973 comm