John Simm gives update on Life on Mars sequel Lazurus

Life on Mars sequel
John Simm and Philip Glenister could be teaming up again in Lazarus (Image credit: BBC)

John Simm has confirmed that plans for a Life On Mars sequel are still in place, although the project is currently stuck in "development hell". 

The original BBC One drama, which was part police procedural drama, part science-fiction fantasy, followed John Simm’s Sam Tyler, a Manchester police officer from 2006 who time-travelled back to 1973 after a mysterious accident.

Stuck in the 1970s, he began working alongside the brash and abrasive DCI Gene Hunt, played by Philip Glenister, with the pair often clashing over their very different attitudes towards policing. 

After Simm left the show, a sequel titled Ashes to Ashes, which paired Glenister with Keeley Hawes, ran for three series, yet now there are plans to reunite the original cast in a show called Lazurus

Yet despite the script being written and the cast keen to begin work, there's no need to fire up the Quattro just yet...

"These things move slower than tectonic plates," John Simm told us during a recent press event to mark the launch of the third series of ITV1's Grace.

"I have no idea (when we'll be doing it). It's in some development hell somewhere. Someone's got it and they want to do it and the script was great and we said yes. But now it's just taking forever. We'd love to do it, that would be amazing, but the wait is interminable!" 

Simm also confirmed that Lazarus won't be airing on the BBC, as its predecessor did for two seasons in 2006 and 2007...

"Someone else picked it up," he told us. "I don't know if I'm allowed to say who though."

In April 2022, Life On Mars creator and screenwriter Matthew Graham confirmed that he and Ashley Pharoah had finished a script for the pilot. 

“It contains the words — Hanging, Boogie, Creme Fraiche,” he tweeted via his production company’s Twitter account.

Last year Simm also told The Big Issue how excited he was at the prospect of returning to the character of Sam Tyler for Lazarus

"The idea is really good — there’s a lot of travelling in time and car chases. 

"I adored the job, loved the part, loved playing Sam Tyler. I don’t regret only doing two — maybe there would have been a backlash — but I would have done another series if they’d set it in London. I had a small child and the workload was so intense.

"There was a point where Phil Glenister and I did everything together. It was like it was in the contract. But we haven't worked together for a while so we’ll see what happens with Lazarus."

Grace season 3 begins on ITV1 on Sunday 19th March

Sean Marland

Sean is a Senior Feature writer for TV Times, What's On TV and TV & Satellite Week, who also writes for He's been covering the world of TV for over 15 years and in that time he's been lucky enough to interview stars like Ian McKellen, Tom Hardy and Kate Winslet. His favourite shows are I'm Alan Partridge, The Wire, People Just Do Nothing and Succession and in his spare time he enjoys drinking tea, doing crosswords and watching football.