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Last Updated: Wednesday, 4 July 2007, 10:56 GMT 11:56 UK
Spooks star cast in Mars sequel
Keeley Hawes
Hawes appeared in the BBC's 2005 reworking of Macbeth
Spooks star Keeley Hawes has been cast as Philip Glenister's new sidekick in Life on Mars sequel Ashes to Ashes.

The Tipping the Velvet actress will play DI Alex Drake, a psychological profiler from the present day who finds herself transported back to 1981.

Due to air in the New Year, the show will see Glenister reprise his role as politically incorrect DCI Gene Hunt.

Hawes described her role as "a fantastic character who will be a force to be reckoned with".

Alex and Gene locking horns will be a sight to behold
Keeley Hawes
She said Drake and Hunt "locking horns in the eighties will certainly be a sight to behold, never mind the shoulder pads".

The second series of Life on Mars ended earlier this year when viewers found out what happened to John Simm's character Sam Tyler, a modern police officer who found himself trapped in the 1970s.

Ashes to Ashes, written and created by Matthew Graham and Ashley Pharaoh, will follow Glenister's character into the 1980s.

John Simm and Philip Glenister in Life on Mars
Life on Mars saw John Simm (l) transported back to the 1970s
"Keeley will be fantastic as Alex 'Posh Knickers' Drake," said the show's executive producer Jane Featherstone.

"She is sexy, ballsy and very intelligent, just like Alex. She's bound to turn Gene's egocentric life upside down."

Best known for playing MI5 agent Zoe Reynolds in Spooks, Hawes was recently seen in the BBC's modern reworking of Shakespeare's Macbeth and has voiced computer game character Lara Croft.

She is married to former Spooks star Matthew Macfadyen, with whom she has two children.

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