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DI Alexandra Drake is a fictional character in BBC One's science fiction/police procedural drama, Ashes to Ashes. The character is portrayed by Keeley Hawes and as a child by Lucy Cole.


Character history

The character of Alex Drake appears in Ashes to Ashes which is a spin-off of Life on Mars, which followed the similar story of Sam Tyler (John Simm) who after being hit by a car in 2006 awakes in 1973. Life on Mars's central plot was the question of whether Tyler's life in 1973 was real and he really had travelled back in time, was mad or in a coma hallucinating vividly. A similar theme is present in Ashes to Ashes.

Unlike Sam Tyler, who was a Detective Chief Inspector in 2006 and awoke in 1973 with the lower rank of Detective Inspector. Drake retains the same rank in both 2008 and 1981/2.

Events in 2008

The character of Alex Drake is shown to be a police officer in service with the Metropolitan Police as a Detective Inspector, and specialises in psychological profiling. Drake is shown to have been studying Sam Tyler's recorded case notes of his time in 1973 and his apparent suicide.

As the first episode starts, Drake is seen to be driving her daughter Molly to school through Central London. While in the process of this, Drake receives a radio message that a hostage situation is in progress near the embankmentmarker of the River Thames. Upon arriving, she is informed that the hostage taker, Arthur Layton, despite being unknown to Drake demands to speak with her by name. Drake manages to negotiate with Layton to release his civilian hostage in favour of herself and Molly defies Alex's instruction to remain in the car observes her mum at gunpoint. Layton tells Drake, "I knew you when you were a little girl. You've got your mother's eyes, Alex," and proceeds to taunt her with the lyrics "I'm happy; hope you're happy too," from pulls back the revolver's hammer saying "Boom!", this prompts a frightened Molly to run past the barricades toward her mother, whereupon Layton takes Molly hostage instead and leads her down the steps toward the river's edge, threatening to kill her if followed. To protect her daughter, Drake positions herself between police marksmen and Layton, who is holding Molly. She orders the marksmen to hold fire. Upon hearing a gunshot, Drake rushes down the steps, and finds Molly unharmed and Layton gone.

Following the incident, Alex admonishes Molly on nearby Millennium Bridgemarker and sends Molly home with her godfather, Evan White. As Molly departs, Alex assures her that she will be back to blow out birthday candles with her daughter.

Following this, Drake arrives back at her car, which is still parked in the same place. While entering, she fails to notice Layton sitting in the back seat. At gunpoint, he directs her to drive to an old barge opposite the Millennium Domemarker. Leyton, directing Drake towards the barge at gunpoint, claims that she will be his "ticket out of this mess", before placing a call on his mobile phone talking into it stating "You're gonna have to listen, 'cause I've got a piece of your past standing right here in front of me: Tim and Caroline Price's daughter; and I'm gonna tell her the truth why her parents died." Once in the barge, Alex attempts to calm Layton. Her attempt fails, with her receiving a gunshot wound to the head.

Ashes to Ashes (1981)

Following the gunshot wound, Drake awakens on 10 July 1981, less than fourteen weeks before her parents Tim and Caroline Price are killed on 10 October. Upon awaking, she finds herself aboard a private boat that is hosting a party, in the same location along the river where she was shot in the present day.

From studying Sam Tyler's case notes, Drake is familiar with DCI Gene Hunt, DS Ray Carling and DC Chris Skelton. When Drake meets the trio, she is very surprised that they actually exist.

During the first series, Drake records her experiences on a dictaphone, knowing that radios, telephones and television sets served as conduits between Tyler's 2006 hospital room and his 1973 experiences. After being arrested for prostitution by Hunt, she is placed in the CID office and proceeds to pick up any ringing telephone.

During the first series of Ashes to Ashes Drake spends much time adjusting to the early 1980s. Drake uses her modern psychological profiling techniques to help catch criminals and initially the rest of the team are dismissive, but learn to trust and value her input. Throughout both series, a distinct sexual tension is present between both Drake and Gene Hunt. Chris Skelton and Sharon Granger look up to Drake and attempt to learn from her modern methods. However outside of the work place she is constantly troubled by brief hallucinations of a clown and preoccupation with her parents' deaths.

Ashes to Ashes (1982)

During the second series, Drake is shown to have become more at ease with her life in the 1980s and her relationship with Hunt has improved to the point where they work separately from the rest of the team, and host private meetings to discuss work. Later in the series, Drake receives signs showing that she has been found in the present day and is being taken to hospital. She eventually realises that someone is stalking her and leaving hints of future knowledge that only someone in the same predicament as her would know. The stalker is revealed to be Martin Summers, a disgraced ex-police officer, who makes vague claims of being able to send her home to the present day.

Coinciding with the Summers plot, the main storyline of the second series sees Drake and Hunt struggling to uncover corruption within the force. To this end, Hunt leads the orchestrator of the corruption, DCS Charlie Mackintosh, to believe that Hunt is also corrupt. This prompts Mackintosh to invite Hunt into the Freemasons, which Hunt infiltrates. During the series, Mackintosh kills himself and in his last words warns Gene and Alex of an upcoming police operation, called "Rose". At the same time, Alex becomes aware of the younger version of Martin Summers around the station, and she is initially cautious of him. The older Summers arranges a meet with both Drake and the younger Summers, with the older one shooting the younger. The older throws the gun at Drake's face, which she has no option but to catch, leading her to incriminate herself and prompting her to dispose of both the body and firearm in cement.

Operation Rose is discovered to be a robbery set up by a number of corrupt police officers to rob a cash-in-transit van, which involves Martin Summers. In the second series finale, Hunt shoots Summers and accidentally Alex, which prompts him to go into hiding. Upon waking up in the present day, Drake sees Gene screaming at her to wake up through hospital monitors, realising that after being shot, she is in a coma in 1982.

Reality of 1980s

Alex is displayed to be convinced that her experiences in the 1980s are fantasy, being played out in her mind during the final seconds of her life after being shot. In the early episodes of the first series, Drake addresses her colleagues as "imaginary constructs" and mimes air quotes when saying their names. After her parents were blown up in a carbombing, Drake remembers someone taking her hand as a little girl. Drake always assumed the hand belonged to Evan White, but once she went back to 1981 and witnessed her parents death she observes it was Hunt who took her hand. This causes her to question whether Hunt is in fact a real person.


All episode numbers refer to Ashes to Ashes episodes unless otherwise stated.
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