The success of ‘Life on Mars’ took a lot of failure and rejection

“A WORD in your shell like pal” are the opening and final words of hit series Life on Mars and its successor Ashes to Ashes. Explaining how it had taken seven years from the original idea to production; Executive producer and founder of Kudos, Stephen Garrett, gave an enthralling insight into the world of Television and film production. Writes Sarah Jayne Collins

With many award winning series under his belt, such as Spooks, Hustle and Law and Order UK, the stereotype would lead you to believe he would be arrogant and a little ‘cocky’ but instead you are met with a refreshingly down to earth man. Explaining his career as “a lot of failure and rejection with flashes of success”, Stephen offers no illusions about how ‘cut-throat’ his industry is. Surprisingly modest, Stephen repeatedly told how his success is due to the team around him.

Starting his career in the late 70’s for Granada, Stephen has truly worked his way up from the bottom. Choosing to leave his job as commissioning editor of the youth department at Channel Four , Stephen built Kudos with “no plan, no idea and no financial backing” having only “two and a half staff and a dog” in his team. Now with a permanent pay roll of forty five, Stephen and his business partner Jane Featherstone also manage approximately a thousand freelance staff a year.

In all his series, things don’t always go to plan; killing the star of your show in the second episode is obviously a bit of a risk. However with each ‘accident’ the popularity of the show soars.

Explaining the idea behind Life on Mars was created in a hotel room in Blackpool and is based on the 70’s hit show ‘The Sweeney’. Stephen  said that the show works because of the many levels it has and the “gloriously politically incorrect” main character.

When asked if there was any advice to give to students who want to be producers when they grow up, Stephen stated

“If you think you know what you will do in the future, you are probably wrong. Be passionate. Be persistent and never give up”

Leaving the audience with a taste of things to come, Stephen revealed a little of things to come fromKudos, such as upcoming drama ‘Legion’ and a possible stand alone film of Ashes to Ashes.


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