BBC Life on Mars UK: Sam Tyler's Fifth Birthday

This is about Sam Tyler's fifth birthday, when he was missing his Dad Vic Tyler and the one with a blue space hopper. Takes place in 1974 (with a 5 year old Sam Tyler and 11 year old Gene Hunt) Prequel to Youngsters Part II and Home Sweet Home.

That damned copper had to keep showing up in all the wrong places; doing his best to cause difficulties. The DI kept Vic Tyler from setting their damned flat ablaze. He managed to cover by picking up the cigarette card and claiming to return for it. After all, it was one of the most important things to his little Sammy.

Sam Tyler was waking up the morning of the day he turned five. He is looking out the small sash window above his bed and being happy to see blue skies with not a cloud in sight. His excitement had known no bounds and he'd eagerly waited for his Dad to show bringing his extra special present, like he always did. Sammy Tyler felt he'd been on tenterhooks the whole morning, running to the window every time he heard an approaching car or footsteps, and he clearly thinks of the sharp disappointment he'd felt each time when it had been someone else. There'd been cake and presents and both his Mum and Aunt Heather had been there making a fuss of him but the day had taken a sad turn because his Dad hadn't been there. Gene saw how after they'd had cake and he'd opened his presents with family plus a few friends; he'd snuck behind the kitchen door when he was supposed to be playing outside and not supposed to see his blue space hopper. He had snuck downstairs again. He'd been a bad boy.

11 year old Gene Hunt couldn't bear to see his best friend have a downer on Vic Tyler not coming over to celebrate his own son's birthday "Chin up, Sammy let's play detectives, build your new Lego castle or football!" patting the younger boy's shoulder "Okay then, Gene but Dad's supposed to be bringing my extra special present..."

"I want my Dad," said the boy Sam. "I'm five!" a small gateau sat on the dining room table, Gene shrugged his shoulders ignoring his younger friend's sulks and concentrated on building the yellow Lego System castle again.

Immediately Heather was at her sister's side. "Don't cry, Ruthie. We'll work something out. I'll ask around. Maybe some of my friends at work know somebody, okay?" Heather rubbed her sisters back, trying to soothe her. "I know it's been tough for you, for both of you, since Vic's gone, but it'll get better. I promise. Stop crying now. I'm here for you."

Meanwhile Gene's mother was invited to the party as was Auntie Heather, what would help Sam cheer up and not think about the horrible memories of Vic Tyler's departure? A police station party, of course!

"Come on in, Mrs. Hunt." said Ruth Tyler "There's going to be a birthday party for Sammy at your husband's police station as a VIP guest since both our lads want to be coppers."

"Careful, Sammy!" she warned when Sam and Ruth looked apologetically at her son's 11 year old mate's mother Denise Hunt "Sorry! I do tell them, but you know what our lads are like!"

"Be good policemen, Sammy and Eugene," said Mrs Hunt. "You won't go breaking your dear mothers' heart, will you?" The two mothers gossiped over pink wafers and drank cups of tea at the table planning Sam's surprise party in earnest; it would make both their boys day.

Ruth smiled. "We've got two boys who want to be a policeman, snap!"

"Oh, yes it'll do grand, my Eugene needs to see what a police station is like." Mrs. Hunt brightly replied to Ruth Tyler setting up 'A' Division with colourful balloons, banners, paper chains, police themed games and a party table with their lads favourite treats on paper plates. "Sooner or later Stephen always comes home for his dinner and a clean pair of Y-fronts."

Sammy had told his much loved cat Ivanhoe that detectives worked at the police station; he met a lady even older than Mummy who smelled like a Labrador and chased his pet cat out of the station with a broom.

If he wasn't at the police station, the pub or home; Big Sammy must be with the loud tall fuzzy sideburned man. The one that looked like a mixture between Philip Glenister and the glam rock singer with a mullet; two streets over.

Gene's father laughed. "I like that. Wants to be a detective then? Hmm."

The tall man known as Gene's father sighed in his desk chair, in front of a poster showing Stephen Hunt's favourite Western of all time The Bad, The Good and the Ugly near filing cabinets, dog earred novels clutter his office with coffee stains "I know he likes playing Detectives with me Eugene driving their toy Cortinas pretending to be DI Tyler and me the Guv." Stephen Hunt had fuzzy sideburns and looked very similar to Gene Hunt as an adult.

"A few stops just to get Sammy Tyler, your son's mate a birthday present?" Big Sammy asked, Stephen was wearing a white and maroon patterned kipper tie, his favourite loafer shoes with a 1970s cream collar shirt and flared grey trousers with thin white stripes.

"Think the Tyler kid gets a birthday present and we'll stop by the toy shop while me missus gossips with Mrs. Tyler and have got the station set up. Meanwhile the cells are clear of any kid scaring psychos." The Guv replied removing his feet off his cluttered desk, picking up his beige camel coat from the coat hanger. DI Tyler was shocked at the big bloke's generousity since normally the Guv would not think of such things himself and is gruff behind the scenes.

"You, Stephen Hunt are going to buy a child a toy for his birthday?" exclaimed Big Sammy punctuating a point to his Guv'nor "You don't ever get your wife something nice; she's given birth to your sons Gene and Stu!"

"It's only fair." replied DCI Stephen Hunt "I want to apologise to me Missus for being a drunk pain in the arse at 'ome."

"He's just a little kiddie, even though he's related to you Tyler. While my missus and I were at the house, I needed her and Ruth to ask Phyllis to clear the station for two VIP guests."

DCI Stephen Hunt gave Big Sammy a cheeky wink and the glint in his blue eyes appeared as the slap of loafer shoes announced the Guv leaving A Division, his domain to the Detective Constables who were lumbered with all of the paperwork and helping little old ladies across the road with the plods and plonks.

"VIP guests? Who's coming in Stephen?" asked Detective Inspector Tyler curious to know who were the mystery visitors to Greater Manchester Police's A-Division today.

"My boy and little Tyler want to be coppers. Need to see what a station is like and this'll toughen Eugene up instead of dreaming about being a fairy, girly uphill actor." Stephen insulted his elder son, eleven year old Gene Hunt as usual in the process; no changes there birthday party or not!

It made Big Sammy think of a similar memory "Stephen," he stopped suddenly then started to laugh "The police officer who held a similar party took me to the police station to make up for a sad fifth birthday. Bought me a toy Riley police car."

"That was in 1946, but this is 1974."

"Sorry, Guv it just brought back memories for me." Stephen knew when Big Sammy started rambling on about his Forties and Fifties childhood. He was Vic Tyler's slightly older cousin, there being two years between them; but hadn't seen each other for years growing apart since DI Tyler first became a copper.

"Have my Eugene bring his bronze toy Cortina. He was not happy in the line of duty. Deserves a treat for being my little deputy dawg." replied the Guv heading towards the larger bronze Ford Cortina parked outside the station.

"I'll ask Gwen the canteen lady to make him a treacle tart." said Big Sammy who knew young Gene Hunt loved a custard treacle tart whenever the little Gene Genie tagged along with his father, the Guv who doesn't look a million miles from himself when he became an adult.

"You're right," the tall man with the fuzzy sideburns picked up young Gene leaning over to his level and kissed his little boy on the forehead "Doesn't mean you're getting out of work, though."

It had been a little while since the two boys 'arrested' the naughty Beagle for biting the brand new blue space hopper when Mrs. Tyler first shooed Sammy and Gene Hunt outside to play; to plan the surprise in secret without little boys prying, beady brown and blue eyes. Big Sammy and Gene's father had rang the RSPCA dog warden about a uncontrolled dog, once the young Gene Genie caught it puncturing Sam's space hopper during a obstacle course; they made up out of the few parked cars, metal bins and hung up laundry.

Gene was busy pretending that his Raleigh Tomahawk Mk1 bicycle in electric blue was a police car, wheeling the younger boy as a passenger and making sure he carried Sam's new Cortina toy carefully in transit.

DCI Stephen Hunt had been in talks with Ruth Tyler to see if little Sammy could have his fifth birthday party at A Division in Stopford House. Gene Hunt and Sam Tyler were so excited as they would learn everything about being detectives; but the learning was touched by faucets of their future adult lives. Staying up to watch the brand new hard hitting London CID police drama about two plain clothed Flying Squad officers starring John Thaw and Dennis Waterman was a treat. It made their imaginations blow their minds!

Gene's 'police bike' was stored in the boot of the Cortina. The little Gene Genie was seat belted in the front seat next to the Guv and Sammy Tyler was sat behind on a red cushion so he could see out of the windows a bit better. The sporty transatlantic shaped Cortina had turned a corner and Gene's adult equivelent stopped the car "So, Sammy and Eugene," the tall man asked to pop a question "You want to be police officers? And who's the birthday DC?"

"More than anything, DCI Hunt sir." five year old Sammy Tyler nodded buzzing with happiness "I'm the birthday DC!" he could see the excitement when the DCI man his future Guv's father took a corner on only two wheels.

"I see," Gene's father nodded "Think we should drive like proper police men then don't you boys?"

"Are we going to go fast?" Gene asked excitedly and bounced in the front passenger seat.

"Do you want to, son?" He replied to his 11 year old spitting image egging on the younger boy to answer "Yes please!" Sammy squealed happily to the question; the Gene Genie pesters his father at the steering wheel "Really fast, like we're chasing robbers and banging up the bent bastards and scum!"

"Eugene, watch your language." DCI Stephen Hunt snapped to his son the Gene Genie but agreed with the notion of like we're chasing robbers! "otherwise I'll wash your mouth out, boy."

Sammy Tyler felt his cushion sliding around in the bronze car; sliding to the floorboards as the tall man who looked like Gene slammed his foot on the gas pedal.

"WHEEEEE!" Sammy screamed in delight. "Let's do that again, Dad!" shouted 11 year old Gene Hunt. They did it four more times before they slammed to a stop in front of the station.

"Jesus Guv!" the little Gene Genie heard Big Sammy scream. "What are you doing?"

"We were chasing robbers," the tall man said smugly. "Me and Sammy and my son Eugene!"

Little Sammy Tyler was going to visit a real life police station for his fifth birthday! Gene and Sammy had been excited about it, all week. Gene woke his mother Denise Hunt up at 4:00 AM in the morning today, asking if it was time to go yet.

"We took a corner really fast and the car went on it's side!" Gene exclaimed excitedly and clung on to his father, the Guv's hand.

"Oh God," Big Sammy muttered and then his face drained as he looked at the Guv's mini me. "I should get back to work."

"Course Guv," DC Annie Cartwright agreed. "Where will you, your lad and young DC Tyler be then?"

And now little Samuel James Tyler and 11 year old Eugene Hunt were staring up at the desk and Phyllis Dobbs who was nicknamed the scary woman loomed over it; while the rest of the boys from his Year R class were overrunning Chris Skelton's young father. DC Marshall Skelton was the youngest CID police officer, his son had just been born this year in 1974. He and Gene Hunt didn't dare join in although it looked like lots of fun.

The chaos at the desk had never been worse. Not even in the aftermath of the raid on the football hooligans.

Little kids except 11 year old Gene Hunt and 5 year old Sam Tyler were racing around the area, even swinging on the railings of the stairs which led up to the offices. A number of them were in a huddle in front of the desk, wrestling over something. Annie and another young police woman were unsuccessfully trying to keep some order. Phyllis with a little more luck or foresight; had barricaded herself behind the desk and seemed to be keeping the younger children at bay more successfully. This is the age when most other boys pull pigtails and make silly faces; but not Gene.

DI Sam Tyler had paused at the door, struck speechless by the pandemonium. Stephen Hunt coming in after him, was not so shy. His voice somehow thundered over the commotion. "Oi, oi, oi! If it's not quiet in here in three seconds, I'm throwing the lot of you in the cells for being disorderly at a police birthday party."

Miraculously it worked. The whole scene fell into silence, the children frozen into place eyes fixed on what to them must have looked like an angry giant.

Stephen surveyed the tableau, then nodded. "Better. Now which one of you sprogs dare to ruin my little Eugene's friend's birthday party here?"

The huddle of children in front of the desk began to break up. From under it emerged Marshall Skelton. He was covered in dust and dirt, already swiping and tugging at his shirt and trousers in an attempt to get his clothes back into some semblance of order. "You know you, your wife Mrs. Hunt and Ruth Tyler arranged a birthday surprise party for Sammy Tyler at the police station? Well I didn't expect thirty children to be invited."

"Oh, Marshall you never said anything." said DCI Stephen Hunt.

"I did Guv, but you said 'whatever'." Big Sammy got the picture of Stephen ignoring Marshall wittering on about something to do with little Sammy's fifth birthday in Greater Manchester Police's 'A' Division. That'll teach Gene's old man to listen to someone for once. "Yeah, Guv you did. I remember." replied DI Tyler.

DCI Stephen Hunt turned around when he caught Big Sammy's hint of smiling. "You think this is funny, do you? Fine you, the plonks, divs and me missus are in charge here. I'm taking Milton and Pat for the door to door."

After a quick foray into the office to summon the officers concerned and his own wife; Stephen was out the door again leaving Big Sam Tyler to pick up the pieces of the children's party.

Right so there was an entire group of four, five to eleven year olds including the Guv's little boy Eugene "Gene" Hunt who looked the absolute spitting image of Stephen with his deep blue eyes and blonde hair. He had to think of something fun to do for Sammy Tyler's fifth birthday and think of it fast because otherwise the chaos from a few minutes ago would return. And this time no Guv to outshout the children.

Better start talking while he still had attention. He was smiling at the little faces looking at the Detective Inspector from every direction. "Hello, I'm DI Tyler." He gestured to Marshall now finally done with adjusting his clothing. Not that he could have done with more attention. "You've already met DC Skelton, I see." There were some giggles from the boys who were wrestling previously and Marshall conjured a grin far more genuine than Big Sammy ever felt his own to be.

He indicated Annie, Denise Hunt, then Phyllis Dobbs. "And the ladies are WPC Cartwright, Sergeant Dobbs and Mrs. Hunt."

Every one of the kids were still clogging up the hallway. The office would have to do. "Okay, if you could all go into the office," Big Sammy pointed towards the door "and we'll get started."

Only two of the kids made a move; that was little Sammy Tyler and Eugene Hunt in the silence towards the door to 'A' Division. Luckily Denise Hunt as the Guv's wife clapped her hands for attention "Come on kids, you heard the Inspector. To the door." After those words, she herded twenty eight of the kids through the door.

Marshall and Annie stayed behind while Phyllis Dobbs returned to manning the front desk.

Sam shook his head "Never mind DC Skelton, we've got Sammy Tyler's fifth birthday party here and 30 kids to entertain this afternoon. What can we do?"

After a short discussion Mrs. Hunt along with three of her husband's colleagues walked into the office, leaving Sergeant Phyllis Dobbs to her desk.

Sam and Gene were a little disappointed. When the big man had come in and shouted everyone down; it had seemed like something was finally going to happen. All the boys and girls had gone quiet. Gene's mummy led them into a messy room. Shouldn't someone make these police officers clean up? Maybe their mothers, or maybe the big man who looks like my best friend Gene. He seemed to be able to order people around, at least so my police party didn't get spoiled.

Then daddy's cousin DI Tyler came into the room and told everyone to sit down in front of a big blackboard. Just like in school, only now they had to sit on the floor. Now he started to explain things about how the detectives worked out who did the crimes. Little Gene Hunt and Sam Tyler were all ears and eyes too. Here was a detective named Tyler just like Sam. But the rest of the children wasn't listening so well. The story DI Tyler was telling did have a lot of difficult words in it, yes. This was important though, they should listen.

Then DI Tyler looked in Little Sammy's and Gene Hunt's direction and they sat up straighter.

DC Skelton wasn't very good at explaining about police work at all.

Why did the boy have to be here? After all the trouble Big Sammy had gone through to help his distant family as a Detective Inspector, even though he is Vic's cousin after all. The experience of arresting his younger cousin Vic Tyler had certainly proved there can be consequences for having family ties at work, there were too many variables.

Footsteps approached the double doors "Sam?" said DCI Stephen Hunt as his Detective Inspector could see cream loafers, it revealed his arms folded "The kids." he replied.

"The kids? What's so scary about a bunch of four to eleven year olds? My Eugene has more backbone than you." said the tall man who looked like Gene pulling out a hip flask "I'd expected you to have more steel of bollocks than that, seeing as DC Skelton couldn't deal with them."

"It's not that, it's just my cousin's kid is in there."

"Oh your little namesake. Feeling guilty you let your cousin, his dad go are you?"

There was a hint of jokiness in Stephen's voice "You're a good policeman, I don't care that you and Vic are related as long as you catch the villains. Right now your job is to organise party games and telling those kids about being a policeman. So get out there and do it! You're here and little Sammy's here. Relive your childhood."

When they came to the main office, DI Sam Tyler was surprised to see it in relative order, various tables had activities with at least one police officer helping out and telling stories.

Sam's 5th birthday hadn't started so well even with his best friend around, but the afternoon was just perfect for the little Gene Genie and Sammy Tyler. After DC Skelton finished the talk about police work. They had two party games; the first being Cops and Robbers complete with radios, handcuffs and cells. The second was solving a mystery on the elusive biscuit thief and lastly hide and search.

They got to see and learn the different ways of catching criminals: Sam was playing with a book that had a lot of bits of faces in it. You could use it to make the face of a criminal. Gene Hunt did some scary ones to frighten the younger children. They all had a lot of fun trying to make all sorts of silly faces.

Just when the little Gene Genie and his five year old deputy Sammy Tyler were looking at the gleaming bronze Ford Cortina Mk3 GXL outside from one of the station's windows, Gene's daddy came back. Sam was a little afraid he might start shouting again. He hadn't. He just talked a bit with some of the police officers and that nice police woman, Miss. Cartwright.

Sam heard him ask about DI Tyler. Then he and Gene walked off in the same direction as DI Tyler and DCI Hunt had gone.

The next thing they learned about was fingerprints. Miss Cartwright had let the kids put their fingerprints into the ink pad and on to paper. They all made pretty pictures, just a pity there was only blue or black ink. Then she'd given the older kids some magnifying glasses, told the 8-11 year olds to be careful with them and let Gene Hunt study the pictures made, as being the eldest of the group, he was given the position of junior Guv. There were all sorts of funny lines; but it was really hard to find out what lines matched with the little lines, loops or spirals from their fingers. Everything was sort of smudged. The younger 4-7 year olds except Sammy Tyler found it much more fun to make more pictures.

While the younger children were busy playing with the ink, DI Tyler had come back. He'd come to sit next to Sammy Tyler and the little Gene Genie saying hello. "Hello," said little Sam Tyler shy at first but in the end looked surprised like his Dad's cousin felt. He smiled and it looked just like mum's smile. "Yeah, I'm okay, are you boys having fun?"

When Sam and Gene nodded enthusiastically, DI Tyler asked another question "I hear you want to be detectives someday. Is that true?"

"Oh yes," Sam had replied "And I'm going to be the best ever!"

"And I will be the Guv king of CID when I'm grown up." said the 11 year old Gene Hunt.

DI Tyler and DCI Hunt had smiled at the two boys in their families, who unmistakably were the spitting images of the two grown up police officers. "I'm sure you guys will." He'd softly patted Sam on the shoulder. "Just keep using your head and instinct, and I'm sure you guys will go far." he'd even shook the little Gene Genie's hand.

Those were the words still in Sammy Tyler's head. And when he fell asleep, he dreamt of being a detective like DI Tyler. Maybe he could find his Dad!

Meanwhile the little Gene Genie was dreaming of being behind the wheel of his dad Stephen Hunt's bronze Ford Cortina Mk3 GXL wearing black leather driving gloves and having his best mate in the front passenger seat; chasing after the bad people mam warned about whenever he and Stu went out to play on the cobbled streets of Manchester.