Russian TV remakes British hit Life on Mars

Called The Dark Side of the Moon and set in 1973, the new show recreates the Soviet atmosphere by filming in Minsk, Belarus.

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Russia's most popular television channel has remade the BBC's cult time-travel drama Life on Mars, moving the action from the gritty streets of 1970s Manchester to the era of the late leader Leonid Brezhnev in Moscow.

It is not the first time Russian television has remade a western show, though this remake is more unusual in that it takes on a darker drama with a complex concept.

A Russian channel had a huge hit with its remake of the originally Colombian show Ugly Betty, while the US sitcom Married with Children has been successfully transported to the city of Yekaterinburg.

Life on Mars, which aired in Britain in 2006 and 2007, tells the story of a detective who, after a car crash, finds himself mysteriously back in 1973 and working at the same police station.

The new show The Dark Side of the Moon, which premieres in Russia today, is an unusually ambitious remake for Russian television. It painstakingly recreates the Soviet atmosphere by filming in Minsk in ex-Soviet Belarus.

"We didn't even have to build any scenery," said the producer Alexander Tsekalo, who at 51 remembers the period well.

The BBC producer Duncan Cooper said he welcomed the free style of the adaptation.

"The idea in adapting series is to keep the very best of the original, but also to embrace the local culture and history, and I think that is exactly what this adaptation has done."