The Preston Front Page

Series Two

A BBC Pebble Mill production. Colour. 6 x 50 minute episodes.
Broadcast dates for original UK transmission on BBC1.


Writer: Tim Firth
Directors: Marcus Mortimer [1-3] and Betsan Morris Evans [4-6]
Producer: Chris Griffin
Executive Producer: Chris Parr
Script Editors: May Gibson and Nell Denton [1 only]
Designer: Martin Boddison
Music: Julian Stewart Lindsay
Theme Music: The Milltown Brothers

Regular Cast
Hodge: Colin Buchanan
Eric: Paul Haigh
Dawn: Caroline Catz
Laura: Lucy Akhurst
Spock: Alistair McGowan
Lloydy: Adrian Hood
Ally: Kate Gartside
Diesel: Tony Marshall
Polson: David MacCreedy [not 2]
Jeanetta: Susan Wooldridge [not 4]
Kirsty: Holly Grainger [not 4]
Rundle: Kieran Flynn [not 4]
Derek Lennox: Sam Graham [1,4-6]
Mr Wang: Ozzie Yue [1,4-6]
Vic the Railwayman: Shaun Prendergast [1,2]
Mrs Heron: Madge Hindle [1,3,5,6]
Greg Scarry: Nicky Henson [2,3,5,6]
Pete Carewe: Guy Gregory [2-3]
Sara Polson: Beth Goddard [3-5]
Heron Man: Freddie Davis [3,5,6]
Grass Seed Man: David Williams [3,5]
. Grant the Chauffeur: Phil Whelans [4-6]

1:   Dawn's Ball 16 July 1995

Guest Cast: Nick Owen (Himself), Richard Mapletoft (The Reverend Ian), Joan Campion (Mrs Disley), Gordon Langford Rowe (Mr Disley), Maureen Flynn (Mrs Howell), Claude Close (Farmer), Christine Mackie (Denise).

Lloydy has made a lot of money from his board game, Gurkha Tank Battle, and seems intent on spending as much of it as possible on a car. Meanwhile, Eric and Dawn are going to the end of term ball at Roker College as their first official date. Eric wants Hodge and Laura to go with them; however Hodge is not keen and Laura seems to be too busy becoming a businesswoman.

Notes: The series opens with a set of clips with a narration from Ozzie Yue (who plays Mr Wang, and the narration is almost in character) in order to remind viewers of the characters and on-going storylines. Most of the clips are from series one and as such are careful not to include Spock, since the character is now played by Alistair McGowan.
In order to promote Gurka Tank Battle, Lloydy appears on Good Morning with Anne and Nick, the BBC's daytime magazine show which was running at the time. This show was also made by BBC Pebble Mill. Presenter Nick Owen appears as himself.
Prior to the filming of the episode Adrian Hood could not drive, something Lloydy was required to do, so the BBC put him through his test. However, three weeks after gaining his licence the episode required to him to drive a 22 foot long automatic Cadillac with left hand drive, which apparently produced complications...

Choice Quotes: Lloydy (on television): "Spock's a tall git with glasses who teaches history."   Spock: "I was wondering what to put on my business card."
"They don't make cars like this any more."   "That's probably because they ran out of metal making this one." (Lloydy introduces Diesel to his Cadillac).

2:   Laura's Mousse 23 July 1995

Guest Cast: Keith Allen (Dave Basker), Julian Kerridge (Ross), Peter Barnes (Pete Exec), Tilly Treymayne (Angela Ledwith), Terry Gilligan (Royce), Derek Crewe (Cheery Mr Fish), Rod Arthur (Cliff PSI), Stephen Aintree (Jerry).

The TA are organising an outward bound weekend for a group of executives. Meanwhile, Laura is preparing for her first catering contract at an event organised by Jeanetta, and Hodge and his friends are helping out as waiters. This leads to Hodge's reunion with Kirsty and Laura meeting one Greg Scarry...

Notes: This episode introduces Greg Scarry, Jeanetta's ex-husband. He is played by Nicky Henson. Also appearing here is Keith Allen, another actor familiar from shows such as The Comic Strip Presents..., Martin Chuzzlewitt and Absolutely Fabulous, as well as films including Shallow Grave and Trainspotting.
The episode features more amusing minor characters; Ross, who balances being a child minder with doing voice over work for radio commercials in a variety of regional accents, and Pete Carewe, who owns the flat that Dawn wants to rent and is a serious musician who pays his way by recording karaoke backing tapes of songs such as "Nellie the Elephant".

Choice Quotes: "Team C. Apparently we've got two assistant project planners, three systems managers and two special operations advisors...These people all work in offices - why do they make it sound like they work in the cockpit of a spaceship?"   "Because they all work in offices." (Ally and Rundle discuss the executives arriving for the outward bound weekend).
"As a parent, you will come to dread the word 'why', Ross. It is an endless vortex from which the only escape is the magic phrase 'Because I say so'" (Jeanetta's advice to her new child minder).

3:   Spock's Leg 30 July 1995

Guest Cast: Kim Romer (Dieter), Angela Pearson (Ingrid), Charles Pemberton (Roger), Dinah Handley (Rosemary).

There is a party of German students and their teachers staying in Roker Bridge as it is Spock's leg of the exchange visit which he arranged with Dieter, a history teacher in the German equivalent of the TA. Dieter seems very active and young at heart, in contrast to Spock's staid image. However, it is the female teacher accompanying the party who attracts Spock's attention - and she seems to be interested in him...

Notes: The exchange vist that forms the basis of this episode was established when the TA visited Germany in "Kirtsy's Biscuit" at the end of the first series.
The heritage museum which Spock takes the Germans too is actually the Black Country Museum in Dudley, some distance from Lancashire but near to Birmingham, where the production was based.
This episode introduces Beth Goddard as Polson's wife and establishes Pete Polson's unexpectedly cultured home life, prior to the events of the following episode.

Choice Quotes: Spock: "He thinks I'm boring - I know it. He thinks I'm a staid, boring, old-before-my-time academic."   Diesel: "Come on Spock. He's only known you 10 minutes. He can't possibly have worked that out yet." (Spock's friends fall to reassure him about what Dieter thinks of him).
"Conversation's where you plunge in deep and emerge having propelled yourself somewhere. Small talk's where you sit around on your arse in a jacuzzi of meaningless froth." (Ally to Rundle after escaping from the small talk at a solictor's dinner dance).

4:   Polson's Lilo 6 August 1995

Guest Cast: Robert Blythe (Deke), Marston Bloom (Ben), Lucy Robinson (Kim), Jonathan Coyne (Maitre D'), Clive Llewellyn (Geoff).

The strains are starting to show in Polson's marriage, not helped by the fact that it is his fifth wedding anniversary while he is away on a two week course that will decide whether or not he becomes a sergeant. Meanwhile, Hodge has been invited to Kirsty's birthday party and Laura is going out on a business lunch with Greg Scarry.

Notes: Also in this episode, Dawn and Eric move into a flat and Eric gets a job working for Mr Wang, driving his noodle van (a delivery van with a giant bowl of noodles on top).

Choice Quotes: "Is this funny? Am I laughing?"   "No, but that isn't usually much of a gauge." (Polson doesn't take kindly to Lennox's jokes about the fact that he is trying to buy an anniversary present in a motorway service station).
Hodge: "Laura's disappeared."   Dawn: "What? On a bus, or kind of gradually like the Cheshire Cat?"

5:   Diesel's Out Of Body Experience 13 August 1995

Guest Cast: Alan David (Rev Harry Capper), Vincent Brimble (Colum), Olivia Jardith (Phyllis), Sakuntala Ramanee (Dr Sita), Judi Jones (Hazel), Tracy Shaw (Girl at McDonalds), The Singing Stewarts (Gospel Singers).

When the spire on his garage collapses on top of him, Diesel has a near death experience and subsequently finds God. Meanwhile, Laura invites Hodge to join her and Greg Scarry for their next business meal in order to reassure him about their relationship.

Notes: This episode covers a potentially controversial subject with much success. Although Diesel's experience is eventually debunked, there is still much emphasis on the good that has been done, both by Diesel himself and also by the church who show their thanks by taking a collection to pay for the garage to be rebuilt.
This is the first episode to reveal Ally's surname (it is Minshull).
The girl who serves Polson and his section at McDonalds is played by Tracy Shaw, who would later find fame in Coronation Street.

Choice Quotes: "Faith is all very well - but proof is better." (Harry the Minister on the impact of Diesel's experience).
"I can't believe this - this buzz. Standing at the front of a hall bringing so much joy to rows of old people. I mean. that's what it must be like being Chris de Burgh." (Diesel after speaking at the church service).

6:   Lloydy's Ark 27 August 1995

Guest Cast: Maggie McCarthy (Joyce, Lloydy's Mum), John Normington (Lloydy's Dad), Harmage Singh Kalirai (Mr Ali), Colin Meredith (Trevor), Ruth Meredith (Ruth).

Lloydy has been evicted from his flat so he has bought a narrowboat to live on and insists on taking his friends for a cruise at the weekend. They are even to be joined by Laura, who has finally realised Greg's intentions towards her, and wants comfort from Hodge. However, Hodge has other matters to worry about...

Notes: The series ends on a something of a cliffhanger, particularly with regards to the storyline concerning Hodge. He appears to have lost Laura to Greg Scarry, since she believes he is having an affair with Jeanetta, and he puts an ultimatum to Jeanetta - either he is officially Kirsty's father, or he will have nothing more to do with her.
Being the last episode of the series, the episode features more complete credits (for instance, the army are thanked for their assistance). As such, an extended version of the theme tune is used.
In one scene, Hodge mentions that he hitched a lift with a lorry driver called who claimed to have a Red Indian spirit guide called Geronimo. This is a reference to a character from Once Upon A Time In The North, another series which was written by Tim Firth.
There is an interesting ornithological theme to the various boats that appear in the episode. Lloydy's narrowboat is called The Owl and Hodge takes Kirsty boating on a rowing boat called The Swallow, whereas Greg Scarry's motor yacht is called Bird of Paradise.

Choice Quotes: "Anthony consistently sets himself the lowest of targets which he then fails to achieve." (Lloydy quotes a phrase from his last school report).
"If your wife goes off perhaps that's why you get so good at spotting something going on between two other people - it's like some kind of primal monkey thing... Mind you, it also helps having an image intensifying individual weapons sight." (Polson's blackmail of Rundle).
"Impossible - Lloydy was put on this Earth solely to bounce around with a fixed grin. He's the closest God came to creating a human space hopper." (Dawn doesn't believe that Lloydy is depressed).

Compiled by Matthew Newton

More on Preston Front at Newton's Laws Of Television 

Copyright MJ Newton 2003. All rights reserved.
This article may not be reproduced without permission