The Preston Front Page

Series Three

A BBC Pebble Mill production. Colour. 7 x 40 minute episodes.
Broadcast dates for original UK transmission on BBC1.


Writer: Tim Firth
Directors: Chris Bernard [1-4] and Rick Stroud [5-7]
Producer: Bernard Krichefski
Executive Producer: Julian Murphy
Script Editor: May Gibson
Designer: Martin Boddison
Music: Richard Blackford
Theme Music: The Milltown Brothers

Regular Cast
Hodge: Colin Buchanan
Eric: Paul Haigh
Dawn: Caroline Catz
Spock: Alistair McGowan
Lloydy: Adrian Hood
Ally: Kate Gartside
Diesel: Tony Marshall
Mel: Angela Lonsdale [not 2]
Jeanetta: Carolyn Pickles [not 4]
Kirsty: Holly Grainger [not 4]
Declan: Oliver Cotton [not 4]
Polson: David MacCreedy [not 6]
Rundle: Kieran Flynn [not 1-3,5]
Mr Wang: Ozzie Yue [1-2,4,6-7]
Mrs Ruddock: Matylok Gibbs [1,3,4,7]
Mrs Lomax: Lucinda Curtis [2,7]
Mr Lomax: John Hallam> [2,7]
Young Eric: Rico Pulisciano [6-7]
Young Hodge: Jack Allen

1:   Hodge's Driving Test 21 July 1997

Guest Cast: Stephen Churchett (Driving Examiner Claude), Stirling Moss (Himself), James Aden (Adman Gerry).

Despite the fact that Lloydy is staying with him, Hodge's mood has brightened because he is being allowed to take Kirtsy out for the day by himself - for the first time. However, this relies on him passing his driving test, which he is having to take in the noodle van...

Notes: The series opens with an imaginative method of reminding viewers of the characters and the on-going storylines through the use of a dream, which also features a cameo appearance by the former world motor racing champion, Stirling Moss.
The episode introduces a new character, Mel, played by Angela Lonsdale. However, her introduction is very subtle (she wrecks Jeanetta's car at the TA family day) and it is not obvious that she will become a regular character. The episode also re-introduces Matyelok Gibbs as Mrs Ruddock, Hodge's boss. She featured in the first series but was absent from the second.
Six months have passed since the last series and there have been a number of changes. Hodge's relationship with Jeanetta and Kirsty has stabilised and he now enjoys regular contact with them under the pretext that he is Kirsty's godfather. This is due to the fact Jeanetta has made it clear to her daughter that Greg is not her father. The confrontation in the warehouse from "Lloydy's Ark" is mentioned. In addition, Polson is now a sergeant after Rundle capitulated to his blackmail.
As the title of the episode implies, it concerns Hodge's driving test. Eric was seen teaching his friend to drive in "Diesel's Garage" during the first series.

Choice Quotes: Diesel tries to reassure his colleagues about the minehunting exercise that they are about to undertake: "It's not going to be dangerous is it? This is the 20th century. Mine detection's all about sonar now. And how to use ultra sound scanning machines."   Polson (announcing): Okay, line up by the left hand truck to collect your prodders."
Later at the TA family day a mine hunting exercise is being organised for the children, but with very different equipment, as Diesel notes: "When we look for mines we get knitting needles. When kids look for buried sweets they get a C4 Humhauser electro sensor."   Spock: "Do you remember how at home there was always a set of plates that mum only got out for special visitors."   Diesel: "Point taken."
"Part of being a dad is admitting when you made a bad job of it." (Eric's advice to Hodge).

2:   Eric's Won Ton 28 July 1997

Guest Cast: Samantha Fox (Herself), Lucy Akhurst (Laura), Andy Grubb (Soldier), Peter Lee (Ray Shoe), Nicky Henson (Greg Scarry), David Strickman (Policeman Roger). Mr Wang's expectations of success for the Roman Holiday are dashed when he learns of the opening of a rival Chinese Restaurant. Eric convinces him to fight back, although it soon appears that this is not a sensible course of action. Meanwhile, Dawn has decided that she no longer wants to be a teacher.

Notes: This episode features a guest appearance from Lucy Akhurst and Nicky Henson as Laura and Greg. It is revealed that Laura went off with Greg after believing Hodge was having an affair with Jeanetta and has been touring the world in his company, becoming a far less sympathetic character as a result.
Following Stirling Moss's cameo in "Hodge's Driving Test", this episode features an appearance from model/singer Samantha Fox.
There are a number of continuity references to the time that Greg Scarry dined at the Roman Holiday in "Diesel's Out Of Body Experience"; in particular Greg then taught Mr Wang how to say "welcome" in Mandarin, which he has now used in a cinema advert for his restaurant.

Choice Quotes: "It's amazing how important college is to people who never went." (Dawn isn't keen that everyone wants her to change her mind about leaving college).
"It'll look good commercially to have a woman in management. Just to show I'm not sexist, like...Especially a pretty one." (Mr Wang offers Dawn a job).
"Hat from Madrid, dress from Milan, brains from Spud-U-Like." (Dawn's description of Laura).
"I've never actually written to the Dateline computer, mate...Oh yes, I did once actually, but I sent in your photo and details. No women replied, but computer said it were quite interested." (Lloydy discusses computer dating with Spock - see also "Hodge's Girlfriend").

3:   Lloydy's House Warming 4 August 1997

Guest Cast: Valeris Blake (Chambermaid Millie).

Lloydy has finally moved out of Hodge's caravan, although Dawn and Eric are not exactly pleased when they find out that he has bought the flat below theirs. Hodge now has his freedom and enjoys a drunken night with Mel, who he meets at the drill hall. However, he is in for trouble when he finds out who she is related to...

Notes: When Lloydy moves into the flat below Dawn and Eric he compares the situation to Friends, possibly a reference to the fact that the media has often referred to Preston Front as a British version of that show.
The house where Dawn, Eric and now Lloydy live is 131 Churchill Rise (Spock mentions the street name and the number can be seen on the door); in "Polson's Lilo" it was number 26.
After an embarrassing conversation with Rundle, Lloydy declares "Opposite the Hotel", a reference to "Spock's Leg" where the German teacher had been told that this was an English expression meaning "great".

Choice Quotes: "I cannot do this with them downstairs!" (Dawn is distracted from making love with Eric by the sound of the Wombles theme tune emanating from Lloydy's flat).
"It's not fair asking him questions about sex. It's like Narnia for him. This land of make believe which he's heard of but never actually visited."   "Whereas with you it's like Eurodisney. You make lots of offers but still no one will go with you." (Lloydy and Spock during a game of truth).

4:   Spock's Dilated Pupil 11 August 1997

Guest Cast: Moira Westhead (Fortune Teller Shun-Lee), Timothy Bates (Dean "Benno" Benton), Teresa Lam (Ros Howard), Jacob Krichefski (Student Noj), Chris Hargreaves (Smackhead Coyle), Jimmy Reddington (Policeman Steve).

Spock aims to help a disinterested pupil achieve something with his life, fearing that he may grow up to be another Lloydy. Meanwhile, Lloydy himself has bought a talking car and Mr Wang has a plan to improve the fortunes of his restaurant - but it involves Diesel pretending to be The Artist Formerly Known As Prince...

Notes: This is generally an amusing comedy episode. However, it has a sting in the tail when Eric tells Dawn that he is leaving her.
Mr Wang again disputes the name of the town he lives in ("Roker Bridge? Crap Bridge!") in the same way that he did in "Lloydy's Fish" back in the first season.

Choice Quotes: "Does your intellectual development metre peak at pratt?" (Spock to Lloydy)
"I don't think I want my thoughts galvanised. I'm quite happy having them floppy for a bit." (Dawn in the face of Eric's enthusiasm about her going back to college).
"What in life do you like?"   "Monster Munch." (Spock to Benno, thus concluding that he has an interest in food and thus gets him a placement at The Roman Holiday).
"...Then, while you were being distracted by your talking car you unwittingly followed a convicted drug dealer's car into the Kale estate, flashing and blowing your horn, until in an attempt to apprehend the stolen limousine in front of him, you ran him off the road, whereupon your friends, dressed to resemble The Artist Formerly Known As Prince, got out of the car, causing the driver to fear a reprisal attack and produce a sawn off shotgun." (A policeman summarises Spock's statement).

5:   Polson's Mess 18 August 1997

Guest Cast: Mark Benton> (Richard), Jane Wall (Nurse Pauline), Simon Slater (Colonel Vale).

The members of 2 Section are acting as waiters at a formal mess dinner being organised by Polson. Ally is attending, but is getting drunk since she has found out that her husband has been having an affair with his ex-wife. An after dinner game of melon rugby allows a few scores to be settled, but behind the scenes trouble is brewing between Hodge and Eric.

Notes: On its BBC transmission this episode was preceeded by a subtle warning due to the violent nature of the melon rugby game. The BBC announcer also made a somewhat risque joke (about "standing to attention") over the end credits, following the closing scene involving Rundle and Ally in a shower.
Eric compares the situation at the mess dinner to the time when they all waited at Laura's first catering event in "Laura's Mousse".

Choice Quotes: "Can I point out you would be safer dating a canister of plutonium?" (Diesel's advice to Hodge about moving in on Polson's sister).
"If someone who makes all their money out of oil's an oil magnate, and somebody who's made all their money out of shipping's a shipping magnate, what do you call someone who's made all their money out of fridges?" (One of Lloydy's observations on life).
"Sweet on the outside, 90% air on the inside." (Eric compares Hodge's previous girlfriends to a Crunchie bar).

6:   Diesel's Ostrich 1 September 1997

Guest Cast: Melanie Kilburn (Estate Agent Pippa), Jay Worthy (Photographer Vern).

Hodge plans to spend a quiet weekend in a cottage with Kirsty. When Eric finds out that Dawn was staying as well he is consumed by jealousy and immediately goes over. He finds that Hodge has already been interrupted by Diesel, Lloydy, Mel - and a recently liberated ostrich...

Notes: This episode includes a flashback featuring young Eric and Hodge, although their voices are dubbed by Paul Haigh and Colin Buchanan. The flashback concerns Hodge and Eric going on holiday, but Hodge spending his time getting off with a girl, an event that was previously mentioned in "Polson's Lilo".
The episode ends with Diesel being attacked by his ostrich, and his screams continue over the start of the end credits.

Choice Quotes: "There's something very special about this place."   "There is - there's an ostrich in the garage." (Hodge and Dawn discuss the cottage).
"Do you know what they call men who have to get ostriches to do their fighting for them, hey?"   "I don't think there is a technical term for it." (Eric and Dawn).
"That ostrich is now fulfilling the same role as Diesy's brother."   "That should be interesting, seeing as Diesy's brother used to serve petrol." (Lloydy and Spock).
"There are certain things in life that only come to the surface when you are trapped in a room by an ostrich." (Dawn concludes the episode).
And lots of other great lines containing the word ostrich!

7:   Jeanetta's Marijuna 8 September 1997

Guest Cast: Joan Campion (Mrs Disley), Gordon Langford Rowe (Mr Disley), Freddie Davies (Heron Man), Alina Proctor (Wedding Guest Helena), Jason Bailey (Wedding Guest Humphrey), John Bramwell (Customs Officer Kieran), Samantha Edmonds (Student Jen), Graham Bryan (Student BJ), Vernon Nurse (Photographer Eryl).

Dawn and Eric are preparing for their wedding, amidst the formal arrangements being organised by Dawn's parents. Unfortunately the wedding is at the same time as Jeanetta and Kirsty's flight leaves, so Hodge will not be able to say goodbye at the airport. Meanwhile, Spock is trying a change of image after being voted most boring teacher at school.

Notes: The very last episode packs a lot into its running time. The wedding is only really the backdrop, with the main emphasis being on Hodge's parting from Kirsty. As well there is the Spock subplot and Polson's departure from the TA.
The episode sees the return of some familiar characters. Joan Campion and Gordon Langford Rowe appear as Eric's parents for the first time since "Dawn's Ball" at the start of the second season. Rowe gets his first line in the series when Polson's tribute to Eric the soldier appears to bring him out of his near catatonic state. In neat touch which brings the series full circle, Freddie Davies reappears as the Heron Man, looking to buy a decoy heron much as he did in the very first episode (although he had appeared frequently since).
The somewhat obscure episode title refers to the leaving present that Hodge gives Kirsty - a bag of seeds from Roker Bridge to be planted in California. Customs believe it to be marijuna, holding Jeanetta and Kirsty, although this means that Hodge is able to see them before they leave after arriving late.
On his wedding day, Eric presents Hodge with a gift - a framed copy of the Roker Bridge Guardian with a headline relating to the time in 1982 when a 13 year old Hodge rescued Eric from the River Roker (although the story did not mention that it was Hodge who pushed him in the first place, after an argument over the lyrics to "Mull of Kintyre"). This newspaper featured in the title sequence to the first series, although the headline was slightly reworded (changing from "Roker River Rescue by Two Local Lads" to "Local Lads River Rescue"), to presumably better reflect the context of the story behind it. This event prompts another flashback to Hodge and Lloydy's childhood, but the actors playing the younger versions are uncredited here.
The fortunes of Mr Wang and The Roman Holiday have now improved, and he has even returned to his soul singing, performing in the restaurant. As such, this provides another link to the very first episode, which also featured a singer in Mr Wang's restaurant (although that was Laura).

Choice Quotes: "Do you want to do it in the gnomes again? It was good with all of them watching, eh? It was like Snow White's wedding night" (Mel refers to having sex with Hodge in the garden centre).
"Oh God - I love this town!" (Hodge's exclaimation that ends the series in the midst of a fight between the TA crew and students outside The Roman Holiday).

Compiled by Matthew Newton

More on Preston Front at Newton's Laws Of Television 

Copyright MJ Newton 2003. All rights reserved.
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