Press Gang

Series One


A Richmond Films & Television Production in assocation with Central Independent Television. Episodes are approximately 25 minutes in duration.

Written by Steven Moffat
Series based on an idea by Bill Moffat
Produced by Sandra C. Hastie
Executive Producer for Central Television Lewis Rudd
Theme and incidental music by Peter Davis, John Mealing, John G. Perry
Casting Director Liz England
Director of Photography James Devis BSC
Designer Chris Edwards

REGULAR CAST: Lynda Day Julia Sawalha, James "Spike" Thomson II Dexter Fletcher, Kenny Philips Lee Ross, Sarah Jackson Kelda Holmes, Colin Mathews Paul Reynolds [not 11], Frazer "Frazz" Davis Mmoloki Chystie, Julie Craig Lucy Benjamin, Danny McColl Charlie Creed-Miles. Toni "Tiddler" Tildesley Joanna Dukes [3-6,8,10-12].

RECURRING CHARACTERS: Matt Kerr Clive Wood [1-4,6,9,11,12], Mr (Bill) Sullivan Nick Stringer [1,3,4,9,11,12], Chrissie Stuart Angela Bruce [1-3,6,7,11], Miss Hessope Miranda Forbes [3,6,9(uncredited),11], Mr (Timothy) Winters David Collings [3,9,11], Billy Homer Andy Crowe [6-8,10,12], Miss Trench Suzanne Church [9,11,12], Lynda's Mother Penelope Nice [10,12].


1.01   Page One 16 January 1989


Directed by Colin Nutley (uncredited)
Matt Kerr, a famous fleet street editor has become the new editor of the Norbridge Gazette and has created the Junior Gazette. It's now five days to go before the deadline for the first edition of the new paper and the team have no lead story.
GUEST CAST: Mr Vader Roger Sloman, Jack Slade Jim Dunk, Godfrey Hunter Simon Embleton.

END CREDIT VOICEOVER: Spike and Lynda.

NOTES: The series opens with a pre-titles sequence (as would all subsequent seasons). The working title of "Press Gang" was "The Norbridge Files", and this episode was originally called Coming Soon The Junior Gazette. Naturally enough for a first episode, Page One concentrates on establishing the characters and style of the series (particularly here with the Mr Vader subplot) with only a perfunctory plot, although one which would be concluded in the following episode. The director of the episode, Colin Nutley, asked for his name to be removed from the credits of this and the following episode, as he was unhappy with the final edited versions. Sandra Hastie was unable to have the titles reshot as they had already been done on film, so she was forced to generate new captions on videotape which were then superimposed over the action, on film. This is the reason why the first two episodes carry yellow title captions.

TRIVIA: Spike has been in Norbridge for four years, during which time he has been suspended four times. Prior to the creation of the Junior Gazette Lynda was editor of the school magazine (something followed up in Friendly Fire during the fifth series). Frazz's star sign is Scorpio. Colin is the last of the regular characters to be introduced - he is recruited to the Junior Gazette after being caught selling blank school report cards.

CHOICE QUOTES: "If you'll go out with me some night this week, I'll make a definite commitment to kill the first dragon I meet." (Spike to Lynda, a quote that would inspire an episode title during the second season).
      "Could you do something about the sign outside? I don't think 'Trespassers Will Be Exterminated' is quite the image we're trying to project here." (Lynda).
      "I have to watch all the American tv cop shows to keep up on my accent. Which is great until halfway through a conversation with somebody when I usually wind up frisking them. (Spike).


1.02   Photo Finish 23 January 1989


Directed by Colin Nutley (uncredited)
Following Spike's hunch that a local disco is to close and be turned into a supermarket, Lynda sense that the Junior Gazette may have its lead story. However, the paper publishes without gaining all of the facts, bringing its future into doubt after just one issue.
GUEST CAST: Czar Peter Childs,Andy Gary Bridges, Councillor Amanda Swanson Sandra Voe, Supermarket Manager Mike Hayward.

END CREDIT VOICEOVER: Kenny, Spike and Lynda.

NOTES: As with Page One, Colin Nutley is uncredited as director and the episode title is in yellow. The episode concludes the story from the first episode, although it was omitted from a season of repeats in late 1989, despite the fact that Page One was shown. Julia Sawalha clearly had a cold during the filming of this episode, so much so that it was written into the script. Peter Childs appears as a Czar, the eccentric cafe owner whose premises would be a meeting place during the first two seasons. The character reappears in Something Terrible, but played by a different actor.

TRIVIA: Lynda is going out with James Armstrong, a seemingly perfect maths student, whose name seems to crop up everywhere, tormenting Spike. Although the character is never seen, his relationship with Lynda would last until the fifth episode. The Junior Gazette is published on Tuesdays (the first issue is due three days after the events of the episode, which takes place on a Saturday).

CHOICE QUOTES: Lynda: "Kenny - I want your opinion on something".  Kenny: "Yes".   Lynda: "What do you mean - yes?"   Kenny: "That's usually the opinion you want".
      Lynda: "I'm thinking of habits I'm wanting to kick."  Spike: "So I'm a habit already?"  Lynda: You're something I'm wanting to kick.
      "See where it says ruler? That's who it belongs to!" (Lynda).


1.03   One Easy Lesson 30 January 1989


Directed by Bob Spiers
Sarah's cousin is a new teacher at Norbridge High who is having difficulties in controlling his classes and is in danger of losing his job. Meanwhile, what is Colin going to do with one hundred thousand defective half ping-pong balls?
GUEST CAST: Simon Knowles Adrian Edmondson, New Recruit Michell Akers, Graham Ian Congdon, Roy Daniel Kipling, Boy in Class Simon Davison, Girl Jenny Simpson, Boy Kemlesh Gupta.

END CREDIT VOICEOVER: Lynda and Mr Sullivan.

NOTES: This episode introduces Tiddler (her full name, Toni Tildesley, is used for the only time in the entire series during her first scene) and a name for Colin's organisation, CM Enterprises. Being the first episode to feature Norbridge Highschool itself, it introduces the headmaster Mr Winters (who doesn't actually speak during this episode) and Miss Hessope, the school secretary. There actually appears to be some confusion of Miss Hessope's name during the episode; in one scene Danny appears to call her Miss Chisholm and in another Sarah calls her Miss Jessup. Adrian Edmondson, best known for his comedy work, becomes "Press Gang"'s first well known guest star, giving a moving performance as the troubled English teacher. Coincidentally, "Grange Hill" once featured a plot about a teacher who couldn't control his pupils also called Mr Knowles.

CHOICE QUOTES: "There are times Lynda when I think you should be fitted with an off switch." (Mr Sullivan).
      "Do you ping? Pinging is in!" (Colin).
      "You're editor. The only ideas you don't get the credit for are the good ones." (Matt Kerr to Lynda).


1.04   Deadline. 6 February 1989


Directed by Bob Spiers
A printing dispute means that the Junior Gazette staff have precisely three hours to produce the issue for the following week. This results in Colin attempting to get a celebrity to open a shop the day before it opens, both Sarah and Mr Sullivan having their respective dates interrupted.
GUEST CAST: Tommy Anderson Jim Sweeney, Gary Morris Tristan Maguire, Colin's Aunt Helena McCarthy, Mr Sullivan's date Alison Sterling.

END CREDIT VOICE OVER: Just Sarah (making telephone calls).

NOTES: The episode had the working title V.I.P.. The title in the finished episode is brought up one letter at a time, in time with someone using a typewriter. It is also followed by a full stop.

TRIVIA: In Gary Morris's little black book Sarah scored a four. Julie was a nine. The party that Sarah and Gary go to was at the home of Lucy Arthur, a blond in the fourth year at Norbridge High. Gary Morris was born in Basingstoke. In a nice touch, we never actually find out why the celebrity Tommy Anderson is so famous.

CHOICE QUOTES: Kenny: "Do you really want to hear about a mad old lady who keeps 32 cats?"  Lynda: "That's not so mad."  Kenny: "Oh yeah? She says she's saving them up for a coat."  Lynda: "Sick."  Kenny: "She's got names for them too - Sleeve, Pocket, Collar..."
      "We'll have sewage all over the front page!" (Lynda finds her lead story).


1.05   A Night In 6 February 1989


Directed by Lorne Magory
It's Saturday night, and Kenny, Spike and Tiddler have been volunteered into spending the evening on late duty. Spike doesn't want to be there and Lynda has been dumped by her boyfriend so tensions are running high - until Colin arrives at the newsroom dressed as a pink rabbit...
NO GUEST CAST.

END CREDIT VOICEOVER: Sarah and Julie.

NOTES: This is a heavily character based episode, featuring only the newsroom set and regular cast. As such it was somewhat cheaper than normal episodes, allowing for more of the budget to be used later. In a reference to One Easy Lesson Tiddler is wearing earrings made from pings during the episode.

TRIVIA: Spike's parents are separated (his mother left when he "was 4. And 5") and he learnt to cook to survive his father's meals which consisted mainly of baked beans.

CHOICE QUOTES: "I have no reason whatsoever to wish to kick Hell out of that pillow while pretending that it's my boyfriend. Even if it does look a bit like him - has bout as much backbone..." (Lynda).
      "Let me just give you a tip. Never try thumbing a lift dressed as a giant pink rabbit - I almost caused a major traffic disaster on the Sherrington road." (Colin).


1.06   Interface 20 February 1989


Directed by Bob Spiers
When Colin wins a computer for the newsroom in a creative writing competition things seem a little too easy. Then the Junior Gazette starts to receive anonymous articles via the computer modem. It takes Colin to exploit the situation, but Lynda decides to dig a little deeper...
GUEST CAST: Douglas Homer Duncan Preston, Punk Jon Raymond, Old Lady Margot Boht, Large Boy Jonathan Chater (credited but does not appear).

END CREDIT VOICEOVER: Kenny and Lynda.

NOTES: This episode serves to introduce Andy Crowe as the tetraplegic Billy Homer but also continues developing the Spike and Lynda relationship from the previous episode with their joint investigation into the mystery writer. There is even the first indication that Lynda is softening her attitude towards Spike - she admits that he is cute. The episode title and director credit are in green to reflect the computer theme of the episode, which was ahead of its time in dealing with the Internet (although not by name). Jonathan Chater's appearance was cut from the transmitted version of the episode for time reasons.

TRIVIA: Spike mentions that he was born in New York; on his bedroom wall is a banner for a New York highschool.

CHOICE QUOTES: Lynda: "You play Trivial Pursuit?"  Spike: "Usually on my own. It's easier to cheat."
      "From the neck up I'm a crazy running, jumping kid. I just can't get the rest of me to agree." (Billy).
      Spike: "So why talk to me?"  Lynda: "I like to know I'm the smartest one in the conversation."


1.07   How To Make A Killing 27 February 1989


Directed by Lorne Magory
Kenny sets out to find out why a girl draws the outline of a body on the ground outside Highpoint flats on the 15th day of each month and finds himself interested in her for reasons other than the story.
GUEST CAST: Jenny Eliot Sadie Frost, Waitress (Maria) Maria McErlane.

END CREDIT VOICEOVER: Spike and Frazz.

NOTES: This is the first episode of a two part story; it initially gives no indication that the story will be continued in another episode, not being titled as Part One. This was the last episode of the first season to be filmed; due to it under-running Steven Moffat wrote a scene establishing that Lynda and Kenny were old friends, something which was not originally planned. This idea was based on Julia Sawalha and Lee Ross having been friends since childhood.

TRIVIA: Billy's condition is the result of him being knocked off his bike by a bus. Kenny and Lynda have been friends for 12 years, since they were both five years old.

CHOICE QUOTES: "All the best stories start dull. This is just too interesting to be interesting." (Lynda).
      Spike: "You don't happen to be jealous of a girl I've never even met, do you?"  Lynda: "Of course I'm jealous, Spike. I wish I was the girl you've never even met."
      "For twelve years I've been walking behind her picking shrapnel out of people." (Kenny on his relationship with Lynda).


1.08   How To Make A Killing Part Two 6 March 1989


Directed by Lorne Magory
Kenny returns from his absence having solved the mystery over the death of Jenny Eliot's brother, prompting the Junior Gazette's first undercover campaign.
GUEST CAST: Jenny Eliot Sadie Frost, Shopkeeper (Peter) Frank Ellis.

END CREDIT VOICEOVER: Frazz and Colin.

NOTES: The second episode of the story sees "Press Gang"'s first attempt at dealing with an issue affecting young people, something which the series would repeat again in the future, particularly with the two part story during series two, Something Terrible. Although Kenny and Jenny are still going out at the end of the story she does not appear again, but Jenny would be frequently mentioned. The episode title appears on a black caption slide immediately after the title sequence instead of appearing during the live action shortly into the episode as with every other episode.

TRIVIA: From the operation map seen during the episode we learn that the Junior Gazette newsroom is in St John's Road.

CONTINUITY: The joke about Frazz not knowing the twelve star signs, from Page One and Photo Finish, is picked up on again in this episode. Frazz mentions that he has been doing the astrology column for six months, so that is presumably how long after Page One this episode is set.

CHOICE QUOTES: Spike: "I'm temporary acting assistant editor - is that a come on or not?"  Lynda: "Spike, you weren't exactly my first choice. I asked everyone I liked first."  Spike: "That's encouraging. Out of everyone you don't like at least I'm your favourite."
      Lynda: "Spike, do you know what will happen if you keep cracking jokes?"  Spike: "What?"  Lynda: "You'll say something funny."


1.09   Both Sides Of The Paper 13 March 1989


Directed by Bob Spiers
Lynda must cope with the presence of a radio DJ in the newsroom as well as the headmaster's demands that the Junior Gazette closes down to allow its staff to concentrate on revision for their forthcoming exams.
GUEST CAST: The Phone Ranger (Tony Nolan) Patrick Barlow, Mr Harvey Sam Howard.

END CREDIT VOICEOVER: Colin and Sarah.

CONTINUITY: The old lady who was collecting cats to be made into a coat as mentioned in Deadline is referred to again; Kenny confirms that she is now wearing the coat.

CHOICE QUOTES: "I used to wonder why they called you laughing Lynda. Then it struck me - they don't" (Spike).
      Kenny: "Lynda, do you remember asking me to tell you if you were ever being insensitive or too demanding?"  Lynda: "No."  Kenny: "Well that's because you haven't, but you would have if you were less insensitive and demanding."


1.10   Money, Love and Birdseed 20 March 1989


Directed by Lorne Magory
Sarah and Billy investigate the case of Bobby Tweed, who has been accussed of stealing money during a session of the school judo club. Meanwhile, the news room has been invaded by birds and Tiddler is attempting some matchmaking...
GUEST CAST: Mr Prescott Ian Brimble, Bobby Tweed Warren Bryan, Keith Evans Horace Oliver, Ian Brown Wayne Howard, Gerry Hardie Paul Varney.

END CREDIT VOICEOVER: Lynda and Julie.

NOTES: This excellent episode combines the three totally unrelated subplots given in the title. It features the first use of dreams masquerading as reality, a plot device that would be used again in later episodes. Penelope Nice appears for the first time as Lynda's mother.

TRIVIA: Mr Winters lives in Carver Street. The train fare from Norbridge to Sherrington is 1.50.

CONTINUITY: Cuttings from the Junior Gazette of Billy's television review column can be seen on his bedroom wall (Interface established that this was what he wrote for the paper).

CHOICE QUOTES: Lynda: "Has anyone ever told you you've got a wonderful vocabulary?"  Spike: "I always knew that. I just could never put it into words."
      "People say I'm too reasonable to have opinions, but I don't know about that." (Kenny).
      Colin: "Lynda, we've got to do something about these birds. They're picking on me!"  Spike: "I've never heard it called that before."


1.11   Monday - Tuesday 3 April 1989


Directed by Bob Spiers
During a sombre meeting, the team look back on the events of the previous day when David Jefford, a newcomer to the paper, attempted to blackmail his way on to the writing team.
GUEST CAST: David Jefford Alex Crockett, Ethel Stuttgart Susie Lee Hayward.

NOTES: This is this first episode not to use a conversation during the end titles; the credits are initially silent, displayed displayed against a black background instead of stills as usual, until a sombre piece of music fades in.

CONTINUITY: Towards the end of the episode we see clearly see pages from previous editions of the Junior Gazette mounted on the newsroom walls (they can be glimpsed in other episodes). These include the front page of the first edition (Photo Finish) and Sarah's "Teature Feature" on Mr Knowles (One Easy Lesson).

CHOICE QUOTES: "Is this a discussion or a chance to agree with you, Lynda? Or do you not recognise the distinction?" (Mr Sullivan).
      Colin: "He put a loaded shotgun in his mouth! Was it loaded?"  Lynda: "Not after he pulled the trigger."  Colin: "He's dead?"  Spike: "Well he sure didn't miss from that range."


1.12   Shouldn't I Be Taller? 10 April 1989


Directed by Bob Spiers
Lynda has resigned as editor of the Junior Gazette and there is an election to decide her replacement. Kenny is persuaded to stand but his opponent is one Colin Mathews who has his own distinctive ideas for the future of the paper...
GUEST CAST: Sophie Jenkins Johanna Borman, Laura Wilmot Claire Hearnden.

END CREDIT VOICEOVER: Spike and Lynda.

NOTES: This episode is of continues from Monday - Tuesday and opens with a series of clips from this episode to explain the situation. It introduces Sophie Jenkins and Laura Wilmott, two mischievous young schoolgirls who would become semi-regulars in the second season (although Sophie would be recast). Their surnames are given in Breakfast at Czar's).

TRIVIA: Billy has a dog called Paralysis.

CHOICE QUOTES: Kenny: "I don't want to be editor!"  Tiddler: "Kenny, let me tell you what I've got out here. I've got a nomination form for the editor election. I've got eight of my best friends waiting to see you when you come out. nd I've got your trousers. Let's talk."
      "I love the dictionary, Kenny. It's the only book with the words in the right order."
      Sarah: "Colin, I don't like the way the new look paper is shaping up. I don't like the prize winning bingo, I don't like the twelve sentence limit on story length and I especially don't like that stupid article on how Nostradamus believed he'd wander the Earth as a ghost after his death."  Colin: "What's wrong with that? A lot of newspaper's ran that story."  Sarah: "But we're the only one with the interview."
      "Lynda, you've got the dress sense of a washing line." (Spike).



This guide is copyright Matthew Newton and may not be reproduced without permission.

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