A salute to Press Gang

Posted by Ian
A couple of weeks ago The Guardian contemplated the prospect of a certain old TV programme being resurrected.
Such a practice is, admittedly, all too common nowadays. Barely a month goes by without ‘news’ of this or that ancient TV show being dusted down and retooled for the 21st century. But this was different. This time the show being talked about was the greatest children’s TV programme ever. This time the show was Press Gang.
Don’t remember it? You must do. Julia Sawalha before Absolutely Fabulous, Lee Ross before EastEnders, Dexter Fletcher long long before Hotel Babylon, Paul Reynolds before, er, Trevor’s World of Sport, and the sister of the bloke who played Gonch Gardner in Grange Hill. It was written by Steven Moffat, who’s nowadays busy penning the best episodes of Doctor Who as well as stunning creations such as the recent Saturday-nighter Jekyll.
Come on, you must remember. Children’s ITV, the late 80s and early 90s. The lives, loves and losses of a bunch of supremely everyday, yet also extraordinary, sixth formers schlepping their way through Norbridge High then manically moonlighting in an office with one phone ("Who’s paying for it?" "Not us"), one front door (apart from Colin’s secret exit) and a fountain of the finest dialogue this side of the watershed:
"I’m thinking of habits I’m wanting to kick" "So I’m a habit already?" "You’re something I’m wanting to kick"…
"Has anyone ever told you you’ve got a wonderful vocabulary?" "I always knew that. I just could never put it into words"…
"Graphic Department spending proposals. An HB pencil and a sunbed?" "Well, I can explain the pencil"…
"Tell me, how do you justify being off work at her funeral on no less than eight separate occasions?" "She is my aunt!" "Kenny – this woman has died eight times!" "How do you think I feel?"…
"Who hates me enough to want to get me battered senseless by Malcolm the shaving gorilla?" "I’ll get the list"…
"Why do I do so many major scenes in my life dressed in my pyjamas?"…
"Thanks." "For what?" "I don’t know. Everything." "I’m not responsible for everything. I just make it look that way."
Lynda (Sawalha) was the editor, Kenny (Ross) her assistant and best friend, Spike (Fletcher) her obsession and everybody else’s punchline, Colin (Reynolds) the money man, book-cooker and oil sheik-impersonator and Sarah (Kelda Holmes) the boring lead writer; plus there was Frazz the stooge, Tiddler the small one, Sam the mouth, Julie the replacement, Mr Sullivan the teacher and Mr Kerr the man upstairs.
Romance, death, pigeons, pizza, Czars, ping-pong balls, hiccups, plant pots, lampposts that light up by magic, crossed lines, bad cardigans, giant rabbit costumes, swear boxes, sieges, drugs, shootings, explosions, nightmares, comings, goings and lots and lots of endings: never before, or since, have the funniest and the saddest storylines in the world come together to sing in such perfect harmony.
It was the only programme to make staying behind after school look thunderously exciting. It boasted a cast of young actors astonishingly good at a) acting and b) looking young. It also made working as a journalist seem the most fantastic, exciting and romantic career in the world, and hence, I guess, planted an interest that has, via a very convoluted route, led me to this very job.
A where-are-they-now reunion episode would be something to relish and rejoice, without any hesitation whatsoever.
Please, bring it back now.
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13 Responses to A salute to Press Gang

  1. Gareth says:

    Come on guys, I\’m bored.
    Other Editors\’ blogs generate furious input on their specific topics but the dearth of feedback on Homepage cancome as no surprise. The last few entries on the Homepage Blog have been jaw-cracking yawners of the lowest order.
    Dom\’s last was a hark-back to scouting which was interesting enough but hardly debate material (though there\’s mileage in a discussion on how he managed to write 1800 words on Scouting without once mentioning Bob-a-Job).
    Laura\’s last was as honest as ever, on gaps in the knowledge & experience of the homepage team and invited us to \’Fill in the planks\’…….oops…..\’blanks\’. I was surprised no-one took her up on this, Laura on taxonomy, Ian on climatology & meteorology……..but the silence was deafening.
    Unsurprisingly after recent controversy, Ian has navigated into safe(r) waters with a piece celebrating an old Ceebeebees favourite of his……..
    ………Nope, I got nothin.
    There\’s been a hum-dinger of a thread on the music page re: American -v- British bands…… but unfortunately none of the bands mentioned in either article registered with me.
    Typically, from Ellen\’s riposte: \’A few truly imaginative bands have made it through into massive superstardom in recent years, including Bloc Party and the Futureheads\’  Errrm……who? Superstars? In what faraway galaxy? 
    So I demurred…..not qualified to comment ya see. But at least it exercised those who deem that kinda thing relevent and attracted nearly 40 pages of comments.
    So come on you guys, cast caution to the winds, come out of the safety zone, give your erstwhile correspondents something to get their teeth into. The prodigious appetite of that abominable machine in the bowels of MSN Towers is hungry and it must be fuelled. \’Feedback…..more feedback……FEEEEEED MEEEEE!  

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