The show that launched Steven Moffat's TV writing career didn't start from a promising premise (kids writing a school magazine-- woo), but quickly turned into a sharply-written, character-driven comedy drama that tackled tough issues without ever sounding preachy. (Well, except in one case-- the spontaneous round of applause for tokeny-feeling Billy Homer in one episode, played by wheelchair-bound Andy Crowe, was pretty excruciating).
Although originally aired in a Children's ITV slot, it covered topics such as fatal accidents, child abuse, suicide, and drug abuse. But when it was funny, it was as funny as any top-rating comedy show, and there was no shortage of sexual innuendo to keep the grown-ups amused either. The on-off relationship of Spike and Lynda had strong overtones of David Addison and Maddie Hayes from Moonlighting, and the series finale was as dramatic as any, leaving the door open for a later feature film that, sadly, never materialised.
The complete series is well worth a watch on DVD, although very disappointingly, only the second season benefits from the insightful and amusing episode commentaries from Steven Moffat and Julia Sawalha, despite their willingness to contribute to the other season's releases as well.
One of the best childrens shows of the 80's, others do not compare now to the witt, intelligence and comedic value this show brought to tea time viewing. The main focus being on the relationship of the American trouble maker Spike Thompson(Dexter Fletcher) and the Junior Gazzette's ambitiously arrogant boss Lynda Day(Julia Sawalha). The will they won't they factor was in every episode as they both try to out do eachother, while knowing they belong together, and the constant banter between them was priceless. Unlike other shows the other character's did not fade into the background either, and sometimes were the main focus of the storyline.Press Gang never shied away from gritty plotlines in particular the character of Colin Matthews(Paul Reynolds) had to show a different side to his "I'll do anything if there's money in it" hillarious antics, when he was plunged into the middle of a child abuse storyline, a double episode which won the show one of many awards, drugs and suicide were also featured as well as a hostage drama that was cut from repeats by kids channel Nickelodeon.
They also introduced the first paraplegic character and actor in "Interface" a story where Lynda received annonymous reviews via a computer they conveniently won and had to track down the incredible writer.
The most annoying of the bunch had to be Sarah (Kelda Holmes) although she was meant to be the brains of the bunch, she tended to grate on me.
Kenny (Lee Ross) on the other hand was the only one who knew how to handle Lynda, and he had some great stories about their childhood, like Lynda biting a teacher because he disqualified her in the egg and spoon race in infants school.
As Sam in season two Gabrielle Anwar launched her career to become a hollywood actress, leaving season three open to the return of Julie (Lucy Benjamin) who should never have left, but her return gave a nice reunion for Spike and Lynda.
Occasional crazy plotlines of dream sequences and futuristic episodes were a light relief, but I can honestly say there isn't a single episode I didn't like for one reason or another, there was always a hidden message and it never failed to make you think.
Great scripts, great actors, great programme.
I have just been given this on dvd and I can still remember watching this on itv in England and on the ABC here in Australia too. I absolutly loved this show so much. I wanted to be Lynda so badly. She was smart, funny and extremely intelligent something that you didnt get very often on 80's television!
Who can forget classic episodes such as Lynda and Spike having to hold hands because they have been hypnotised to do it. The episode where Spike's dad has died and he is constantly ringing his answering machine to complain about how his dad treated him but really all he wanted to say was that he was going to miss him.
I hated the way the serie ended, I know it was partly so they had the oppertunity to bring it back if they wanted to but everybody I know wanted Lynda and Spike to live happily ever after.
I would love to know what happened to the rest of the cast because it was a fantastic show and it should be brought back now!
With Dexter Fletcher (playing Spike Thompson) giving us the worst american accent untill hugh Laurie came along this year in 2005 in 'House', the show was something of a groaner straight away. However it was a show that I liked before the end of the first episode. Pretty soon we were tuning in every week to see the "will they, wont they" antics of Linda Day (Julia Sawhala) and Spike. However a personal fave of mine was Colin Mathews (paul reynolds), who was always after earning another fast buck. and if anyone could actually make a proffit by being the manager of a teenage chess player it was him. (just one of his many ideas)
Not afraid to tackle sensitive issues, Press Gang went on to run for four seasons. Though at the end it had to finish, as they were running out of excuses, as to why these people were still running a school newspaper :)
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