Whatever Happened To The Cast Of PRESS GANG - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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Whatever Happened To The Cast Of PRESS GANG

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From the pen of Steven Moffat, Press Gang followed the exploits of The Junior Gazette crew, a local newspaper produced by pupils from a comprehensive school. Part of Children's ITV, the show interspersed comedic elements with the dramatic, and addressed interpersonal relationships (like a young persons version of Moonlighting). Press Gang also didn't shy away from tackling serious issues such as solvent abuse, firearms control and child abuse.

Throughout its run from 1989 to 1993, Press Gang gained a crossover following of children and adults alike, thanks both to Moffat's witty scripts and the impressive cast. They all went their own way at the end of season 5 after 43 episodes, but what did team behind The Junior Gazette get up to next? And where are they all now? Join us as we find out whatever happened to the cast of Press Gang...

Julia Sawalha (Lynda Day)
As the editor of The Junior Gazette, Julia Sawalha's Lynda Day was strong and opinionated, and feared by many of her team. Moffat has said that the character was partly based on the show's "ball-breaking" producer, Sandra C. Hastie.

Julia Sawalha has been back in the news recently. Having voiced Ginger in DreamWorks/Aardman's Chicken Run 20 years ago, she's been passed over for the upcoming sequel for, supposedly, sounding too old! What nonsense, eh?

Sawalha has enjoyed a long and varied career, including juggling three prominent TV roles at the same time as starring in Press Gang. From 1991, she appeared in the ITV family comedy Second Thoughts, subsequently continuing with her character, Hannah, in the British Comedy Award-winning Faith in the Future. Then, from 1992 Sawalha played strait-laced daughter Saffron Monsoon in the BBC sitcom Absolutely Fabulous alongside Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley. A role she last played in 2016 for the Absolutely Fabulous movie.

Sawalha has also appeared in the 1995 BBC adaptation of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice as Lydia Bennet, with Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth. Re-teamed with Steven Moffat for the 1999 Charity spoof Doctor Who: The Curse of Fatal Death, playing companion Emma. Other notable roles include playing Carla Borrego on Jonathan Creek, and starring as Dorcas Lane in the TV series Lark Rise to Candleford.

Her last on screen role came in 2016 at the same time as the Absolutely Fabulous movie, playing Penny Henderson in an episode of Midsomer Murders. More recently, in January 2020, Julia Sawalha lent her voice to the character of Jill Sneeky for an episode of the Nickelodeon series It's Pony. Whether the makers behind the Chicken Run sequel finally come to their senses and bring her back as the voice of Ginger remains to be seen.

Dexter Fletcher (Spike Thomson)
British born Dexter Fletcher was saddled with an  American accent for his 5 years as Spike. Forced to work on The Junior Gazetter (that or be excluded from school), he is immediately attracted to Lynda and he establishes himself as an important member of the reporting team having been responsible for getting their first lead story.

After Press Gang, Dexter Fletcher appeared in Guy Ritchie's Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and the crime comedy Smoking Guns, as well as in television shows such as the comedy-drama Hotel Babylon, the HBO series Band of Brothers.

Nowadays you are more likely to find Fletcher behind the camera. He made his directorial debut in 2011 with Wild Bill, and also directed 2013s Sunshine on Leith and 2015s Eddie the Eagle. Fletcher replaced Bryan Singer as director of Bohemian Rhapsody, the award winning Queen biopic, and in 2019 he directed Rocketman, a film based on the life of Elton John.

Currently Dexter Fletcher is in pre-production for Sherlock Holmes 3, the third film in the Robert Downey Jr cinematic Holmes series.

Paul Reynolds (Colin Mathews)
As Thatcherite Colin, Paul Reynolds' character was in charge of the paper's finances and advertising, and was often to be seen in over the top shirts, accompanying his OTT get-rich-quick schemes! From marketing defective half-ping-pong balls (as 'pings'), to exam revision kits and soda that leaves facial stains, Colin didn't miss a trick.

Whilst still starring in Press Gang, Reynolds played Christopher Craig, the co-lead role opposite Christopher Eccleston's Derek Bentley in 1991s Let Him Have It. Later he was seen as the mischievous Matt in Croupier alongside Clive Owen.

On the small screen, Reynolds played Kelvin Rayne in the first series of Pauline Quirk's sit-com, Maisie Rayne. He also featured in Trevor's World of Sport as Sammy Dobbs, the unscrupulous sports agent, as well as appearances as Squeak in 1995 and 1998 in Absolutely Fabulous alongside Julia Sawalha, who h co-starred opposite once again with a cameo appearance in Lark Rise to Candleford.

After spending the best part of a decade playing Fizza in the BBC World Service radio drama Westway, Reynolds took a break from acting in 2005 to set up his own production company called Remould Media which specialised in filming concerts as well as developing TV and film scripts and ideas.

Although now Reynolds primarily conducts his own production work, he's still found time for some smaller roles; a part as a news reporter in Dexter Fletcher Eddie The Eagle film, an obligatory guest star role in Midsummer Murders, a small cameo in Humans, and was last seen on-screen as Tim in the 2019 TV series Pure.

Mmoloki Chrystie (Frazz Davis)
As Frazer "Frazz" Davis, Mmoloki Chrystie's character was, like Dexter Fletcher's Spike, initially forced into working on The Junior Gazette and was tasked with writing the horoscopes, among other things.

Although most of the Press Gang cast had notable roles prior to this series, Chrystie may well have been the best none among its core audience as he had played Kevin Baylon in another children's favourite, Grange Hill. From 1984–1987. Kevin was best friend of 'Zammo' McGuire (Lee MacDonald) and featured heavily in the infamous Zammo "Just Say No" drugs storyline and campaign.

After Press Gang ended in 1993, Chrystie had a small cameo in the Channel 4 sit-com Sean's Show and then left acting, turning his attention to other elements of the business. He worked as an assistant director on a small budget 1999 film called Rage, and later set up his own production company, directing the equally budgeted film Underbelly in 2000.

In 2003, Chrystie was invited to re-unite with his former Grange Hill cast for the Channel 4 programme Bring Back Grange Hill for a performance of Just Say No. Chrystie declined the offer, but, as part of his production company, submitted his own produced short film to the programme about the campaign's trip to America to meet Nancy Reagan.

Kelda Holmes (Sarah Jackson)
As the paper's lead writer, Kelda Holmes' Sarah Jackson left part way through series five to attend university - mirroring the reason for Holmes' departure. Holmes had previously played Hannah in the BBC Radio 4 series of Second Thoughts, the role which, when adapted for TV, was played by Press Gang alum Julia Sawalha.

Taking a break from acting, Holmes returned in 1996 with guest role on both Casualty and The Bill. Primarily concentrating on stage work after that, including though her own company Unhinged Thatre, Holmes was last seen in a small role during the 2018 John C. Reilly/Joaquin Phoenix film The Sisters Brothers.

Lee Ross (Kenny Phillips)
The assistant editor of The Junior Gazette, Lee Ross' character Kenny Phillips was eventually written out in a storyline seeing him move to Australia. In actuality it was because Ross had a blossoming movie career and could not commit to more than six of the twelve episodes in both series three and four.

Appearing in the 1991 Chesney Hawkes vehicle Buddy's Song, Ross then played Tommy in the 1992 film The Guilty, following this with parts in Between the Lines, Casualty, Westbeach, The Bill and The Upper Hand. Ross also played Paul, the boyfriend of Roxanne in the critically acclaimed 1996 Mike Leigh film Secrets & Lies, appearing in just white briefs in his opening scene. He could be heard as the voice for Hawkbit in all three television series of the 1999 Watership Down series.

Ross has never been short of work, and a very varied resume he has too! Appearing on The Catherine Tate Show in many sketches, he has also had guested on Waking the Dead, Hustle, Jericho, M.I.T.: Murder Investigation Team, Life on Mars and a recurring role in Mutual Friends. Re-united with his Press Gang writer, Ross guest starred as Boatswain in the Doctor Who episode The Curse of the Black Spot.

Lee Ross is probably now most famous for portraying violent Owen Turner in 2006 and 2009 in the soap opera EastEnders. More recently, in 2018, he starred as retired drag queen Hugo Battersby/Loco Chanelle in the hit West End musical Everybody’s Talking About Jamie.

Joanna Dukes (Tiddler)
As the junior member of the team Toni "Tiddler" Tildesley, Joanna Dukes character was responsible for the junior section, Junior Junior Gazette. Which, I know, is a whole lot of juniors!

Outside of Press Gang, Dukes most notable role came in 1985 as Maria in the classic TV series The Box of Delights, following this with a variety of toher children's TV dramas, but after appearing in 30 episodes of Press Gang she quit acting when the show ended in 1993.

Lucy Benjamin (Julie Craig)
As the head of the graphics team in the first series of Press Gang, Steven Moffat planed to expand Lucy Benjamin's role as Julie Craig for the second series, but she'd already committed herself to parts in the sitcom Close to Home and Jupiter Moon. Her character was replaced, eventually returning in the opening episode of series four.

Lucy Benjamin is, of course, now best known for playing Lisa Fowler EastEnders. A role she first portrayed from 1998–2003, before returning for two brief stints in 2010 and 2017, and returning in 2019 as a regular again until 2020. A total of 531 episodes to date! You might not know, though, that her first acting role was as a child actress in Doctor Who in 1983, playing a younger version of the character Nyssa in Mawdryn Undead.

Sam Black (Gabrielle Anwar)
When Lucy Benjamim became unavailable for series two and three, Steven Moffat created the character of Sam Black, played by Gabrielle Anwar, to replace Benjamin's character of Julie as the head of the graphics team.

After leaving Press Gang, Anwar moved to American and landed a 1992 guest appearance on Beverly Hills, 90210 as competitive ice skater Tricia Kinney, who has a brief romance with Brandon Walsh. The same year saw one of her most memorable on-screen moments when she danced the tango with Al Pacino in the 1992 film Scent of a Woman.

Constantly in work since then, Anwar's had roles in the films Body Snatchers, For Love or Money, The Three Musketeers, Things to do in Denver When You're Dead, and The Guilty. On the small screen she played Princess Margaret, sister of King Henry VIII, on Showtime's The Tudors. After that, she starred as Fiona Glenanne in the long-running television series Burn Notice from 2007 to 2013.

More recently, in 2018 Gabrielle Anwar played the role of Victoria Belfrey / Lady Tremaine / Lady Rapunzel Tremaine in the seventh season of Once Upon a Time, and was last seen on-screen in the 2019 film The Last Summer.

So that's what happened to the cast of Press Gang. Now, how about a reunion Mr. Moffat?

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