10 Things You Might Not Know About PRESS GANG - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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10 Things You Might Not Know About PRESS GANG

"Press Gang" is a standout of early 1990s British television. This youth-oriented drama series, revolving around the editorial team of the Junior Gazette newspaper, was notable for its smart dialogue, mature themes, and memorable characters. Though initially conceived as a children's program, "Press Gang" resonated with audiences of all ages, leaving an enduring legacy. Let's delve into ten fascinating facts about this captivating series.

  1. Origins: The series was a brainchild of the youth-oriented production company, Richmond Film & Television. A young Steven Moffat, who would later achieve acclaim as a writer for "Doctor Who" and co-creator of "Sherlock", was brought on board to develop the series. Moffat drew inspiration from his father's career in journalism, lending the show an authentic touch.
  2. Premise and Storyline: "Press Gang" followed the lives of a group of teenagers running a newspaper called the Junior Gazette. The show's central dynamic hinged on the characters of Lynda Day (Julia Sawalha), the driven editor, and Spike Thomson (Dexter Fletcher), the rebellious American reporter. The show expertly blended comedy and drama, with storylines ranging from light-hearted to deeply serious topics, often highlighting the resilience and ingenuity of its young characters.
  3. Behind-the-Scenes: Although a youth-oriented show, "Press Gang" was a sophisticated production. Moffat's scripts were often lengthy, resulting in episodes running over the standard half-hour format. Due to this, much of the dialogue had to be delivered at a rapid pace, a characteristic that became one of the show's trademarks.
  4. Cast & Crew: The show's cast was a collection of talented young actors who would go on to have notable careers. Julia Sawalha, who played Lynda, later starred in popular shows like "Absolutely Fabulous" and "Jonathan Creek". Dexter Fletcher, who played Spike, transitioned into directing, helming acclaimed films like "Rocketman". Moreover, Moffat's sharp writing on "Press Gang" served as a launching pad for his illustrious career.
  5. Unique Filming Style: "Press Gang" was one of the first children's shows in the UK to be filmed in the single-camera setup, a style typically reserved for high-budget dramas. This gave the series a cinematic look and feel, setting it apart from many of its contemporaries.
  6. Viewing Figures: Despite its critical acclaim, "Press Gang" was not a ratings juggernaut. It averaged around 2 million viewers per episode, relatively low for the time. However, it was a hit with the critics and developed a dedicated fanbase, ensuring its cult status.
  7. Awards and Recognition: "Press Gang" was recognized for its quality and won a BAFTA for Best Children's Programme (Drama) in 1991. The series also won the 1990 Writers' Guild of Great Britain Award for Moffat's exceptional scripts.
  8. Impact on Steven Moffat's Career: Moffat's work on "Press Gang" laid the groundwork for his future projects. The witty dialogue, intricate plots, and emotional depth seen in his "Doctor Who" and "Sherlock" scripts can be traced back to his work on "Press Gang."
  9. DVD Release: The complete series of "Press Gang" was released on DVD in the mid-2000s, introducing the show to a new generation of viewers and allowing older fans to revisit the Junior Gazette office.
  10. Legacy: Despite its short run and modest viewership, "Press Gang" had a profound impact on children's programming in the UK. Its smart, realistic portrayal of young people set a new standard, inspiring future shows to take their young audiences seriously.

In conclusion, "Press Gang" remains a shining example of youth-oriented programming that respects its audience's intelligence. From its impressive cast and crew to its groundbreaking narratives, "Press Gang" was far ahead of its time. Its legacy continues to resonate, inspiring new generations of viewers and creators alike. Despite its brief time on air, the power of the Junior Gazette team lives on, proof that quality always leaves its mark.

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