This list of frequently-asked questions (FAQ) is intended as a source of information for Press Gang fans joining the Press Gang Mailing List (PGML). The aim of this guide is to let you know a bit about the list, tell you some of the things you are probably wanting to know (but afraid to ask) and bring you up to speed a little on what topics we have covered so far.
This FAQ is divided into three basic parts:
Information about the show (this page)
Information about the list
Information about the fans
Note: to avoid giving anything away about the plot to those who have not seen everything, a *SPOILER* sign will be written next to any areas which might ruin surprises - but you'll have to scroll down the page to avoid jumping into the middle of an answer. If you don't want to know the answer to these questions, click on the "Skip!" sign next to the question, and your browser should take you safely away from that area.
What is Press Gang?
Press Gang is a television series produced by Richmond Films and Television and shown (in it's first run) on ITV in the United Kingdom between 1989 and 1993. In these first runs, it was shown at around 4:45pm as part of ITV's children's programming. The story follows the goings on in the "Junior Gazette", a youth newspaper run by high school students in the fictional city of Norbridge.
There were five series of Press Gang made, totalling 43 episodes of around 24 minutes length:
Series 1: 12 episodes; Originally broadcast from January16th to April 10th, 1989.
Series 2: 13 episodes; Originally broadcast from January18th to April 12th, 1990.
Series 3: 6 episodes; Originally broadcast from May 7th to June11th, 1991.
Series 4: 6 episodes; Originally broadcast from January 7th to February 11th, 1992
Series 5: 6 episodes; Originally broadcast from April 16th to May 21st, 1990.
Information about the episodes in each series is available on the pressgang.org site by clicking on the series numbers above.
Who were the writers?
All 43 episodes of Press Gang were written by one person: Steven Moffat, a former teacher who has since gone on to write the series "Chalk". The original idea for the series came from Bill Moffat (Steven's dad), who was a school headmaster.
Is it available on video?
There was a video cassette available once upon a time- and these are now much sought-after properties, as they are no longer available for purchase. The video contained the episodes
Are there novelisations?
There are four novelisations available, each containing three episodes of the television series. All of the stories included are from series one and two. The novelisations were written by Bill Moffat, the man who came up with the original Press Gang concept, and the father of the scriptwriter.
Who was in it?
You can find details about the principal actors here, and a complete cast list in the credits or in Adrian Petford's Press Gang Series Guide.
Are there any fan clubs or websites for the actors in Press Gang?
The Absolutely Fabulous Saffron -- http://online.anu.edu.au/nceph/Tor/saffron.html
The Shrine of the Voice of Julia Sawalha -- http://www.doitnow.com/~bagwan/julia/
Julia Sawalha Page -- http://www.tardis.ed.ac.uk/~ark/julia/
Julia Sawahla Fan Page -- http://www.bomis.com/cgi-bin/ring.cgi?page=4&ring=sawalha
Julia Sawahla Fan Page -- http://www.bomis.com/cgi-bin/ring.cgi?page=5&ring=sawalha
Fan Site -- http://journey.simplenet.com/anwar
Fan Page -- http://www.agt.net/public/russellb/_01/_01.HTM
Know of any more? Mail us to let us know.
Why did they leave? *SPOILER* Skip!
KENNY (Lee Ross)
Kenny left the Junior Gazette to go Australia after series three.
Actor Lee Ross had been hoping for a film role at the same time that series four was being recorded, and thus elected not to be a part of that series. Unfortunately, he did not get the film role, but found out too late to be included in the series. He was later invited to return to the cast for series five, but had other television commitments at that time.
JULIE (Lucy Benjamin)
No reason is given for Julie's departure during the show, but the novelisation of the episode "Checkmate" tells us that Julie left for art school in Glasgow.
Julie (and Lucy Benjamin) returned in series 4 to fill the position vacated by Kenny - assistant editor.
Lucy Benjamin left the cast after series one due to other commitments during the series 2 shooting time. In series one, Julie was an oft-seen member of the team, but not among the major cast; her role - which had been developed into a major character for series 2 - was taken over by the character of Sam (played by Gabrielle Anwar).
SAM (Gabrielle Anwar)
When Lucy Benjamin announced that she would not be available for series two, Gabrielle Anwar joined the cast as the new head of the graphics team, Sam Black. This character was essentially unchanged from the newly-expanded role of Julie which had been prepared for series 2.
As Gabrielle Anwar landed a role in a movie, she did not return for series three. The role of Head of Graphics went to Kate (Sophie Newton), but unfortunately became a rather mute role.
DANNY (Charlie Creed-Miles)
Charlie Creed-Miles left the show after series 1 to pursue other work, and his role was replaced by that of Kevin (Jeremy Hodge).
SARAH (Kelda Holmes)
Kelda Holmes asked to be written out of the show in series 5, in order to pursue a university education. In "Friendly Fire", the second episode of series 5, Sarah leaves the Junior Gazette to do the same.
When does Press Gang actually happen?
Steven Moffat and the production team went to great lengths to disguise the actual years the story was set in. For instance, youll never see a date anywhere on any Junior Gazette newspaper for that very reason. Every now and then, there will be clues to the timing of the story, but you have to dig deeply to find them. Remarkably, this story does not proceed with the normal outlook that one season equals one year of time. The entire five seasons fit in the time period from September of 1988 to sometime late in 1991.
Clue #1: Jason Woods concert poster in Friends Like These has a London date of Tuesday May 2nd. The only year that would be able to happen in is 1989, so the very first story, Page One, would have to be set in September of 1988. Other clues: the Ruth Rendell mystery show Billy Homer reviews in Interface and the movie poster on the wall for Beetlejuice in Rock Solid.
Clue #2: Jenny Elliot draws on the 12th of each month. How to Make a Killing therefore begins on December 12th (when Jennys drawings attract Kennys attentions) and continues on January 12th, when Kenny switches bags with her. Frazz says it has been six months since he started on the paper, which would be in September.
Clue #3: The Last Word is set on April 24th, 1990. The date is given in the story. The year can be surmised as follows: The newspaper goes commercial during the summer of 1989. Spike doesnt see Lynda again for six months after he leaves the country - thats stated in The Big Hello, which would logically occur in January if you do the math. Zoe says she hasnt seen Spike in weeks, so there isnt a great deal of time passing between the first story in the third season and the last. Therefore, the year is 1990.
Clue #4: The fourth and fifth series are set in 1991. The giveaway is a movie poster for Paper Mask, which is an English film released in 1991 that is on the wall in Colins office during UnXpected. Unlike other American movie posters--Beetlejuice and Road House, which appears in Bad News--which seem to be a year off from their release dates, and that doubtlessly due to the delay in getting them released overseas--this is a domestic movie, and therefore would likely be up during the year it was released. Further evidence is the colorful poster with 1990 on it which appears during both the fourth and fifth series of stories.
Clue #5: Frazz says in Head and Heart that they left school two years ago. Two years after 1989 is 1991.
Therefore: Series' 1 and 2 run from September 1988 to July of 1989--the lead characters final year in school before graduating, series' 3 runs from January through May of 1990, and series' 4 and 5 span the year 1991, with the exception of Bad News, which likely occurs during the middle or later part of 1990.
Where was Press Gang actually shot?
The early years of Press Gang were generally filmed around Uxbridge, Middlesex, England. Which coincidentally was also used to film A Clockwork Orange. The distinctive gazette building while once in existence was demolished in about series 3 or so and replaced with a car park! Most locations were centered around the general center of Uxbridge although in series five locations moved to Twickenham near the studio where the Junior Gazette now lived. Several members of the list have done the tour of the area finding Hercies Street, home of Czars, unfortunately in 1992 the sign had been stolen by a dedicated fan. The Highpoint flats are located on the Ealing to Uxbridge Road. The Pizza Hut of series two still exists although has apparently been redecorated. For further information pester Adrian Petford who promised to put up a map, on the web , of the main locations from his tour of the region. :-)
This FAQ was compiled by Murray Head, Kevin Nauta, Natacha Tracy and Crystal Arroyo. With thanks to the entire PGML for info included above.
Suggestions may be sent to Murray or to Matt Saunders, the operator of the list.