Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Where are they now?

The Cast of Press Gang

If you love 80s kids TV, you’ll love today’s Where Are They Now? Press Gang was a pioneering children’s television show that won awards and critical acclaim for it’s writing and it’s ability to address serious subjects and aim them at a young audience.

The show was based around a school newspaper set up by famous journalist and former Fleet Street resident, Matt Kerr as he sought to develop a paper aimed at youngster. The show followed the trials and tribulations of the news team and took them through gun crime, drugs and hostage situations. Pretty hard-hitting stuff when you compare it to Bernard’s Watch. But we were wondering, where are they all now?

Julia Sawalha AKA Lynda Day

Lynda Day was the fearsome editor of the Junior Gazette, think Rebekah Wade, if you will. She ruled with an iron fist but was equally as charming as she was desperate for the paper to success.

Sawalha took a shine to sitcoms and went on to appear in Second Thoughts, Faith in the Future, both on ITV, and most famously, Absolutely Fabulous as Jennifer Saunders’ daughter Saffron.

Julia, who’s sister was once in Eastenders and is now a TV presenter, has also appeared in Pride and Prejudice, voiced a character in Chicken Run and starred alongside Richard E. Grant in the Argos adverts.

She stepped back into the spotlight with appearances in Hornblower and Jonathan Creek and took part in the BBC series Who Do You Think You Are. More recently, you would have seen her in Cranford and Lark Rise to Candleford, both BBC period costume dramas. Quite an eclectic career.

Paul Reynolds AKA Colin Matthews

Reynolds played the part of Colin Matthews, who took charge of the newspaper’s finances. He was usually seen wearing marvellously garish, loud shirts and was a renowned Thatcherite.

Reynolds, who attended the Sylvia Young Theatre School, went on to star in Ghostbusters of East Finchley and Trevor’s World of Sport after Press Gang had called it a day. He’s also appeared alongside Christopher Eccleston in Let Him Have It and Clive Owen in The Croupier. Reynolds was another cast member who benefited from knowing Sawalha as he appeared as Squeak in Absolutely Fabulous from 1995 – 1998.

More recently, Reynolds has turned his hand to stage acting and has appeared in numerous plays around the country.

Lucy Benjamin AKA Julie Craig

Julie started the show out as head of the graphics team, but due to her hard work, and that of actress Lucy Benjamin, she was promoted to be the Assistant Editor of the paper.

Upon the show’s completion, Benjamin is most famous for her stint in Albert Square, playing Lisa Fowler in Eastenders. Since leaving the East End, she won The X Factor’s spin-off show “Battle of the Stars” where she was coached by Sharon Osbourne. Benjamin has also appeared in Casualty, The Afternoon Play for the BBC, Doctors and her reality show success continued when she won £10,000 for charity on All Star Family Fortunes.

She is currently starring in the The Pretender Agenda, at the New Players Theatre with former Blue star, and acclaimed (?!) actor Lee Ryan.

Dexter Fletcher AKA Spike Thomson

Fletcher played the part of the love interest for editor, Lynda Day. Arriving at the school as an American delinquent, Spike is told to work for the paper or risk being excluded from school.

He brought an element of humour, most of which was ill-received and ill-timed, but funny nonetheless. Since the show ended he’s hit the big screen in Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Layer Cake and Doom. Kudos.

He’s not dedicated his life to the movies though, he’s also appeared in Band of Brothers, The Virgin Queen, Robin Hood and Hotel Babylon as well as Kylie Minogue’s 1997 music video Some Kind of Bliss. Fletcher also had a stint as presenting Gamesmaster.

Lee Ross AKA Kenny Phillips

Ross played the secret-music writer Kenny Phillips in the show, with his character being notoriously unlucky in love. It all began for Ross when he played Fat Sam in a West End production of Bugsy Malone.

After Press Gang, Ross has appeared in Rogue Trader with Ewan McGregor, Hard Men, I.D. as well as The Bill and Casualty. He also voiced Hawkbit in the TV series of Watership Down. Bet you didn’t know that!

Of late, Ross has appeared in the Catherine Tate Show, Hustle and Life on Mars. He was last on our screens playing Owen Turner in Eastenders in 2006.

Mmoloki Chrystie AKA Frazer “Frazz” Davis

Chrystie played the football-mad, slightly slow on the uptake Frazz in Press Gang, he was responsible for writing the horoscopes don’t you know! He previously appeared in Grange Hill as Kevin Baylon, you know, the kid that was best mates with Zammo. He was also a prominent character in the “Just Say No” campaign.

When the show ended in 1993, Chrystie left acting altogether. Well, you can’t blamed him after reaching the upper echelons of stardom! Having worked as an assistant director on a small budget film called Rage, he was meant to appear on our screens in Bring Back…Grange Hill presented by the lion in the band t-shirts AKA Justin Lee Collins, but declined, we don’t blame him.

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