The key to Press Gang was that it was a children's TV
show that didn't demean or belittle its audience, and hence, it won a lot of fans, myself
included. It pictured kids the way we wished we were; sharp, cool, funny, loaded with devilish wisecracks
. It was often uproariously funny, the dialogue between Lynda
particularly fizzed with venomous one-upmanship
It worked best because it wasn't billed as a comedy, and never took itself as a comedy. It was a drama, which just happened to have witty characters. It wasn't afraid to have episodes based on drug use (How To Make A Killing; There Are Crocodiles,) child abuse (Something Terrible), senility and death (The Rest Of My Life.) Pleasingly, it never got preachy:
Spike: "Drug abuse is an issue. Why don't we tell them about the dangers?"
Lynda: "Drugs can kill you. What a headline. Next week, why it's bad to fall off high buildings."
-- There Are Crocodiles.
If the characters began two-dimensional -- and they did, what with the obsessive editor, Lynda; the rebellious delinquent American, Spike; the studious and talented Sarah; the Arfur Daley-clone Colin, and the loveable Teddy Bear Kenny -- they develop gradually over the course of five series. Lynda and Spike's love/hate relationship blossoms and see-saws realistically. Sarah develops as a writer, as she fights Lynda's crafty manipulation in order to get into University. Even financial whizz Colin, consistently the most shallow of the characters and often basically an excuse for farce, gets the chance to develop (typically, though, once he gets a serious storyline in Something Terrible, no-one believes him...)
It wasn't all as sophisticated as this, of course, and hindsight has blotted a lot of the bubblegum filler from people's memories, but Press Gang remains a shining example of what can be good in "children's television." Long overdue a repeat.