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Queen of the School Newspaper

reporter gothic
It is the last Thursday in December. And that means that it's Sleuth Thursday.

It is also the Season, and I hope all those who celebrate Christmas had a fabulous one, and are about to have a marvellous New Year!

Speaking of Christmas, here is a link to a Nick and Alan Christmas interview.

Also in the name of HOW UNSPEAKABLY MUCH I wish for people to meet my newwwwww characters, Unspoken excerpt and a giveaway of a pretty thing, as well as fiction ramblings, here.

So, I have a roommate who is a Museum Detective and who for the sake of her internet privacy I nicknamed the Durham Lass. I used to have another roommate, a stylish DJ lady I called Jennet Wilde. One day the Durham Lass came up from her family home in the blameless countryside full of rolling hills and sheep and suchlike, back to our townhouse of sin and shops.

DURHAM LASS: I brought up some box sets of a TV show I used to love when I was a kid. It's called Press Gang, and it's about a group of misfits who run a school newspaper-
JENNET WILDE: Uh, I don't really want to watch a kids' show from 1989.
SARAH: ... I do...
DURHAM LASS: Their leader is this bossy girl called Lynda Day.
SARAH: ... GIRL REPORTER...
DURHAM LASS: I used to really love the romance-
JENNET WILDE: We're not interested, sweetie.
SARAH: ... I am...
JENNET WILDE: Who's for tea?
SARAH: Okay, we're going to barricade ourselves in this room and watch the WHOLE THING!
JENNET WILDE: Guys? Guys, this door won't open. Guys?

Some time later, I was totally mad about Press Gang. We used to watch it in the hour before Jennet Wilde got home from work.

The show: An ace reporter arrives in town to edit the local newspaper, and sets up a junior version of that newspaper to be produced by pupils from the local school. The Junior Gazette is to be edited by star pupil Lynda Day, though there are also delinquent students forced to work on it. Nobody ever cares about the ace reporter because the kids are much more interesting! There is a beautiful, blonde, brilliant graphic designer and a money manager entirely devoted to greed and evil!

But most importantly there is Lynda Day. What to say about Lynda Day?



“Because I’ve never been a 17 year old girl, it’s rather interesting to think like one, or rather to force yourself to consider the world from that perspective. And it actually started to make me angry. I’d never really thought about it before, but you know, when I’d consider the world from the viewpoint of this dynamic, highly intelligent, highly talented 17 year old girl, and think what’s going to happen to her, think about how much harder it’s going to be for her than it would be if she’d been a boy, it made me SO angry." - Steven Moffat on writing Lynda Day in Press Gang.

Steven Moffat is pretty well known for creating the BBC Sherlock and writing for Doctor Who. Press Gang was actually his big break into show biz: his father, a school teacher, got chatting with some producers about his idea for a TV series about a school newspaper, and when the producers asked for a sample script he was like 'My boy Steve will write it!' So, Steven Moffat, a talented dude! Obviously a big nerd! I don't think he's ever written a character as good as Lynda Day again.

Ruthless, brilliant, frequently annoyed, prone to swearing like a sailor and hiccupping when asked to schmooze.

A lady with a little bit of a temper.

LYNDA: I'm not being unreasonable, I'm keeping my cool. All I want is simply for this person to be removed from the studio and shot dead.

A lady with a lot of self-confidence.

LYNDA: Got a problem, sir?
MR HOWARD: This exam started fifteen minutes ago!
LYNDA: Well, it was supposed to! Relax, you're doing fine.
MR HOWARD: Why weren't you here?
LYNDA: Oh come on, sir. I always finish half an hour early, and you said no sandwiches.
MR HOWARD: Go to your seat, Lynda.
LYNDA: I’m top every time, and this is the thanks I get!

She has a sweet, blond, inoffensive and mild-mannered Best Friend Forever called Kenny, who is tormented by having to do Lynda's bidding, but also obviously cares about her and has fun with the madness she trails in her wake.

Kenny is not in the least, ever, at any time, secretly pining for Lynda's love. He would clearly find Lynda's love an appalling present that would give him a migraine. They're just close, loyal, loving friends: the actor who played Kenny exiting the show was really the Beginning Of The End, because Kenny and Lynda's relationship was part of the heart of the show.

KENNY: If I get killed doing this you're gonna feel really guilty.
LYNDA: Why would I? You won't be around to tell me to.

KENNY: Oh well I'm sorry if my problems are not providing enough entertainment for you!
LYNDA: Oh don't be like that Kenny, they usually do.

SPIKE: I guess you're looking for the bitch editor from hell, right?
KENNY: I never call her that, she likes it.

KENNY: Thanks.
LYNDA: For what?
KENNY: I don't know. Everything.
LYNDA: I'm not responsible for everything. I just make it look that way.

Lynda's ambitious and competitive, and that's not portrayed as a negative thing or always a positive thing: it was just a constant facet of her personality. (In later seasons it is seen as more of a negative, which is why I suggest just watching the first three seasons. Because Lynda never needs to be punished for being who she is. Lynda is EXCELLENT. But Later Seasons Not Being As Good, kind of the nature of television.)

JULIE: You're late.
LYNDA: You're fired. I win.

JULIE: Why don't you just tell Spike you give in?
LYNDA: Because I'd rather die than let Spike win anything ever.
JULIE: Why?
LYNDA: You know what he's like, he's so competitive.

SPIKE: Lynda, you're the only person I know who eats dinner to win.

I love a lady in charge.




LYNDA: See where it says ruler? That's who it belongs to!

LYNDA: I don't do conversation. Anything I say comes out like an order. I say hello and people salute.

She also had just shocking dress sense. I mean it was the eighties so everyone did, but it was a plot point that Lynda's was awful. You have to have talent to be considered a bad dresser in the eighties. (Trust me, I was alive then and I rolled my socks up the legs of my leggings. I was six but it's no excuse.) It causes her devoted swain no end of distress.

SPIKE: Lynda, you've got the dress sense of a clothes line. I mean those cardigans, even I wouldn't look good in those.

SPIKE: I like your dress.
LYNDA: What about the jacket?
SPIKE: I like the dress.
LYNDA: You think the jacket goes?
SPIKE: I hope it does.


Of course, Lynda has a roooooomance. Spike Thompson, American leather-jacket-wearing juvenile delinquent and perpetrator of an incident at the school dance which is too disgusting to ever spell out, is assigned to the Junior Gazette as punishment for his many crimes. He is devoted to the pursuit of total idleness, until he sees Lynda Day, is smitten on sight, and devotes himself to the cause of journalism as a knight would slay a dragon for his lady.

They're both smart, though Spike is quite committed to hiding it. Furthermore, he's the one who's super concerned with physical appearance, he's the one who cooks, he's the one who's easy in social situations, he's the one who's wistfully pining, and she's the one not ready for romantic commitment.

SPIKE: Hey Frazz, Frazz. What's with the negative attitude?
FRAZZ: What?
SPIKE: Get involved, man.
FRAZZ: Who is she?
SPIKE: What?
FRAZZ: Which one is it?
SPIKE: What are you talking about?
FRAZZ: It's Lynda Day, isn't it? You always did like the bossy types.

SPIKE: I looked in the mirror this morning, I was looking so great, it just gave up.

LYNDA: You're shaking.
SPIKE: What? Me? I'm steady as a rock. That's just the world moving.
LYNDA: Spike, I think you're getting the wrong idea about this kiss.
SPIKE: Ah, no no, absolutely not. This is just a goodnight kiss. A thank you kiss between friends, right? I understand.
LYNDA: I knew you were getting the wrong idea.

SPIKE: Do you love me Lynda?
LYNDA: Of course I do.
SPIKE: What?
LYNDA: Of course I love you. But what good does that do either of us?
SPIKE: What do you mean, what good does it do either of us?
LYNDA: I don't want this. I'm not ready for it. I just want to make a newspaper.

Plus, Lynda and Spike had BANTER. My most favourite of all the things.

SPIKE: You don't happen to be jealous of a girl I've never even met, do you?
LYNDA: Of course I'm jealous, Spike. I wish I was the girl you've never even met.

SPIKE: I'm temporary acting assistant editor - is that a come on or not?
LYNDA: Spike, you weren't exactly my first choice. I asked everyone I liked first.
SPIKE: That's encouraging. Out of everyone you don't like at least I'm your favourite.

LYNDA: For what it's worth... the l-word.
SPIKE: I 'l' you too... We gotta get better at saying that, Lynda.
LYNDA: How about anagrams?
SPIKE: I vole you?
LYNDA: Me too.

Here is a thing about me! I love fan-made videos. I watch a ton of them. I think they are great! They're kind of the essence of fan-created material for me--you take this source material, and this song, and you make something new! So I went on a noble youtube quest, and I found myself a Lynda Day tribute.



Suffice it to say, I watched all of Press Gang and loved it, and talked to the Durham Lass about it.

SARAH: And then Lynda took the chopstick and-
JENNET WILDE: Hi ladies.
SARAH AND THE DURHAM LASS: *conspicuous silence*
JENNET WILDE: ... What were you talking about?
DURHAM LASS: Nothing.
SARAH: Hiring assassins to kill you! No, I mean, nothing. That's better. Nothing.

A few months afterwards, my friends Mark and Donna (a writer and an actress) were getting married, and they sent me the password to their register for gifts.

It was 'lyndaspike.' I felt like I'd been given a password to a secret club for awesomeness.

So of course when I was writing Unspoken, I thought, self, you want to write about a bunch of teens getting into a Gothic adventure? This is how you write about a Crack Team pitching itself into adventure. And a lady who passionately wants to run a school newspaper will stop at nothing.

Comments

( 66 comments — Leave a comment )
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sgt_majorette
Dec. 29th, 2011 04:36 pm (UTC)
Julia Sawalha!

Saffron from Absolutely Fabulous!
sarahtales
Dec. 29th, 2011 04:39 pm (UTC)
And Lydia from the BBC Pride and Prejudice, aka the most perfect adaptation ever made.
igrab
Dec. 29th, 2011 04:46 pm (UTC)
first, i love you, your wit knows no bounds. and is second only to THIS SHOW, WHICH I ABSOLUTELY NEED TO SEE... YESTERDAY. AHHH. I will find it, I will watch it, and I will probably love it as hard as you if not more. POSSIBLY MORE.

Also I am really super duper looking forward to Team Human. So much. Just, I can't wait. It's going to be fantastic I know it is.
sarahtales
Dec. 29th, 2011 04:50 pm (UTC)
I recommend the show, as you can see. ;)

I hope you will like it! 2012: the year of Sarah being super nervous about both her books. (Two! How do other people cope?)
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(Anonymous)
Dec. 29th, 2011 04:52 pm (UTC)
Press Gang! It was a gem. I didn't think I would like Lynda OR Spike all that much, but I utterly adored them somehow. Dragons At Last! And Kenny <3 And Susan <3
sarahtales
Dec. 29th, 2011 04:54 pm (UTC)
Words cannot describe how much I screeched at 'At Last A Dragon.'
igrab
Dec. 29th, 2011 04:53 pm (UTC)
....and Unspoken. I hadn't finished the blog post. Actually, Unspoken looks even better. Are they telepathically linked? AHHHH I MUST KNOW MORE. But I love that border between the imaginary and the real, and I love that you're going to be dealing with those issues of seeing someone in the flesh versus the image you have of them in your mind. It's a topic near and dear to my heart, since a lot of relationships/friendships of mine have started out on the internet, where you know who a person is but not how they are, physically, in reality.
sarahtales
Dec. 29th, 2011 05:02 pm (UTC)
Well, like I said, I hope you'll like both. ;) They were both fun to write--they are both books where I got to goof off and make many many jokes!--and I hoooooope they are both fun to read!

I love that border between the imaginary and the real

Me too, and you put it well! Being a writer or a keen reader means being super, sometimes others think unhealthily, devoted to imaginary people. They are always on your mind. ;) But yes, it's such a tricky border, and what does that really mean?

a lot of relationships/friendships of mine have started out on the internet, where you know who a person is but not how they are, physically, in reality

A lot of mine, too! I met a couple people I consider among my best friends online. But it is tricky--there's physical chemistry, with friends as well as romantic partners, and sometimes it isn't there, or someone's very different online than in person. (I've had people say they were surprised at how very much... the same... I am. Er. I hope that was a compliment!) And I do think that's an interesting dilemma of Our Time.
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malinbe
Dec. 29th, 2011 04:56 pm (UTC)
Julia Sawalha!! So young!

And Steven Moffat so young too! I shall commit a crime today. The crime of piracy.
sarahtales
Dec. 29th, 2011 05:05 pm (UTC)
Eeek, yo, I am against the piracy because it hurts me, please do not tell me of it!

But I am pleased I inspired you with watching desire. Julia Sawalha is awesome at all times: like Cleopatra, a lady of infinite variety!
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mariekeme
Dec. 29th, 2011 05:01 pm (UTC)
Lynda for next companion!

Unspoken sounds even more awesome now!! :D

sarahtales
Dec. 29th, 2011 05:03 pm (UTC)
You have identified the one thing sure to make me watch Dr Who. ;)

And *beams*.
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Pagecrawler
Dec. 29th, 2011 05:19 pm (UTC)
*Sigh* I love Press Gang always have always will! I recorded them all on video when they were on the telly and then bought all the dvds when they became available. So glad you love it too because the relationships in your books reminded me so much of Press Gang That sort of spikey, smart humour is whatI love so thank you.

(Now I shall have to dig out my dvds again!)

sarahtales
Dec. 29th, 2011 05:23 pm (UTC)
the relationships in your books reminded me so much of Press Gang That sort of spikey, smart humour is whatI love so thank you

Thank you! What a tremendous compliment. ;) I did watch PG going 'this is exactly the sort of thing what I like.'
unoriginal_liz
Dec. 29th, 2011 05:20 pm (UTC)
Oh, this is so yay :) Spike and Lynda were my first ship ever - and while the boat is old-fashioned and the sails were stitched from eighties puffy-sleeved blouses, it remains the awesomest of ships.

So of course when I was writing Unspoken, I thought, self, you want to write about a bunch of teens getting into a Gothic adventure? This is how you write about a Crack Team pitching itself into adventure. And a lady who passionately wants to run a school newspaper will stop at nothing.

I'm looking forward to Unspoken EVEN MORE now :)

sarahtales
Dec. 29th, 2011 05:23 pm (UTC)
*beams*

Love your icon!
matt_doyle
Dec. 29th, 2011 05:46 pm (UTC)
Well.

Clearly I must watch this show at once.
sarahtales
Dec. 29th, 2011 06:01 pm (UTC)
I quite enjoyed it.
rockinlibrarian
Dec. 29th, 2011 06:04 pm (UTC)
Oh. wow. Would I have LOOOOOVVVVVVVVED that show had I been on the other side of the pond.

The bossy girl reporter is my ultimate role-model-y character type of my childhood. I clung to such characters with the most passionate of adoration. I have a bossy girl reporter character of my own, and just the other day I got to thinking about her, and missing her, and insisting to myself that I really need to get back to writing her a PROPER book, but then I get discouraged thinking about how many times the type has already done and probably much better than I could do it and...and...and... but I don't know, it really IS my favorite character type ever, and maybe I HAVE to write her, for my own childhood self's sake. I need to get over my general writing fears first I guess.
sarahtales
Dec. 29th, 2011 06:10 pm (UTC)
I look for her in all the places. ;)
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thegreatmissjj
Dec. 29th, 2011 08:20 pm (UTC)
I...have some major issues with Steven Moffat. I have not seen Press Gang, but his female characters in Doctor Who are terribly problematic. In theory, they are all awesome, especially Professor River Song! In practice, the narrative treats them HORRIBLY (especially Professor River Song). Sherlock is also absent of major ladies (although in all fairness, so is the source material), and ever since reading some interviews with him about female characters in Doctor Who (and the relationships between men and women in general), I have come to the conclusion that I simply cannot trust how he writes women, unless he has a writing partner who is better informed and less casually chauvinistic. Of course, it could be a vehicle issue, as science fiction is more traditionally "boy-oriented", but his predecessor wrote AMAZING women who had lives and friendships and existed beyond Motherhood (Amy Pond) and made choices in their lives independent of The Doctor (poor, poor River!).

So...I am wary of anything Moffat touches. But Press Gang sounds amazing!
sarahtales
Dec. 29th, 2011 08:39 pm (UTC)
I have heard that! I have heard some ick quotes, and am troubled by the lack and treatment of ladies in Sherlock enough that I'll be waiting to hear about how the second season is before watching. And as I've said, I have some issues with the last two seasons of Press Gang.

But the first three are amazing, and so is Lynda Day: genuinely one of the best TV characters I've seen. Maybe Moffat's views have changed in 20 years (probably, given... twenty years). But yes, I think part of the problem is the vehicle issue--when boys are central ('Dr Who,' it's in the title), it's hard not to write and treat women as peripheral. Whereas when women are central, as in the Steven Moffat quote above, suddenly you're seeing it through your primary character's eyes, 'the girl' can't be an accessory, she isn't there for her effect on the boy's life. Girl as the pivot on which the story world turns is rare, but becoming less rare. And it's cool because the product is so cool, and so different.

Basically, am I happy with all Joss Whedon's thoughts and products? Why no. Yet I love Buffy with a great and untouchable love. (Though it too went downhill in later seasons!) I feel the same about Press Gang.
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eavanmoore
Dec. 29th, 2011 08:50 pm (UTC)
Nick and Alan are adorable in that interview. And you've made another reader into a Julia Sawalha fan.
sarahtales
Dec. 29th, 2011 09:08 pm (UTC)
They're kinda sweet sometimes, my Ryves bros, in their way. ;) It was fun to visit with them.

Julia Sawalha is super great!
sockdrawerdemon
Dec. 29th, 2011 09:58 pm (UTC)
I remember that show! Moffat wrote that show? Holy crap, I've been a Moffat fan since I was small enough to need to be forced to bathe.
akasha_lilian
Dec. 29th, 2011 11:06 pm (UTC)
This looks like a show I would have loved as a teenager. But I still might look into it now. =)

Oh and since I moved to England, every time I was in Durham, Durham Lass was always an association that popped up in my head. ;-) Durham is pretty amazing though, loved it during Lumière as well.
kirstenfleur
Dec. 29th, 2011 11:54 pm (UTC)
Press Gang is my absolute favourite show ever!! I am so glad another person has converted!

but what did you think of Colin? And Sarah?

and I TOTALLY agree with you about Kenny, I wish he'd never left. :(
sarahtales
Dec. 30th, 2011 12:00 am (UTC)
Well, a few years back now, but yes, I love it.

I love Sarah and Colin! I did mention Colin, though not by name--I tried to sum up Sarah, but in capsule format she sounds just like Kenny, which she's not. I am also a bit of a Colin/Julie shipper. ;)
(Anonymous)
Dec. 30th, 2011 01:31 am (UTC)
I am going to watch this show SO MUCH. I love Julia Sawalha, and since I've just finished watching all of AbFab it'll be fun to see her kicking ass as a reporter lady. Kenny is already my favorite character.
boojumlol
Dec. 30th, 2011 03:18 am (UTC)
I have so much love for Press Gang, especially Kenny and Colin. I agree that it all went downhill after Kenny left. Lynda became both more abrasive and more isolated without her best friend who loves her unconditionally. There were still some great episodes, but I started to find the show depressing.
sarahnargle
Dec. 30th, 2011 05:57 am (UTC)
I am going to watch this show SO MUCH. I've just finished watching Julia Sawalha in AbFab, so it'll be fun to see her kick ass as a lady reporter. Kenny is already my favorite character.
vega_of_lyre
Dec. 30th, 2011 06:08 am (UTC)
You just made me fall in love with a T.V. show I have never seen. Now I have to watch it! It sounds amazing!
spn_girl
Dec. 30th, 2011 01:37 pm (UTC)
man I used to love Press Gang! I should totally get hold of the dvd's and re-watch it.... :D

After reading the excerpt I can't wait for Unspoken, plot sounds brilliant and I love your character voices as always! :)
parenthesised
Dec. 30th, 2011 03:31 pm (UTC)
I'm having trouble working out what I want need Must Have most at the moment.

On the one hand I am currently more excited for Unspoken than I even was for Lexicon before it emerged - I'm already madly in love with Kami and will follow her to death, destruction or even juvie. On another I taught half a class of thirteen year old girls that friends don't let friends date vampires a few weeks back (it was meant to be a Shakespeare workshop. It went so, so very wrong...) and so I need Unspoken like an extra-snarky limb, and on my third hand (which, um, I am secretly Shiva?) Press Gang looks like the greatest show of (just before) my time and yes please!
sarahtales
Dec. 30th, 2011 04:14 pm (UTC)
Well, friends don't let friends date vampires in Team Human, Kami's friends aren't trying to date vampires. ;)

But yay for the valuable lesson, and yay for liking Kami's voice! It is terribly nice to write a goofy lady.
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willowgreen
Dec. 30th, 2011 10:09 pm (UTC)
Oh no, now I desperately want to see this and it doesn't seem to be available in U.S. format! Wah!
scoradh
Dec. 30th, 2011 10:11 pm (UTC)
Oh my GOD this show looks awesome. (And Julia Sawalha! Can she suck? Genuine question; mind you, I've only ever seen her in P&P, Ab Fab and Lark Rise. Her Lydia would make up for a lot, though.) Man, I missed out a lot when I wasn't allowed to watch TV as a child.
arcly
Dec. 30th, 2011 11:46 pm (UTC)
Ooooooh, you can rent them from lovefilm. It shall be done! Thx for the rec. (Me and mine are still grateful for your introduction to Big Wolf on Campus, yonks ago)
Am absolutely dying to know what is the deal with Jared. :D
(Anonymous)
Jan. 1st, 2012 10:31 pm (UTC)
This was the first show that I watched religiously, and even though I now have the DVDs, I still have my old VHS tapes from back then. I had a major crush on Spike, and I admired Lynda. I was incredibly shy and socially awkward at that age, and I wished I could be a bit more like Lynda in the sense that she wouldn't tolerate nonsense from anybody, and negative opinions didn't seem to affect her. So it's awesome that you're recommending this series that remains to this day one of my favourite series ever. By the way, if you're interested, there are also Press Gang books, they are straight from the episodes though. I think there were about four books.
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