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Ooooh Byker

‘Spuggy! Me eyes!!!!’ So screeched PJ (who was ‘bessie mates’ with Duncan) in what became the most iconic moment in kids’ TV drama’s dubious history. For the vast majority to whom this will mean nothing, it was the occasion when PJ was inadvertently blinded in a calamitous paintballing accident. The scene was the defining moment of long-running soap Byker Grove, the very programme that spawned those giants of the small screen, Ant and Dec (who, in fact, played PJ and Duncan). The fact that the generation nurtured on such fine 1980s programming have risen to positions of responsibility can no longer be in doubt. Buried deep in arts minister David Lammy’s statement announcing the listing of Byker Wall is a subliminal reference to the cult programme. Apparently the youthful Lammy – who is probably just young enough to have watched early episodes of the soap – believes Ralph Erskine’s masterpiece is ‘important and decisive’. Yes that’s right; ‘importANT and DECisive’. Astragal never expected to write that one.

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