It’s the most wonderful time of the year again. No, not Christmas, but the time when Ant and Dec are back on our screens for another round of I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here. Whether or not you are interested in the trials and tribulations of a bunch of C- list celebrities is irrelevant, you have to love the pocket size presenters. In celebration of Ant and Dec once more cracking up on our televisions, I’m making the comedy duo the stars of the first of my new regular feature column, ‘Do you remember when?‘
So, Do you remember when PJ went blind?
If you were a child of the 90s, you may well have avoided hours of homework by spending you time practising a Geordie accent and professing, ‘its Byker Grove man’ to your clueless parents. Unless you lived in the Tyne itself, you will have complained tirelessly that wherever you lived was dull, had nothing to do and didn’t compare to the glamour and excitement of the Grove. Indeed if only all youth clubs had the thrills and excitement as featured on this popular show, including drugs, teen pregnancy, joy riding and homosexuality…oh, hang on a minute…
But back then it was all so risqué (it was the first drama to tackle the subject of ‘coming out’, airing a gay kiss that caused outrage). We all wanted to hang with the cool kids of Byker Grove, but none more so than those cheeky chappies PJ and Duncan.
The Biker besties, with their oversized sweatshirts and matching grins were a huge draw of the show. Although at the time no one knew the phenomenal future success they were to have, there was no denying their charisma on screen.
We watched the pair bond in the loft of the Grove, cementing their friendship over the clubs pirate radio show. They grew up together, the trouble being that the nature of the show meant your air time was limited. Being set in a youth club predicated that you couldn’t still be on show as creepy old men and so the end needed to come for our beloved pair. Not to fade into the background however, the characters had a hugely dramatic storyline, before the end was nigh. The incident with the paintball.
If you watched biker grove, you must remember that horrifying moment, when during an illicit game of paintball, PJ removed his glasses only to be shot in the face with a paintball. I remember holding my breath as he screamed, welling up as Duncan ran to his side and gasping in shock as the realisation dawned that PJ was blind!
Things were never the same for poor PJ and he eventually left the Grove to start at a school for the blind. He left behind a bereft Duncan, who without his seasoned sidekick, soon left the Grove as well. Thankfully the Grove’s loss was our gain and after a stint as pop stars (which gave us the amazing Let’s Get Ready to Rhumble, and no I’m not using sarcasm as I write that) Ant and Dec came into their own. I’m pleased to say that unlike the ill fated PJ and Duncan, Ant and Dec have never parted, much to the nations delight (as proved by the 13 years running that they have won the National Television Awards for Most Popular Entertainment presenters).
Now I suppose that compared to the violence, sex and terror we see on teen dramas like Hollyoaks nowadays, the paintball incident probably seems like a ridiculously juvenile and mundane storyline, but my goodness at the time it was dramatic. A real shocker of a storyline that left viewers reeling: so I had to ask, Do you remember when PJ went blind?