“They’re mostly nice people.”

No, I couldn't be arsed to find a different BBC TWO identBBC TWO launched on 20th April 1964, started off with two and a half minutes of silence, broadcast from a cupboard-sized studio where the most sophisticated piece of technology was a phone that didn’t work. But have things really improved? (SATIRES.)

On the 40th anniversary of the launch, the channel dedicated three hours to remembering the finest shows in its history. And The Office. Haha. Naturally, Red Dwarf featurred. Thanks to Simon Bromley for his transcribing skills:

CLIP:
The first few clips from the Series V title sequence.
[CAPTION: “Red Dwarf 1988-1999”.]

GRANT:
[CAPTION: “Rob Grant, writer, Red Dwarf”.]
All drama that had been set in space before then was very middle class. Nobody was ever sent to space who drank a pint of beer or had a curry.

CLIP:
More of the Series V titles.

LLEWELLYN:
[CAPTION: “Robert Llewellyn, ‘Kryten'”.]
Everybody in that period of television history, regardless of channel, every channel just said: ‘It’s not funny, it’s not a sit-com, it’s space, science-fiction isn’t funny.’

CLIP: Back To Reality
HOLLY: Twenty five knots, thirty five, fifty…
RIMMER: It’s coming straight towards us.
LISTER: There’s only three alternatives. It thinks we’re either a threat, food or a mate. It’s gonna either kill us, eat us or hump
us.

GRANT:
We had lined up to do it, we had Alan Rickman and Alfred Molina, who both said they were very interested in doing it, which was a great coup. And then we started getting nervous about that maybe they were too good and too big, and that, you know, by Series III, they’d be off in Hollywood being supervillains.

CLIP: Back To Reality
RIMMER: Uh-oh, speedbumps.
[The crew all bounce up and down on their seats.]

GRANT:
We wound up with a stand-up comic, an impressionist, a dancer and a stand-up poet!

CLIP: Back In The Red (Part One)
RIMMER: When someone’s had a tad too much claret and has fallen asleep naked on their bunk, people of honour generally don’t take
a polaroid of your snoozing todger, draw a moustache, mouth and ears on it, and pin it up on the bulletin board under ‘missing persons’!

GRANT:
When it first went on, it got really pretty good figures for a new series, which tailed away to pretty much nothing.

LLEWELLYN:
In Series VII, we got on the front of the Radio Times for the first time. So, you know, that was when we’d done seven series! (laughs) And they went: ‘oh, alright, give ’em a cover!’

GRANT:
I don’t think it ever got good reviews.

CLIP: Back In The Red (Part One)
[The CAT laughs as Starbug flies directly into the anus of a nearby rat. Starbug is bathed in shadows, as the crew look out of the viewscreen, disgusted.]

BARRIE:
[CAPTION: “Chris Barrie, ‘Rimmer'”.]
I started to notice, and in fact worry, when I would come out of the studio and you would see people standing there with ‘H’s on their head.

GRANT:
I’ve been to a couple of the conventions and, actually, for the most part, I hate to burst the bubble, but they’re mostly nice people.

CLIP: Polymorph
LISTER: Please, I’m begging you!
[KRYTEN removes LISTER’s boxer shorts, which are revealed to be doll-sized. RIMMER walks in on this, and thinks there’s rudeness involved.]

GRANT:
The weirdest one I got was this strange guy, a sort of wide-eyed guy, who came up and he was very keen to meet me, and he presented me with a computer print-out, you know, one of those green and white ones, which had all my private details on it; I mean, it had my bank account number, my home address, my phone numbers. And he then invited me back to his car to show me his gun collection. (laughs) That was a very scary moment…

Good satires from Rob, there. It was really refreshing to see so much of him, since he’s not spoken much of Dwarf since he left. It was a bit daft of them to surround his speeches with Series VIII clips, though; it makes you wonder if they even knew that he wasn’t involved. Especially considering the slightly misleading caption of ‘writer’, rather than ‘co-writer’. Robert Llewellyn was being his usual quirky, funny self. I’m sure Chris Barrie will be delighted that his sole contribution to the evening is a short sentence slagging off the fans.

The clips used were very good. Obviously, nobody likes Series VIII, but you have to admit that those two jokes are funny in themselves, and work well out of context as well as in. The Polymorph was in all its original non-Re-Mastered glory, which is great. Plus, no ‘smeg’! Utterly surprising, but very welcome. There seemed to be a general avoidance of the obvious clips throughout the evening: we didn’t see Basil smash up his car or insult Germans, The Young Ones on University Challenge or Ricky Gervais dancing.

The evening was a mixture of the excellent, such as aborted launch night footage, interviews with writers and directors, old RT letters and suchlike; to the shite, mainly new Dead Ringers sketches and ex-controllers talking as if they had any creative input into the shows during their reign. The Dead Ringers sketches were the worst thing, though – “look at that ident! The art department must be on TEH DRUGS!!!!1111”.

Thanks again to Si Bromley for the transcript. Now, get on with your essay.

2 Responses to “They’re mostly nice people.”

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  1. I never did finish that essay.

  2. Obviously, nobody likes Series VIII, but you have to admit that those two jokes are funny in themselves, and work well out of context as well as in.

    …Apart from the way they left the punchline out of the “rat-arsed” joke.

    I did like that they seemed to be going for the non-obvious clips generally, but I had to wonder whether that was more an accident of half-arsedness than an actual creative decision.

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