A website called Ganymede & Titan launched ten years ago today. There had been other sites with that name before, but this one had the spirit and ethos that has carried through the various incarnations of the site until the present day. In that time, there have been 2,141 front page posts, 2,111 forum topics, and (as of the time of writing) 75,239 comments across the site. There’s also 35 podcasts, seven original videos, 132 rotating banners and a fan film featured on the Series VII DVD. We’ve been mentioned by the Daily Telegraph, The Independent and in Doug’s Back To Earth directors’ commentary. Plus, we’ve been mocked by Norman Lovett, threatened with legal action by Grant Naylor Productions and had a full-blown flame war with a minor television personality. Let’s take a moment to pat ourselves on the back…
“I was living and working in the United States when Ganymede & Titan first launched, and it wasn’t until 2007 or 2008 on a return to the UK that, browsing the internet one night, I came in the middle of this website, clearly a Red Dwarf fansite, and at once to my horror and outrage, what I thought I saw was a bunch of fat nerds being self-important and needlessly provocative. I was already reaching for the telephone to call my lawyer, when something happened which made me laugh…”
– Patrick Stewart
The first site to bear this name was started by me, aged thirteen years and five months, on Saturday 11th December 1999. I remember being really proud of the name, because it meant I could use the tagline “ain’t no place in the whole of cyberspace”. This remained undoubtedly the best thing about the site. There was simply bugger all on there, other than some stolen pictures from the internet and a very weak attempt to write introductions for each page in the style of a different character. Tragically, none of this remains online.
But by 2002, I’d discovered very quickly in my sixth form career that it was far more enjoyable to spend your free periods dicking about on the internet rather than doing any coursework. I’d become online-friends with somebody on the NOTBBC Comedy Forum who called themselves ‘moss’. We were pretty much the only regular contributors to an epically-long Red Dwarf thread, and the conversations we had were making me think about this show – which I knew like the back of my hand after watching it repeatedly since the age of seven – in a whole new way. I was beginning to analyse the stories and characters like never before, and became increasingly interested in every single behind-the-scenes detail. So maybe it was time to dust off that excellent tagline.
That’s the spirit in which the site started on 14th September 2002 – going far deeper into the show than any of the handful of sporadically-updated fansites that remained at the time. I started with episode capsules and some opinion pieces, but the site really came into its own with the ridiculously comprehensive DVD reviews, which covered everything from technical quality to the sticker on the front cover. This started to get the site noticed, and my old pal ‘moss’ was inspired to set up a fansite of his own. As we discussed it, it became painfully obvious to us both that it would make far more sense to pool our resources, and both work on this newly-established brand. For you see, dear reader, ‘moss’ was John Hoare.
DALEK ONE: We have never read Ganymede & Titan. We are not familiar with its content.
DALEK TWO: That foaming twat joke was funny, though.
– Some Daleks
We relaunched with a new design on 4th April 2003, and somehow managed to knock out an update every day for the first few months. There was speculation about the forthcoming movie, retrospectives on the cast and crew’s other projects, and a hell of a lot of opinion pieces in which we outlined exactly why everybody apart from us was WRONG. In September of the same year, we had another little redesign which allowed comments for the first time. This proved to be another turning point – like-minded Red Dwarf fans were beginning to congregate in the same place, and some of them were inspired to start up fansites of there own, including Jonathan Capps’s White Hole, Seb Patrick’s Fuchal and Austin Ross’s Garbage World.
In 2005, the next step came with a collaborative effort on a new blog – Observation Dome. This was a place for the various fansite owners and other like-minded writers to post smaller snippets of news and curiosities that didn’t warrant a full article on their own sites. In retrospect, this sounds like a stupid idea, but a group of us bloggers, consisting of Ian, John, Seb, Cappsy, Austin, Tanya Jones and Kirk Northrop came together in March 2005 to produce The Movie: Yeah, No, Yeah, No – a mockumentary charting the semi-fictional pre-production period of the Red Dwarf Movie, entered into the Red Dwarf VII DVD Fan Film competition. We won.
The following year, what with me at university and having local friends for the first time in my life, G&T updates began to slow down, and the other fansites were flagging too. Perhaps having five different sites all saying pretty much the same thing was a bad idea. The inevitable happened, and the sites merged into one glorious (w)hole. I’ll admit now that I had serious reservations at the time – I was (and remain) an egotistical maniac, already unhappy about sharing the credit with John, let alone these other pricks. But six years later, I know it was the best decision I’ve ever made – without Tanya, Cappsy, the post-Observation Dome addition Danny Stephenson and the sadly-now-departed Seb, I doubt the site would have lived to see its tenth anniversary.
We’ve all grown up with G&T as part of our lives, and most of us have made the transition from adolescence to adulthood – with all the full-time jobs, relationships and other boring shit that gets in the way of being a geek. As a result, the quality and quantity of our updates has varied in the last five years or so. But when we’ve been good, we’ve been very good. The Dwarfcasts are a lot of fun to make and seem surprisingly well-received, considering it’s just a bunch of stupid-voiced nerds improvising badly. Our Back To Earth coverage brought a lot of new users to the site, and was so in-depth and thorough that it lead Doug Naylor to mention us on his DVD commentary. Then we decided to collect the best bits of our writing into a book, which a fair few people have stupidly bought. More recently, our set reports from each recording of Red Dwarf X have gathered praise for both their speediness and their thoroughness.
Despite the ups and downs in our levels of competence, one aspect of the site that’s remained consistently brilliant is the thriving community in the comments and forum. It’s remarkable that the nonsense we write is seen by so many people who feel moved to contribute their own thoughts. In the dark times, we can rely on you to keep our forum busy, and in the good times we see triple figures of comments on a large proportion of news stories we post. I’ll never forget the feeling of logging on to G&T immediately after the broadcast of Back To Earth Part One, and discovering that over 200 people had the same idea within seconds of the show ending. I feel like thanking some specific people, but I won’t, because I’d only miss people out. But suffice to say – thank you all for making the site what it is, and making it all seem worthwhile.
And your support *will* be rewarded. The latest relaunch of the site has reinvigorated all of us, and inspired us to do more with the site. We’ve got big plans for how we’ll be covering the forthcoming broadcasts of Red Dwarf X, which will be much bigger and better than what we did for Back To Earth. And unlike in 2009, we intend to maintain the momentum that new shows give us, with far more unique and original content than ever before -written stuff, podcasts, videos, the lot. The first decade of Ganymede & Titan was only the beginning. Thank you all once more for sticking with us and being part of it.
Now, fuck off.
“At the time they let you have these lovely little embedded images. Everyone was into posting images, performingmonkey, Phil, everybody liked posting images. And then one day the admin, who was quite a bossy… old cunt, he knows who he is, he took away my image posting rights! And I said – I told you I was a pain in the arse in those days – I said ‘if I don’t get my image posting rights back, you’re not getting another forum thread out of me’. And he gave me my image posting rights back! It was pathetic behaviour, but I got my image posting rights back.”
– Norman Lovett