As already pointed out by SoundableObject in the comments for Ian’s last Newsround, Starburst have finally published their interview with our Lord Doug Naylor. If for any reason you’ve not read it yet, then do so IMMEDIATELY and report back here for debriefing.
It’s an excellent interview which covers pretty much all the major points in Red Dwarf‘s history, as well as obviously dedicating a fair chunk to X, starting with how it all got off the ground. Or, to be more precise, how Woolworths almost fucked the whole thing up:
I wanted to return the show to being about the four guys on Red Dwarf, doing Red Dwarfy things and recreate a mid-season vibe. Dave said “fine,” though they didn’t care too much about the audience one way or the other but then it got complicated because BBC Worldwide were part of the commission and they were co-owned by Woolworths at the time, who then went bust, and it all took way longer than we expected to get the deal signed off.
I am very, very pleased we weren’t aware of this at the time, because it would’ve been absolutely terrifying. Doug does get the ownership details a little skewed, but regardless it’s bizarre to think that a fucked up highstreet chain could indirectly affect whether a new series of Red Dwarf would be signed off and paid for. Regardless, everything was obviously fine in the end and we now have an official explanation for the long wait between the announcement at DJ in 2009 and everything being official.
We then get a nice summation of how the show was first commissioned and where Rob and Doug’s inspiration came from but, of course, you all know that. Next, we have the question that will never, ever die: why did Grant Naylor split?
Basically Rob wanted to go off and do his own thing and write on his own. So that’s what he did … We were best friends since we were nine years old, he was my best friend first and my writing partner second but I confess that I thought it was an absolutely nuts idea us splitting up and I told him more than million times.
It wasn’t the first time he’d wanted to go off and write his own things. The first time he wanted to go off was just after the electrician’s strike … I got offered the chance to produce Spitting Image on my own and I said that if he wanted to get together again I’d refuse the offer but if not I’d produce Spitting Image. He wanted to get back together so I turned down their offer.
While a lot of this story has been told before, I find Doug’s choice of words very interesting regarding their situation in 1987. The use of the phrase “get back together” really does suggest that there was, to all intents and purposes, a proper Grant Naylor split even before the first series was shot, rather than just mild, but not entirely serious, rumblings from Rob Grant about going off on his own. It’s all mildly terrifying, to be honest.
At this point I’ll skip past the parts where he talks about the possibility of a movie (I absolutely refuse to think about the possibility of this any more – not least because of what we now know about The Beginning), his thoughts on “almost sort of co-directing” and numerous other anecdotes we’re all familiar with and move on to the *really* interesting bit of the interview. Turns out we’ve got ourselves two ‘lost’ episodes (and apologies to Starburst for quoting this in full but it’s needed, I think):
Will we see Kochanski making a return in this series?
That’s a real difficult one because if I told you that it wouldn’t really be fair!
There were two things really. One is that the whole idea of the series was to get the four guys back on Red Dwarf and have a vibe like those middle series. Also, I knew if this series wasn’t a hit in the way we all want it to be, there’d be no more series. I knew what the stakes were, so there were some battles I wasn’t going to lose. Having the audience back was one of them. Perhaps as a result of that decision we lost two weeks of filming – both our Exterior shoot weeks – to pay for the audience. This meant that two scripts I intended for the series died as we weren’t able to have exterior locations and in a bizarre way that forced us to make Red Dwarf X even more like the early series. We’ve got one exterior in the entire series which is in a forest which was in the back-lot over the wall of K stage in Shepperton. Everything else is studio.
Although there’s a show where we’re in India in 23AD, it’s a massive set, but it’s all interior. Even in series two, we had a quarry but we couldn’t afford a quarry this time – that’s sad isn’t it? So, there were plans to have Kochanski in this series in the last two shows, but those last two shows didn’t happen. That’s not to say that she won’t be in it, but equally it’s not answering your question either!
We speculated way back in our Series X Preview DwarfCast about the lack of a proper location shoot and now it looks like the money spent on getting an audience scuppered those plans. As Doug hints, I think it’s ended up helping this series to be more set-bound, especially when you consider we also have original music from Howard Goodall, the return of models and the sets themselves looking amazing – all of which avoid this series feeling like it’s been harmed by a tight budget.
The fact that the two ‘lost’ episodes were meant to be 5 and 6 does suggest that Dear Dave and The Beginning are their replacements, which makes perfect sense when you consider the bottle nature of the former and the movie script origins of the latter. The Beginning is almost expected to be great at this point, but I also imagine Dear Dave will be a popular episode based on the 20 minutes I saw shot. We’re now in a pleasing situation where economies of scale could mean a bit more money will be available in Series XI for location shoots, in a similar way to how series 2 managed to spread its wings after series 1 laid down the ground work.
What Doug does very well here is sidestep the issue of whether Kochanski will appear in this series. I refuse to be drawn into argument about whether her inclusion would be a good or a bad thing, because at this point it’s absolutely impossible to tell. Her appearance in BtE – as short as it was – was very, very well done and we’ve already seen evidence of large scale improvements in the show since series VIII, so who the fuck knows whether Kochanski would be a positive or negative influence on the show now? What I do know is that Doug will write the episodes he wants to write, and if he thinks the appearance of Kochanski will be good for the show, then she’ll be back in and no amount of arm flailing from fanboys will change that.
So, that will probably be the last bit of major publicity before tomorrow night’s Fan Première of Trojan. Ian, Danny and I will there so I imagine we’ll report back on Wednesday night to provide the pertinent details. Then, after that, it’s broadcast. Sweet, sweet broadcast. As mentioned previously our Instant Reaction DwarfCasts will be returning (more on those nearer the time) and this time we’ll also be publishing written reviews of each episode a few days after broadcast. We’re going to bombard you fuckers, and you’re gonna love it.
Just, please, don’t break my server.