Red Dwarf XI – Episode 1 – Set Report

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This article discusses Red Dwarf XI & XII whilst adhering to G&T’s spoiler policy. Please ensure your comments do likewise…

A full episode of Red Dwarf has been recorded in front of a studio audience for the first time since 2012. G&T weren’t there, which as you might expect has had a slight impact on our coverage. But fear not, because we had some top secret special agents in the audience, namely Jo Sharples and Shelley Smith, both of The Official Red Dwarf Fan Club. We sent them a few questions, and they were kind enough to jot down their observations and opinions. So allow them to be your guides as we document their experiences of the first studio date of twelve…

First of all, what’s the audience set up like at Pinewood, as opposed to Shepperton?

Jo: Tickets were checked as we drove into the studios. We were directed to the on-site parking by various yellow coated people. There was no queue to get in. The audience holding area was a marquee, which was next to a slightly larger marquee, holding the audience for Still Open All Hours.

Shelley: On entering the marquee, we were given wristbands and a number. There were already a few number of people sat waiting and there was noticeably a lot more men than women. We were then led over to the studio which was only a five minute-ish walk (a couple of slopes but no steps). The set was covered with black curtains when we arrived, so all we could see was four TV screens featuring a spinning Red Dwarf XI logo. There were a disappointing number of empty seats which is hopefully a one off and won’t continue for future recordings.

Ray Peacock returns as warm-up man, having proved popular during the four of six Series X recordings he covered.

Jo: He had a few gags that I remembered from last time, but mostly he chatted with audience members, talked about the fact that Star Wars was filming next door (and that there were enough of us that we could take the eight security guards and storm the Millennium Falcon), and chatted about what was happening on set.

Shelley: There was no sign of Doug at all, although we were assured he was there somewhere. The cast came to the front of the curtain before filming began, one by one as they were introduced by Ray, and Craig took the mic to say that he had been asked by Doug to remind us to not film or take pictures, and to not post spoilers. He asked us to laugh loudly, particularly at his jokes.

Both Jo and Shelley report that Rimmer’s costume is largely unchanged from Series X, but add that his hair is now all wavy. Please God, let’s not have the wig debate again. Lister also sports a familiar look, with a few alterations that are described as reminiscent of Craig’s own dress sense. There seemed to be some confusion as to the colour of Cat’s suit, but apparently his hair has changed significantly:

Jo: A lot less sleek and cat-like than previously. Quite square on top and the ponytail had a lot of volume.

Shelley: The style is fine but the hair itself is frizzy to the point of being pube-like.

We already know that Kryten’s mask seems to be an improvement, but does it look as good in person as it did in that tweet?

Shelley: The mask is far better than series X, the eye bags have gone, it’s a better shape, and the nose is less angular. With this mask you can actually tell that it’s Robert under there; whether that’s down to the shape of it or if it’s been made with different materials I’m not sure, but definitely a vast improvement.

Jo: I’m not sure about the body. The ridging is different and I think the shoulders have been redesigned too. It looks like they’ve altered the joints for ease of movement. I’ll likely get used to it, but it felt a bit odd.

Shelley: Robert seemed to move about fairly easily in it. I was amused to see a crew member tap him on the shoulder twice to offer him a drink, before giving up and standing directly in front of him – he clearly can’t feel a thing through that costume!

And when the curtains came down, what sets were revealed, and what do they look like? Well, we’ll go easy on the descriptions for now, in the hope that some lovely photos or behind-the-scenes video are released at some point soon. So we’ll paraphrase this bit rather than quoting directly. As expected, the bunkroom is similar but not identical to when we saw it last – smaller and more sparse. The Science Room that Doug mentioned has indeed taken the place of the Drive Room, and for this episode at least contained the medical equipment seen in the photo. And yes, there’s a Starbug cockpit, and it’s squeezed in round the side of the other sets, making it hard for the audience to see it up close. The ubiquitous corridors are similarly tucked away, but well-textured and well-lit – the lighting in general is described as striking and unusual.

But what of the episode itself? Well, just over half the scenes were performed live before the audience, with the rest a combination of pre-recorded studio scenes and location footage.

Jo: The location footage looks like it might have been shot in the same place as one of Richard’s recce photos (the one with all the pipes). The pre-recorded scenes were clearly rough cuts and there seemed to be some gaps where model shots will go. Some of those gaps were filled by scenes that had been ripped from other TV shows – some of them had the old Sci-Fi channel logo in the corner!

Unlike many studio sit-com recordings, each scene of Red Dwarf X was shot several times, gaining extra camera coverage at the cost of the audience’s sanity. We wondered if this was still the case this time round, so we asked our reporters how many takes were done of each scene, on average:

Shelley: 74. Not really, but some scenes evidently felt that way for poor Robert. He made several pleas to just ‘go from that last line’ rather than begin the whole scene again.

Jo: They seemed to do two or three full takes of each scene, but there were some issues with long pieces of dialogue throughout the episode, so it took them a while to get there.

Shelley: The first scene with all 4 of the cast was easily 10+ takes, due to line fluffing or the boom being in shot, but it got far better after that scene. The last scene to be recorded was done several times, as Danny’s lines were all re-done as close ups, and Doug asked him (via headset to the crew) to redo a line as he was listing things in the wrong order, which didn’t make any difference to the joke or the plot.

Earlier, Robert checked whether he was supposed to say ‘alongside’ or ‘next to’ as he had been specifically told before filming which one to say. Craig was also pulled up for saying ‘Kryten’ or ‘Krytes’ too many times in one scene. Doug is clearly being very strict about the script being followed to the letter.

The last scene, like a few other scenes, was filmed in its entirety twice. When the crew announced this there were obvious groans from a few members of the audience. Ray heard these and quite rightly pointed out that we may never be in front of this cast, live recording this show again, so to make the most of it. I felt like giving him a little hug for that but he didn’t seem like a hugger. Filming began around 6 and finished around 10.30.

That just about covers everything we’re allowed to discuss, but one big question remains… is it any good?

Jo: It’s an ensemble episode, with no real focus on any one character. If this is the first aired episode, I think it’ll be a great opener – a solid, fun romp with the RD crew. There are some great jokes in there – from memory I’d say four or five genuine belly laughs, and lots of other jokes which raised chuckles dotted throughout. If I had to choose another series to compare it to… the general feel I get from this episode is Series IV.

Shelley: The style of the episode seems to be carrying on from series X, it’s revamped and modern looking but with some very comforting nods to the show’s roots. Some very funny bits from all four of the main cast, and (on VT) one scene which was genuinely quite scary – not common in Red Dwarf. The audience were pretty quiet when it ended!

TINY TEASER: No Longer Insane
APPROXIMATE SCENE COUNT: 23-26
SMEG COUNT: 2


Thanks once again to Jo and Shelley. Are you, or someone you know, going to a Red Dwarf XI or XII audience recording? Would you, or they, be willing to answer a few questions over the weekend afterwards? Please get in touch and help us out!

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40 Responses to Red Dwarf XI – Episode 1 – Set Report

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  1. Fairly accurate report from Jo & Shelley there. Can I say how nice it was to see some younger audience members there too – not just old school fans.

    A couple of additional points with NO SPOILERS:

    – The mocked-up model shots featured Starbug superimposed over shots of the Nostromo from Alien and an exploding ship from Battlestar Galactica (with the Syfy logo watermark).
    – Only the far right of the audience could get a glimpse of Starbug’s set, it was tucked behind the bunk room to the far right of the studio.
    – It was VERY much a Series IV episode!!!
    – There were some utter twat audience members it has to be said!!! Some guys next to my girlfriend were criticising the quality of the jokes and gave up laughing after half an hour, and a guy near the front who thought the behind the scenes camera filming was a ‘boring job’? Two words = Fuck. Off. Two many wannabe comedians. Tiresome.
    – Ray did a very good job in keeping it going and dealing with the twats.
    – Danny’s eyebrows were VERY different along with the hair, outfit was classically outrageous.
    – Frankly, i’d say Chris Barrie has NEVER been more Rimmer-like than last night – he was absolutely smack on performance-wise! Plus his hair looked a lot better than in X.
    – Craig’s performance was effortless – acting day in and day out on a soap clearly helps, very good indeed.
    – Robert REALLY struggled, it was all over his face. He had a tough night! The more relaxed he got in a scene the better it got. Mask does look better than X, but still very different from any previous series.
    – The cast seemed VERY frustrated with the crew by the end – we were told they had been working since 8am that day.
    – The VT location stuff was very good – reminiscent in tone to ‘Justice’.
    – The lighting really looked superb when viewed on the monitors.
    – There was an additional corridor running down the right side of the bunkroom that wasn’t used.
    – There were set’s flatpacked outside the entrance to the studio marked ‘Red Dwarf XI/XII Lift’.
    – A member of the audience travelled from JAPAN to watch the recording.
    – The recording didn’t start at 6 – more likely between 6.30/7.00pm. We left the marquee at 6.

    Overall a brilliant experience, a great episode, some great dialogue – but I was genuinely flagging by the end.

    My heartfelt condolences to the editor. Seriously.

  2. The piece did say that Starbug’s set was around the corner. I was under the impression that none of the audience could see it, but since we were sat at the far left of the audience, we had no chance anyway.

    The audience member who travelled from Japan was Mr Torii, who DJers might know as a regular attendee. He’s also part of the team who got the Japanese release of BTE/RDX recently.

    “The cast seemed VERY frustrated with the crew by the end – we were told they had been working since 8am that day.”
    Really? I thought it was clear that they were tired, but I’d say they were more annoyed with themselves at not getting it right. I didn’t see any evidence of them getting irritated with the crew. If you mean the snark that Danny had at the end with the guy who needlessly fed him his line, I think he was playing that up for audience reaction to be honest.

    We left the marquee before 6pm actually, but I’m sure Shelley meant that 6-10:30pm was how long the whole thing took.

  3. We left the marquee in 4 separate batches, I was still in there in the third batch at gone 6 – then we queued outside before going over.

    No i’d say for sure that both Danny and Robert were genuinely frustrated with the script prompt on a number of occasions. There was an audible verbal complaint from Danny as to why he had to do his lines again as there was a camera already on him during the full take of the scene. There were several moments where a number of the audience around me remarked that the cast were clearly getting pissed off. No one was laughing. Still – at least we laughed at the lines, some of which were genuinely very funny.

    It’s not a negative, took nothing away from the night. I was more fascinated to see it all play out so genuine in front of some 200 people.

    Hats off to Mr Torii I have to say! My only regret of the whole night is NOT storming the Star Wars set. Truly. That would of been fun.

  4. You’d say “for sure”? Again, I’d say they were tired and yes, frustrated at having to re-do scenes or pieces of dialogue, but not AT the script prompt, just frustrated at not getting it right. The verbal complaint at needing to do pick ups on his close-ups from Danny was aimed at the gallery, not the guy stood in front of him, that was obvious from my seating position.
    I’m not being argumentative, but they’re professionals and I’m just not sure saying that the cast were visibly frustrated with the crew, when I’d disagree that they were, is helpful or informative… but that’s just my opinion.

    Mr Torii is a star, that man has serious commitment to RD!

  5. Thank you for the reports. Jo, Shelly and G&T!

    It just goes to show how different perspectives of the the same thing happening can be taken different ways.

    It definitely sounds like an adventure Episode. It always feels more Red Dwarf when they are moving around from location to location, more depth, more action. Story building seems to work better this way.

    As long as it’s funny. Get the Rimmer insults back in, the sarcasm. Kryten knowing everything but never getting the acceptance of his knowledge.

    I have also been reliably informed to take seat protection!

  6. I’m just not sure saying that the cast were visibly frustrated with the crew, when I’d disagree that they were, is helpful or informative… but that’s just my opinion.

    TBH Jo it’s just how I and many people I was with saw it. It’s not a big deal. It is informative because it’s the kinda thing you only witness by being at a recording.

    Can we hug and agree it was a GREAT episode though Jo? :D

  7. Yes, thanks for the report Jo, Shelley and thomasaevans.

    And thanks for being so informative, while keeping out the spoilers.

    I have also read the report from Gazpacho Soup and so far the general feeling is very positive.

    One important question* that really needs to be answered**….

    Does Kryten still have those handlebar loop things poking out of the tips of his shoulders? If that’s too much of a spoiler, never mind.

    *It really isn’t.
    ** It really doesn’t. I can wait… honest….

  8. Oh, and I’m glad there’s a scary bit. I like those kinds of episode.

  9. Does Kryten still have those handlebar loop things poking out of the tips of his shoulders?

    SPOILER ALERT – DELETE IF NESSACARY

    CouldNt pOssibly say!

  10. Sounds promising, I like when the show isn’t afraid to go abit dark sometimes

  11. Very good report and mostly very encouraging indeed, as is the one on G******* S***. Shame about the empty audience seats. Can you be more specific than “a disappointing number”? I’d have been a bit disappointed if I’d spotted any at all.

  12. I was so focused on the set I didn’t really think to see how many empty seats there were. I don’t think it was a huge figure. Rough idea Jo?

  13. Can we hug and agree it was a GREAT episode though Jo? :D

    It was a very good episode :)

    Re: Empty seats – the far left seat on each row of our section was empty (as we were asked to move across and fill in the empty aisle seats) and there was an almost full empty row in the production guests section… so, maybe about 15 empty seats? I didn’t notice any dotted about, but then I wasn’t really looking to be honest.

  14. It’s possible that those were left empty on purpose. The fact that it was one seat to the end of each row makes me think that it might have been as I’ve been to recordings where that has happened before, and the ushers dictated how many people were on each row when they told you where to go.

  15. It’s possible that those were left empty on purpose. The fact that it was one seat to the end of each row makes me think that it might have been as I’ve been to recordings where that has happened before, and the ushers dictated how many people were on each row when they told you where to go.

    If that was the intention, then you’d think that they would have marked the seats prior to us sitting down. Also that implies that there were more than 250 seats available, which I would disagree with…

  16. We know there’s a Starbug cockpit, but plenty of people are wondering if there is a mid-section as well. I’d also love to know just how different the cockpit set is from what we have been used to. Is it quite similar to before but with a few changes or is it mostly different with onyl one or two subtle throwbacks to what it was? Also, is it clean (III, IV and V) or dirty (VI, VII & I suppose VIII). Argh! I wish I had an audience ticket!

  17. I have a theory about the Starbug cockpit, which I’m not sure I should voice in case it turns out to be true, suffice to say it relates to the one, very visible distinguishing characteristic of the RDX sets.

  18. I have a theory about the Starbug cockpit, which I’m not sure I should voice in case it turns out to be true, suffice to say it relates to the one, very visible distinguishing characteristic of the RDX sets.

    If you are thinking they might have used the Red Dwarf X drive room as the initial framing but stripped it down and remodelled for the Starbug cockpit, I think that has occured to everyone. I’m not even in the same continent as the Red Dwarf XI audience and it occured to me that it’s probably what they’d do. If that is the case I just hope that it’s done in just such a way that you can’t tell.

  19. That wasn’t what I was thinking actually, but it’s a good point.

  20. That wasn’t what I was thinking actually, but it’s a good point.

    Dang…..I thought I had it.

  21. I think he’s suggesting “they painted it green”.

  22. I think I know what Paul is saying. In RDX the Red Dwarf Bunkroom and Drive Room were red. The Blue Midget interior was rather blue.

    So Starbug could very well run along the same lines.

    EDIT: Somebody pipped me to the post! If I ever find out who did it, etc etc.

  23. Can the gods of Ganymede confirm that i’m not allowed to describe the new Starbug cockpit set?

  24. Is it aquamarine with a diagonal lemon stripe?

  25. I have no idea what the new Starbug set looks like but I think I’m right in saying that it looked completely different in each series anyway. In VII all those fans reminded me of The Mary Whitehouse Experience.

  26. G&T Admin

    > Can the gods of Ganymede confirm that i’m not allowed to describe the new Starbug cockpit set?

    No further detail than was revealed in the article, I’m afraid. Thanks for checking.

    Anyone who didn’t attend the recording is more than welcome to speculate. Anyone who *did* attend can’t confirm or deny though…

  27. thomasaevans: Can the gods of Ganymede confirm that i’m not allowed to describe the new Starbug cockpit set?

    In the absence of any Gods of Ganymede, I’d refer you to the bit of the G&T spoiler policy that says

    Details revealed via Dave, Grant Naylor or Baby Cow can and will be discussed openly; the same applies to things revealed by the cast and crew on social media or in interviews. However, if spoilers from the audience recordings are revealed elsewhere on the net, they can not be discussed here.

    and pretty much confirm that you’re not.
    So stay schtum.

  28. Oh. A God appeared as I did my good deed for the day. Never mind.

  29. Thanks Ian/Si.

    Don’t want to come across as soliciting spoilers, obviously happy to wait and find out details via the official channels.

    Maybe we could have a designated ‘XI/XII speculation thread’ where those who haven’t attended the recordings can rampantly bounce around ideas?

    It would also be fun to read through it in a couple of years’ time and see just how incredibly wrong we were about everything.

  30. G&T Admin

    The cast and crew may post some pictures and stuff as the weeks progress. Well some of them. Well one of them… Maybe.

  31. Yes, a speculation thread. We need to discuss Chris’s wig/hair.

    *hides*

  32. > speculate

    The inside of a rat’s anus?

  33. G&T Admin

    Maybe we could have a designated ‘XI/XII speculation thread’ where those who haven’t attended the recordings can rampantly bounce around ideas?

    If you like, but as I say speculation is welcome in all the usual places – don’t feel it *has* to be kept separate.

  34. If Chris has hair in the new series, it’s a rug, a hair piece, a syrup mate!

  35. *is excite*!!

    I like the sound of the ‘interesting’ lighting mentioned, and actual location pre-records. For it to feel anything remotely like a IV episode is more than we could have hoped for!

    I hope the next few recordings run a little smoother and the cast get more relaxed with the setup etc. It would be a shame for them to be run into the ground so soon into the shoot… I’m sure it’ll all be fine! :)

  36. Everyone else is saying IV, but I still think V is the strongest vibe I got from it. Which is almost entirely down to the location scenes, I think.

  37. Everyone else is saying IV, but I still think V is the strongest vibe I got from it. Which is almost entirely down to the location scenes, I think.

    What counts as a ‘IV’ vibe etc? The laughs? Action? Sciency bits?

  38. Huh. When I think of series V’s tone, I think dark and/or introspective.

    Are the location scenes either dark or introspective?

  39. Depending how ‘dynamic’ this new lighting setup is, they could be incredibly dark.

  40. Really, the lighting is exciting me. Possibly my biggest non-a bit Chinesey problem with X was the bright sitcom lighting. Something like IV and V… yes please.

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