Red Dwarf XI – Episode 2 – 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 last week. As will be the case more often than not for these two series, G&T weren’t there. But you’re in safe hands for this set report, as we’ve called in the professionals. To guide you through this comedy TV production, please welcome comedian Phil Pagett and television director Alex Scott, both of whom were kind enough to answer our probing questions about the second episode of the eleventh series.

Last week, we established that the audience experience at Pinewood was vaguely similar to that at Shepperton, so let’s concentrate on what’s different this week. While Doug was only glimpsed from a distance during the first record, he gave his traditional audience greeting this time:

Alex: Doug came out at the start and reminded everyone not to tweet spoilers. Ray the warm-up guy also reminded everyone several times. Doug also noted there’s a few effects shots missing, and told us not to worry. All the cast spoke at some point during downtime. There was also a Happy Birthday to Richard Naylor, who was given cake and a little toy Audi model car.

What of the sets? Last time it was the sleeping quarters, science room, Starbug cockpit and some corridors, but is there any variation here?

Phil: Same as last week, but we also had an additional one for the opening scene. This was also “round the back”. The Starbug cockpit I didn’t much care for. Didn’t look like Starbug to me, more generic spaceship, despite the various nods to previous iterations. Perhaps it’ll grow on me.

Uh-oh, but what did the cast look like?

Phil: All fab. Kryten’s body suit looks a bit flimsy to me, but I agree with the report last week the mask is an improvement on the one from X. Lister and Rimmer haven’t changed much since X. Cat’s wig is fine as far as I’m concerned. But yeah, bit pube-like. If we’re splitting hairs. EH?!

Alex: Cat had a couple of costumes; one garish yellow suit and a sparkly gold sequin jacket. Kryten’s outfit looked different to me. Shoulder pads don’t have the piping that sticks out, back panel looked like foam armour. Thigh and leg pieces were foam plate sections. Head looked great!

Now, given Alex’s professional background as a studio director, we were interested to know what he made of the way Red Dwarf is produced. Did anything surprise him about how Doug and the gang go about things, or was it exactly as he expected from a studio record?

Alex: It was exactly as I expected from a studio record.

Oh.

Alex: There was less of a technical background given to the audience. We rocked up, had Ray the warm-up guy, and then straight into it. There was very little downtime. They had worked out which scenes to shoot, then moved all the equipment a few feet up the set to utilise the next area, played VTs during moving time (inserts for the actual episode), re-dressed a few areas for shooting later. They were also shot in sequence, which I understand isn’t always the norm. Definitely helps from an audience point of view.

And speaking of those VTs:

Phil: I’d say it was about half and half between live and pre-record. There’s a montage about two thirds of the way through that had some gaps. The pre-recorded scenes were a mix of studio and location – the location stuff was that place where the last Mission: Impossible filmed some stuff. I’m not good with names. Soz.

A quick Google reveals that Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, as well as containing too much punctuation, shot some scenes at Fawley Power Station in Hampshire. This seems a likely candidate, considering we know the cast and crew stayed in a nearby hotel. Anyway, back to the techy stuff. Is the set up, as we suspect, similar to X?

Alex: Still using four RED cameras. They really optimised the size of the set! There was at least two set re-dresses to make one room into another, with lighting and colour change to indicate different levels or areas. They did a good job of hiding the set til we were ready to shoot, and good at hiding other elements to get a genuine audience reaction. For example, turning off every single light so they could set something up, then shoot and have the surprise reveal for the audience.

And it seems from all accounts that surprise is very much a byword for this episode.

Phil: It’s a very difficult ep to talk about without spoiling. One reveal got a gasp from the audience. So I’m wary of that.

Yes, we’re going to be very careful here, but given that birthday boy/producer Richard Naylor has retweeted this particular tweet, we feel comfortable to report that this is a Cat-centric episode, something which Doug revealed was on the cards during his Dimension Jump Q&A. Furthermore, as I personally have no idea whether this is the case or not, I’m happy to posit the question: does this episode deal with The Cat’s virginity, as mentioned by Danny in that banter-based Digital Spy interview? Or will Cat episodes turn out to be like buses or black holes, and we’ll end up with more than one across these twelve?

But while neither G&T or our correspondents are prepared to reveal any more about what happens in the episode, we can share the opinions of those that have seen it. And it’s good news indeed.

Alex: Fantastic. Very much in the spirit of the original series. Completely on par with Series X. Great jokes. Great writing.

Phil: Honestly the best episode of the Dave era for me. Some great gags and a more satisfying plot than most from X. The cast were on great form too, particularly Danny.

Alex: There were definitely elements from previous episodes that played a part. There was also a couple of homages. The Aliens movie scanner ‘ping’ was a sound I recognised during one VT scene, along with a similar type of Aliens corridor scene. Very funny. There was also an East 17 homage! At least that’s what I think I saw.

Phil: Lovely to see Kill Crazy back.

TINY TEASER: Hedgehog With A Top Hat
APPROXIMATE SCENE COUNT: 10-15 (Total so far: 33-41)
APPROXIMATE SMEG COUNT: 1 (Total so far: 3)


A huge thanks once again to Alex and Phil, who we’re pretty sure was joking in that last bit, but you never know. To hear more of his hilarious comedy, listen to his podcasts News With Jokes and Stay For The Credits. And to read more from Alex about his career, credits and crowdfunding exploits, visit his website, Mercian Media.

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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16 Responses to Red Dwarf XI – Episode 2 – Set Report

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  1. The Starbug cockpit I didn’t much care for. Didn’t look like Starbug to me, more generic spaceship, despite the various nods to previous iterations.

    Hm. If the ‘bug cockpit is as different as has been suggested, it’ll be a real shame. Of course, none of us would turn off in disgust, but the tradional Starbug cockpit is like an old friend. Sad that it sounds like we’ve seen the last of it.
    Looking forward to RDXI a ridiculous amount, though.

  2. Was the kill crazy mention just a joke? I assume it was otherwise it’s a spoiler O.O

    Bit worried about the gasp from the audience though as whatever it was had shock value and that’s either gonna be good or bad and series X didn’t really do it for me in that respect

  3. Sounding promising, so far. :)

    I don’t think we can be too harsh on them for not re-creating the ‘bug cockpit, especially if it wasn’t going to be featured as much as VI/VII. As for it being a Cat episode, it’s about blummin time, let’s be fair! X saw Danny basically reclaim the character IMO so I can’t wait to see him get his day in the sun at last!

  4. Am I really the only one who would be delighted to see Kill Crazy return? Well, are me and Jake Wood the only ones?

    There have been at least 3 different Starbug cockpits so of course I’ll go along with it. We’re Dwarf fans so we embrace change!

  5. I spoke to Phil about the Starbug. And I agree. It’s not the constitution of the set, it’s not how it’s shot, although they used some strange angles which have not been used before in that setting. It’s to do with something that distracts the eye.

    Again the intermission shots of Starbug travelling looked like a Series 5, and the Nostromo. Hoping for some awesome model shots to be inserted here.

    I spotted one error in the production where some doors close. From the shot in the monitor you can see them bounce apart again.

  6. Interesting that people aren’t keen on Cat’s hair (Danny’s wig). I didn’t like Lister’s hair in X, and am surprised it isn’t mentioned more, alongside Kryten’s mask.
    I’m looking forward to the new series, but ‘on par with series X’ isn’t exciting me.

    … It’s got to be better than Still Open All Hours.

  7. I’m looking forward to the new series, but ‘on par with series X’ isn’t exciting me.

    To be fair that’s one person’s opinion, the general consensus is that the writing has generally been better and more focused. Either way I think it best to just see for ourselves and form our own opinion as really it’s very subjective and there are those who feel series X ranks up amongst the show’s best…….I’m not one of those people, but you get the point.

  8. >X-I-ting.

    Dave should definitely use this.

  9. I actually caught episode 6 of Still Open All Hours recently and thought it was decent!

  10. G&T Admin

    I find Still Open All Hours frustrating, but it feels like it’s very nearly there, but… not quite. Episode 3 was by far the best episode of the last series. Hoping for more episodes like that.

    Also worth noting that all the best lines in Still Open All Hours come from the female characters, despite it being by a male writer. Which contrasts rather strongly with Dwarf. (Pree aside.)

  11. Do we think Still Open All Hours should become a ‘HOT TOPIC’?

    Roy Clarke writes very well for women, I think. Keeping Up Appearances was very female-centric.

  12. I think the issue writing for women with Red Dwarf comes from a struggle to fit female characters into the dynamic of the show, this became particularly obvious with kochanski in series 7 and 8. Doug tried to introduce her as the straight man/woman of the show who would be driven mad by the Dwarfers’ idiocy, but it failed for a few reasons….firstly they show never needed a straight man/woman before and only made Rimmer’s departure more obvious, and the other characters all acted very different around her which only further upset the paradim of the show. Series 8 however Doug tried to have her character more in on the jokes, however this lead to other issues as when taking away the straight man/woman persona she just sorta became a non-character, the genric token female character.

    Roy Clarke to be fair has the advantage of having females be part of the regular cast from the start, they are part of the dynamic from the get go rather then having them inserted in half the way into the show’s run.

  13. >the issue writing for women with Red Dwarf comes from a struggle to fit female characters into the dynamic

    Definitely. Imagine if in the third series of Porridge there was a female main character. It would probably be funny for a week, then it would all get a bit too rapey. The globular matriarch is an easier fit in these situations, I’d argue. And you’re right, it’s tricky (and perhaps a little unfair) to compare Clarke’s female characters. They all have reasons for being there. Either as foils for the twatty men, or as twatty characters in their own right.
    However, I’d have expected Doug to have thought about all this beforehand and – you know – done his job properly… If it’s a struggle to fit her in, then fit her in with a struggle. Or don’t bother.

    John probably hit in on the head in the last Dwarfcast when he said he’d be happy with any Kochanski who could act… Did he say that? It sounds like something he might have said if he didn’t actually say it*.

    *Watertight.

  14. I know Grogan’s Kochanski isn’t the most well-loved character, but I wouldn’t mind a return to her in a sort of ‘somebody I can actually imagine being with Lister’ type of way. The later Kochanski isn’t somebody I can imagine having time for Lister, nor somebody I can imagine Lister being in love with. So not only does the writing fall into horrible female stereotypes (the ‘grumpy girlfriend’ character who likes horses and Jane Austen), but there’s not even any internal logic for the stereotypes to exist.

  15. G&T Admin

    Yeah, I’m probably being slightly unfair on the female characters front in Dwarf comparing it to Clarke’s stuff. I mainly just wanted an excuse to point out how great Clarke is as writing women, which is possibly unexpected considering his generation.

    On the other hand, shit like Irene really doesn’t help one little bit.

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