Red Dwarf XII – 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 2015. As will be the case for the vast majority of this series, G&T weren’t there. But we have some excellent volunteers who were there. The main report comes courtesy of Emmeline May AKA The RockstarDinosaurPiratePrincess, while Carrie Parsons of the Fan Club adds her spoiler-free thoughts on what sounds like a quite remarkable series opener.

Having been a fan of Red Dwarf since Series 1 was broadcast in 1988, being able to get hold of a precious ticket to the filming of Series XII (TWELVE!) has pretty much made my life. I have been asked to provide a non-spoilery set report for Ganymede & Titan – I will do my best!

When the curtains went back to reveal the set for the first episode of Series XII, the first thing that struck me was how big it was – there was only one section that we could see in its entirety from our audience position, and this turned out to be (most likely) a set purpose built for this story. There were corridors that extended around the back of the set, therefore outside of the audience view. The Bunk Room looked similar to how it looked in Series X but from our seats we could only see half of it. Luckily for us, very little was filmed in the section we couldn’t see!

Starbug’s interior was allegedly over in the far corner but I don’t think it was visible to any of the audience, and then to the far side of the audience was another set that again appeared to have been dressed specifically for this story. The sets do look fantastic in real life, it was really exciting for a long term fan to feel like rooms from Red Dwarf are right there in front of you. The attention to detail even in the sets that appear to be built just for one or two shots in one story shows how much heart is being put into this series. I was really struck by the level of detail in the dressing, particularly in the bunk room; something you can’t necessarily see on screen.

Before filming started, Doug Naylor let us know that as Chris Barrie had been unwell in the previous week, there were a few scenes missing; none seemed to affect the sense of the storyline at all. He also said that the model shots hadn’t been completed at the time, so were filled in with some storyboard style drawings and narration from Kryten and with a few visual effects made using Another Sci-Fi Franchise ™ and perhaps MS Paint. One shot in particular worked rather well and maybe they should keep it – I probably shouldn’t say what it was in case they get in trouble for copyright! The pre-shot scenes on VT were partly location shoots (one particularly dramatic location that looked really familiar) and partly on the same sets, but with a very good reason for being pre-shot that I cannot reveal because #spoilers.

Spoiler-free Mini Review

Firstly, I noticed how very full the holding area was compared to last time. According to Lost In TV, there were only three returned tickets, so this may have been the first recording where sadly not all of the standbys were going to get in. Most of the corporate tickets showed and Ray Peacock announced that some of them were currently working on Star Wars VIII although this wasn’t drawn attention to any further.

Bunk room set remains mostly unchanged since XI, with a couple of small decorative items shifted about, perhaps to show a very small passage of time. However, we didn’t have the Science Room set this week. Starbug was used but still sat behind the bunk room set and so out of direct view. Tonight’s episode introduced a new ‘comedy’ feature to Starbug’s abilities which should make for an amusing visual gag once model shots are complete.

It’s been made fairly obvious via various clues on Twitter that this was indeed a Kryten-based episode. And yes, it was THAT episode. There were a handful of back references to previous series, namely III and IV, as well as Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers. There was even a quick one word reference to Series X which elicited a lovely reaction from the audience who clearly recognised it too. There was also a giggle-inducing Howard Goodall composition…

This episode was guest-star heavy with some brilliant performances that secured well-deserved laughs. One particular guest actor, even in heavy make up, was instantly recognisable from his voice and mannerisms. It was a pleasantly surprising but very welcome addition to the Red Dwarf family, who would make an amazing DJ guest!

Carrie Parsons

There seemed to be a few production issues, perhaps down to this being the first episode to be filmed, with long breaks in between each scene, some resetting of some live effects and a few long delays in running the VT after “roll VT” was said. The warm up comedian Ray Peacock did a great job; “warm up” is a bit of a misnomer as it suggests he just gets everyone in a mood to laugh before filming when in fact he was more of a “maintaining a comfortable temperature “ comedian, keeping the audience’s engagement and spirit up during the breaks between scenes. At one point he noted that no one was wearing a Cat t-shirt so drew one on the back of an audience member’s white t-shirt, which was later autographed by Danny John Jules, and it was actually rather marvellous. If Ray ever finds himself without a gig, he could always fall back on doing caricatures of people for a fiver a pop at festivals…

There were slightly more VT scenes than live scenes shot, but the live scenes were lengthy and reshot several times each so it felt more balanced. While the proportion was probably close to 60% VT to 40% live it felt more like 50/50. I was surprised by how long the individual scenes were, and how most of them were filmed in one take repeatedly, rather than shorter scenes with the actors resetting for camera changes. One scene in particular was filmed with tracking cameras following cast members as they moved around the set. You really develop an appreciation of the cast’s ability to learn and recall the lines when each scene is filmed in this way.

The professionalism of the cast was clear; as a theatre graduate myself it was fascinating to see each of them prepare their character at the beginning of each scene, moving from larking-about-on-set to focusing, preparing their emotions and tension for the scene, and then once “cut” is called how they relax again. I will never tire of hearing Barrie, Llewellyn and John-Jules switch between their character’s voices and their real voices. On the whole, lines were well rehearsed and I didn’t notice anyone needing their lines written on large pieces of card! From an audience perspective it’s hard to keep laughing at the same lines during re-takes when you know what’s coming up, so it’s testament to the skills of the performers that they manage to keep the lines fresh, sometimes trying slightly different deliveries to keep the lines funny each time. A few aspects of this particular episode really allowed the cast to stretch their acting abilities; you’ll see what I mean when the episode airs and I am sure you will enjoy it as much as the live audience did.

Having said that, there were certainly a decent number of Smeg Ups in this episode. Indeed Barrie made an error in the very first scene after it had taken considerable time to set up (apparently they had to do a last minute set rebuild) and he did struggle more than the rest of the cast with line fluffing, I suspect due to having being ill. We had a few imaginary languages (somewhere between Russian and Korean), a charmingly offensive ad lib from Charles, a few blank Cat stares, the essential comedy gurning from Kryten and even a Barrie “oooh, matron” which is all any Red Dwarf fan can ask from a live show.

There were several guest stars in this episode, and a number of non speaking extras too. I can’t say much about them at risk of revealing plot details, but it lead to some really fantastic scenes and great performances. All of the guest performers were a joy to watch and one scene in particular involving mostly just guest performers is just brilliant, visually and narratively.

As for the plot, it was very much a Kryten focused episode; a really neat little self contained story, albeit with a number of callbacks to other episodes – mostly to Camille, but also perhaps to DNA and even Kryten from Series 2. The story had some interesting twists and some really nice character development opportunities. There was also a really interesting aspect to the story that paralleled both the character development and the experiences of the actors over the years, which I found most enjoyable.

Most importantly, it was very funny. I had aching abs by the end, particularly from the final scene which has a number of really great gags. My housemate Paul, who accompanied me to the filming, commented that it was a real return to form; high praise indeed as he’s not easily impressed and he wasn’t a fan of Series VII or VIII at all. Although Paul’s generally allergic to being positive about things, while I am generally inclined to be overly positive about absolutely everything, he was happy to admit it was easily one of the best episodes he’s seen for a long time. I was too excited to just be there and see the cast and filming process happening in front of my eyes to be truly critical, so to hear him being so optimistic about series XII is a good sign for everyone!

TINY TEASER: Flouncy shirts
APPROXIMATE SCENE COUNT: 16 and a half
APPROXIMATE SMEG COUNT: 1


Huge thanks to The RockstarDinosaurPiratePrincess, who incidentally has a website, along with Twitter and Facebook profiles, and to the Fan Club‘s Carrie Parsons. Are YOU going to any Red Dwarf XII recordings? Would YOU be willing to write a full report, a mini review, or even just answer a few questions? If so, do get in touch.

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41 Responses to Red Dwarf XII – Episode 1 – Set Report

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  1. Sounds excellent, great work. And we have to wait eighteen months or so to wait to see this? That’s just not fair.

  2. The particular guest actor referred to in the mini-review only appeared in VTs and consequently wasn’t name-checked by Ray (presuming we’re thinking of the same person), and I’m now trying to think of a way of confirming they were who I thought they were without actually naming them…

  3. Great review! Reading this though reminds me of how long it’s gonna be ’til it’s on our screens!
    Hey-ho, we’re gonna have a whole series before then anyway!

  4. cwickham – If you immediately thought of someone, it was definitely that person. I don’t think you could possibly confuse them with someone else because…it’s clearly them :D

  5. cwickham – If you immediately thought of someone, it was definitely that person. I don’t think you could possibly confuse them with someone else because…it’s clearly them :D

    Yes, I’m sure it was – I just think the unexpectedness of seeing them combined with the aforementioned heavy make-up job made me initially unsure…

  6. The mention of back references is the only thing that kinda bothers me from readin that.

    I don’t mind if they are there for a good purpose that makes sense to the plot but if they are just there to say hey remember this episode and hey remember that episode then it’s just forced like with a lot of the back references in series 8 and BTE

  7. The mention of back references is the only thing that kinda bothers me from readin that.

    I don’t mind if they are there for a good purpose that makes sense to the plot but if they are just there to say hey remember this episode and hey remember that episode then it’s just forced like with a lot of the back references in series 8 and BTE

    It’s ok, it makes sense to the plot :)

  8. By all reports it’s sounding like series XI/XII (albeit for episode 1) at time writing, could be the new golden years ala IV – VI. I hope that after the tour (if goes ahead) in 2017/18 we get word of either another double block series XIII/XIV or a finale TV movie ala BTE but with a running time of say 90 mins to round out the story…on TV…but leave it able to do full cast audios like Doctor Who does with Big Finish. That way cheaper to produce, no make up or vid-fx but can do numerous stories in one recording session and that way, you get away from the ageing cast/Last Summer Wine in Space debate…

  9. If 11 & 12 are as awesome as the set reports suggest maybe Dave will want to display them not hide them away. I’m optimistic they’ll be broadcast reasonably close together. Be nice to get a DJ in between them too with a sneak preview of 12.

  10. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have my worries about the call backs to past episodes…..We all know Doug has in the past abused that with lead partly to the embarrassment that Back in the Red was.

  11. They’re completely plot relevant back references rather than random call backs so fear not.

  12. G&T Admin

    If you think of “back references” in Dwarf, past examples include:

    * The triplicator in Demons & Angels being developed from Meltdown’s matter paddle
    * Lister saying “only one but she’s got a puncture” in Justice
    * Duct Soup breaking the format in the same way as Marooned
    * Parallel Universe picking up a dangling plot thread from Future Echoes
    * Fathers & Suns developing an idea that was first introduced in Ouroboros
    * Chen, Selby, Petersen or Hollister turning up
    * The bits in Demons & Angels and Back In The Red where characters list things that have happened in the past
    * Characters remarking that the plot of Cassandra is similar to Future Echoes
    * Emohawk
    * Back To Earth

    All of these are *completely* different types of back-ref, and we don’t know whether the ones mentioned in set reports are throwaway lines that provide an extra chuckle for long term fans, or the basis of an entire episode. So calm down.

  13. If 11 & 12 are as awesome as the set reports suggest maybe Dave will want to display them not hide them away. I’m optimistic they’ll be broadcast reasonably close together. Be nice to get a DJ in between them too with a sneak preview of 12.

    I still disagree. I don’t want them to spunk them all in a short space of time, what’s the point in that? Why spend all this time and effort getting the guys together to then rush it all out and have nothing in the bank? Besides Naylor Jr has already said that it’s “very unlikely” that it’ll be Jan 2017. I’m hoping for Sept or Oct air dates in 2016 and 2017.

    Also if they did air the two series that close together, we wouldn’t have time for a DJ in between, because Xmas/New Year/everyone is broke.

  14. I think worries are only justified given some of the shows past issues, also if it’s like Emohawk that would be almost just as worrying because IMO that was the worst episode made before Rob Grant’s departure. I think it’s only fair to have misgivings but I think we would all be happy if those misgivings are proven wrong.

  15. ANYWAY… back on topic.

    I was lucky enough to get into this recording on a standby ticket, a few places behind, formerly of this shire, Carl Wheatley (Hi Carl!). I was pleasantly surprised as I’ve been really worried about how this episode would play out, as it turns out I had nothing to worry about. I really enjoyed it and I laughed lots… which is even more impressive, when you consider that the people sat behind me were chewing gum with their mouths open, kicking the back of my chair and had decided that a running commentary and the repeating of jokes, during takes, was necessary. I didn’t even pummel them to death! Yay me!

    I think people need to chill the fuck out on the back reference thing. IMO it’s just an easy way to explain what kind of feeling you got from an episode, which can (and has been) different for different people. References can be just a quick mention in a throw away line or maybe the use of a particular prop, it doesn’t mean that they’re repeating an episode word for word or ripping off a whole plotline. So seriously CHILL.

    Anyway, I don’t have much to say that wasn’t in the two awesome reports really. So…I LIKED IT. IT WAS GOOD.

  16. …but leave it able to do full cast audios like Doctor Who does with Big Finish. That way cheaper to produce, no make up or vid-fx but can do numerous stories in one recording session and that way, you get away from the ageing cast/Last Summer Wine in Space debate…

    Obviously the series can’t go on forever, but the characters aging has never been an issue for me. If anything it adds to the basic premise of the show, just another thing the lads have to contend with.

    More audios are a good idea though.As is a final film be it cinatic or TV.

  17. Hi Jo lol. Still of this shire, just mainly lurking anonymously! Very grateful to have been among the 9 people who got in on a standby ticket. It definitely paid off to leave 6 hours early. Felt really bad though that so many people were turned away, reportedly for the first time since filming began on XI.

  18. As for my thoughts I think this will turn out to be a fantastic episode when broadcast, though I would be surprised if it ends up as episode 1 as it didn’t feel like your traditional series opener to me.

    As mentioned above, there are several callbacks, one of which made me cringe a little at the time but eventually turned out to be plot relevant and therefore more palatable.

    There was another plot-relevant callback to the only other episode I have ever been to the recording of so now I feel my Red Dwarf audience experience has come full circle :) Although this aspect (which is admittedly not a major element of the episode but more a little catalyst for the plot that later develops) does actually allow you to put a time line in place for when XII is set in comparison to X and actually creates something of a traditional Red Dwarf Plot Hole (as I’m sure many people will notice and point out on broadcast). Certainly not being negative about it, it could be an oversight or pure artistic licence but it doesn’t matter in the slightest. I’m saying no more on that.

    The guest cast were very amusing but other than vaguely recognising one of the cast names read by Ray Peacock – which I then completely forgot by the time the show finished – I don’t know who any of them are. A few of them seemed VERY familiar to me but I just couldn’t put my finger on it. They were great fun anyway.

    The difference to me between this recording and the last one I attended for X was that I came out of the X recording raving about 3 main scenes which raised the roof in Shepperton and the rest I felt was decent but those 3 scenes would raise it to a classic episode. By the time it was broadcast, only one of those scenes stood out anymore, one was actually far more subdued than it was live and the 3rd scene that got major woofers on the night … well… the less said about that the better….

    However this episode I felt was very strong from start to finish with a couple of standout scenes but everything surrounding them was consistent, well written and well played. The cast were perfectly in character and in particular I think Chris Barrie was on his best Rimmer form since VI.

    The guest sets were fantastic. Last time I was sat directly in front of the bunk room but this time I could hardly see the bunk room at all so I couldn’t tell if it was the same as X but previous set reports indicate there are subtle changes. I didn’t get a good look to be able to tell.

    The Starbug set looked a lot better than I had feared. (I only saw it on the monitors as it was not visible from the audience seating) Yeah it’s not the same as the iconic set of old but it’s RD! Nothing stays the same for too long so roll with it. It’s near enough that all you need to do is allow that this particular model has a slightly different cockpit. Not too much of a stretch of the imagination.

    Anyway to sum up I feel more positive about this episode from start to finish than I did the last time I attended, it’s a really focused script and an imaginitive and amusing execution of what could have been a bad gimmick and it is just as strong (and often stronger) than the best stuff in X and much better than anything in VII-BTE. Visually and quality wise it evokes X (naturally) but also V/VI. Loved it.

    Back to lurking I go…

  19. .As is a final film be it cinatic or TV.

    ‘Cinatic?’ I missed out a syllable. And used the word a bit too literally..

    Thanks for the reports everyone!

  20. I’m still trying to wrap my head around the idea that Red Dwarf ever came back in the first place, let alone that by 2017 we’ll have had three-and-a-half series worth of new episodes.

    I first discovered Dwarf in 2007, so Series XII will make for a nice little ten year anniversary present.

  21. I can’t quite get my head around the Starbug issues – from the images we’ve seen, I’d say there’s more of a difference between series III and VI cockpits than there are VI and XI/XII.

  22. So with the callbacks in this episode, to allay fears – consider them more like “references”. They are references back to previous episodes which provide a continuity link to other episodes rather than bringing something back for the sake of it just because it was funny the first time.

    It’s the difference between going on holiday somewhere, a funny thing happening and your friend saying “this reminds me a little bit of that holiday we went on 6 years ago” and everyone having a bit of a laugh about that then getting on with the new holiday or going on the exact same holiday you’ve been on before and trying to recreate the exactly same funny thing that happened before just because it was funny before.

    Emohawk was like that second holiday, trying to relive something but ending up being disappointing because it’s not really authentic; you’re just trying to recapture something that’s best left alone.

    This episode wasn’t like that – the references back to events in previous episodes were literally just that – references which made sense in the wider plot of the episode while also providing a link to previous episodes to support character development.

    I agree that there’s a line between references which help guide a plot and a narrative and just re-doing old ideas. This episode wasn’t a re-do, it was new ideas supported by a few lines which provided a bit of backstory.

  23. The early series of 1 to 6 rarely had back references and when they did like in episodes like DNA and Demons and Angels where because they were so rare you kinda appreciated it more then say with 8, BTE and to a certain extent 10 which seem to make it a more regular thing and were often used to make new jokes out of old ideas which is something i imagine fans would probably do but is something i don’t think Doug should do.

    Its like in entangled when Rimmer and Lister are talking about the radiation leak that killed the crew, in the early days i think Rob and Doug would have come up with a completely new funny story that we haven’t heard before or even knew about that would set up the accident forms subplot but instead Doug was just making jokes out of something we already knew about and felt 20 years to late.

    I actually don’t mind emohawk because it feels like a novelty episode that say BTE was trying to be but i think the difference is that it wasn’t done very often before emohawk while BTE was coming off series 8 where doug had done it quite abit already so once we got to BTE many didn’t appreciate the anniversary call backs because it just become same old at that point

    I like nostalgia just like anyone but i really hope they are handled well.

  24. Thanks for the write up! I’m going to watch on Friday! May I ask how long the whole thing lasted? Just so I know what time I’ll be getting back home. Haha!

  25. Dax 101. Yeah you are right when you say ” 1 to 6 rarely had back references” but don’t let those early series off the hook just like that, they are very guilty of being stuffed with call aheads to series XII. And I for one never liked them. They took so long to pay off.

  26. “does actually allow you to put a time line in place for when XII is set in comparison to X and actually creates something of a traditional Red Dwarf plot hole”

    Interesting Carl, i know you can’t elaborate, and I can see that you can make connections in terms of before/after logic
    But can you actually determine “hole” if you don’t know the content of all other XI scripts not yet aired, and possibly XII
    If recording out of order.

  27. Unless I misheard a particular line, then yes.

  28. > and the 3rd scene that got major woofers on the night … well… the less said about that the better….

    Depending on which episode….Taiwan Tony?? it’s got to be either that or…slag? o.o

  29. I’ve never been a fan of back-referencing in Red Dwarf. Although there’s obviously definite progression with the characters as the show goes on, it was almost always a show in which each episode was self-contained, and I like that. Something little like Lister’s throwaway line in Demons & Angels is tolerable (even if it retcons the retcon in White Hole), but even things like using the revelations of Future Echoes in Cassandra I really dislike. BTE and X had far too many of them which certainly made me enjoy them a bit less, so this is a tad worrying for me.

  30. G&T Admin

    If this thing that I’ve not seen turns out to be similar to something I like, I’ll be happy.

    However, it it turns out to be more similar to something I don’t like, I won’t enjoy it as much.

  31. Great Set Report.
    My turn to take up the back-references baton.
    Is The Beginning (Series X) based on back references? And isn’t it one of the better episodes in the series? (I think that’s right but genuinely can’t remember.)
    I don’t like it when new scripts squeeze laughs out of old jokes, but I do like it when characters develop.

    >And yes, it was THAT episode.
    The one where they all dress up as Kryten? Is that why they’re all in make-up?
    Rhetorical speculation – no need to confirm nor deny it.
    But, fuck.

    That actor you can’t place… It was Sir Donald Sinden. Pretty sure.

  32. The guest star everyone’s referring to is Louie Spence. How he dances and how high he can kick his legs in a Kryten outfit it a sight to behold. They should have cast him in X, can’t believe they waited this long.

  33. If it isn’t Patrick Stewart then I’ll pick up my phone to call my lawyer but then I’ll laugh etc. etc.

  34. If this is anyone but Patrick Stewart, you’re stealing my bit.

  35. There is far too many back references in Red Dwarf, there’s, Back to Reality, Back in the Red, Back to Earth, even a kcab reference in the show too. Doug should think not Back but to The Future more when writing more shows. I mean Great Scott. Just referencing stuff popular from the past isnt that clever, Einstein. What a Smegging Butthead.

  36. I can’t believe we’re having an argument over whether or not referencing the show’s history is good or not. This whole conversation is ridiculous, and you should all feel bad for having opinions.

  37. I know everyone gets hyped when they see an episode recorded, but these reactions do seem to be pretty positive…:) I only want it a) not to suck, b) feel like Red Dwarf. It doesn’t need to be the second coming of BTR or as thrilling as that spot in the middle of Norman’s forehead. Nothing so mindblowing! If it’s Red Dwarf, that’s good enough for me.

    Without being spoilery in any way, of course… can anyone who saw this one shot answer whether they feel this was any better/worse than, say, Trojan from X?

  38. If XI does really well I wonder if there’s any possibility they’d commission another series before XII actually airs.

  39. I was there. It was Kerry Shale.
    And it wasn’t make-up. He got a bad surgeon.

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