Red Dwarf’s worst kept secret emerges further from the bag

It was always going to be difficult to keep secrets quiet when there’s a year-and-a-half gap between an audience recording and an episode being broadcast. The fans who attended those Series XII recordings have done their part admirably, with very little – if any – information leaked on forums or social media. The same can’t be said for those involved in the show, however, as we’ve previously detailed. And today, something that’s been mentioned a handful of times prior to now if you know where to look on Twitter and Facebook has finally reached a mainstream comedy website, and we feel that there’s very little point in us continuing to ignore it.

Yes, Chortle are reporting – and this is your last chance to stop reading if you don’t want to see something that you probably already know – that…

Norman Lovett will return to Red Dwarf in Series XII. What we’ve learned here is that if you want something kept secret, don’t mention it to Norman Lovett. He’s been blabbing about his involvement at every convention he’s attended since last year, and has been happily telling all to fans at his stand-up gigs. The only surprise about this story gaining traction is that it hasn’t happened sooner, given that the cat first peeped out of the bag on the very night of the recording. Since then, the bag has proven a wholly inadequate vessel for this particular cat, who has been clawing away at the bag’s innards tirelessly ever since, and has now broken out of the bag and ran for several hundred miles in the opposite direction of the bag, but not before shitting on the bag for good measure.

For what it’s worth, we’re still going to keep our end of the bargain and not report on any details that we know from the audience nights – our spoiler policy is still in place. Personally, I wasn’t at this particular recording, but I am both intrigued by how exactly this will play out, and annoyed that it’s not Hattie Hayridge instead. But mostly just fed up that – once again – the fans have been diligently and obediently respecting the production’s wishes by keeping secrets such as this to themselves, only for someone who should know better to reveal absolutely everything on an actual stage, in front of a paying audience AND journalists. We resisted the urge to bring the tiny whispers to a wider audience, but it’s impossible to keep this quiet now.

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74 Responses to Red Dwarf’s worst kept secret emerges further from the bag

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  1. I wish it were Hattie. She was unfairly treated in the original run (not deliberately, but y’know), and she’s been fantastically loyal to the show throughout. Norman is good, but does he really deserve a third chance? pffftt.

  2. I hope there’s a story reason for it being the original Holly as I genuinely don’t understand why the show would pass over Hattie, especially as the female Holly is part of the III-V aesthetic that X, XI and XII seem to be aiming for. She also breaks up the boys-own-club vibe brilliantly.

  3. Doug pretty much confirmed this at the Twentica screening in Manchester as well.

  4. I wasn’t at any recordings or screenings but was lucky enough to work with Norman during the summer and he just told us all then. It felt like I knew something naughty so I didn’t say anything but it seems like he just tells everyone anyway!

  5. I should’ve stopped reading. Although I’m sure I wouldn’t have made to all the way to September without seeing something about it. Not sure how I feel to be honest, would have liked to have seen a new actor take on the role.

  6. Its always the bloody cast isn’t it!

    Whilst I look forward to it, I can’t help but be a little disappointed that I won’t get to relive that giddy excitement I had when I was 10 watching series 7 and seeing Norman appear on that watch in Nanarchy. I know its hard keeping these kinds of details and spoilers under wraps before a show/film airs these days (and whats the betting he will pop up in a trailer somewhere closer the time anyway?) but if it weren’t for Norman the secret looked as though it could have been kept quite well.

    Ho hum.

    Also agree I’d like to see Hattie back. As much as I enjoy Norman’s portrayal, he does come across a little entitled. As dan of the wibble says, does he deserve another chance? Well clearly Doug thinks so, so fair enough. But would be great to see some contemporary Hattie on screen too.

    Oooh oooh oooh! They should do a squeal to Parallel Universe where they go and visit grown up Jim and Bexley. They’d be in their mid 20s by now.

  7. I was at a convention early last year with Norman when he (rather annoyingly) revealed out of the blue he was in one of the new series. He then told us how he only did it because the fan demand was so strong for his return!
    Is this “demand” true as no offense to him but I’d personaly have loved to have seen Hattie back instead

  8. Doug pretty much confirmed this at the Twentica screening in Manchester as well.

    I remember when someone asked him if Holly was going to return, he simply said “Yes. Not XI, but later.”

    I’m honestly disappointed it isn’t Hattie and I’m surprised/annoyed that Doug decided Norman deserves another chance over Hattie.

  9. Chloe gets the respect, that her avoiding the premier of back to earth, brought to the surprise and drama
    Of the moment on screen when she returned. Norm’s tell all approach, it depends on what and how his appearance in XII is staged, if they always meant to use him as promo for an episode of the series then this coming out earlier just
    weakens promo a little. If its a “ta da” moment he’s going to be popping out of a cake to far less applause in homes
    than his series 7 return. To be honest the fact he has already been back once or twice
    means i mostly feel “oh well, hi norm” and not much more about the news.
    I will scrutinise and applaud doug if he uses holly well in any future capacity and
    If he doesn’t then i will be the first calling for another early bath for the character.

  10. Hm. :/

  11. Absolutely gutted this has come out :( I’m just glad I was at the studio recording so I enjoyed the surprise without having it spoilt, though the same cannot be said for the majority of fans! As for why Norman and not Hattie there is a very good reason in the plot which totally makes sense.

  12. Had my suspicions – well, there was the clapperboard photo wasn’t there? Not overly excited, to be honest, maybe even a bit disappointed. A surprise would have been nice.
    More than a cameo then, I guess? A Holly-centric episode? A one-off, or the first of many?
    Like I said, not too excited, but see how I feel come the autumn.

    whats the betting he will pop up in a trailer somewhere closer the time anyway

    They’ll probably put it in the opening title sequence.

  13. I was at the recording, and can’t really say anything about the circumstances surrounding his inclusion in the episode without spoiling the whole thing. I can say however, that it was a great surprise on the night and it’s a shame many viewers won’t get a chance to experience the same surprise at home. That said, he did come out and do a rather stilted but sweet little speech at the end of the recording, drowned out by applause, he seemed genuinely overwhelmed by the experience.

  14. Norman Lovett is a prick. I might think on occasion that Danny’s a bit exuberant, Craig a bit surly, Chris a bit pompous etc… but they’re good guys and I actually love them as people. Norman Lovett… I only ever think ‘what a shame he’s such a prick’.

    There, that’s my insightful, eloquent contribution to this discussion.

  15. Not overly excited, to be honest…

    I’ve honestly never been bothered about seeing Holly again. May sound bad, I know. But I’ve always felt that if the character comes back, I’d rather see Hattie play Holly again.

  16. I’m afraid I agree with Darrell. Norman seems like a thoroughly unpleasant bloke, and I don’t think he deserves to be in RD anymore. I’m annoyed it’s not Hattie who’s returning, but even if she had no interest in playing Holly again I wouldn’t want Norm back.

  17. Well, yeah, my ‘not overly excited’ was my polite way of saying pretty much what Darrell, Stephen and clem think.
    Like I say, see how we feel when it airs.

  18. Having spoken to Hattie at Gallifrey One this weekend, I think she feels she’s aged out of the role – she quipped about nobody wanting her face being the only thing on an HD television, and while I disagree with it I think that’s a fair enough reason for her not wanting to come back.

  19. Also we need to keep in mind that the vast, vast majority of fans would want Norman back over Hattie (and would probably yell at anyone who criticized any aspect of the show in any way, judging from being in Facebook fan groups). I still think of him as the definitive Holly if only because he played the role in the series it was most used. If Hattie had been used as much as Norman was in I and II, I’d be more split on the matter.

    And honestly, as much as he’s been a dick in real life, if Doug can bring back the Holly of Series I and II I’d fucking _love_ to see Norman back in Red Dwarf. If they’re actually doing this, then I can’t imagine they’d go for Series VIII Holly who had basically nothing to do. They’ll have a story that gives the character a reason to be there and something to do.

    As much as I wish I could be blind to the initial surprise, this news gets me more excited for the build-up to Series XII. And this being potentially the last build-up to a new series we ever get, I want to enjoy it as much as I can.

  20. I don’t get why he says the things he does sometimes about Red Dwarf but having met the bloke a few times I wouldn’t ever go so far to say he’s a prick. I’ve always found him to be a fairly humble, friendly and thoroughly nice bloke which makes his sounding off a couple of years ago really at odds.

    Occasionally grumpy maybe but no, I can’t say he’s a prick.

  21. While it’s hugely disappointing to see this inevitably flimsy bag torn apart, as you say, it really is a testament to the 200+ fans who were at the recording that this was hidden for so long.

    How much hope do we have that this is the last we see of the production gaffes that so plagued XI…? Wouldn’t it be novel if XII goes ahead with few, if not zero, of these…? UKTV Play premieres anyone…?

  22. I don’t really mind that this has come out, and it certainly sounds like it ties in with the aspects of XII that will revisit the show’s past. It would be lovely to have Hattie back too/instead, but one Holly is better than no Holly at all.

  23. I actually hadn’t heard this, though I heavily suspected it from the XII 6 podcast.

    Maybe the episode that employs footage from previous episodes also includes flashbacks to episodes that don’t exist, like the fictional Series IX where Holly would presumably still be there.

    SEE? This is the fun speculation part I love about the wait for new Dwarf.

  24. Now that the secret is out, could someone who was at the audience recording actually say if his performance was any good? I’d be interested to know. Don’t think that would break the spoiler policy.

    As others have said, I really think Hattie deserved to be in Red Dwarf again more than Norman. But from all the commentaries and the documentaries, I really get the impression that Hattie didn’t really gel with the cast. With the exception of Bobby Llew. They barely acknowledge Hattie. But then I’ve never been to cons with them, so maybe they’re great friends, but its just the impression I got.

  25. Personalities aside, I do kind of agree with KyoSo that Norman feels more like the ‘definitive’ Holly. I love Hattie’s performance too, but Norm will always be Holly in my head. Not only because of him being the original, but also from his return, and the fact that his version of the character remained throughout the novels.

    I also think he looks more like he used to now than Hattie looks like she used to. Probably because he was older in the first place, but the ageing is less obvious. And while I don’t have a problem with the main cast getting older, it stands out a lot more with a computer (something I always felt with Beat the Geek).

  26. I think with Norman it is unfortunate that he gets the wrong end of the stick and is quick to jump to conclusions. BTE was one and his Twitter falling out with Robert Llewellyn being another. I don’t think he is being genuinely malicious, just misunderstanding people’s intent.

    But at the end of the day, any of the stuff that puts us big fans off Norman is water under the bridge for the cast and crew clearly and it has never effected the final product. Holly is always brilliant and yes I’m including him in his reduced role in Series VIII. Except the theory of relativity bit.

    By the sounds of things, he is only back for one episode, Chortle saying the last episode. I do wonder if Doug will not go down the obvious root of him just returning for the last episode to set up a possible next series like Nanarchy and it’ll actually be a specific episode that requires Holly to be back like Queeg or White Hole.

  27. Maybe the episode that employs footage from previous episodes also includes flashbacks to episodes that don’t exist, like the fictional Series IX where Holly would presumably still be there.

    That sounds great.

  28. like Queeg

    I wouldn’t be entirely surprised if ‘being off’ was like ‘being Queeg’ in a way, where he’d been faking it as a prank.

  29. I think if you look at the set reports for XII it’s pretty clear which one has Norman in it.

    I also think that if the running order for XII accidentally printed on the XI Blu-ray steelbook remains for broadcast, you can possibly match up recording order with broadcast order based on the set reports.

    I’ll say no more (except “good luck with hoping XII goes ahead without production gaffes given all that”).

  30. >I think if you look at the set reports for XII it’s pretty clear which one has Norman in it.

    Well, quite.

    I’m really not convinced the show has a place for Holly any more (either version). Doug wrote the character out for the second time. It was a little clunky, but enough time had passed for it to not be an issue. I really didn’t miss him/her in X or XI.

    I’d have preferred Hattie back, but Mk1 seems to more popular to casual viewers with no knowledge of Norman’s BTS drama.

  31. It occurs to me that just because Norman is coming back, it doesn’t necessarily mean that Hattie *isn’t* coming back. It’s perfectly possible they’ve found a way to incorporate both Hollies into a story, and she’s just better at keeping a lid on it.

    (I say this with no knowledge of the episode in question, obviously.)

  32. I would guess, from set reports and working titles, that there’s going to be some sort of timey thing going on in the episode, which definitely suggests it’s a one off thing rather than a permanent return. I love the idea of it being set between VIII and BtE, but I think that’s probably a bit too fanwank for Doug.

  33. The set reports suggested a retrospective/clip show of some kind to me, although I could be way off there.

    I like the idea of the final episode of XII going all the way back to the beginning and tying everything together nicely, especially given the possibility that it’s the final episode ever (a bit like The Beginning did in its way).

  34. The set report made me think ‘Future Echoes but the other way around’. Then again I’m the berk who was convinced David Ross was coming back.

  35. The set report made me think ‘Future Echoes but the other way around’. Then again I’m the berk who was convinced David Ross was coming back.

    You are space crazy.

  36. Seriously though, Future Echoes from the other side had occurred to me too. But I don’t know if there’s any way at this point to make it all fit together. Maybe though.

  37. I think I must be living on an asteroid somewhere* as this is surprise news to me!

    Thinking back, I do remember Norman posting or tweeting something about being involved a year or so back, but as the mention was rather vague (and I think this was before XI was broadcast, and he obviously wasn’t in that one) I thought maybe he was just in chats, or something and nothing transpired.

    I also never went out of my way to search out spoilers for the series online.

    But anyway, welcome news! And not really too massive a spoiler, as we don’t know the situation in which this will occur. I actually hope it is at least semi-permanent. I understand the arguments for not having him around, but there are equal arguments for his return.

    I had hoped Hattie would be given the chance this time, since Norman returned for VIII, (and she seems to be a thoroughly sweet person) but I do like Norman’s Holly. Good news.

    And yes, I think the word ‘grumpy’ applies to him better than ‘prick’. I think he’s one of those who gets the wrong end of the stick (as someone else said) and can blow things out of proportion, but I don’t think he’s a bad bloke.

    *’Under a rock’ is the common expression, but what with the cliche, and the sci-fi nature of Red Dwarf and all…

  38. I gave him the benefit of the doubt until that documentary on Bodysnatcher. He signs his own prick warrant there.

  39. I gave him the benefit of the doubt until that documentary on Bodysnatcher. He signs his own prick warrant there.

    I haven’t seen that. What does he say/do in that?

    I like the phrase ‘sign your own prick warrant’ a lot, by the way. Good work!

  40. Football.

  41. Norman keeps saying it and then saying he probably shouldn’t have, well don’t say it then norman!

    He obviously wants people to know he is back in the show.

  42. I also think he looks more like he used to now than Hattie looks like she used to. Probably because he was older in the first place, but the ageing is less obvious. And while I don’t have a problem with the main cast getting older, it stands out a lot more with a computer (something I always felt with Beat the Geek).

    I am gonna take an assumption that norman didn’t dye his hair for the role so we will get a fully grey haired holly like in the beat the geek game, norman has clearly aged also and honestly he looked abit different in series 7 and 8 then he did series 1 and 2

    You just have to compare norman from the remastered reshoots to norman in original Series 1 and 2.

    Can’t say i am all that excited about normans return, it feels gimmicky and will just feed normans already bloated ego, yeah you did it for the fans? no it was all for you norman ;p

  43. Oh he certainly has aged, no doubt about it, but I think it’s less obvious than with Hattie, because he was older than the rest of them to start with.

  44. Him returning is better than Holly not returning at all. I think there is, and always has been a place for Holly on the show, despite the lack of material given to Hattie’s version of the character, and the naff VIII return of Norman’s incarnation… He/she just needs to be written on point with every line.

  45. The only person ever to say c**t at a DJ convention. Now that was a surprise for all the lovely children attending!
    “what a guy”

  46. The only person ever to say c**t at a DJ convention.

    I assume you’re talking guests, not attendees?

  47. Sadly I happened to see the clapperboard Ed Thingy tweeted in the hour or so before it got deleted so I’ve been spoiled for a while. It all sounds very intriguing – not long now to find out just how batshit crazy XII will be.

  48. By “not long”, you mean “fucking forever” in ‘waiting for something you’re absurdly excited about’ time.

  49. 7 months still to go, providing something doesn’t happen.

    I find it really strange that the series, the DVD, and the soundtrack album have been sat patiently on a shelf since autumn. Like buried treasure.

  50. Sadly I happened to see the clapperboard Ed Thingy tweeted in the hour or so before it got deleted so I’ve been spoiled for a while. It all sounds very intriguing – not long now to find out just how batshit crazy XII will be.

    I wanna know what you see!

  51. It was a clapperboard with Norm’s name on it.

  52. I feel the same sinking feeling I got when Trump won the election.

    Wanna be a winner in life? Don’t be a woman, be a mean old git.

  53. “Just saw the ‘cast’ of Red Dwarf on BBC Breakfast. Talk about laughs take a holiday” [Twitter, Back To Earth era]
    “Would I work with them again? I’d rather drink a load of ink” [Twitter, Back To Earth era]
    *Bitter MySpace post, don’t ever talk to me about those people, not unless it’s for a paid appearance/convention/using Holly imagery to promote my hackneyed stand-up about my dog wiping it’s arse on the carpet* [Back To Earth era]
    “I didn’t want to keep travelling for the shoots and they wouldn’t move them just for me so I quit and then they went and cast someone else in my special role that was just for me” [surmised/paraphrased from numerous interviews, commentaries, DVD documentaries etc.]
    – Norman Lovett

    “Would I come back? Anytime. Do I harbor any grudges? Not at all. Will I do the convention every year? Sure”
    – Hattie Hayridge [surmised/paraphrased from any RD related appearance, interview etc. of the last 20 years]

    WE NEED HOLLY BACK!!!!! CALL NORM!!!!! – Doug

  54. G&T Admin

    I think it’s worth pointing out that the feeling towards Norman on here – justified though it may be by his actions – is not generally shared amongst Red Dwarf fans, many of whom are either unaware or unconcerned by some of the things he’s said. We’re also assuming that Hattie would want to come back.

  55. I think hattie would come back if she was asked, yeah she may be being abit hard on herself because of her age now but i very much doubt they will attempt to make norman look younger for the role and i could see norman moaning if they asked him to dye his hair so you will take what you can get with holly.

    Norman is more the deadpan holly then what hattie was or at least given a chance to be so people will instantly be more favorable of norman.

    I do worry normans ego will reflect on the character and on the writing so doug will feel abit pressured to write holly scenes which will basically just make more series 8 holly-esk moments because honestly the modern era of dwarf is already IMO pretty messy with trying to fit so much in.

  56. I think hattie would come back if she was asked

    Again, this seems to contradict what Hattie said at Gallifrey One where she seemed to suggest she’s visibly aged out of the role. But that could also have been a red herring.

  57. I think hattie would come back if she was asked

    Again, this seems to contradict what Hattie said at Gallifrey One where she seemed to suggest she’s visibly aged out of the role. But that could also have been a red herring.

    She may be being abit hard on herself because she has aged but then haven’t they all?

    its very likely she hasn’t been asked to come back but if she was asked i’d be surprised if she straight up refused the offer.

  58. G&T Admin

    You seem very keen to dismiss the evidence presented by Ben, yet you provide none of your own.

  59. I have no evidence to give. but what are the chances she was asked or even was given the choice to return? lets say for a moment she was asked and said no… ok fine thats kinda surprising, but lets say she never had the option then how can she make a decision if she never had the choice?

    TBH Hattie would probably be the only person who would turn down coming back to this successful show because she feels to old to play the character now.

    And yeah i know norman said he wouldn’t come back after BTE, then he said he would only come back for a holly episode and recently his attitude kinda changed again where it seems like he may want to be on board full term now.

  60. It’d be nice to have a woman on the show again. A regular character who was a woman. Who was funny. And who looked like Hattie Hayridge.
    Norman was great in the first two series but Hattie’s just lovely. And she played a senile computer wonderfully.

  61. We should have seen this coming, Lovett only returned the first time around so he could tell everyone where Red Dwarf was.

  62. Every time this thread gets bumped, it reminds me what a weird euphemism “emerges further from the bag” is.

  63. I wonder what color Norm’s accidentally dyed his hair this time.

  64. Interesting to read all of the comments here.

    With regard to Norman’s personality, I think the only opinions that really matter are those of the people who genuinely know him. Danny commented recently: “Norman is the quintessential grumpy old man. He will say stuff, but he doesn’t really mean it and you’ll see him 10 minutes later and the next thing he’s cracking jokes with you.”

    If Doug, the crew and the cast don’t have an issue with Norman appearing on the show, then I’m not sure why any fan should have a big problem. A lot of the things that he’s said have been said by plenty of fans anyway and it’s not like he murdered his wife and fed her to the dogs or anything.

    We will have to see how he performs in Series XII, but he helped to create that character and his “grumpy” personality was an asset for the show. It was his moaning that led to Holly being seen on screen, which certainly contributed to the show’s success in the early years.

  65. With regard to Norman’s personality, I think the only opinions that really matter are those of the people who genuinely know him.

    That’s a fair point. But when he insults the fans, I think the fans are perfectly within their rights to insult him back.

  66. I have no issue with norman, i just fear how much impact his ego will have on the show.

    Don’t get me wrong making holly a head on a screen was the right decision, it made the character unique but at the same time to much feeding his ego just results in Norman thinking is a huge star who is mistreated when he doesn’t get his way.

  67. That’s a fair point. But when he insults the fans, I think the fans are perfectly within their rights to insult him back.

    I agree that Norman hasn’t done himself any favours, but I think it’s fair to say that it was the fans who insulted him first. He complained about GNP and some people threw their toys out of the pram. Norman then followed suit which was very foolish.

    That’s my memory of things anyway.

  68. lets say for a moment she was asked and said no… ok fine thats kinda surprising…

    Not really, because she’s said – using her mouth and vocal chords and everything, in a room with plenty of witnesses – that she thinks she’s aged out of the role. Now, again, that could be a double-bluff. But we know Norm is coming back, and we know hattie isn’t. At this point why wouldn’t we take her at her word?

  69. Is it a spoiler to say that we know she isn’t returning? Presumably we can only know that from the recordings.

    I didn’t know that we knew for sure she wasn’t coming back.

  70. Not really, because she’s said – using her mouth and vocal chords and everything, in a room with plenty of witnesses – that she thinks she’s aged out of the role. Now, again, that could be a double-bluff. But we know Norm is coming back, and we know hattie isn’t. At this point why wouldn’t we take her at her word?

    It doesn’t really matter because i doubt she has ever been asked anyway.

    In interviews Doug seems to overlook hattie when it comes to talk of holly returning.

  71. You: “What are the chances she was asked?”
    Me: “It’s a moot point, because she said that she doesn’t want to do it.”
    You: “Alright, but let’s pretend she was asked and, surprisingly, said no…”
    Me: “She said she doesn’t want to do it.”
    You: “Well, I bet she wasn’t asked anyway.”

    Tell me, do you have someone come in to help you move the goalposts around like that, or have you had some kind of pulley system installed?

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