The Pain & The Glory: The 2017 Red Dwarf World Cup of Guest Characters

A little under two weeks ago, the eyes of the world turned to one small corner of Twitter, where an epic battle was about to begin. Thirty-two heroes took to the stage, each one filled with nervous trepidation, but also hope; each daring to dream that this could be their year. These brave competitors were all used to being the side-show, the support act, the bit part. But for one of them, this would be their time to shine. This, ladies and gentlemen, was Ganymede & Titan’s Red Dwarf World Cup of Guest Characters, and this is how it all unfolded.

Group Stage

Following the announcement of the draw, the rules, and indeed the tournament itself, the first order of business was the opening four group stages, on Sunday 5th February. After a brief opening ceremony, the polls were launched, and Group A set about confounding expectations immediately. We knew that CP Grogan’s Kochanski is more popular with most fans than she is here in G&T Towers, but nobody expected her to pull over half of the votes in a four-way fixture. Furthermore, the group’s seed and perennial G&T favourite Gilbert ended up bottom of the pile, which will be a big disappointment for the lad. Our lord Jesus took the remaining place in the Round of 16, at the expense of 4 of 27.

Group B was considered to be the Group of Death ahead of the tournament, thanks to the high quality of all four characters in question, but it ended up being a stroll for the seed [Talkie] Toaster. The runner-up spot was more hard fought, but Petersen eventually made it through ahead of promising newcomer Butler and the previously Top 10-ranked Caligula. There were no huge margins in Group C, but, as expected, Elvis Presley took the top spot, with Epideme in second and a comfortable gap between them and the eliminated pair, Andy and The Dog, who tied in the bottom two places. Group D featured a larger than usual proportion of characters from the Dave era, but they were effectively all competing for the runner-up berth, as the unseeded-but-highly-ranked Camille ran out as a clear winner. Seed Howard Rimmer took second, with a pair from Series XI, Harmony and Captain Herring, biting the dust.

And thus the group stage was half finished, but as soon as those polls closed, another four came along to take their place, like those skellingtons from Jason and the Argonauts. Group E was another tough one for the Dave era, with the seeded and much fancied Pree finishing a distant third. It was The Inquisitor that ran away with that group, with Confidence also getting through, and Commander Binks languishing in last place. Group F, however, was much closer overall. Katarina was well beaten into last place, but the other three could all easily have made it. In the end, David Ross’s Kryten finished top, just ahead of Nirvanah Crane, who was herself just ahead of Paranoia.

Group G saw a clear winner – Legion – but a rather exciting battle for second place. It went right down to the wire, but eventually Snacky pulled just ahead of Hogey The Roguey to become the only Series XI representative in the knock-out stage, with Ackerman in last place. Finally, Group H was predictably dominated by Queeg – effectively the reigning champion having been ranked first in the High & Low article – who ended up with the largest winning percentage in any group. This opened up an opportunity for one of the lesser fancied competitors to reach the promised land of the Round of 16, and it turned out that Kill Crazy was the one who was able to take it, ahead of Cassandra and Hudzen 10.

And so within just two days, exactly half of the competitors had packed their bags and gone home. Some were left cursing the luck of the draw (Paranoia was eliminated from Group F with a higher percentage of the vote than five of the characters who progressed from other groups), some left with their heads held high after having done their best against the odds, and others will have returned to angry supporters demanding answers and vitriolic tabloids branding them traitors.

Disappointingly, although perhaps unsurprisingly given the differing levels of familiarity, the Dave era did not perform anywhere near as well as the BBC days, proportionally. Dave fielded ten competitors and only three of them made the knock-out stages (30%), as opposed to 13 of 22 from the BBC (59.1%). Another pattern is that characters were more likely to do well the bigger the role they played in their episodes, and recurring guests were almost guaranteed safe passage (with Ackerman the only exception).

But hey – that’s the group stage, and the form book goes out of the window as soon as you’re in a straight two-way knock-out tie…

Round of 16

The Round of 16 provided all manner of thrills and spills, starting with the very first clash in which Kochanski narrowly beat Petersen by a margin of 52% vs 48%, which is a common result whenever the public are asked to choose between something European and something completely fucking rubbish. Next up, [Talkie] Toaster staked his claim to being a tournament favourite by smashing the living Jesus out of Jesus, in what would turn out to be the widest winning margin of the whole tournament. It was much closer between Elvis Presley and Howard Rimmer, but sterling campaign work from Mark Dexter himself helped to pull off a surprise victory as another seed crashed out.

The day was rounded off by another trouncing, with Epideme no match for the ever-popular Camille. It was a similar scoreline in the first tie of the second batch of Round of 16 polls, with The Inquisitor easing past Nirvanah Crane in an all-Series V clash. A much tighter fixture ensued when David Ross’s Kryten met Confidence, but in the end the mechanoid sneaked past the hallucination. The final two ties looked somewhat predictable on paper, and there were no major worries for the more fancied sides; neither of the underdogs, Kill Crazy or Snacky, were able to pull off a cupset against Legion or Queeg respectively, leaving Howard Rimmer as the sole representative of the Dave era in the last eight.

Quarter Finals

Only the creme de la creme remained at this stage: eight teams left, five of whom were seeds, with one other from the High & Low top ten, and curiously one from the old bottom five. The character in question, Kochanski (CP Grogan), met Howard Rimmer in the first quarter final, and she proved too strong for the last remaining Dave character, despite more excellent interventions from the actor. Things didn’t go so well for Camille against the mighty [Talkie] Toaster, with another crushing victory for the kitchen appliance.

As is often the case in tournaments such as these, it’s not always the superstars and the red hot favourites that provide the most entertaining games. This was certainly true of The Inquisitor vs Legion, which ended up as the joint-closest game of the tournament – Legion sneaking through with just 51% of the vote. We had hoped for an evenly-fought contest between two of the big hitters, Kryten (David Ross) and Queeg, but it was not to be – Queeg pulled off the equivalent of Germany vs Brazil in the last football World Cup, to provide us all with a particularly mouth-watering semi.

Semi-Finals

And then there were four. After Kochanksi (CP Grogan) scraped past Petersen in the Round of 16, and Legion scraped past The Inquisitor in the quarters, it was no surprise that their semi-final clash would be another incredibly close one. For the first few hours of voting, the lead changed hands almost constantly, with never more than a handful of percentage points between the pair. Nevertheless, Legion opened up a slight lead overnight, and although Kochanski tightened the gap during the final push, the gestalt entity booked his place in the Final, and you’ve got to say he earned it.

With that excitement over, even more was to come, with undoubtedly the clash of the tournament so far. Both [Talkie] Toaster and Queeg had effortlessly swatted away all opposition thus far, but when an unstoppable kitchen appliance meets an immovable pretend computer, only one can survive. Once again, the sides were inseparable for much of the voting period, but eventually [Talkie] started to pull ahead, perhaps buoyed on by the support of his original voice. And he kept hold of the lead, reaching the Final at the expense of the holder and pre-tournament favourite.

The Final

Before the centrepiece event, there was still the matter of the bronze medal to sort out, and so a Third Place Play Off served as an aperitif. Queeg held his nerve to beat Kochanski (CP Grogan), who did incredibly well to even reach the top four in the first place, but it will have been scant consolation as he watched the Final unfold from the sidelines. The Toaster was in fine form, no doubt about that, but having exceeded expectations throughout the tournament, and emerged victorious from so many incredibly close ties, could Legion beat the odds once more?

No. As John Lenahan himself pointed out, “the toaster is HUGE”. It wasn’t quite the bloodbath that some pundits incorrectly predicted, but it was a convincing win for the lad from Taiwan (via Miranda), who had met with opponents of all shapes and sizes, and blown them all away one-by-one. A fully-deserved victory and a worthy champion. With the tournament won, and on the day of Red Dwarf‘s prestigious 29th anniversary, all that remained was the trophy presentation:

Statistics

Total votes: 11,918
Average votes: 496.6

Group Stage

Highest number of votes: 508 (Group B)
Lowest number of votes: 407 (Group E)
Highest percentage of votes: Queeg (71%, Group H)
Lowest percentage of votes: Butler (7%, Group B); Commander Binks (7%, Group E)
Lowest group-winning percentage: Kryten (David Ross) (35%, Group F)
Lowest qualifying percentage: Kill Crazy (12%, Group H)
Highest non-qualifying percentage: Paranoia (26%, Group F)

Knockout Stages

Highest number of votes: 647 (Legion vs [Talkie] Toaster, The Final)
Lowest number of votes: 416 (Camille vs Epideme, Round of 16)
Biggest winning margin: [Talkie] Toaster vs Jesus (84% vs 16%, Round of 16)
Smallest winning margin: Legion vs The Inquisitor (51% vs 49%, Quarter Final); Legion vs Kochanski (CP Grogan) (51% vs 49%, Semi Final)

Highest placed character by series

Series 1: [Talkie] Toaster (Winner)
Series 2: Queeg (Third Place)
Series III: Gilbert, Hudzen 10 (Group Stage)
Series IV: [Talkie] Toaster (Winner)
Series V: The Inquisitor (Quarter Final)
Series VI: Legion (Runner-Up)
Series VII: Epideme (Round of 16)
Series VIII: Kill Crazy (Round of 16)
Back To Earth: Katarina (Group Stage)
Series X: Howard Rimmer (Quarter Final)
Series XI: Snacky (Round of 16)

And now all that remains for us to say is a sincere thank you to everyone who voted, liked, retweeted, campaigned, predicted, commented or even just watched it all unfold. The uptake was much better than we expected – we would have been happy to scrape triple figures for each poll, but we averaged just under 500 votes apiece, with interest increasing throughout the tournament. It’s been a lot of fun, and we’d love to do it again some time – any suggestions for the next category?

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3 Responses to The Pain & The Glory: The 2017 Red Dwarf World Cup of Guest Characters

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  1. I honestly think Commander Binks would have made it further had his name not conjured the image of Jar-Jar in so many voters’ minds.

  2. Of course, they’re all seeded by the time I’ve finished with them.

  3. Even as someone who spoke in defence of CP Grogan in the other thread, I have to agree that what happened to Gilbert in Group A was a travesty.

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