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.

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Red Dwarf VII: The Early Drafts

Twenty years ago today, Red Dwarf VII debuted on BBC Two. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.

Red Dwarf had been away for over three years, having previously managed to average out as an annual event for six series. The delay was mainly caused by three monumental behind-the-scenes events: Chris Barrie deciding to leave the show; Craig Charles being held on remand on a charge from which he was ultimately cleared; and Grant Naylor splitting as a gestalt writing entity, leaving Doug in sole command of the show. Big changes were also afoot on-screen, with the change to single-camera, audience-free shooting, the addition of a film effect, a move to a comedy-drama format, and Rimmer’s place on Starbug being taken by Chloe Annett as a version of Kochanski from an alternate universe.

In many ways, it was twenty years ago today that Red Dwarf changed from what it was then to what it is now. The reason those first six series still exist in a bubble is that they were all made in broadly the same circumstances. The cast and crew may have altered over the years, and the production may have moved from Manchester to Shepperton, but these changes took place slowly and naturally; to paraphrase another comedy that debuted in 1997, it was evolution, not revolution. With Series VII, that changed – a conscious effort was made to make things different from the previous series, and it was against a backdrop of production problems and uneasy compromises. Red Dwarf lost its momentum, and it’s been fighting to get it back ever since. It’s only now that it’s starting to feel more smooth and assured; Series XII will be the first time in years that there hasn’t been a raft of changes since the previous series, and that’s only because they were shot back-to-back.

Opinion remains mixed on the merits of Series VII. The G&T staff are pretty unanimous in our disapproval, but elsewhere there are plenty of fans who enjoy it for what it is, regardless of how different it is from what came before, and even some who hold it in the same regard as the first six series. Regardless of your position, what’s interesting is how it came together, and the developments that took place prior to the episodes reaching the screen. To help with the extra workload caused by Rob’s departure, and the series containing two more episodes than usual, Doug brought additional writers on board for six of the eight initially-planned episodes. How this process worked has always been a great source of speculation, and to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the show’s first big comeback, that’s what we’re investigating today.

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Dave’s Red Dwarf XI Bank Holiday Monday

“Now on Dave, it’s time to sit back and relax this Bank Holiday Monday, as we bring you an afternoon in the company of the finest smegheads out there – with the complete series of Red Dwarf XI.”

– Dave continuity announcement into Twentica, 2nd January 2017

Most people, when greeted with a continuity announcement like that, might think: “Oh, that’s good, I get to half-watch all of Red Dwarf XI this afternoon whilst pretending to get some work done.” Or perhaps: “I hate Red Dwarf, Red Dwarf is shit, I am going to turn over, I need to watch anything other than Red Dwarf because I don’t like Red Dwarf.”

Us? We clap our hands in delight, as we indulge in one of our favourite pastimes: pre-watershed Red Dwarf edit spotting. Although perhaps to our surprise, only two of the six episodes had any alterations whatsoever: Twentica, Officer Rimmer, Krysis and Can of Worms got away cut-free.

Let’s take a look at what was changed…

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The G&T Review of the Year 2016

We hope by now that you’ve hung up your stockings on the wall, your family has arrived, and that you’ve ascertained whether or not you have the room to spare inside. But before your granny proves herself to be a musical hypocrite, take a moment to look back on the past twelve months. It’s been a strange one by all accounts. Brexit. Trump. A cull of beloved celebrities. The rise of the far right. Terror. Fear. Division. Prejudice. Aston Villa being relegated. Frankly, I’m not convinced we’ll all survive the last seven days.

Which is why we’ve chosen Christmas Day as the perfect time to focus on the positive, and look back on what has been a much better year in the world of Red Dwarf than it has been for anyone in the actual world. Six brand new episodes recorded. Another six brand new episodes aired. A mobile game. New merchandise. Live DwarfCasts. The dramatic increase in usage of the word “cloche”. It’s definitely been a busy one, so settle down for a comprehensive look back on everything that happened and how we covered it.

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Live Series XI DwarfCasts – Just the Inserts

The last six Thursdays have been incredibly exciting for Red Dwarf fans; the sense of anticipation all day as we eagerly await the big, unmissable event in the evening. No, not the Dave broadcasts of episodes that everyone had watched six days earlier – the Ganymede & Titan Live Reaction DwarfCasts! All of these are permanently available to download and keep, exactly as they originally went out, complete with imperfect sound quality, awkward pauses and exponentially increasing levels of tiredness.

But listening to the full hour-and-a-half of inadequately prepared waffle is not to everyone’s taste, so those who value their spare time and sanity may be unaware of the numerous audio extras that accompanied said waffle. So, to help you cope with the huge gap in your Thursday night routine, we present some of those loo-break-enabling inserts for your listening pleasure. You’ll have to go back to the full shows to relive our always-hilarious #DwarfFacts series, our increasingly tenuous collection of Red Dwarf-themed adverts, and our rotating episode-specific intro music, but here are the things that might actually be worth listening to.

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Talking Points: Can of Worms

You know what, you can say a lot about this series but it’s certainly not been boring. I’ve just this minute watched through Can of Worms so here are the talking points that instantly struck me. Thank fuck I don’t need to form or present any kind of opinion right at this moment.

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Talking Points: Krysis

Well, there’s certainly a lot to discuss. Red Dwarf XI has been densely packed with ideas thus far, and this episode contains possibly the highest concentration yet. With spoilers aplenty for anyone who’s not yet watched the episode, here are some of what we consider to the most interesting of these ideas, neatly packaged into subheadings for your convenience. These are based on just one viewing and a quick scan through afterwards, which for the record took place following the deliberate release, as opposed to the brief accidental one.

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Talking Points: Officer Rimmer

Well, what a surprise, Officer Rimmer is yet another example of an episode that has garnered somewhat split opinion since it was released online this morning, but the split may well be a lot more interesting than previous weeks by the very dint that this episode is undoubtedly unusual in many ways. Whether you like the places it goes is another matter entirely, but luckily we have our entire lives to debate to this one. In an episode crammed with points that require some talking, I’ve picked out some of the big ticket items.

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Talking Points: Give & Take

With the presence of that ampersand in the title card, it’s a wonder that there’s anything left to discuss, other than the fact that there is now officially an episode of Red Dwarf with the same initials as this website. While that may cause some confusion later down the line, the issue remains of what kind of episode we’ve lent our name to. Based on just the one viewing (and a bit of a skim through to clarify some of the finer details of the plot), here are the big six (count ’em) talking points from the episode.

One thing to note, if you’ve somehow managed to miss all the spoiler warnings: this episode benefits from the element of surprise, and deserves to be viewed without preconceptions. If you’ve stumbled across this article without having watched the episode yet, read no further.

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Talking Points: Samsara

Samsara has now been online long enough for the majority of you dirty UKTV Players to be fully caught up, so we now have a brand new 30 minutes to pick through with our grubby little fingers. As we did last week, here are some of the pertinent points and ponderings.

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