G&TV Special: The 10%ers

G&TV logoThese days, it’s difficult to imagine the sheer unavailability of Series 1 of Red Dwarf. Broadcast in 1988, it was only released on VHS in 1993, and got its first repeat run in 1994. For five years, the series existed merely as fuzzy off-airs, passed around among fans with increasing generation loss. It’d be really odd if anything major linked to Red Dwarf was like that these days, wouldn’t it?

On an entirely unrelated matter, today’s topic is Grant Naylor talent agency sitcom The 10%ers. Which has never had a commercial release or a repeat run. And seeing as it’s 2019 and both are looking increasingly unlikely, we’re going to be a little cheeky. Today is the 25th anniversary of the start of Series 1, after all.

So here’s the pilot, broadcast as part of ITV’s Comedy Playhouse in 1993:

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High & Low: Back To Earth

Back in 2008, when Red Dwarf turned twenty, it was very much a former television programme. The last new series had finished almost a decade earlier, fans had finally accepted that the long-proposed Movie was never going to happen, the regular DVD releases had come, gone and done a lap of honour with The Bodysnatcher Collection, Dimension Jump attendance had fallen off a cliff, and while there were still regular updates from The Official Site and the odd dribble of merch every now and then, the general feeling was that Red Dwarf was a show that should be talked about in the past tense. And that was sort of ok. We’d come to terms with it, although we were all more than a little worried about what the fan community would look like at the next milestone anniversary without any fresh stimulus to keep us going.

But when Red Dwarf hit 25 in 2013 and 30 in 2018, the landscape could barely have been more different, thanks to what happened towards the end of that twentieth anniversary year.

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G&TV: Filthy Rich & Catflap

G&TV logo

RICHIE: Maybe it’s a producer with a wonderful part.
EDDIE: Oo-er!
RICHIE: Eddie, I said wonderful part, not attractive willy.

When talking about Filthy Rich & Catflap, there’s many routes I could have taken. I could have focused on it being an ahead-of-its-time dissection on the nature of celebrity. I could have talked about alternative comedy butting heads with the old showbiz. I could mention the endless fourth wall breaking – done far more than The Young Ones or Bottom ever did.

Or I could start with a knob gag. OK, fine, I’ll go with that.

Of course, Filthy Rich & Catflap and early Red Dwarf are very much sister shows. Both were part of Paul Jackson’s pot of money at BBC Manchester, and were both recorded in BBC Manchester’s Studio A at Oxford Road. And both shared many of the same crew. As you take a look at this video from the very end of the series – featuring the show gleefully knocking down the last remaining barrier between them and the viewer – see how many people who also worked on Red Dwarf you can spot.

But that isn’t why I’ve chosen this video for this month’s G&TV. Here’s a fun fact: did you know you can see the outside of Red Dwarf – that is, the hull of the ship itself – in those closing moments of Filthy Rich & Catflap? Despite it being recorded a year before Red Dwarf?

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Scrambling in a red alert situation, a new record time…

…two months and nine days. That’s roughly the time elapsed between the frame-rate problem on the Blurays first being noticed and today’s TOS update, which represents the first time that the controversy has been acknowledged by an official Red Dwarf source. Snark aside, there are a million reasons why things like this take a while to get addressed – they have to wait for the manufacturers to investigate and put solutions in place before they go steaming in – but even so, it’s been a long wait.

There’s not a great deal of new information since the BBC finally got their arses into gear about this just under a month ago, but it’s nice to see confirmation that such a dramatic change to the source material was never the intention of the boxset. An apology might have been an idea, mind. The word “sorry” does at least feature in the BBC’s response quoted in the article, which is a slightly more official-sounding version of the email that was previously sent to complaining customers. The crux of the message is this bit:

Details of how to obtain your replacement can be obtained by e-mailing BBC Studios customer support line at DVDSupport@bbc.com

If you have already purchased the set and wish to replace the two faulty discs, you can do so at the address above; while we understand that replacement pressings of copies still in shops will be issued as soon as possible.

Good and interesting news that rogue copies in the wild will indeed be replaced. Spare a thought for the poor bugger who has to organise that.

Misleading Red Dwarf VHS Ad Voiceovers

It feels like there’s infinite possibilities for misleading Red Dwarf VHS ad voiceovers that could be constructed by chopping up unrelated lines from the series.

“Marilyn Monroe… What a bastard!”

– Dave, March 10th 2019

A stupid idea has sprung forth from its natural habitat of our forum and come to life in video form. Last week, there was a thread about Michael Jackson which was mercifully derailed early on by Warbofrog posting a link to an old BBC Video promo that lifted the audio of Lister saying “whacko jacko” and used it to create a bowdlerised version of his line about Star Trek. This led Dave to ponder on the possibilities for similar edits, as quoted above, and the suggestions spewed forth. The thread later got rerailed and went serious again, but not before planting the idea that it might be amusing to fire up Premiere.

Many thanks to the original posters in that thread, as credited on the video.

G&TV: Space Cadets

We’re going back 22 years for this month’s G&TV, a fact that will no doubt unsettle any readers who remember watching it at the time. Not to be confused with a completely unrelated Channel 4 show called Space Cadets, which involved tricking gullible young people into thinking they were going into space when in fact they were just in a big warehouse, this Space Cadets was a 1997 panel show dedicated to science-fiction, following in the wake of other single-topic shows like They Think It’s All Over and Never Mind The Buzzcocks. It was hosted by Greg Proops, with team captains Bill Bailey and Craig Charles.

It wasn’t very good. The format was pretty run of the mill – a what happened next round, then a picture round, a bit of Call My Bluff with sci-fi props and a final quickfire trivia round – with nothing particularly unique or memorable to set it apart. The shows were often shambolic, with panellists shouting over each other and Proops coming up short in keeping control, the editing slapdash and the production values failing to disguise the evidently low budget. Although I did like Greg’s Davros-inspired chair. The first episode is available in full on YouTube, complete with original in-vision continuity announcement, and one of the guests is another familiar Red Dwarf face:

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Bluray Re-Mastered (in a good way)

It’s fair to say that the long-awaited release of Series 1-VIII on Bluray was a controversial one. Reaction to the bulk of the content has varied, but the one thing that everyone agreed on is that Series III and half of Series V were utterly ruined due to some sort of de-interlacing error that rendered the episodes in the wrong frame rate. Since we published our not-entirely-positive review, a small but noisy campaign for replacements and/or refunds started, thanks to the likes of Andrew Orton and his tireless emailing, and George Martin of Which?, who teamed up with perhaps the most intelligent and sexy Red Dwarf fan in the world in his reporting of the issue.

And today, that campaign has paid off. Those who have emailed the BBC to complain have finally received a satisfactory response, the pertinent bit of which is:

After a comprehensive review with all our suppliers involved in the manufacturing of this product we have now identified the source of the problem. De-interlacing did occur at tape to digital capture stage with one of the suppliers. This was not part of the Blu-ray authoring process as we originally had reason to believe.

The mastering of this release was a multistage process involving three separate suppliers. We hope you will understand that it would be inappropriate for us to say specifically where this fault occurred as we are remedying this with the company concerned.

We have started the process of recreating the masters and re-authoring these discs which will take approximately six weeks.

This is great news, obviously, and we’re looking forward to seeing the results, whilst not holding our breath bearing in mind that we weren’t keen on the rest of the Bluray versions in the first place. But after a frustrating few weeks in which official Red Dwarf sources have been silent and the BBC initially refused to acknowledge that anything was wrong, this is a big win. Well done and thank you to all those who fought for this.

High & Low: Holly Scenes

Behold! Former G&T regular feature High & Low, in which we compile both the top ten and the bottom five of a particular Red Dwarf topic, is back, just three years and ten months after the last one. That’s about average for a second-class fansite. We’re no longer attempting to make it a monthly occurrence, but we fancied bringing back the format as an option to use from time to time. And as we not only promised back in 2015 that the next edition would be Holly Scenes, but even went to the trouble of getting Hattie Hayridge herself to pick one of the entries, we’d better finally crack on with it…

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Take the Fifth

“Despite some last-minute shooting by Rob and Doug after the wrap party, Demons & Angels was felt to be the weakest show of the series by Rob and Doug, and so was placed 5th – the traditional place for what you think is your worst episode. (Despite D&A being great.) Nobody cares if you’ve got a duff ep if you’ve had four great ones before it, and end the series with a blinder.”

“Episode Orders”, Ganymede & Titan, December 2005

Over the years on here, we’ve often idly mentioned the idea that the worst episode of any given comedy show should be put in the fifth episode slot out of six. In fact, we’ve mentioned it so much that it’s almost become a truism, a cliché… and yet we’ve never really examined where it came from, or actually looked at whether it applies to Red Dwarf in any concrete way.

Hello. I am John Hoare, and I am going to take a look at whether this actually applies to Red Dwarf in any concrete way.

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Rob Grant’s Nether Regions

In somewhat unexpected news, Rob Grant and Andrew Marshall are doing another radio series, one that isn’t The Quanderhorn Xperimentations. Tickets have just been made available for The Nether Regions, along with a description that frankly defies neatly summarising:

Welcome to … The Nether Regions: a place where the laws of physics and even time itself take a day off, put their feet up and watch daytime television in their underpants.

This is our world, today, though not quite the today we know. And not entirely the world we live in. But nearly.

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