Hello and welcome once again to G&TV. It’s a shorter than usual video this month, but an incredibly interesting, and ever so slightly surreal, one. Full credit must go to our very own Darrell, who recently discovered the existence of a cover version of The Chicken Song – the parody novelty single, with lyrics by Rob and Doug, which originated in Spitting Image and later reached number one in the UK charts – recorded by a Belgian band called De Strangers. After Darrell tweeted about this, Ben Baker then went and dug out the video…
It’s always the way, innit? You hang around Rob Grant for ten years and you don’t see one new project. Then all of a sudden, three of them turn up at once. More accurately, one new project turns up, but released in three different ways. The Quanderhorn Xperiment, in its various forms, will be with us before the month is out, so let’s take this opportunity to summarise what we know about the three individual products and their release schedule.
Hello there! In lieu of anything especially Dwarfy happening at the moment, let me talk to you about 1970s post-apocalyptic drama Survivors. And while I could do 10,000 words on how the show transitioned from being shot on film to recorded on VT and why that was a good thing, a) That isn’t strictly within the remit of this website, and b) It would probably make you want to drown me in the nearest river. Even more than usual, I mean.
So instead, let’s do an old-style Observation Dome post and take a look at the Red Dwarf connection with the show. Specifically: Series 2 of Survivors contains no less than three Red Dwarf guest cast members as regulars. And the first time they all come together is in Episode 5, The Face of the Tiger.
For this month’s G&TV, we take a look at an old favourite: Rob and Doug appearing on BiteBack, also known as “Points of View but with a budget”. This was broadcast on the 23rd May 1993 – precisely 25 years ago today.
I should warn you: at 41 seconds in, they do a “Beam me down, Scotty” gag. I’m warning you now so your expensive phone or computer doesn’t end up through the nearest window.
UPDATE (20/05/18): New documents come to light!
The recent mumblings regarding a possible imminent announcement of brand new Red Dwarf naturally lead to a discussion about the merits of Series VIII, because this is Ganymede & Titan. In the course of what would go on to be a characteristically tedious debate, an interesting link was brought to light by commenter bloodteller: a contemporary set report on the final studio recording of the series, miraculously still online nearly twenty years after it was first published.
This was a great find, remarkable for several reasons. Firstly, it turns out that the internet-enabled fans of the late 1990s had a dangerously casual attitude to spoilers compared to the self-regulating secrecy of today – every single scene described in detail and badly remembered jokes reproduced in full, online months before broadcast. It also throws up some neat little details about the production that would otherwise be lost to the mists of time, such as a message to the fans being signed “big hugs and kisses – the Inquisitor”, the audience being shown a picture of Ed Bye in a dress, and an incident where a make-up artist is caught unaware by a freshly-painted set.
In the last decade or so since Red Dwarf slowly creaked back into production, certain traditions have been established. The frantic hunt for audience tickets. Scouring the social media feeds of the cast and crew for teasers during production. The carefully orchestrated promotional campaigns culminating in something important being accidentally leaked early. And, of course, the complete inability of the main cast to keep their mouths shut.
This last one has lead to a confusing and mildly irritating secondary tradition in more recent years, as blogs and entertainment sites vie for clicks in an increasingly crowded market: announcing that a new series is confirmed before a new series is actually confirmed. You can track the development of this phenomenon by noting the increasing levels of weariness in our coverage of it happening for Back To Earth, Series X and the Series XI & XII couplet – twice. So imagine our delight when we saw an article on the otherwise excellent British Comedy Guide loudly proclaiming “Red Dwarf Series 13 confirmed”.
Previously on G&TV, we brought you an archival treat starring Chris Barrie. This month, we bring you the results of a YouTube search for a different member of the Red Dwarf cast; from September 1992, it’s The Reconstructed Heart, an illustrated lecture by Robert Llewellyn. It was broadcast on Channel 4 in the same month that it became Robert’s first published book.
It’s been nearly three years since we launched our Complete Guide To Almost Everything, the G&T equivalent of an old-fashioned episode guide but with loads of extra, obscure stuff included too. Since then, there have been two more series of Red Dwarf broadcast, along with the accompanying Bluray/DVD extras, so it’s about bloody time we got our fingers out and updated it. Presenting:
Changes to this version are as follows:
- Entries added for Series XI & XII
- New section – Other Appearances, covering minor appearances from the characters in other shows or online exclusives
- DVD Extras updated with details for XI & XII
- Silver Survey rankings replaced with Pearl Poll rankings throughout
- “Elsewhere on G&T” links updated with content published since the first edition
- New banner
As ever, do get in touch if you have any corrections or additions – you can either comment here or on the article itself.
Exciting news – more than a decade on from Fat, Rob Grant has a new novel out later this year. It’s an adaptation of The Quanderhorn Xperimentations, the Radio 4 sitcom he’s co-written with Andrew Marshall of 2point4children fame, set to be released in June at the same time as the radio version is broadcast. We’re told that this will be “expanded from” the radio series, prompting hopes of a Red Dwarf style full novel treatment, rather than a straightforward transposition of the scripts.
We’re very much looking forward to all of this – it’s been far too long since we got hold of any new Rob Grant material, and now we’ll be treated to new examples of both his dialogue and his prose, all within the next few months. It’ll also be interesting to see how he works with another writer; correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe this is the first time he’s collaborated with someone other than Doug.
Time is short and we are lazy, so here’s the press release in full:
Ooh look, a new regular feature. Let’s see how long we keep this one up. Once a month or so, we’ll be providing some interesting or obscure Red Dwarf-related viewing, usually something involving the cast and/or crew that we’ve found buried somewhere on YouTube. First up, in authentic slightly-glitchy-VHS quality, an edition of Saturday Live from 15th February 1986 – precisely two years before The End aired – co-produced by Paul Jackson and guest-hosted by Chris Barrie.