OFFICIAL: Red Dwarf Special Announced!

After the merest Morse-based mumblings on Thursday afternoon, the news we’ve all been waiting for dropped in the very early hours of Friday morning. It’s quite late at night and we’ve got work in the morning, so here’s the short version: NEW FEATURE LENGTH SPECIAL! THREE-PART RETROSPECTIVE DOCUMENTARY! LIVE AUDIENCE! RECORDING IN DECEMBER! AIRING NEXT YEAR! TOS, of course, has some finer details, and here are our initial bleary-eyed thoughts…

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DwarfCast 102 – Series XII Retrospective Byte Two

Following last week’s celebration of Series XII’s second anniversary, we’re back to celebrate Series XII’s second second anniversary, with what’s possibly the happiest and most overall positive DwarfCast we’ve ever done on the subject of Dave-era Red Dwarf. It’s Byte Two of our series retrospective, with John Hoare, Tanya Jones, Danny Stephenson and Ian Symes returning to ruminate on Mechocracy, M-Corp and Skipper, as well as assessing the series, and indeed the XI and XII production block, as a whole.

Along the way we discuss alternative pronunciations of “Mechocracy”, how episodes of Red Dwarf are in fact cobbled together from CCTV footage, invisible dildos, the logistics of owning planets, why Mr Rat is a fried egg chilli chutney sandwich face, and alternative pronunciations of the word “grimace”. Because this was recorded several months ago, there’s also speculation that Skipper might be the last ever episode of Red Dwarf, which seems increasingly less likely after the events of the last few days, but never mind.

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Give me an R, give me an E, give me a D, give me a Red Dwarf… Special?

There has been an increased amount of rumblings about the possibility of new Red Dwarf recently, and as usual we’ve been kind of ignoring it until something more concrete came along. Most notably, Robert tweeted in a reply to someone the other week that “we start making Red Dwarf XIII in November”, which seemed a little too tight a turnaround to be true. But once again following the usual pattern of these things, a cast member has now posted something that reveals perhaps a little more than they intended, and we can’t ignore it any more. The cast member on this occasion is Danny, who has shared a snap of the other three at what appears to be a readthrough of something…

…and that sheet of paper on the table is very intriguing indeed if you blow it up and rotate it 90 degrees counter-clockwise…

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G&TV: Robert Llewellyn on Denton

G&TV logoThis month on G&TV, we go back in time to 1994, and take a look at Robert Llewellyn on Australian talk show Denton. Or, considering that the person who uploaded this video thinks that Llewellyn played a character called “Kryton”, we should say we’re going to take a look at Ribbed Sue Ellen on Australian talk show Dented.

Unfortunately, the above shitassery may come back to bite me, as while I might know my Krytons from my Krytens, I have never heard of either Denton, or indeed Andrew Denton himself. This piece has a bit of background on both him and the show; it seems like it really was rather good. And sure enough, the Llewellyn segment is pretty entertaining.

A few thoughts.

  • Robert saying that it’s “rather tragic” that Andrew Denton knows the difference between R2D2 and C3PO is an interesting reminder that this stuff wasn’t front-centre of popular culture in 1994.
  • I have to admit, I winced at the Douglas Bader funny walks section. Somehow, reading that bit in The Man In The Rubber Mask never seemed particularly troubling. Once you combine it with the visual, it becomes a bit of a different thing. (Though the fact that he combines this with the story about Doug Naylor’s prosthetic leg – where Robert himself becomes the butt of the joke – kinda helps.)
  • Hearing the anecdote again about Robert getting an electric shock by the cigarette lighter in his finger reminds me of when that footage of his first day of recording finally showed up on The Bodysnatcher Collection. Did someone at GNP have to sit through watching multiple takes of Robert screaming in pain to find the usable take?
  • The moment towards the end of the interview where Robert talks about his girlfriend sleeping with somebody else makes me grateful my job doesn’t involve bearing my soul on national television.
  • The ending I won’t spoil. But it’s very funny.

Anyway, the whole thing is well worth a watch. And as for Andrew Denton himself? In August this year he finished another talk show called Andrew Denton’s Interview. Or possibly Argue Dental’s IOU or something, I’m going to leave now, bye.

DwarfCast 101 – Series XII Retrospective Byte One

We published the first part of our Series X semi-retrospective two months after the first episode aired. For Series XI, we waited five months. Today is the second anniversary of Series XII launching on UKTV Play, so I guess it’s time to admit that we no longer have a “semi” on our hands. Yes, having finally given up on the plan to get all five of us together in one room, join 80% of the G&T team – namely John Hoare, Tanya Jones, Danny Stephenson and Ian Symes – as we look back on Cured, Siliconia and Timewave.

Revisiting the episodes with fresh eyes and ears, we analyse how they stand up now that they’re no longer brand new, and track how our opinions have changed since our initial instant reactions. Spoilers: we’re still not keen on Timewave. Along the way we discuss Doug’s obsession with castration, Uncle Frank’s questionable true nature, the purpose of James Buckley, a surfeit of MILFs, how annoying it is to have coffee poured on one’s bollocks, and how to fix the “spit on her wrist” joke with one simple word substitution.

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Scrumping for Sets

I sometimes wonder what is wrong with me.

Come back in time 30 years with me, to Manchester. (I’ll have to use the Series VII Time Drive rather than the VI version, unless I’m willing to take the bus up there.) Red Dwarf Series 2 finished shooting on the 3rd July 1988, with Queeg. The first audience recording session for Series III was on the 5th September 1989 – although there must have been location shooting before this date. Regardless – in the 13 months between those dates, Red Dwarf underwent a great number of changes.

Some of those changes we still don’t really know an awful lot about. For instance, Rob and Doug became producers on the show, but the conversations which lead to that remain largely a mystery. Still, one of the most immediately obvious changes came from the ousting of Paul Montague as production designer… and the instatement of Mel Bibby. And the on-screen effect this had on the show has been endlessly talked about, at least.

But my mind keeps wandering. Because those sets for Series 1 and 2 would surely have been put into storage for any potential Series 3. And once Series III was finally commissioned, and Mel Bibby joined the team… there came the decision made to create entirely new sets. And believe me, I’ve stared at those sets long enough to know that they really were entirely new.

Old bunkroom from Queeg New bunkroom from Timeslides

Which means: those Series 1 and 2 sets would be surplus to requirements… and dumped. Exactly where, and exactly when, I have absolutely no idea. But at some point between July 1988 and September 1989, they were gone. Possibly sitting in a skip outside BBC North West.

And just imagine. Imagine if you had loved those first two series at the time. And imagine you found out exactly where and exactly when those sets were dumped. And imagine you could have gone and rescued those sets. And imagine that suddenly, you owned that famous grey bunkroom.

Because you’d be the owner of one of the most amazing pieces of Red Dwarf memorabilia in existence. And – give it a few years, maybe – one of the most valuable. If only you’d known exactly what day to go scouting around a certain bit of Manchester. If only you’d known. You could have made thousands of pounds from it in the mid-nineties. Or – if you’re more sentimental – you could pop down to your garage any time you wanted, and lie on Lister’s bunk.

All you needed to know is the date, and the place. It was there for the taking. If only you’d known.

I sometimes wonder what is wrong with me.

G&TV Special: Smegheads In Seattle

G&TV logoHere’s an incredible find that was first brought to our attention by Tom Selway on Twitter at the start of August, just a few days after it surfaced on YouTube. We immediately sprung in to action, opening our to-do list and pencilling it in for September’s G&TV. Which would have been fine if things like TORDFC’s newsletter and reddwarf.co.uk didn’t exist, both of which have featured it in the meantime. Nevertheless, it’s well worth sharing in case those two passed any of you by, as it’s not every day you get to see a fully-fledged broadcast programme all about Red Dwarf. Before Comedy Connections and The Making of Back To Earth, but after Red Dwarf Night, there was Smegheads in Seattle.

Produced and broadcast by KCTS, a local PBS affiliate serving Seattle and Tacoma in Washington, it features Craig Charles and Danny John-Jules on a visit to the eponymous city in May 1998. It’s a compilation of material from various sources: one main interview by KCTS’s Ken Vincent, another interview with Danny solo, viewer Q&As from two separate pledge drives for the station, at least two different convention appearances, plus a couple of specially-shot sections, which we’ll come to. After it initially aired, it did the rounds as a bootleg VHS for a while, along with another show from the same station, Swirly Thing Alert, but then disappeared and slipped from the memory, until now.

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Gold Digging

Over the years we’ve written loads of stupid articles here on G&T. But one thing we’ve never got round to is a full list of repeats Red Dwarf has had over the years. So if you want that, you should visit the blog of Christopher Wickham of this very parish, and peruse The Red Dwarf BBC Broadcasts Guide.

Still, one self-confessed omission from that article is anything to do with cable/satellite repeats and the like. I don’t intend to provide a full list of these, because while I might be a moron, I am not an absolute fucking moron. It seems worth asking one question, however: when was the first repeat of Red Dwarf in the UK which was not on the BBC?

Before researching this article, my massively naive guess was: around 1992. UK Gold launched on the 1st November of that year; I’d just assumed that repeats of Red Dwarf had been part of the channel from the very beginning. But then, I never had access to the channel back then; the first time I ever experienced the wonders of multichannel television was in the late 90s, when we got NTL analogue cable, and we couldn’t afford any of the extra pay channels. Instead, I whiled away my days cheating the receiver into giving me 10 minutes of free Television X. Believe me, when you’re 18, 10 minutes is all you need.

Anyway, there is a very easy way of telling when Red Dwarf was first shown on UK Gold, and it doesn’t involve doing any hard research. Just ask people on Twitter, and get them to do that hard work for you. And here is the answer from Jonathan Dent, cross-referencing the Guardian’s TV listings and this Usenet post. The repeats of Red Dwarf on UK Gold started with a double-bill of The End and Future Echoes, and premiered on the 5th October 1997 at 11:05pm.

UK Gold listing

What I find especially interesting about all this is that it coincides with the 1997 resurgence of Red Dwarf, which started with the first broadcast of Tikka to Ride 10 months previously, along with the programme’s first Radio Times cover. A resurgence which many of us look back on with mixed feelings, to say the least – but very much part of the second wave of the show and its fandom. Being one of those fans who got into Red Dwarf during the 1994 BBC2 repeat season, I had no idea that I was already watching the show way before it got its very first non-terrestrial UK showing. It’s all so much later than the history I had made up entirely by myself in my own head.

Now, would it be too much to hope for that this first broadcast on UK Gold was captured by someone on video? Maybe even with the accompanying – and presumably quite excitable – continuity announcement?

DwarfCast 100 – 100th DwarfCast Special

That’s 100th DwarfCast. Not 100th PodCast like you and Skeletor think. Very nearly thirteen whole years ago, a group of young and self-important Red Dwarf fans decided to tip their toes into the barely-chartered waters of podcasting, unleashing their verrucas into the world with the first edition released on October 1st 2006. The fact that it’s taken this long for the hundredth episode to come out should be a source of embarrassment and regret, but instead, brace yourself for the most self-indulgent and smug thing we’ve ever done: a documentary about ourselves, which runs for nearly an hour and a half.

Join Jonathan Capps, John Hoare, Tanya Jones, Daniel Stephenson and Ian Symes for a look back on the history, highlights and lowlights of what is undoubtedly a podcast about Red Dwarf, ably assisted by a former regular making a one-off guest appearance many years later, reddwarf.co.uk editor Seb Patrick. We discuss the origins of DwarfCasts, the evolution of our style from ill-informed dickheads to slightly-better-informed dickheads, how the Back To Earth weekend nearly tore the group apart, and the difficulties faced when one of your hosts is on the verge of death in intensive care when he’s supposed to be doing a live podcast. There’s also music, testimonies from loyal listeners, and tonnes of clips of our best and worst moments – including snippets from the proto-DwarfCast episode commentaries recorded by a barely-pubescent Ian and John, previously not heard in the last fifteen years. Thankfully.

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G&TV: Sci-Fi Friday Night on IPTV

G&TV logoBeing born in 1981 in the UK, there is a certain… comfort I have from watching Red Dwarf. Despite being set three million years into the future, I understand everything. Not only with jokes about Eastbourne or Topic bars; the visual language of Red Dwarf is warm and familiar. A cross between The Young Ones and Chock-A-Block.

And part of that visual language is how BBC2 looked and felt in the 90s. Those classic idents, a bold, chunky 2. Whizzing across the screen as a toy car, flipping in the air like a fluffy dog, or being blown up by fireworks. Despite only actually launching during the initial broadcast of Series IV, for an entire generation, Red Dwarf became inseparable from those wonderful pieces of film. (Many, many years later, I got to play with those idents on air on BBC Two for real… and that toy car ident became the most metaphorical ident in the world.)

But today isn’t a day for comfort. At least, not for me. Because a big part of Red Dwarf‘s story was its overseas sales, particularly to PBS stations in America. It’s something which is so easy to forget from a UK perspective: that there is a whole language of television connected with Dwarf that I never got to see.

So let’s take a look at… Mike Frisbie’s Sci-Fi Friday Night, on Iowa Public Television. Starting in the early 90s, this was a weekly line-up of various science fiction shows, including Doctor Who, Blake’s 7, and… oh, hello, Red Dwarf. And each show was introduced by Mike Frisbie in his own inimitable style.

Here’s what he had to say about Bodyswap in 1996:

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