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.

Read more →

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:

Read more →

You Stupid Ugly Goit: Leaseholder’s Addendum

While we’re all working on bigger things for G&T behind the scenes, it’s left to me to keep the front page updated. And what better way to do that than foist some unpleasant off-cuts from an old article onto you?

Here is your plate of raw offal, then. A couple of months back I posted this piece, on the reshoots required for Series 1 to put Holly in-vision. There was one thing I was never quite able to nail down, however, and going after it seemed like an annoying diversion in an already faintly annoying article, so I pretended not to notice and hoped everyone else would happily ignore it as well. Still, perhaps you’re cleverer than me, and can figure out the below mystery. And it concerns a very important scene in the development of Holly.

Read more →

Happy New TV Years

Having previously tackled the 80s, the 90s, Christmas telly and children’s telly, TV Years, Bauer Media’s excellent magazine that celebrates classic British television, is back with a new sci-fi themed edition, and naturally Red Dwarf features heavily. Comics writer and, it turns out, big Red Dwarf fan, James Roberts has interviewed (separately, before anyone gets any ideas) Rob Grant and Doug Naylor about the show’s development, for an in-depth feature that we’re reliably informed covers “how a lunch with Ray Galton and Alan Simpson informed Red Dwarf’s opening scenes, and how an encounter with Richard Curtis profoundly affected how we would come to know the show”.

The magazine is out tomorrow (that’s Tuesday 6th August 2019 for anyone reading this in the future), but we’ve been kindly provided with a little extract, concerning the end of Rob and Doug’s writing partnership…

Read more →

End of Part One, Red Dwarf XII Edition

With the two year anniversary of Red Dwarf XII rapidly approaching, it’s time to tidy up a few remaining bits of business here on G&T. Our retrospective DwarfCasts are already in the can and will be published before too long. But before those, there’s one thing which I’m sure you’d all hoped I’d forgotten about. Yes, it’s time for that sodding ad breaks article again.

A quick reminder of why I do these. When I first wrote this piece on Red Dwarf X‘s ad break placement, I did it because I was annoyed. It felt like Dwarf hasn’t even tried to adapt to being on commercial television, and its ad breaks were placed and presented in a most begrudging manner. However, this was almost entirely rectified with Red Dwarf XI, which did a pretty damn good job.

Seeing as Red Dwarf XII was made in tandem with XI, surely the same is true this time round? Let’s take a look.

Read more →

Series I-VIII Bluray Review Addendum

On 17th July 2019, just over six months since the Red Dwarf Series I-VIII Bluray set was first released, replacement discs for Series III and V finally fell through the letterboxes of complaining customers. On the original release, the entirety of the third series and the second half of the fifth were rendered in the wrong frame rate, resulting in blurry movement and grainy pictures, basically the equivalent of accidentally applying a film effect. This subject rather dominated our original review, which lead to a minor lobbying campaign for a fix. The BBC acknowledged the mistake in February, and assured us that new discs would be ready in “approximately six weeks”. Twenty weeks later, were the new editions of these nine episodes worth the wait?

Read more →

G&TV: Take Two (1/6/88)

G&TV logoThis month on G&TV, let’s take a look at something we’ve been meaning to cover for ages. A shade over two months after Series 1 of Red Dwarf was first transmitted, Children’s BBC show Take Two asked kids what they thought of the series.

Which is automatically a very interesting little time capsule. After all, whether given by kids or by adults, contemporary opinions of Series 1 are as rare as hen’s testicles.

Read more →

Stellar Rescue Review

Well, we certainly weren’t expecting this to happen today. We only caught wind of the possibility of Red Dwarf collaborating with The AA last Thursday, when a giant Starbug was pictured with an AA van near the Angel of the North, with resultant undeclared promotional pieces reported in the local press. When Danny John-Jules reassured us that “all will be revealed” on the 1st July, we were expecting a tweet or a press release. Not for a minute-long chunk of full unadulterated brand new Red Dwarf to turn up unannounced at ten o’clock in the morning. This is what all those hints about the cast getting back together have been leading to. It’s not Series XIII – though that’s not to say that work isn’t also taking place on that – it’s Rimmer, Lister, Cat, Kryten and Starbug appearing in a television advert for The AA.

The idea of my favourite show doing an advert might have filled me with dread and disgust at one time, with that Bill Hicks quote about “being off the artistic roll call” ringing in my ears. But the world has changed since then, and there are lot of things working in favour of this particular ad. It’s all original material, not just exploiting old clips and tainting them by association. It looks and feels like the current show, not some nostalgia trip trying to recapture past glories. And of all the brands they could have associated themselves with – betting companies, loan sharks, shady foreign exchange business – there’s not much fault to find with The AA. As it happens, there’s no need to worry. This advert is so well-made and so charming that it’s impossible not to be wooed.

Read more →