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.
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:
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.
Rumours of a Bluray release for the BBC years of Red Dwarf have been swirling for a while. I think we’ve discussed it as an aside on a DwarfCast or two, but we’ve held off from front-paging the news until there was something a little more concrete to report, mainly because the forum was doing a sterling job of logging various developments. Today, however, Doug tweeted:
In the Blu-Ray suite working on Red Dwarf III. It’s looking nice. The Up-Rez is nice, the noise reduction is nice, the grade is nice. It just looks nice period. #RedDwarf30#October.
To celebrate Red Dwarf’s 30th anniversary, we took the airwaves (and indeed to the booze) to have a bit of a party. In a rambling, meandering and slightly shambolic show weighing in at well over two hours long, the entire G&T team – Cappsy, John, Tanya, Danny and Ian – plus special guest Jo Sharples, gathered to discuss the Pearl Poll results in very fine detail, reveal how our own preferences stack up to the general consensus, attempt our first live episode commentary on The End, and open the show up to the listeners in a chaotic phone-in free-for-all, which touched on subjects such as the Smegazines, the differences between the solo novels, Red Dwarf USA, and one hundred duck-sized Norman Lovetts.
Ladies and gentlemen, on the occasion of Red Dwarf‘s thirtieth anniversary, we invite you to join us, if you dare, in a journey through the Top 73 episodes of all time, as voted for by YOU. This is the biggest such poll we’ve ever undertaken, both in terms of the amount of episodes it covers, and the number of people who took part. A huge and heartfelt thank you to everyone who submitted their rankings. In return, our gift to you on this special day is several thousand words of analysis to go alongside the full results. Get comfortable.
How will Series XI and XII, still so fresh in people’s minds, compare to the older episodes? Will Series X have maintained its good performance from 2013, or has the novelty worn off? Can Series VII or VIII finally improve their reputations? Is there such a thing as “the bubble” any more now that the number of episodes made after Rob left outnumbers those made before? It’s finally time to find out.