As Cappsy has pointed out on The White Hole, Comedy Connections starts today at 10:35pm. This is a schedule change; the printed Radio Times gives it as starting on Tuesday. This is made worse by the fact that the magazine also features an article mentioning the show, which also gives the Tuesday date. Meaning that loads of people are going to miss out on what I’m sure will be a great show on The Goodies. Bloody BBC idiots.

As for the article in question… well, it’s three little pieces on The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin, Red Dwarf, and It Ain’t Half Hot Mum. Followed by a paragraph saying “The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin and Red Dwarf both feature in this series of Comedy Connections, along with: The Goodies, Birds of a Feather, Father Ted, Hi-de-Hi-Hi!, The Young Ones, and Keeping Up Appearance. Why the TWATTING FUCK is there a piece on It Ain’t Half Hot Mum in the article then? Why not something on one of the shows that is covered? The byline to the article gives a clue: “As BBC1 looks back at the birth of some classic sitcoms, we reveal some near misses that could have changed TV comedy as we know it”. Ah, it’s all about people who were recast. Still doesn’t make ANY FUCKING SENSE AT ALL using a show not covered by this series, when they’re linking the programme in with the article. Never mind; I like the way the byline uses the non-corporate BBC1 instead of BBC ONE.

As for the piece on Dwarf, here is is:

Red Dwarf

When did it run? February 1988 – April 1999
How many episodes? 52
Who starred in it? Chris Barrie, Craig Charles, Robert Llewellyn, Danny John-Jules

Ever compared Red Dwarf to Porridge? Well, maybe you should and maybe you shouldn’t. Creators Rob Grant and Doug Naylor were such fans of the prison comedy that they transcribed episodes and studied how it was written in-depth. And in a bid to get the show commissioned, they sold it as “Porridge in space”. “There are similar elements,” explains Naylor, “such as the confined space, bunk beds and our use of ‘smeg’, in the same way that Porridge popularised ‘naff’.

“However, once we got the green light and were left to our own devices, we went back to our original plan of doing a sci-fi comedy.”

Think Red Dwarf, but instead of Craig Charles and Chris Barrie, think Alfred Molina and Alan Rickman. They were originally on board for the parts of Rimmer and Lister. “We were aware that it might take more than one series for us to get Red Dwarf right,” admits Naylor, “and we knew that with Alan and Alfred on board, we’d probably only get one series out of them. So we changed the casting.”

The character of Kryten wasn’t even in the first two series as a main character. Grant and Naylor realised they desperately needed someone else to do physical things. “We had a hologram, a maudlin computer, a human cat and the last man in the universe,” says Naylor. “Kryten’s character had been a success as a one-off in series two, so we decided to introduce it.” However, David Ross, who had played Kryten first, was filming Alan Bleasdale’s GBH at the time, and couldn’t take the role, giving Robert Llewellyn the chance.

Red Dwarf was rejected three times before being commissioned. One BBC comedy executive, Gareth Gwenlan, was dead against it, saying, “You can’t have a sitcom in space. There’s no settee.” Grant and Naylor were so annoyed that they ended up using Gwenlan’s name as one of the show’s swearwords.

Hmmm. Like Comedy Connections itself, it’s a remarkable piece – remarkable chiefly for it’s accuracy and how it manages to be not irritating, unlike a lot of BBC stuff about comedy these days. I’m very impressed; particuarly the challenging of the Porridge comparison that’s often trotted out.

Birds of a Feather is featuring on the 28th June; as to when the Dwarf episode can be expected – fuck off. They swapped round the order of the shows last year anyway, so I doubt anyone knows in the entire world. Still, I haven’t been this excited about a TV show featuring Dwarf in ages – and remember, they’re hoping to come up with some stuff even hardcore fans won’t know…

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