Is it me, or is that cockroach shuffling too loudly? For three days in the summer of 2004, 200-odd Red Dwarf fans descended on the sleepy town of Bedford. We didn’t know much, but one thing we did know is how to throw a good time…
It all started on Friday 11th June. The bar began to fill, the jukebox began to play and the pool table began to buckle under the strain. Registration started at about 2pm, and I don’t think the fan club team stopped working from then until Sunday night. First thing on the agenda was videos – Balance of Power, the fantastic Brittas episode The Stuff of Dreams and the abysmall Beyond A Joke. During these, we distrubuted our excellent G&T leaflets and watched with amusement as people read them with confusion and a general lack of enthusiasm. After the videos came the official opening ceremony, with our fan club team dressed as “facilitator” Rimmer from Polymorph. Well, it’s got to be better than the Ku Klux Klan outfits from last year.
The first event proper was an excellent pub-style quiz, with attendees split into teams of about ten. Chris Barrie asked the questions, with the help of Paul Ikin’s Powerpoint presentation. Technological limitations meant that the music round had to be skipped, but never mind. The eventual winners were Team H (We Love Ellard), which featured such talents as Jono Capps, John Hoare, Danny Stephenson and Ian Symes. And thoroughly deserved too. The prizes included framed photos, promo Series IV posters and lovely BBC Resources videos of the cleaned-up Series V and VI videos. Fuckin’ A!
Also on Friday night was Chris Barrie’s autograph session, held early because he’s a very busy chap. Next up, an auction; there were several of these over the course of the weekend, in a break from the tradition of having one big one on Sunday, when most people’s money has run out anyway. John and Ian spent £95 on a Back In The Red camera script. Shut up. And finally, a singalong of TV theme tunes with the chap from Cult TV. This was good fun, despite the embarrassing on-stage dancing. Eventually, we retired to the bar. It might have been a good idea to have a nice early night, in anticipation of an entire weekend of decadence. Ahem.
There are some numbers by it, but they could be anything. As usual, Saturday morning opened with videos – Better Than Life and the Bikes episode of Chris Barrie’s Massive Engines. This was followed by the man himself, sans a massive engine but wearing rather fetching shorts. He answered questions about Angelina Jolie and Celebrities Disfigured and, inevitably, got to do his impressions of the cast and crew. I know we’ve heard them all before, but they never fail to amuse. After his Q+A, Chris took the part of auctioneer, flogging the front cover of Morris Dancing Monthly, which featured some excellent in-jokes. It went for a stupid amount, probably to James Bull.
Next up, Mr. Bobbathony Llewelleyoney, fresh from an altercation with a satellite navigation system. Rob performed with his usual level of wide-eyed enthusiasm, as he discussed his novels, Scrapheap, his website, his live shows and just about everything we could think of. Some daft sod asked him what the first line of the movie script was, to which he replied “something to do with smeg”. Hurrah! Bobby also played the auctioneer, selling a beautiful piece of Japanese merchandise – a tissue dispenser in the shape of Kryten’s head. Rob suggested using it as a condom dispenser, which would have been even better. As expected, it went for about five times the price it would cost to import it.
After a lunch break and a Maid Marian video, Danny John-Jules, the king of entertainers, took to the stage. After posing for pictures for about ten minutes, Danny started to answer questions; the most interesting pieces of news is that The Storymakers is now out on DVD and Danny is writing a sit-com for Ian Wright. That’s sure to be good. It was only a matter of time, though, and after half an hour or so, the Cat-eoke (DYS?) started with Tongue Tied and Maid Marian. Then it all descended into chaos, as Danny did an improvised dance session. Taking suggestions from the audience, Danny imitated Bruce Forsythe, Fred Astaire, Christina Aguilera and Usher. He calmed down in time to flog a D-form model of Duane Dibbley for about a million pounds, despite them going on eBay for about 50p. Oh, and according to Danny the first line of the movie script is “they’re all dead, Dave”.
After a whopping autograph session, featuring Danny, Robert and (The) Shend, we all put on our least smeggy things, slipped an extra pair of socks down our trousers (even the women) and made our way to the main hall. But not before going out to the car park too see the damage that can be caused when Danny John-Jules’s girlfriend drives a Jaguar into a brick wall. Answer: quite a lot. First up, the fancy dress. Leave your dignity at the door and just have a laugh. The undisputed winner was the bazookoid, which was just amazing. Shame Alex and Jenni didn’t get more marks for their excellent bits of jigsaw idea. Good thing: Paul Gannon wasn’t naked. Bad thing: he was wearing a skin-tight green catsuit.
After the vomit had been cleared away, the magical maestro that is John Lenahan made his way to the stage. It would have been nice if John had learned some new tricks in the last year, but never mind. I’m still impressed by his opening card trick, where he takes six cards, throws three and still has six left. Anyways, after John it was the disco. I feel a sudden urge to strut my funky stuff. The disco started brilliantly, the first three songs being Bon Jovi’s Living On A Prayer, Teh Drakness’s I Believe In A Thing Called Love and Kiss’s superb Crazy Crazy Nights. Then it all went a bit pants, and the floor was filled by the fan club team. Steev Rogers was his usual energetic self, and Andrew Ellard was a bit of a revelation.
As the disco drew to a close, people returnetheded to the main bar, for pizza and drinks. Some twat fell asleep and was covered in pizza crusts, after having a ‘H’ and a beard drawn on his face. Wanker.
It’s called a hangover, don’t panic. More early morning videos – Red Dwarf: The Other Movie and the first episode of Crime Traveller. Then, the main auction, where we bought the first draft script of Red Dwarf USA for a mere sixty quid. Bargain! Immediately after this, the delightful Ms. Hayridge and the slightly scary Mr. Shend took to the sofa. Hattie reeled off anecdotes about her stand-up performances and time in Australia, while Shend revealed that his name means “to disembowel”. Lovely.
Next up, Andrew Ellard, who entered the fancy dress competition as Rimmer in 1993 and we’ve got the pictures, took up far longer than his allotted 15 minutes of fame. It was worth it, though – he started his set by reading a fantastic e-mail from Ugod Naylor. This has been reported all over the place, so we’ll just stick to the main fact – TEH MOVIE IS FUNDED, “sure as eggs is hens’ periods”. Next up, was a clip from The Starbuggers – a rough cut of the Emohawk section. Wow, frankly. Loads of variation in the interviewees, much tighter editing of programme clips and, best of all, RUSHES FOOTAGE. I was so moved, I had to shake Ellard’s hand. Oh, and apparantly the first line of the movie script is now “EXT. SPACE”.
The final guest of the weekend was Mike Tucker, special effects genius extraordinaire. He came on to a compilation of his recent work, which was simply mind-blowing. He then went through an impressive slide-show chronicalling his career, focussing obviously on Dwarf. These slides will form the basis of his forthcoming book, which will be pants-wettingly exciting, I can tell you. After showing us a compilation of effects from Series VI, Mike answered questions from the floor. He actually said “the new Dwarf looks like a big pencil”. We love Mike Tucker.
After lunch (which takes about an hour to be delivered in the Bedford Moat House), there was the final autograph session of the weekend – Andrew Ellard, John Lenahan, Mike Tucker and Hattie Hayridge. Ellard was there despite not having his own page in the programme, and indeed not being famous. He’s a very nice chap, though, so we’ll let him off. All that remained was the raffle draw, at which Ian won a “SMEGHEAD” mousemat. Lovely. There were many scramble-type prizes at the closing ceremony too – books and videos and that.
Well, we all had a cup of tea, a bit of a chat and went home. It was a shame that the England football team had to put a dampener on it, but it was an all-time great weekend. Obviously, the main attractions at DJ are the guests and the events, but they’re only half the fun. The thing that makes DJ special are the people you meet there; you spend three days with them and you feel like bosom buddies. So, let’s rattle through our list of fwiends (and in no fuckin’ way is this in order of priority):
- James Bull, who asked us for our autographs.
- Cappsy, who got his fucking report up before us.
- Charles, you absolute freak
- Dave (American), with his chronic hayfever
- Dave (English), who seemed to disappear halfway through Saturday
- Wendy Dent, who bought Ian a beer
- Andrew Ellard – a man of honour
- Mr. Flibble, who had the misfortune to be named Kirk
- Paul Gannon, who kept his clothes on
- Jez, with his interesting hair
- Peter Jones, who, as far as we know, was not the voice of the book in Hitch-Hikers.
- Tanya Jones, who we’ve met one or two times before
- Mick, famed for turning up at half two on Friday night/Saturday morning
- Nicky – 007, licensed to thrill
- Steev Rogers – disco dancer extraordinaire
- Slices and Luvs – congrats on the engagements!
- Danny Stephenson – what a guy!
- Sue – phwoar!
- Swarj – breakfast thief
- TV’s own Curtis Threadgold
- Voter Colonel and Morgy – awwww!
Plus, all the other millions of people we’ve forgotten, who will no doubt shout at us for doing do. Special mention to the fan club team – Jane, Jenny, Caz, Deb, Paul, Rory, Helen, Sharon, Kev – you guys rock! See you all next year, folks.