Lovely stuff. Not my words, the words of Shakin’ Stevens. But also my words.

Yes, Andrew Ellard’s done his thing over at TOS and given us a nicely comprehensive article about the making of Back to Earth. And even if you’ve already pored over every nugget of info the various doccos and commentaries on the DVDs have to offer, there are still a few important points that jump out…

I won’t go through and comment on the article bit-by-bit (you can discover everything for yourself), but the following really are worthy of comment :

The idea to shove [Katerina] into oncoming traffic came from associate producer Andrew Ellard

Andrew hates women, everyone!

During this period, towards the end of 2008, Norman – who had been given dates to pencil in his diary in case his involvement could be worked out – insisted on a definite yes or no answer, was he in or not? As it stood, the Holly character wasn’t in the script and so the answer had to be ‘no’. Had the comedian held on, Holly might have made it back after all – while there was no room for Mac in the end, ChloĆ« did make a top-secret return in the final shooting script, creating a gob-smacking finale.

Right. So Doug already told this story on the DVD commentary, but now we’ve got it down on [electronic] PAPER. Please feel free to copy-and-paste this passage EVERY TIME you see (a) Norman moaning about not being in it, or (b) someone moaning about Norman not being in it.

Richard O’Callaghan, a friend of the production since he appeared at the Red Dwarf movie readthrough where he played a nutty rogue droid

Something else that was tantalisingly hinted at in Doug’s commentary. HOAGIE THE ROGUEY. Oh God, can’t someone just “leak” the script already?

Initial hopes of shooting Back to Earth with a studio audience were kiboshed early on. The practical issues were insurmountable: multi-camera shooting with a scanner truck was way out of the budget’s reach. And that’s before you factor in the expenses created by shooting for an audience rather than on a schedule that’s cheapest for the production. When you can’t afford to even double-up on costumes, a storyline that involves covering the cast in purple gloop becomes a logistical nightmare! And there wouldn’t have been any opportunity to recycle sets in front of the audience, forcing huge sections to be pre-recorded.

Okay? Can we stop the debate now? The practical reasons have been laid out again and again. It’s not like it was for aesthetic reasons, it’s not as if the production team actually thought it would be better witho…

Still, the script was already one that leant itself to a more filmic production method – lots of location work, several virtual sets, and an emotional content that warranted a more hushed shooting atmosphere – and there was no denying that shooting without an audience would help keep the twists of the story a secret.

… oh.

You get the idea, anyway. Lots of interesting stuff, and absolutely well worth a read this fine Friday afternoon. It’s just a shame that the official site still hasn’t seen fit to pass any kind of comment on all these “potential new series under negotation” rumours…

At time of writing, the episodes are still bringing in high numbers for Dave on their umpteenth repeat. No wonder talks were underway even before the broadcast for a possible full series of the show!

49 comments on “Red Dwarf Site That Isn’t G&T Publishes Lengthy In-Depth Article

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  • Actually, what he said was that said several factors – the location work, virtual sets, and need for a more hushed shooting atmosphere at certain points – meant that the script was more practically suited to a non-audience shooting, not that the end product was better without it. Whether or not they felt it was is another thing altogether, though I imagine they did their best to make a superior production which was well-suited to the limits they had to work within, and so would like not to think of it in terms of ‘would have been better if only’.

    Personally, though I enjoyed BtE, I really hope that if it’s successful enough to allow for a new series, it allows for a big enough budget for audience filming as well.

  • It’s been said lots of times before but I hope any audience doesn’t compromise the ’emotional content’ that’s kind of new to Red Dwarf, which I’d like Doug to build upon.

  • >since the ship must have changed shape since it was last seen in Series VIII, it was felt there was bound to be a reason for this. (Our money’s on something that involves the mirror universe…)


  • Teatime, I totally agree. If any future shows have an audience I won’t complain, but I would very much hate to lose this new side of Dwarf so soon. I thought that BtE had the right amounts of old style Dwarf blended with the more serious tone of the books, which I love.

  • I don’t think an audience has to compromise the emotional content in any way. I mean, in theory, audiences could disrupt even a purely comedic recording, if it were allowed to happen, but I’m sure they’re instructed on what’s required for the recording to go smoothly. So when things are funny, they would laugh, and when they’re required to be quiet for the tone of the episode, they would be. That’s always been the case with Red Dwarf in the past when there were emotional moments (and they may not have been as frequent or extended as in BtE, but they were definitely there). I’m quite happy with the new tone for the most part, I just miss having an audience to laugh along with on the funny bits.

  • I hope there’s a podcast from you soon. I think you promised one on the release of the dvd.

    Loved the downfall vid!

  • >Only Fools was packed with pathos, and the audience never compromised it.

    Part of me thinks this is true, and hopes an audience will be considered for the next Dwarf however there’s also part of me that has seen Friends and shuddered at the audience reactions in that to anything with a hint of emotion.

    “Lister kisses Kochanski”


    Sometimes I’m thankful we Brits are emotionally stunted.

  • We arn’t emotionally stunted, we just don’t have overreactive audiences, it is so bad on Whose Line is it Anyway US that I just don’t watch it anymore.

  • I never thought i’d see the old ship in CGI, it’s a thing of beauty. as much as I liked the pencil, those images are lovely. hope we get some new posters/artwork with that on display.

  • Actually it is based largely on the pencil ship (at least the body itself is.) It was chopped. It’s a stub! ;) It’s not a bad compromise though keeping with Doug’s reasoning for the pencil ship (i.e. start with a bit and add on rather than one big bulk.) Lovely pictures.

    Interesting what the article stated concerning right to left being ‘homebound’. I can see the logic behind that certainly, but I didn’t know about that convention.

  • It’s just that Western audiences think ‘left to right’ because it’s how we read. So progression, advancement, heading outwards goes instinctually that way. (Unless other factors – such as geography; going from LA to New York, say – are involved.)

    Aliens is a good example. The Sulaco heads to LV426 left to right, while Ripley and Newt leave the planet right to left.

    Like crossing the 180 line during shooting, these things aren’t entire hard and fast rules. But it’s good grammar.

  • Didn’t Lister once say it’d take four thousand years just to turn the ship around – perhaps, a good justification for the whole left-to-right/right-to-left thing..?

  • The Lord of the Rings is like this. When the hobbits are riding home it’s right to left. OK, most of the trilogy they’re travelling west to east so you could say that’s why it’s usually left to right. However, when Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli are chasing the orcs who’ve taken Merry and Pippin they are running east and it’s still left to right.

  • the original red dwarf ship had the meteor lodged on the front right side ( i think )

    in series 8 it had no rocks or meteors stuck in it anywhere ( as it had just been redesigned by the nanos)

    in bte the meteor is on the back lef hand side

    have i missed something extreamly obvious ? making the ship go from right to left would not make the rock switch sides…
    or is this just something we are to assume was explained in series 9…

  • I think the Series VIII Dwarf like the re-mastered Dwarf had rocks stuck below it.

  • I think the Series VIII Dwarf like the re-mastered Dwarf had rocks stuck below it.

    This is true, and correct me if i’m wrong, but I think it had TWO meteors stuck into the ship, purely because the model looked too lop-sided. without at least a rock at each end.

    The Corgi model certainly has two meteors, anyways…

    making the ship go from right to left would not make the rock switch sides?
    or is this just something we are to assume was explained in series 9?

    I think it can also be said that the Series VIII has the two rocks stuck UNDER the ship, not at the side… SO technically, it can be seen from both sides.

  • >I think it can also be said that the Series VIII has the two rocks stuck UNDER the ship, not at the side

    It was both I think, underneath but to the side. The side we’re facing (right originally now left.)

    I thought it was interesting on the remastered DVDs when Doug Naylor stated that the idea was that there are two huge bays that store meteors for mining. I got the impression from the novels that the meteor was there as a result of a collision, and they left it because the structure there was still stable. The storage thing makes a whole lot more sense though since there are two so symetrically placed. ;)

  • And in IWCD, ‘the rock’ was a small moon that had been thrown out of orbit.

    Personally speaking, one of the reasons why I liked the original ship design so much was that it suggested a regenerative technology – i.e. due to the vessel’s immense size (and presumerably having no Star Trek-esque energy shields to defend itself), a nano-repair system would have to constantly be on call to help patch various meteor hits, radiation damage and the like just so the ship could reach its destination safely and in one piece.

    In that sense, you could assume the ship’s hull ‘healed’ over the rock (whatever it may be) creating an air-tight seal – it also infers the ship might even have a rather homely ‘lifeforce’ all of its own. Ahh.

    The apparent uneveness of Red Dwarf being attributed to a mechanical form of scar tissue is just one way of explaining its irregular shape. Not to mention, certain design choices (aesthetic, or otherwise) most likely being revised during the time it took to initially build the ship in dry dock.

  • > have i missed something extreamly obvious ? making the ship go from right to left would not make the rock switch sides?

    Weird that you quoted this only a few posts further up:

    >since the ship must have changed shape since it was last seen in Series VIII, it was felt there was bound to be a reason for this. (Our money?s on something that involves the mirror universe?)


    The remastered ship goes with the ‘mining rock bays’ idea – which, from his interview, seems to be something Ed was keen on. The original ship leaves it undetermined…though the look of it gels with reference in the first novel to it being an impacted lump that was simply left there. Which, one suspects, came from those Rob-Doug chats with the FX boys back in the day.

  • oh yes so i did .. totaly forgot about that..been a long weekend.

    really like the new cgi dwarf. and any new episodes are made would be great to see it in some more detail.

    got the pic of it as my desktop background too

  • Quite.

    LISTER : She was part of me plan. I never got round to telling her, but she was going to come with me to Fiji. She was going to wear a white dress and ride the horses and I was going to take care of everything else. It was me plan. I planned it.

    HOLLY: Well, she won’t be much use to you on Fiji now. Not unless it snows and you need something to grit the path with.

    So would this scene have emotional content too if it weren’t for the incredibly funny Holly line? Is that the criteria? That it can’t make you laugh at the same time unless it spoils the mood?

  • Teatime / Fri, 2009-06-19 17:44 / #

    It?s been said lots of times before but I hope any audience doesn?t compromise the ?emotional content? that?s kind of new to Red Dwarf, which I?d like Doug to build upon.

    Ilinga / Fri, 2009-06-19 18:25 / #

    Teatime, I totally agree. If any future shows have an audience I won?t complain, but I would very much hate to lose this new side of Dwarf so soon.

  • I wasn’t talking just about emotional content though, but the more serious tone. There’s always been emotional moments, just that they’ve usually been played for a laugh as well.

  • If you think of the garden of rememberance scene it’s fairly similar to the Observation Dome scene with the Cat appearing at the end out of nowhere, but the difference is in Better Than Life Cat actually has a gag instead of ‘you got a minute?’ This shows the difference between sitcom and comedy drama. In sitcoms you feel you need to end scenes with gags to get the laugh over the top of scene transitions.

  • BTE forfeits its right to be considered as “comedy drama” when it includes a scene where Lister sneezes on his laundry, the Cat and Kryten get hit by rakes, and Rimmer pushes Katerina under a speeding car. Comedy drama should have a consistent tone. It may not need to make you laugh every other minute, but it shouldn’t veer so heavily from zany humour to grounded drama from one scene to the next.

    Yes, you can do a scene with comedy and another scene with drama, but that doesn’t make it comedy drama. A short sequence at a gravestone and a finale with Kochanski isn’t enough.

    Red Dwarf has balanced comedy and drama perfectly well in the past, but no one labels The Inquisitor as “comedy drama”. Why? Because it’s got decent jokes in it.

  • Speaking of quoting, within a couple of days of BtE airing I was noticing it being quoted in conversations on quite a few sites. Everything from Rimmer’s ‘is this about you again’ bit through to ‘witch me baby, just witch me’. In fact, over the last couple of months I’ve seen it being quoted more than the rest of the series put together, though of course there’s the novelty factor of it still being so new.

  • Also ‘YYESS??’

    The next Dwarf, if it happens, should definitely focus on Rimmer. I’m sure Doug could somehow do the son storyline onscreen with some tweaking (sry but after putting ‘the son’ I can’t help but thinking of ‘….*longest pause ever*….how’s the son?’)

  • Rewatched BtE last night (the TV cut, not the Director’s – I still don’t have the DVD). It’s still very good, but I’d like to see the DIrector’s Cut eventually.

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