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Because the ident computer says they do featured image

I recently discovered a very interesting blog called VHiStory. This chap, Jim Lynn, has got an archive of around 3000 video tapes in his garage, and he’s currently in the process of digitising and cataloguing each one, blogging his discoveries in precise detail as he goes. I quickly lost the best part of two days reading every single post, but that’s not important right now. In amongst the archives, I spotted that Jim had taped the original broadcasts of Red Dwarf series one, around 26 years ago. I immediately got in touch to point out that if he happened to have captured the original idents and continuity announcements, he may have inadvertently struck nerd gold.

Skip ahead a day or so, and Jim has only gone and put the buggers on Youtube.

This is an astonishing find – all the pre-show continuity for the first three-and-a-bit episodes (you’ll see what I mean when you watch it). That little cross-fade from the white TWO logo to the deep red of the ship really works, and it really contextualises these episodes as being rooted to a certain time – a time that seems further removed from modern broadcasting than I thought. While I’ve always been fully aware that Dwarf is an ’80s show, for 99% of fans my age, it’s far more closely associated with Friday night repeats in the mid-90s – when BBC 2 had these iconic idents, a logo that’s still used today, and a heavier reliance on trailers instead of voice-overs between programmes. Hell, there’s probably now an entire generation of fans for whom the show is intrinsically linked to Dave’s current channel identity. But seeing it with that static, chunky ‘TWO’ logo, complete with archaic ‘888’ bug, really does cement the notion of Dwarf as this era-spanning, ever-adapting leviathan. Nothing tells you more about the context of a show than seeing it as it originally went out. When linear television is eventually scaled back to the point of obscurity, we’ll genuinely miss this.

But anyway. This isn’t the only Dwarfy nugget that our Jim has unearthed. There’s also this contemporary trailer for series one, which differs ever so slightly from the version on the Red Dwarf I DVD.

Did you spot the difference? Yes – this version says “next Monday” at the end instead of just “Monday”. Jim obviously taped this one a week earlier than whoever taped the one on the DVD. Even more interesting, though, is this utterly bizarre advert for Doctor Who videos:

Tom Baker voiceover, clips of Daleks, Doctor Who theme tune, pack shots of Doctor Who videos. Fair enough. This is a Doctor Who trailer after all. With that in mind, WHY THE HELL HAVE THEY STOLEN A MODEL SHOT, SOUND EFFECT AND VOICE-OVER FROM POLYMORPH?! This is just bizarre. Surely there was a suitable model shot that could have been found amongst the previous 26 years worth of Doctor Who episodes? Did they just see that this shot was done by Peter Wragg’s team and thought that it was close enough? You wouldn’t catch Red Dwarf casually inserting a TARDIS model into… oh.

I digress. Thank you very much to Jim Lynn for putting all of this online. I would heartily recommend bookmarking VHiStory – if you’re not interested in the minutiae of decades-old TX schedules being catalogued in painstaking detail, then frankly I’m not comfortable with you reading G&T.

UPDATE (08/10/15): Jim has only gone and put together a continuity compilation for Series 2 as well:

If nothing else, it’s worth watching just for that Krishnan Guru-Murthy trailer about Jimmy Savile…

18 comments on “Because the ident computer says they do

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  • So *is* there an alternative to the Thatcher government? Have they reached a conclusion yet?

  • Very interesting stuff. The voiceovers between shows are soooooooooo different from how TV is today. To hear even comedy shows being described in such a dry way is fascinating.

  • Super interesting stuff, I am especially impress with how well the tapes have held up, I was expecting far worse video quality.
    Also I find myself mildly attracted to the VO ladies voice.

  • Next week on Horizon “are computers capable of thought?” But now on BBC TWO Red Dwarf. Oh yes looks like they can have an IQ of 6 then.

  • Wow, that is nostalgic seeing that old logo. I taped series 2 and 3 off the telly but the videos are long gone now.

  • You’re absolutely right. Those still screens trailers for both Horizon and the 9 O’ Clock News make things feel much older than 1988.

    We’ve seen that Who trailer before somewhere haven’t we?

  • Very interesting indeed! I submitted the some of the idents and voice overs from my tapes i did when it was transmitted to GNP when they put the DVD’s together. Some were used, but most not due to a woman who basically just stood in for about 3 to 4 Episodes doing the intro. They had no idea who it was or if she was actually legit.

  • Watching that contemporary trailer for The End, it’s great that the crew getting wiped out isn’t mentioned. A spoiler like that would have been doing the rounds for months these days.

  • just the squareness of the here is your national set menu of content and then suddenly this bloody massive space ship and the bleakness of space and the church organ kicks in and the descending bass. it brings it all back. i realise now that the whole thing is mainly about this intro sequence.

  • Loving the quiff Krishnan! It would be so cool to see the Backwards ident. I vividly remember sitting down to watch it on first broadcast and being shocked by the changes, I wonder if the continuity announcer gave us ample bracing time.

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