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…