This article discusses Red Dwarf XI & XII whilst adhering to G&T’s spoiler policy. Please ensure your comments do likewise…
A full episode of Red Dwarf has been recorded in front of a studio audience for the first time since last week. As will be the case more often than not for these two series, G&T weren’t there. But you’re in safe hands for this set report, as we’ve called in the professionals. To guide you through this comedy TV production, please welcome comedian Phil Pagett and television director Alex Scott, both of whom were kind enough to answer our probing questions about the second episode of the eleventh series.
Last week, we established that the audience experience at Pinewood was vaguely similar to that at Shepperton, so let’s concentrate on what’s different this week. While Doug was only glimpsed from a distance during the first record, he gave his traditional audience greeting this time:
Alex: Doug came out at the start and reminded everyone not to tweet spoilers. Ray the warm-up guy also reminded everyone several times. Doug also noted there’s a few effects shots missing, and told us not to worry. All the cast spoke at some point during downtime. There was also a Happy Birthday to Richard Naylor, who was given cake and a little toy Audi model car.
What of the sets? Last time it was the sleeping quarters, science room, Starbug cockpit and some corridors, but is there any variation here?
Phil: Same as last week, but we also had an additional one for the opening scene. This was also “round the back”. The Starbug cockpit I didn’t much care for. Didn’t look like Starbug to me, more generic spaceship, despite the various nods to previous iterations. Perhaps it’ll grow on me.
Uh-oh, but what did the cast look like?
Phil: All fab. Kryten’s body suit looks a bit flimsy to me, but I agree with the report last week the mask is an improvement on the one from X. Lister and Rimmer haven’t changed much since X. Cat’s wig is fine as far as I’m concerned. But yeah, bit pube-like. If we’re splitting hairs. EH?!
Alex: Cat had a couple of costumes; one garish yellow suit and a sparkly gold sequin jacket. Kryten’s outfit looked different to me. Shoulder pads don’t have the piping that sticks out, back panel looked like foam armour. Thigh and leg pieces were foam plate sections. Head looked great!
Now, given Alex’s professional background as a studio director, we were interested to know what he made of the way Red Dwarf is produced. Did anything surprise him about how Doug and the gang go about things, or was it exactly as he expected from a studio record?
Alex: It was exactly as I expected from a studio record.
Alex: There was less of a technical background given to the audience. We rocked up, had Ray the warm-up guy, and then straight into it. There was very little downtime. They had worked out which scenes to shoot, then moved all the equipment a few feet up the set to utilise the next area, played VTs during moving time (inserts for the actual episode), re-dressed a few areas for shooting later. They were also shot in sequence, which I understand isn’t always the norm. Definitely helps from an audience point of view.
And speaking of those VTs:
Phil: I’d say it was about half and half between live and pre-record. There’s a montage about two thirds of the way through that had some gaps. The pre-recorded scenes were a mix of studio and location – the location stuff was that place where the last Mission: Impossible filmed some stuff. I’m not good with names. Soz.
A quick Google reveals that Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, as well as containing too much punctuation, shot some scenes at Fawley Power Station in Hampshire. This seems a likely candidate, considering we know the cast and crew stayed in a nearby hotel. Anyway, back to the techy stuff. Is the set up, as we suspect, similar to X?
Alex: Still using four RED cameras. They really optimised the size of the set! There was at least two set re-dresses to make one room into another, with lighting and colour change to indicate different levels or areas. They did a good job of hiding the set til we were ready to shoot, and good at hiding other elements to get a genuine audience reaction. For example, turning off every single light so they could set something up, then shoot and have the surprise reveal for the audience.
And it seems from all accounts that surprise is very much a byword for this episode.
Phil: It’s a very difficult ep to talk about without spoiling. One reveal got a gasp from the audience. So I’m wary of that.
Yes, we’re going to be very careful here, but given that birthday boy/producer Richard Naylor has retweeted this particular tweet, we feel comfortable to report that this is a Cat-centric episode, something which Doug revealed was on the cards during his Dimension Jump Q&A. Furthermore, as I personally have no idea whether this is the case or not, I’m happy to posit the question: does this episode deal with The Cat’s virginity, as mentioned by Danny in that banter-based Digital Spy interview? Or will Cat episodes turn out to be like buses or black holes, and we’ll end up with more than one across these twelve?
But while neither G&T or our correspondents are prepared to reveal any more about what happens in the episode, we can share the opinions of those that have seen it. And it’s good news indeed.
Alex: Fantastic. Very much in the spirit of the original series. Completely on par with Series X. Great jokes. Great writing.
Phil: Honestly the best episode of the Dave era for me. Some great gags and a more satisfying plot than most from X. The cast were on great form too, particularly Danny.
Alex: There were definitely elements from previous episodes that played a part. There was also a couple of homages. The Aliens movie scanner ‘ping’ was a sound I recognised during one VT scene, along with a similar type of Aliens corridor scene. Very funny. There was also an East 17 homage! At least that’s what I think I saw.
Phil: Lovely to see Kill Crazy back.
TINY TEASER: Hedgehog With A Top Hat
APPROXIMATE SCENE COUNT: 10-15 (Total so far: 33-41)
APPROXIMATE SMEG COUNT: 1 (Total so far: 3)
A huge thanks once again to Alex and Phil, who we’re pretty sure was joking in that last bit, but you never know. To hear more of his hilarious comedy, listen to his podcasts News With Jokes and Stay For The Credits. And to read more from Alex about his career, credits and crowdfunding exploits, visit his website, Mercian Media.
Are you, or someone you know, going to a Red Dwarf XI or XII audience recording? Would you, or they, be willing to answer a few questions over the weekend afterwards? Please get in touch and help us out!