We’re simply having the most wonderful Christmas time of the year, and since we’ve no place to go, why did we combine three separate Christmas songs into one though? The highlight of the festive season is, of course, G&T’s now traditional look back on the Dwarfing year that was, and there was certainly plenty to keep us busy in 2017. Twelve months ago, there were only 67 episodes of Red Dwarf, one mobile game, and only one page worth of “ideas for episodes” in our forum.
With only seven days to go until we enter the show’s thirtieth anniversary year, let’s pause to recap the twenty-ninth anniversary year.
As 2017 rolled around, we were still reeling from the recently concluded Series XI. Dave provided another opportunity to watch the series on the first Bank Holiday Monday of the year, so John tuned in to catalogue all the pre-watershed edits. Other Dwarfy interest on UKTV at this time was provided by We Have Been Watching – Gold’s comedy-based Gogglebox equivalent – who filmed Craig and Robert watching and chatting about Lemons. Meanwhile, we marked the 20th anniversary of Series VII by digging out our old copies of the rehearsal scripts, to present our analysis of the early drafts of each episode.
Democracy, sport and social media combined as we launched the Red Dwarf World Cup, a ten day polling extravaganza to determine the ultimate guest character. This was a great deal of fun, and we imagine we’ll end up doing another one of these in 2018. The winner was announced on the 15th February, and you can relive the action here. During the tournament, we heard the sad news that Charles Armitage – former executive producer and GNP co-founder – had passed away.
Later that month, we finally got sick of pretending that everyone didn’t already know that Norman Lovett would be appearing in Series XII, after he blabbed about it at a gig in front of a Chortle journalist. Nostalgia seemed to become a theme, as John looked back on a random day on G&T a decade earlier, and we published the first part of our Series XI Semi-Retrospective DwarfCast – look out for the Series XII equivalent in the first few months of the new year. The month ended with a surprising tease from TV’s Emma Kennedy, suggesting Red Dwarf could feature in the forthcoming Red Nose Day telethon.
There was just time to conclude our Series XI Semi-Retrospective before more early Series XII news came along, as Craig Charles revealed that the crew would be facing off against the MILF. As the aforementioned Comic Relief festivities approached, we learned that Red Dwarf‘s contribution would be the donation of a 3D-printed Starbug for auction, and we wished that we hadn’t jumped the gun so excitedly. Just before the month was out, Game Digits released the fourth episode of the Red Dwarf XI Game, and it would turn out to be the final update for the time being, which is a bit of a shame.
Cappsy’s review of said Game update duly followed, just before the nineteenth Dimension Jump convention got underway. Only two G&Ters were present on this occasion, but we were joined by lots of lovely guests for our DwarfCast coverage, and we’ve got big plans for the twentieth event in the thirtieth anniversary year, so watch this space.
In what was, it would seem, an incredibly quiet month for G&T, our only update was kindly provided by Graham Kibble-White, who had spoken to Howard Goodall about the biggest Red Dwarf revelation of 2016 – the discovery of hidden lyrics to the opening theme tune.
May also saw repeats of Grant Naylor’s early sitcom Wally Who? beginning on BBC Radio 4 Extra, but we only got round to reporting on it in very early June. And, erm, that would turn out to be our only update in that month. We’re very sorry.
Luckily, it wouldn’t be long until the Series XI publicity juggernaut started to gather speed, and it all started with the reveal of the updated logo, and announcement of a premiere screening coming up in Edinburgh. Next up came a first glimpse of a lovely Matthew Clark-designed Red Dwarf schematic, and with G&T being G&T, we naturally picked up on a number of minor typos. The first publicity photo of the cast soon followed, but in an unusual move, it was a shot where everyone’s Kryten. Meanwhile, John spotted an embryonic form of the Better Than Life concept in a 1981 episode of Cliché. The month ended with gossip suggesting that Doug may not be the only Red Dwarf creator about to release a sci-fi series.
Following on from the earlier cast photo, four individual character shots were released on the first Friday in August, each taken from a different episode. We just managed to squeeze in our final piece of XI coverage (for the timebeing), as John analysed the placing of the series’ ad breaks. Next up, the episode titles were revealed via the medium of a wordsearch, which lead to a brief period where everyone thought one of the episodes was called Kipper.
While we were reeling from that, John dusted off an old hard drive, and restored our abandoned project Observation Dome back to its rightful place on the internet. Meanwhile, Cappsy accidentally did some journalism and discovered that the Red Dwarf XI game had been put on hold, but the Red Dwarf XII game would be along soon. Series XII news continued to spurt forth, with a new photo, series synopsis and confirmation that the series would start in October.
In amongst all the excitement, we paused to give Only The Good… the commentary treatment, while John pondered the dichotomy of being part of a fandom for a show that you no longer like. Bless him. Before the month was out, Cured saw its premiere screening at the Edinburgh Festival; G&T reader Gemma Murray went along and kindly provided us with a full report. 2017 also marked the tenth anniversary of our very own Forum, and we marked the occasion by finally bringing the fabled Hall of Fame to life.
With Series XII now only a month away, September started with news on three of the guest stars, giving us our first glimpse of Johnny Vegas’s pink helmet. A week later, another guest was officially confirmed (although we’d kind of known about that one since a clapperboard was tweeted hours after the studio record), along with the series launch date (for the Dave broadcast at least).
We undertook another trip into the past to record our Stoke Me A Clipper commentary, before being hit by a barrage of news, including gossip from the latest SFX mag and UKTV Live event, a competition to become a Dave continuity announcer, new merch being added to the Red Dwarf Shop, details of the next Dimension Jump and news that Leopard Lager would be coming to life. If that wasn’t enough, the first teaser trailer came along a couple of days later, along with a heap of new pictures and the grim but inevitable confirmation that each episode would debut on UKTV Play again.
We soon learned that the full series trailer was coming, and sure enough it landed, complete with Led Zeppelin soundtrack, and we analysed the shit out of it. We then got some of our trademark entitled moaning out of our system, as some tin-pot magazine gave away two gags from Cured, and UKTV Play continued to exist. We must note that the system started working a lot better during this series, after they started telling us exactly when to expect each episode, but we’re still hoping beyond hope that they might scrap the online-first policy next time, if there is one.
With the start of Series XII just round the corner, we gave this place a quick spring clean, just in time for Hitler to pop round. We then got ourselves into a little pattern for the following six weeks, as a preview clip was released the day before Cured‘s debut on UKTV Play, and then our Live Instant Reaction DwarfCast followed a day later. We were low on numbers for this opening episode, but we were joined by special guest Clayton Hickman, which was very nice indeed. The switch to UKTV Play pace for this run of DwarfCasts was a good decision, and they were so much more fun for us than ever before. A large part of that is down to the dedicated listeners who joined us to chat along live every week, and we’re hugely grateful to each and every one of you.
There was still much to discuss before Cured had its first linear broadcast, such as a title sequence analysis, a video of James Buckley interviewing the cast, containing lots of previously unseen clips, and a preview clip from episode two, which not only debuted before episode one had been on the telly, but before Cappsy had published his review of it. As soon as Cured aired on Dave, The One Where Everyone’s Kryten popped up on UKTV Play around forty minutes later. Our accompanying Live DwarfCast was beset with jeopardy, as John and Tanya got stuck in traffic following a local stabbing. When they finally turned up, I “treated” them to some “delicious” Leopard Lager. That’ll show them.
My written review of the episode followed, before Timewave was previewed and TOWEK was aired. It was then time for Timewave, and there was much discussion. Our DwarfCast was particularly lively, and the review, courtesy of Tanya, particularly scathing. A preview about yellow alerts sufficiently raised our spirits, before the whole sorry business was put to bed with its Dave debut. We were all more than happy to move on to Mechocracy that night, and our final action of a very busy month was to give it the Live Instant Reaction treatment.
The pace didn’t let off as the broadcast window entered its second month, with an M-Corp teaser arriving on the first, followed that same evening by Cappsy’s Mechocracy review, before the episode turned up on Dave the next day. It wasn’t long before M-Corp became visible, and we all rather liked it, resulting in a very happy Live DwarfCast. John’s review was also positive, leading us to suspect he’d been kidnapped and replaced by a sophisticated android replica. But all of a sudden, the end was in sight, as a preview of Skipper appeared, as usual, before M-Corp‘s televisual debut.
After Skipper premiered online, we frantically scribbled down some notes before heading over to returning guest star Mac McDonald’s house the following morning, to record a segment for that night’s final Live DwarfCast of the series. I covered off the final review of the series, before thoughts started to turn towards the forthcoming DVD/Bluray release, and what extras may be contained within. All that remained was for Skipper to turn up on TV, and bring with it an end to the long-serving Spoiler Policy that had been in place for over two years. RIP.
We marked the occasion by releasing an Xtended version of our Mac McDonald interview, which also features another chance to listen to the spectacular musical finale to the last Live DwarfCast. But the new Red Dwarf releases weren’t quite over for the year, as the aforementioned DVD and Bluray were released, as was the Red Dwarf XII Game. Cappsy reviewed the latter, while I tackled the former.
After all of this, we were knackered, so we had a little doze for the first part of December, but we were working behind-the-scenes on the G&T Pearl Poll, our big every-episode-ever survey to mark Red Dwarf‘s thirtieth anniversary. Voting is open now, and will remain so until the end of January, so VOTE VOTE VOTE if you haven’t already.
That anniversary will very much be our focus in the New Year, as we’ll be celebrating on February 15th with not only the results of the Pearl Poll, but also an accompanying Live DwarfCast in honour of the show reaching three full decades since its debut. There’s plenty more milestones to look forward to in 2018, what with the twentieth Dimension Jump convention coming up in October, and the extremely high likelihood that we’ll reach our hundredth DwarfCast sooner rather than later.
Plus, while it’s unlikely (but not impossible) that 2018 will make it three years in a row for new episodes of Red Dwarf airing, we can reasonably expect news as to the show’s future to reach us before too long. Depending on how much salt you take with your rumours, the announcement of a thirteenth (and possibly fourteenth) series is just around the corner, or failing that a live show of some description, or possibly both, or neither. In any case, it’s going to be a lot of fun finding out.
So here’s to another busy year in Red Dwarf fandom to match the one that’s just gone, and may there be many more. A huge thank you to everyone who’s read our nonsense, listened to us prattling on, contributed to our comments and/or forum and voted in our polls in 2017 – it means the world to us. A very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all of you, from all of us.