In the last decade or so since Red Dwarf slowly creaked back into production, certain traditions have been established. The frantic hunt for audience tickets. Scouring the social media feeds of the cast and crew for teasers during production. The carefully orchestrated promotional campaigns culminating in something important being accidentally leaked early. And, of course, the complete inability of the main cast to keep their mouths shut.
This last one has lead to a confusing and mildly irritating secondary tradition in more recent years, as blogs and entertainment sites vie for clicks in an increasingly crowded market: announcing that a new series is confirmed before a new series is actually confirmed. You can track the development of this phenomenon by noting the increasing levels of weariness in our coverage of it happening for Back To Earth, Series X and the Series XI & XII couplet – twice. So imagine our delight when we saw an article on the otherwise excellent British Comedy Guide loudly proclaiming “Red Dwarf Series 13 confirmed”.
Except that when you get to the fourth paragraph:
UKTV channel Dave, which has broadcast the comedy since it returned in 2009, has yet to officially confirm another series
Well, quite. Here’s the thing: we don’t doubt that Red Dwarf is coming back for a thirteenth series. It seems highly likely that a lot of the details in the article, divulged by Danny and Robert at a convention, are true, or at least presumed to be correct at the time they were said. The possibility that they’ll start shooting in early 2019 seems perfectly feasible (especially as Robert also spilled that particular bean on Twitter the other day), and the series being broadcast towards the end of that year sounds about right. The suggestion that the proposed stage show will follow, and the inference that this is the reason why there doesn’t seem to be a second series double-banked this time, remains speculative, but we’ll give them that too.
It’s just that until it’s announced by UKTV, GNP, Baby Cow or a combination of the three, it’s not official. With the best will in the world, the cast can get the details wrong, and plans can change over time – take a look back at those initial news reports for the last four series for proof of that. You can’t say something’s confirmed in your headline, and then admit in the copy that it’s not. A lot of people will just see the headline, or more likely just the accompanying social media post, share it in a pique of justifiable excitement, and before you know it, the unverified and unofficial news has spread across the internet as if it’s solid fact. And then when an official announcement is made, it’s old news; it must be incredibly frustrating for the people who are working hard to bring the fans the news they want to hear, only to see it leaked all over the place before it’s ready.
We know we’re being a bit grumpy about this. And we know that in the grand scheme of things, this is hardly the worst consequence of inaccurate information disseminating on social media, but it’s an interesting example of how these things work, on whatever scale. Maybe we’re just still scarred from the years of endless Movie rumours that never came to pass. Nevertheless, the fact that the cast are talking about these things, and that they’re clearly working with specific information in terms of dates, is an extremely positive indication that an official announcement of Red Dwarf XIII is just around the corner. As per usual, we’re just keeping the champagne on ice until that happens.