Yes, with just hours to spare before this feature loses its increasingly shaky-looking “monthly” status, it’s time for another treat from the televisual archives. We’re going all the way back to very nearly the beginning this time, with an edition of BBC1’s Open Air, a magazine discussion show about television, complete with contributions from viewers at home. This particular edition aired on 23rd February 1988, which you can verify from the reference to, of all things, Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards competing at the 1988 Winter Olympics ski-jump later that day.
The more astute of you will have noticed that this edition of Open Air was broadcast the day after Future Echoes first aired, and host Pattie Coldwell is joined by Craig Charles, Chris Barrie, Paul Jackson and a semi-functioning skutter to discuss all things Red Dwarf. This hidden gem was recently resurfaced by Red Dwarf fan Chris Toone, and uploaded to YouTube by Chris Barrie Fans:
So much to enjoy here, not least the silly little beards being sported by both Craig and Chris, aka “Craig and Charles Barrie”, as Pattie calls them at one point. Praise is showered upon the boys from all the skutter-delivered letters and phone-in callers, although they do also get accused of ripping off Hitchhikers, and of making light of death. There’s also an early appearance of the “sofas and French windows” criticism of other contemporary sitcoms, Chris being cajoled into impressions of Ronald Reagan, Kenneth Williams and Brian Clough, plus a viewer competition about which TV personalities should be blasted into space.
One interesting titbit is that Paul was already talking about Series 2 having being commissioned by this point, saying that they’d be back in studio by May, which they were. One detail that did change, however, is that Paul says that the second series would have seven episodes, bringing the total up to thirteen. Where’s our extra episode, damn it?