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?

17 comments on “G&TV: Open Air (23/02/1988)

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  • I love describing the set-up of Red Dwarf to mates, it makes you sound completely bonkers. Somehow Norman Lovett manages to make it all sound very convincing in his cold opens, and somehow Coldwell doesn’t. And it’s very funny to see “Craig and Charles” being asked if they knew Red Dwarf was going to be a hit basically from day one, a question they’d never get away from for over thirty years.

  • At 04:40 Paul Jackson says “even in that second series of seven [incomprehensible]… thirteen”, eh? I’ve heard about Series 2 initially having seven episodes before, what’s the story behind that? Is it like how (correct me if I’m wrong) Series 1 had seven recording slots but used one of them for reshoots? And if anybody could transcribe what he said about the number thirteen that would be lovely; I seriously doubt there was ever going to be a thirteen episode series

  • I might be wrong but I think Paul Jackson said,

    “…and even in that second series of 7 or more, it could be 13.”

  • Amazing to see Charles Barrie with so much hair. Also can’t believe how well that Skutter is behaving!

    “Richard Prior and Eric Sykes, people like that” made me laugh.

    “Oh, you are common” was the best bit, though.

  • I mentioned this somewhere else, but one of the phone-in audience members appears to be screenwriter of Star Wars: Rogue One (amongst other things) Gary Whitta.

    Unless it’s another Gary Whitta.

  • Nice to see Craig Charles and Paul Jackson back in the day representing, but I don’t know what Bradley Cooper has to do with anything.

  • > This particular edition aired on 23rd February 1998, 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.

    Somehow I think I would have heard of the Calgary Olympics lasting at least a full ten years. Goes a long way to explaining the city’s current reluctance to put in another bid though.

    I can also only assume that the East German team that played that day had not been properly keeping up with the news…

  • No worries. I only noticed when I went back to double-check how old Gary Whitta would have been at the time.

  • >but I don’t know what Bradley Cooper has to do with anything.
    I was thinking the same. He looks like Bradley Cooper playing Marv from Home Alone.

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