Well, in the absence of any Series XIII news, and with no Bluray until the new year, we’re scrabbling for crumbs. We’ll take whatever morsels of intrigue are thrown our way, but when our friend and loyal G&Ter Jonathan “Jonsmad” Young recently got in touch to draw our attention to The Prop Gallery, we didn’t realise how intriguing these particular morsels would turn out to be.
It’s one of those places that sells props, costumes and other film and TV memorabilia, often at somewhat eye-watering prices. In the past, such items have included Red Dwarf scripts, and a quick search reveals that twelve have been sold in total. They’re all long gone now, but the listings remain online. As well as providing details of their condition and provenance – many have come from the personal collection of the late, great Peter Wragg – what we’re really interested in are those tantalising images of sample pages.
For a Red Dwarf historian, there’s nothing quite like getting hold of a primary source like a script (and if you, dear reader, are the one who bought these or any other scripts, any scans or photocopies would be gratefully received so that we can do more articles like these), but this is hopefully the next best thing. Let’s peer vicariously through the shop window, and see what nuggets of information we can glean from these mere glimpses. We’ll go through the twelve scripts in episode order, oldest first…
And the earliest episode (in broadcast terms at least) covered is one of the most interesting scripts to dissect. This is just the second draft of what would go on to be the Series III opener, although the front cover of this script lists it as being “show 4” at this stage. So understandably, this draft doesn’t open with the scrolling text to explain the changes between series, but nor does it open with the Flintstones discussion, arguably one of the most enduring and iconic opening scenes of any episode. Instead, as the first two pages of the script show, it’s a completely different Rimmer and Lister scene:
1. SET: SLEEPING QUARTERS EVENING
RIMMER IS SITTING ON HIS BUNK, READING A BOOK. WE SEE THE COVER: ‘HOLOGRAM LIBRARY EDITION “NAUSEA” BY JEAN-PAUL SARTRE.’ HE CHECKS HIS WATCH, AND GOES BACK TO READING. LISTER DRAGS IN A LARGE PACKING CASE, STENCILLED: “ROGERSON, S.F.O.”
HE LOOKS AT RIMMER’S BOOK.
Oh, it’s brilliant. Quite brilliant.
LISTER SITS DOWN AT THE TABLE, AND STARTS UNPACKING SOME OF THE THINGS FROM THE PACKING CASE.
I’ve just been up to Rogerson’s quarters. Been rooting through his stuff.
He’s got some truly brutal antiques.
Look at this … it’s an ioniser.
Brilliant invention. Sold millions. What you do is, you plug it in, and this light goes on.
Then nothing. That’s it. Course, what they told everybody was: it removed all the positive ions and cleaned up the air. What actually happened was this little red light came on.
Buy anything, some people, won’t they?
HE HOLDS UP A MODEL PLANE
Look at this. This is worth a bomb. A perfect replica of a 1980s DC10. Just press this button, and bits of the engine fall off.
HE PRESSES A BUTTON AND THE PLANE’S ENGINES DROP ONTO THE TABLE.
Blimey. That’s as far as we can see on the website, but it’s clear already that it was a sensible decision to rethink this scene, what with its topical satirical references that I had to Google, and a character dynamic that would later return in Back In The Red (Part One). The description in the listing notes that the Flintstones scene is nowhere to be seen in this draft, so it was clearly substituted wholesale at some point before the recording – the deleted scenes on the Series III DVD don’t contain a scrap of the Rogerson material, but does have an extended version of the opening scene as broadcast.
Mind you, it’s clear from the two other sample pages that there are hugely significant structural and narrative changes between this draft and the final episode. Page 34, roughly in the middle of the 65-page script, sees all four crew members exploring the Backwards Earth together, having arrived as one party:
20. FILM: FOREST
TREE. PAN DOWN. THEY ALL WALK PAST THE TREE (PRESUMABLY THE ONE THE NEST WAS UP). LISTER SHAKES HIS WATCH.
I’ve never been to Earth before. I’ve only seen it on photographs. It’s exactly like I’ve always imagined, only it’s much shorter.
What’s wrong with my watch? The second hand’s gone wonky.
Must be some water in it.
It’s supposed to be accurate to 50,000 fathoms.
You really make me laugh. You buy some cheap piece of Japanese junk from some dodgy operator in some sleezy space bar and get peeved if it doesn’t work at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.
No, it’s a good watch this. It’s precision moulded, rolled gold, 5 diamonds, quartz mechanism.
Oh yeah? When could you ever afford a watch like that?
I couldn’t. It’s yours.
Well, presumably it’s all four of them, as Cat doesn’t have any dialogue on this page. That one line from Kryten survives in the final episode, but nothing else does, and nor does the visual gag suggested by the stage directions at the top of the page, which would have presumably involved a bird’s nest falling up to the top of a tree.
The final sample page is the very last page of the script, a scene that the listing description tells us is set in Starbug’s cockpit, rather than in a field in the immediate aftermath of a piece of faeces being inserted into Cat’s anus.
Maybe Hol’s right.
OK – name one thing – apart from going to the loo – one thing – that’s genuinely worse in their universe.
OK – Santa Claus. What a bastard!
Yeah – he’s a big fat old git who sneaks down chimneys and steals all the kids’ favourite toys.
LISTER LOOKS AT RIMMER. RIMMER BEAMS SMUGLY, LICKS HIS FINGER AND HOLDS IT ALOFT.
LISTER REACHES DOWN AND PULLS A LEVER.
RIMMER EJECTS INTO SPACE.
Wow, so the toilet business is a mere passing reference at this stage rather than a full on visual gag, unless Lister’s mention of it here is a back-reference to something from earlier in the episode. Because it’s clear that the chronology is all over the shop, as it’s here, as the very last line of the ep, that we get the glorious Santa Claus joke. And look how the dialogue is reversed – in this version of the script, it was Lister who was extolling the virtues of the Backwards Earth and agitating to stay, with Rimmer pointing out the downsides. And rather marvellously, the whole episode then ends with a call-back to Rimmer and the ejector seat, in the form of some Meltdown-style cruel revenge inflicted by Lister. We can therefore infer that Kryten’s driving test was indeed present and correct in this early draft. No idea what Rimmer’s “shiny buttons” line is all about, but it’s the second time these extracts have made me think of Back In The Red.
Disappointingly, the next script we’re looking at doesn’t have quite so much excitement contained within its extracts, despite also being only the second draft. The front page tells us that this was originally intended to be “show 2”, and also that “the sending of this script does not constitute the offer of a part”, which is a disappointment. The two pages that we can glimpse in the listing are Page 19, which contains the start of Lister invading Franks’s wedding, pretty much how it appears on screen, and the final page, which is most notable for what it doesn’t contain.
This draft of the script ends with Rimmer realising that he’s alive… and that’s it. Instead of immediately blowing himself up and becoming dead again, it would appear that this was intended to be a cliffhanger ending for a hypothetical follow-up episode, rather in the manner of Confidence & Paranoia setting up Me² or later Epideme leading into Nanarchy. Either that or, reminiscent of Queeg, Rob and Doug hadn’t yet figured out how they were going to get themselves out of this particular hole by the time they submitted this draft.
Next up, we jump ahead a series to Camille, again in the form of its second draft. Four sample pages to skim through here, and Page 1 is, unsurprisingly, Lister teaching Kryten to lie, unchanged between this draft and the final episode. Ten pages later, and we’re on to Kryten being rescued by Camille, and there’s a small bit of additional dialogue before the two come face to face.
FILM: GANTRY ABOARD PENHALAGAN. DARK
KRYTEN WITH BAZOOKOID IS NERVOUSLY LOOKING AROUND. WE SEE SOME OF THE GANTRY GIVE WAY UNDER HIS FEET. THE GUN TUMBLES A LONG WAY TO THE GROUND.
KRYTEN IS DANGLING BY HIS FINGERTIPS
(CALLS OUT) Mr. Rimmer sir! Hello!
HIS VOICE ECHOES
(CALLS) Can you hear me, sir? Help! Mr. Rimmer?
SHOT: KRYTEN’S FACE. WE HEAR THE SOUND OF FOOTSTEPS ON METAL.
Sir? Is that you sir?
WE HEAR A WOMAN’S VOICE:
Give me your hand.
KRYTEN LETS GO WITH HIS LEFT HAND, AND HOLDS IT OUT. IT IS GRABBED BY ANOTHER IDENTICAL MECHANOID HAND, AND HE’S HAULED UP.
HE IS FACING A MECHANOID WOMAN
THE TWO MECHANOIDS STAND THERE, LOOKING AT ONE ANOTHER.
Note also that this scene is apparently set “aboard Penhalagan”, presumably the name of Camille’s vessel, which is anonymous in the final episode. The next page is the start of Kryten and Rimmer’s lads’ chat about Camille. It starts off identically to the broadcast version, but instead of Kryten’s line about her nose being loose, there’s an alternative joke:
You sly old dog, Krytie. I think you’re right.
I know I’m right. Did she show you her feet?
She has great feet. Such realistic toes.
RIMMER LOOKS AT HIM ODDLY
The detail about Camille’s realistic toes was retained in the final episode, and listed as one of the features of the Series 4000 GTi model. The final sample page is from later in the episode; it shows us the last half a page of a scene where the crew delve a little deeper into the intricacies of human sexuality:
Human sexuality is a complex and mysterious thing. Take your own perception of Camille. Didn’t you say she looked exactly like your sister-in-law Janine?
Well, there you are – that completely disproves the theory. What kind of sicko mind would fantasize about seducing his own brother’s wife? What kind of pervy, kinked, low-life scumbag sleezeball would be so sick and twisted… My God – it’s true, isn’t it?
Are you seriously telling me the thing I desire most in the entire universe is lathering up behind those shower curtains? What am I doing here!?
None of this made it into the final episode, but it would have followed up on the earlier mention of Rimmer’s sister-in-law Janine from the previous scene we looked at. It must have been replaced by the short scene of Lister and Cat in the corridor after the former discovers Camille’s true nature, as this presumably cuts to the Cat walking in and seeing his duplicate. It would have been slightly creepier had he flung open a shower curtain to reveal himself, presumably naked and soapy, though.
22 October 1990
Oooh, this one looks slightly different; as the listing details, this is a copy of the script that was sent to Peter Wragg via fax, and so it comes complete with a cover sheet and headers on each page. Sadly, the manner in which it was delivered is the only interesting thing we can glean from this. It’s dated 22nd October 1990, which is just over a month before the episode was recorded, and the bits that we can see in the three sample pages are pretty much as they appear on screen.
For the record, the pages in question concern Kryten materialising during the Risk story, Kryten and Rimmer activating the matter paddle, and the start of the Caligula scene. The only notable difference is in the latter scene, where it’s Lister who speaks first when Caligula enters the cell, rather than the Cat. There’s nothing in the script to suggest that Caligula slaps either of them to accompany his “silence, scum!”, so perhaps that running gag was added later, and therefore the line switched to establish Lister being punished for Cat’s interruptions.
Also of note is the big orange block in the middle of the first sample page. This is something that Peter Wragg highlighted when he was going through the script, which has unfortunately rendered it illegible after 28 years of ageing. The stage direction in question is Kryten’s first materialisation into the sleeping quarters, and it presumably contains the first mention of the matter paddle, which Wraggy would have noted as a prop to make.
Location Recce Script
7th October 1991
And now for something completely different. We’re jumping ahead another year and another series, but rather than a script for as specific episode, this particular gem contains scenes shot on location from across the series.
Specifically, it covers The Inquisitor, Terrorform and Back To Reality, and is labelled as a location recce script, used by production while scouting out possible filming locations, to help them decide whether they’re suitable for the purpose. It’s dated two weeks before the location shoot took place, and one of the sample pages shows part of a breakdown of the scenes in question, specifically the Esperanto scenes from Back To Reality, and material in the “bowels of the ship” for The Inquisitor.
Additionally, one of the two actual script pages is the scene from Terrorform where Cat calls Rimmer a “weird guy”, which is identical to the final episode. The other is from Back To Reality, where Kryten runs the psi-scan over the hallucinogenic fluid. While his technobabble is the same as what was filmed, there’s an extra little something beforehand that didn’t make it into the episode. The page starts with Cat snapping his fingers and saying “that’s it!”; as this section follows on from Cat not being able to put his finger on the link between the suicides, perhaps this was part of a Series VIII-style continuation of the gag that was later deemed unnecessary.
Draft 2 | rewrite -21/10/91
Here’s something similar but equally fascinating, a PSC (Portable Single Camera) script for the exact same location shoot. Issued two weeks later, this will be the versions of the scenes that went before the cameras, although they won’t take into account any last minute re-writes. As well as the episodes that were listed on the previous document, this one also contains material for Demons & Angels, or High and Low as it was still being referred to here. The description notes that it covers scenes shot in Kempton Power Station, and it contains 34 pages, four of which are pictured.
The first two are the scene of the crew and the new Lister and Kryten in the lift in The Inquisitor. It all plays out as per the final scene, but interestingly the script specifies that “we don’t see” New Kryten’s face, presumably indicating that they wouldn’t be able to have him in a mask for the location shoot. Nevertheless, we do in fact see his face in the episode, and it’s fully masked up. He is admittedly lurking at the back, behind our Kryten, so perhaps they still wanted to cover it up to some extent.
One of the other sample pages is the very start of the Esperanto scenes, containing no dialogue but some rather evocative descriptions:
SC 4. OB. INT. SSS ESPERANTO LOW LIGHT
THE SHIP HAS BEEN HERE FOR SOME TIME. WATER DRIPS FROM VARIOUS PIPES. THERE IS A FILM OF WATER ON THE FLOOR. IT’S SO DARK AND GLOOMY, WE CAN’T MAKE OUT MUCH MORE.
Finally, there’s the scene where High Kryten is shot upon boarding the Low ship in Demons & Angels / High & Low, with an extra bit of dialogue between the first gunshot and the assumption that the gun must have gone off accidentally:
What the smeg is out there?
My guess? A music critic.
This was cut from the final episode, but it was shot, as it appears in the deleted scenes on the Series V DVD.
STARBUGGERS Show one
Well, if nothing else can be gleaned from this one, at least it was the best front cover of the lot, resplendent with biro-doodled renditions of the crashed Starbug and the foreground miniature of its trapped leg, hand-drawn by Peter Wragg himself. It even features the legend “STARBUGGERS”, the original tagline for Series VI. The draft isn’t numbered or dated, and two of the three pages of script we see don’t vary from the finished episode – they do whoever contain hand-written notes such as “Flaming Meteor straight towards cam”, “HAND GUN” and “Bullet Hits”.
I don’t know what the fuck the other page is, though. It’s apparently Page 11, so quite early on in the script, and it contains a montage of Kryten and Lister building something.
8.a. O.B. INT. ENGINE ROOM
LISTER & KRYTEN COME DOWN A LADDER. LISTER TESTS AN INTERNAL DOOR WITH A HAMMER. SATISFIED, HE NODS FOR KRYTEN TO START.
8.b. O.B. INT. ENGINE ROOM
KRYTEN CUTTING THE DOOR FROM ITS HINGES WITH HIS GROINAL TORCH
8.c. O.B. INT. ENGINE ROOM
LISTER DETACHING SOME HYDRAULIC ARMS ON A FORK LIFT.
8.d. O.B. INT. ENGINE ROOM
KRYTEN WELDING TWO DOORS TOGETHER.
8.e. O.B. INT. ENGINE ROOM
LISTER STUFFING PLASTIC EXPLOSIVE INTO THE HOLES ON A BOWLING BALL.
8.f. O.B. INT. ENGINE ROOM
KRYTEN PAINTING THE WELDED DOORS.
8.g. O.B. INT. ENGINE ROOM
LISTER DISMANTLING A PIN-BALL MACHINE.
8.h. INT. STARBUG COCKPIT
LISTER WIRING SOMETHING INTO THE COCKPIT
8.i. INT/EXT. STARBUG
LISTER AND KRYTEN, IN SPACE SUITS, WALKING ALONG WITH WELDED DOORS
8.j. INT/EXT. STARBUG
LISTER AND KRYTEN, IN SPACE SUITS, WELDING SOMETHING TO STARBUG.
No idea what they’re up to, or where this would fit in the episode. The Kochanski hallucination is Page 24, and the giant flaming meteorite is Page 29, so this comes way before the crew start seeing Psirens. My spur-of-the-moment theory is that the opening of Psirens as it stands – Lister waking up from deep sleep and Rimmer being rebooted – was included at the request of the BBC to serve as a recap of the situation for new viewers, so maybe that request came in after this draft, and those scenes replaced this mysterious alternative opening to the episode. This single page is perhaps the most intriguing of any of these extracts. Do we know anything more about this?
Polymorph II – Emohawk
We’re in to the last few items now, but this treasure trove is still providing new types of intrigue, as this script is the first we’ve looked at to include a crew list as its front cover. As the description tells us, this particular copy – still with its original football score-esque title, belonged to a man who isn’t actually listed: Nick Kool, or “Nick Vis FX” as he’s named in biro in the corner. He is, however, listed over on the next page, which contains a list of “additional personnel”. As this one is a camera script, and dated just two days before the audience record, you’d expect it to be pretty close to what was shot, and indeed the two pages of dialogue that we see – Lister putting the Emohawk-disguised-as-a-hat on his head, and the much later false alarm with the barrel – are as they appear in the episode.
4x Series VII Scripts
Regardless of your opinions of the series itself, it’s no less fascinating – and indeed arguably even more intriguing – to study the differences between script and screen on a production so troubled and so different to everything that came before. Or at least it would be, had we not already covered the entire lot a couple of years back. The version of Tikka To Ride here is one draft earlier than my copy, but the content of the two extracts is identical. Ouroboros is actually a much later draft than the one we previously looked at, and is therefore closer to what appears on screen, although the extracts do contain one detail that the earlier draft doesn’t, which is the full text of the background announcement that’s playing at the start of the flashback to pre-accident days:
…apologies for the late arrival of shuttle craft 724 returning from Mimas. This was due to an unexpected staff mutation. Passengers are now disembarking in Airlock 642.
Meanwhile, Identity Within is the same version as I’ve got, and also the same version that got turned into a DVD feature, so perhaps it is in fact the only draft of that script. Epideme, however, is listed as a first draft as opposed to my third draft. It contains the words “Today’s Date” in place of an actual date, which is equal parts frustrating and amusing. There are a few minor differences between the two drafts in the extract, such as Lister getting excited about the Leviathan containing “3 metric tonnes of poppadom mix” in the first draft, which was changed to “3000 litres of my favourite imported Austrian lager – Das Bootiful” by the third draft, and then cut from the episode anyway. The biggest change is the way Lister is told of the plan to cut off his arm. In the first draft, it goes:
Maybe you had to be there.
Very profound. Er… what did it actually mean?
I’m not sure. He was drunk when he said it and his hand was in my blouse. But the point is, MY David Lister wouldn’t be giving up. And neither should we. There must be something we can do!
There is, Miss Kochanski. But…I may need your help explaining it to Mr Lister.
Because…well, it’s rather drastic. And it would sound better coming from a fellow being. Someone he cares about. Someone with the simple human skills of understanding and tact…
KOCHANSKI STANDS OVER THE STILL PROSTRATE – AND NOW EVEN MORE SICKLY LOOKING – LISTER. KRYEN AND CAT HOVER BEHIND HER.
Kryten wants to cut off your arm.
This obviously follows on from the “even the word ‘hopeless’ has hope in it” maxim, and note that the second line of this extract is wrongly attributed to Kochanski instead of Kryten. This is fixed in the third draft, which inserts a whole conversation between Lister and Epideme before Kochanski comes crashing in with the plan, thus changing it from a jump-cut gag. Ultimately, the “hopeless” bit and the arm-chopping plan are in completely different parts of the final episode, and even in the opposite order.
All of which goes to show that there is always something at least mildly interesting to be found in a Red Dwarf script, regardless of what stage of development it’s on, even if you can only see a couple of pages, and even if you think you’ve already covered it before. When you’ve spent the best part of thirty years watching and analysing these episodes from every possible angle, after you’ve figured out how this show was made in the way it was, the next step is to figure out why, and plotting the changes as an episode develops, no matter how small and trivial they may seem, is the best way to get inside the genius heads of Rob and/or Doug and attempt to recreate their thought processes.