Any self-respecting Red Dwarf fan has a few standard facts at their disposal. The first recording dates for Series 1 were cancelled due to an electrician’s strike. Robert Llewellyn was electrocuted on his first day at work. Meltdown was put back in the episode order due to worries about the Gulf War.

Slotting in among these standard set of facts is that the village scenes in Emohawk – Polymorph II were shot on an abandoned set for a series called Covington Cross. And that’s… kinda it. That is The Fact, done, ticked, off we go.

I don’t think that’s good enough. Let’s take a proper look.

Covington Cross was a 1992 ABC series of 13 episodes… only 7 of which were shown in the US before it was pulled. Unusually for a US series of the time, it was shot in Britain, with extensive location work. Variety described it as a “medieval action-adventure series focuses on families of good guy Sir Thomas Gray (not the 18th-century poet) and baddie John Mullens.”

It is also not a particularly good television programme. I will fully admit that I have not managed to watch all 13 episodes in the writing of this piece, but the series very strongly resembles a crap version of Maid Marian and her Merry Men; right down to the contrast between the castle and village scenes, and the carefree updating of the Middle Ages, but with zero of the charm. As far as I can tell, the best things the show has ever done is provide a set for the best half of Emohawk, and give people who liked Glenn Quinn something to masturbate about.

The episode embedded above is Episode 4, Cedric Hits the Road, which has a higher percentage than usual of village scenes. It seemed, therefore, an ideal place to see if we can pin down a few comparisons between the set as seen in Covington Cross, and that seen in Emohawk. And while none of the shots entirely match, we can definitely pinpoint that it is indeed the same set used in both series.

Oh, you want me to do the work of getting the screengrabs? FINE.

Thatched building in Emohawk Thatched building in Covington Cross

In the above shots, the thatched building is clearly the same; the best way is to look at the timbers on the right.

By the way, yes, that’s Alex Kingston he’s about to meet in the Covington Cross screengrab. If you want the busty cleavage shot, you can go and screengrab that in your own time.

Brick building in Emohawk Brick building in Covington Cross

The fact that Emohawk was shot at night makes some of this tricker than it could have been, but again, check out the arrangement of the small window and door in these shots; the building is identical.

Set of buildings in Emohawk Set of buildings in Covington Cross

I suspect it’s the different lenses involved which make the building look further away in the Emohawk shot above than in Covington Cross, but a quick glance across features of the buildings confirms this is the same angle.

Hilariously, given my Maid Marian comparison above, this episode also has a guest performance from a certain Forbes Collins, who does THAT VOICE throughout the entire episode. But if you’re looking for Red Dwarf actor connections in Covington Cross, then Ron Pember shows up in the episode Eviction, and Sarah Alexander shows up in The Hero, right at the beginning of her career:

Ron Pember in Covington Cross Sarah Alexander in Covington Cross

Oh, and who is this in the episode The Persecution – incidentally, the last episode aired on network US television – as the main guest character of the show?

Chloe Annett in Covington Cross Chloe Annett in Covington Cross, again

Chloe Annett still in Covington Cross Chloe Annett still in Covington Cross, again

And at the beginning of the episode, she’s even on the same village set as Emohawk used, no less. And there’s your big trivia question: “Aside from the set in Emohawk, what is the other major link between Covington Cross and Red Dwarf?

Dimension Jump opening night quiz, you can have that one for free.

14 comments on “G&TV: Covington Cross

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  • Lovely stuff, surprising that the Chloe connection has seemingly never come up before.

    Sarah Alexander in a very early screen test for M-Corp there.

  • It’s probably for the best that ChloĆ« Annett bound helpless to a stake wasn’t a widely-circulated image before today.

  • Is Alex Kingston supposed to be from the west country or has an injury affected her central nervous system and the speech centre in her brain?

  • Thank you Thomas!

    I’d like to write something on the locations used in Red Dwarf at some point – proper then and now pieces, with comparison shots. Hmmm…

  • If you want a slightly more tenuous connection (of course you do – you’re on G&T, aren’t you?), the bloke who plays the Friar in Covington Cross is Paul Brooke, who also played Friar Bellows in The Black Adder, which Chris Barrie later appeared in (and Howard Goodall composed the theme tune for).

  • Here’s an interesting thing about Covington Cross: Covington is not a notable English name. It doesn’t seem to really exist very commonly as a surname, and the only place in the country with that name is a tiny village in Cambridge. But in America, it’s really prevalent – there are loads of places called it, and lots of notable people with it as a surname, too. It seems like it’s a name that originated here but didn’t really become widespread, got carried over to America at some point, and did – but with the feeling among Americans that it’s “a British name”.

    Which is how you end up with an American TV show set in Britain called Covington Cross, and (in an example I was reminded of last night) Peter Serafinowicz playing a character called “Lord Covington” on Parks and Rec.

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