Former Models: Visiting BBC Visual Effects, 1997

Here’s a lovely thing. Reader Jon Kearey recently got in touch to tell us about his visit to the BBC Visual Effects workshop in late 1997. Jon was doing on a project on Red Dwarf‘s model and effects work for his Design A-Level, and was invited along to take a look by the late, great Peter Wragg. This would have been at the time when the team were working on models for Re-Mastered, which would turn out to be their last major contribution to Red Dwarf for the best part of twenty years, by which time they’d gone freelance and set up The Model Unit.

On his visit, Jon was fortunate enough to meet Mike Tucker and Alan “Rocky” Marshall, who showed him not only their collection of Red Dwarf models and props from across the years, but also their work-in-progress new builds of Red Dwarf and Blue Midget for Re-Mastered. And he was allowed to take photos. Our deepest gratitude to Jon for sharing those photos with us, so that we could share them with you.

Left to right: Io House and Justice World. Note also what looks to be a cardboard model of the Dwarf in the background.

Mike Tucker models the original tiny little Blue Midget.

And now Mike shows off Starbug’s lovely rear engines.

Oh boy. Here’s the Re-Mastered Dwarf model – still used today in massively modified form – in all its constituent parts: nose-cone, rear booster, asteroids, two body sections, and the prongs of the ram-scoop neatly arranged in a nearby bin.

On the top shelf, the GELF ship from Ouroboros, one of their most recent creations at the time. Below, one of the larger Starbug models. Behind that, arranged around a big wheel, are what appear to be moulds of Starbug’s various sections.

EDIT: A correction from Mike Tucker himself:

One quick correction – the ‘moulds’ of the Starbug are in fact the unused model of the splitting ‘Starbug from ‘Tikka to Ride’. The ‘Bug was never constructed via a ‘mould and cast’ method, it was always a direct build.

A display of miscellaneous treats, including the SS Centauri from Beyond A Joke, a snoozing Kryten, and the remnants of a Red Dwarf nameplate pinned to the noticeboard.

The label below says “white boiler suits”, but it to me it looks more like a scorched and legless Starbug. RIP.

Mike Tucker demonstrates his glove puppet version of Ace Rimmer’s ship. On the table behind him, the rear boosters of the new Blue Midget, and what appears to be a Pot Noodle.

Barely seen on-screen, Rimmer’s Self-Loathing Beast from Terrorform.

A dismantled bazookoid protects a vice.

Side-elevation Starbug.

Alan Brannan (I think) works on the Re-Mastered Blue Midget. Its retracted legs can be seen perching on a toolbox to the left. On the work surface, various model kit components and glue, to provide ready-made detail.

Another Series VII model – White Midget, glimpsed briefly in Ouroboros four series after it was mistakenly reference in Bodyswap.

Our thanks again to Jon Kearey for his marvellous photos.

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16 Responses to Former Models: Visiting BBC Visual Effects, 1997

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  1. That Kryten head is very realistic. We sure Bobby’s not kneeling behind the desk?

  2. Outstanding. Thanks so much for this. What a treat!

    Si I was gunna say the same thing, the Kryten head looks bizarrely real compared to what it did in the episode.

  3. Incredible. What a really wonderful selection of pictures. Thanks Jon and Ian!

    The Silurian head and art from Mike’s Ace! book in there are nice bonuses for Whovians.

  4. Well this is just lovely. Thanks for this!

  5. That’s probably still, technically, the best Kryten head ever. Whether it’s the best-looking head, or whether it’s how his head SHOULD look, are entirely separate issues…

  6. Trying to work out if that’s a Skutter in a bag behind the Self-Loathing Beast.

    Also, can anyone else see a happy little face in that middle section of the Red Dwarf model?

  7. Trying to work out if that’s a Skutter in a bag behind the Self-Loathing Beast.

    Seconded. Totally a Skutter.

  8. Well, bag’s your Skutter.

    I like Red Dwarf.

  9. Wonderful.

    > On the table behind him, the rear boosters of the new Blue Midget, and what appears to be a Pot Noodle.

    Well it’s obvious what gets eaten last then isn’t it.

  10. The Pot Noodle is clearly from Demons and Angels. and if you ask me, its one of the most impressive things made by the model team!.

  11. Wonderful photos. Thank you so much!

  12. Just a pedantic note on the Starbug sat in a cardboard box picture, the components behind it are the masters not the moulds (or just an unfinished model), moulds would be sort of ugly fibreglass blobs (jackets) with wingnuts holding them together with the silicone moulds inside.

    Lovely pictures though – great access, can’t imagine this happening now (the pictures part) that the internet is more of a thing, leaks everywhere.

  13. Just amazing! Reminds me of the quote from infinity “Touched her on the shoulder-just like she was some kind of ordinary person.” To see them jammed under a staircase, stacked on shelves. Would love to see them all in a museum.

  14. 1997 peak BBC. Fuck what I would do to go back there. Even earlier in fact. Everything is so depressing these days.

  15. As a Red Dwarf obsessed 11 year old in 1997, this would have been my idea of heaven.

    22 years later, it still is.

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