Howay The Ads

In scenes rather reminiscent of Headfuck Monday, a real-life version of Starbug has been spotted on location in the north of England. This time, it’s in the vicinity of the Angel of the North in Gateshead, and rather than a customised Smart car, it looks like a car-sized screen-accurate model, on tiny little wheels, as captured in this photo by Twitter user Lee Harris:

Which rather begs the question: what the fuck’s going on here, then? It can’t be location filming for Series XIII, as Series XIII hasn’t been confirmed yet. My first thought was that it might be something to do with the recent Dave advert that featured Starbug, but it seems unlikely that they’d be shooting anything new for that campaign at this stage. It’s possibly related to the various cast-get-together activity that Danny John-Jules has been teasing on his Twitter feed, but the only semi-solid lead we’ve got is in a subsequent tweet from the guy who took the photo:

Take it with a massive pinch of salt until we hear anything official, obviously. But there’s clearly something going on in the world of Red Dwarf at the moment, and consider me intrigued. One huge question remains: given the part of the country in which this stunt is taking place, is Jimmy Nail behind it all? Fingers crossed.

In possibly-related news, Danny John-Jules has given an interview to The Sun, in which he touches upon the future of the show:

“All we know is it’s going to be done by the end of the year,” said Danny, who plays Cat in the comedy series first broadcast in 1988.

“We haven’t seen a script yet, it’s all in negotiation.

“But I’m never worried about Red Dwarf. I’ve never been so comfortable in a gig.

“The fans are over the moon, spinning cartwheels because unless you’re watching Netflix, what are you going to watch as a sitcom in England.”

It’s true, there have been no sit-coms made in Britain whatsoever since Series XII aired nearly two years ago. Anyway, The Sun are naturally reporting on this as official confirmation that there’s going to be a Series XIII, even though it’s clearly nothing of this sort, but we’re used to that clickbaiting shithousery by now. Will it happen by the end of this year? Possibly, but they’ll have to get a wriggle on if there’s audience tickets to sort out. Hopefully whatever the hell is happening in Newcastle today will keep us occupied while we wait.

UPDATE: Here’s another image, seemingly from PA (although the link in this tweet to a search on their website doesn’t yield any results) showing the aforementioned AA van:

See the comments below for much more on this as it emerges…

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92 Responses to Howay The Ads

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  1. I’m quite jealous of anyone nearby who gets a chance to get up close and get a picture taken with it. Lucky sods.

  2. Saw the first Tweet in passing earlier, and didn’t actually notice the wheels. Assumed it was some kind of perspective trickery. Evidently not.

  3. Jesus, that thing is even bigger than it looks in the original photo, with the AA van right next to it you can see it’s full size

    I’d be really surprised if AA was building an ad campaign based around Red Dwarf/Starbug … maybe popular/well known TV show vehicles, (Batmobile, Trotter’s van etc) but then it seems like a lot or money/work to build a car sized Starbug for a TV ad

    Maybe whatever is towing this Starbug broke down

  4. Just noticed the Glasgow Comic Con hashtag in the second tweet, maybe it is something to do with that, it’s on it’s way there for some reason.

    But still, who built it? And why?!

  5. Instagrams your friend.






  6. G&T Admin

    Cor! Nice one, Dax.

  7. G&T Admin

    Hmm, that’s been liked by The AA’s account too.

  8. The AA dude was actually just pumping tires at the end there.

  9. It’s an AA advertising campaign, probably. The bloke in the last tweet embedded in the article is not Chris Barrie but appears to be dressed as Rimmer, if it hasn’t already been noted.

  10. If you’re going to do that, why would you go to the effort of getting a bus sized Starbug and not book one of the cast to appear? It’d just look weird in any ads that it some random bloke in a blue tunic.

  11. G&T Admin

    If this is an advert, perhaps the cast would shoot some cockpit stuff in the studio, and this false Rimmer is just a stand-in for the location shoot. That’s assuming quite a lot, of course – as per your comment earlier, Quinn, it could well be that Starbug is just one of several things featured. But given the proximity of this activity to all the recent cast get-togethers, it seems to point to them being involved.

  12. G&T Admin

    Ah, this pic’s interesting – it shows the number plate on the AA van, and that’s not a proper reg number, thus seemingly confirming that it is indeed part of the filming, not just there for mechanical assistance.

  13. Well, this is all very exciting. Surely that’s the biggest full Starbug ever?

  14. Oh interesting find Ian, I take it back then. They would indeed build a bus sized Starbug to film something AA related!

  15. Maybe its for some AA sponsor ad for Dave shows. *Shrug*

  16. I kind of love that someone has thought to build an AA ad campaign around the world’s most unreliable spacecraft. I hope that’s what it is.

  17. Can’t wait for the live Dwarfcast after this ad airs.

  18. G&T Admin

    I don’t often like to change a headline after it’s been published, but I’m willing to make an exception.

  19. “AA rescues broken down Red Dwarf Starbug at Angel of the North as fan headed to Comic Con”

    “The AA was scrambled to the Angel of the North after a sci-fi fan broke down in his Red Dwarf-themed ‘spaceship’ car.

    The driver, Alex Dowling, was heading to the Glasgow Comic Con, which starts on Saturday June 29, to join thousands of others at the comic book and cosplay festival.”


    I guess everyone was wrong.

    https://www.sunderlandecho.com/news/people/aa-rescues-broken-down-red-dwarf-starbug-at-angel-of-the-north-as-fan-headed-to-comic-con-355848

  20. G&T Admin

    I guess everyone was wrong.

    Yes, but that article’s not true, is it? That’s not a modified car, and that’s not a real AA van. It’s a viral stunt for either Glasgow Comic Con, the AA or both.

  21. and that’s not a real AA van

    why did the AA van not have a proper licence plate

    Checked DVLA website, it is indeed real … not sure how to embed pics so imgur link below to screenshots.

    https://imgur.com/a/tx8bR9S

  22. ah that makes sense … and somewhat makes more sense than swapping the plate on any random AA vehicle they need for stuff like this.

  23. Has anyone tried tracking down this ‘Alex Dowling’ character’s web presence? A known actor? A known cosplayer? A made-up name?

    I had a cursory Google and found no actors or cosplayers of that name, although some bloke on Twitter has it as his screen name (and has posted nothing at all about the incident). I’m terrible at recognising faces so I couldn’t tell you if it was the same guy, but he’s helpfully posted a 50-second video of himself mock-dancing to rave music, in which he does display a passing resemblance to a young Chris Barrie.

    (With sincere apologies to Random Bloke On Twitter for sending traffic his way if he turns out to be nothing to do with these shenanigans.)

  24. Has anyone tried tracking down this ‘Alex Dowling’ character’s web presence? A known actor? A known cosplayer? A made-up name?

    I did a bit of a search, but couldn’t find anything really.
    I don’t recognise the name and I can’t find anyone with that name and mutual friends on my RD FB acct.

  25. Somebody steal it and park it by the Model Unit with a note to film it with a motion control rig for the next series.

  26. There’s a George Flinton on Twitter whose bio says he works for the AA, and exclusively tweets about the AA. So has me wondering if that is just an AA account they use to make themselves look a little more personable. That said, he does look like the dude in the pics with Starbug.

    Alex Dowling is indeed a bit of a mystery. If there was a fan out there that had built something like that, we’d know about him already surely? He’d be active here or on TOS or somewhere.

  27. G&T Admin

    Yeah, I’ve not had time to do a particularly deep dive on Alex Dowling, but all I found from a cursory search was a chap of that name unwrapping a Series X DVD in a very short YouTube clip.

  28. WHAT? Only 96hours! First in the shower roooom!

  29. Everything about this seems bizarre. The Starbug itself, the AA, the guy who looks nothing like Rimmer dressed as Rimmer, the cover-up story. None of it fits together well. Dax’s suggestion about AA sponsoring the show on Dave is the nearest thing to an explanation that actually makes any sense.

  30. Reading this article and comment thread was like catching up with a much-hyped football match on Twitter after it’s already finished with a disappointing draw.

  31. Wider context aside, it’s a pretty impressive bit of prop making. I’d put it at around 1/3rd – possibly 1/4th scale, and am pretty sure it’s the largest Starbug built so far. I vaguely remember someone (Bill Pearson possibly) mentioning that had the movie gone ahead, a full scale Starbug prop would have been constructed, which sounds like a logistical nightmare but also amazing.

  32. What would a full-scale prop even involve? There’s no way even the VI interiors could match up with the exterior proportions. I suppose they could have gone back to the earlier style.

  33. God knows – I guess if there were scripted exterior shots where the cast had to interact with it, ie. climbing out of a hatch, floating around it in spacesuits a la the Agonoid sequence in Backwards – then the technology to seamlessly track and composite a full scale segment into a wider 3D model/miniature shot would still have been a stretch around that time. More likely they just thought it was a cool idea. Or it could have just been a load of old bollocks, we’ll probably never know.

  34. >There’s no way even the VI interiors could match up with the exterior proportions.

    Maybe they introduced some dimensional anomalies to deal with the paradox.

  35. I’ve build scale digital models of Starbug, and sectioned them and put the studio layout diagrams of Starbug’s set on them, and it’s surprisingly close to fitting, if you’re talking V and VI Dwarf and assuming Starbug is 32m long or so, which is what I make it out to be.

    The cockpit walls would be very thin though, it wouldn’t survive half the shit it does on the show.

    The Nav and Ops desks would just be too big, stick out of the side of the ship by about a foot, the mid section is correct as the floor drops onto the cut out freshly bits on the model, the kitchen is in the rear section, and stops around the thrusters on the bottom. There’s also enough room for one bunk room in the loft of the midsection.

    The only issue would be the engineering section, though the bit in Psirens where they go around to the left of the kitchen would make sense, there would be space around that, it’s just how much.

    I’d say it’s no more than 5-10% off.

    Series VII is ridiculous though.

    Back to the topic, that Starbug is better than the one they used for filming for XI and XII, only thing missing really is the headlights.

  36. Well someone did make an effort to explain the Starbug lay out. i kinda wish i could see the full picture of it

  37. Which version is that supposed to be? The Artificial Reality Suite suggests it’s VII, only the lack of massive medical room, miles of ducts, laundry room, landing bay, pipe-ridden bunk room and massive fan section suggest it’s not.

  38. Had to look up “howay the” to find out what the fuck it was a reference to. It seems to be a football thing. Disgusting

  39. I’ve been desperately hoping to come across a proper print, or scan of that Graham Bleathman illustration for years, but it seems like it was a one off, maybe a private commission or something – presumably due to GNP legal stuff. It’s verrrry nice.

  40. Had to look up “howay the” to find out what the fuck it was a reference to. It seems to be a football thing. Disgusting

    Are you British? Howay innit. Geordies, tyneside. Not just football, a general expression.

    Don’t know how you can’t know howay if you’re from Britain, it’s like *the* Tyneside word.

  41. Well someone did make an effort to explain the Starbug lay out. i kinda wish i could see the full picture of it

    What’s that from?

    It’s a nice bit of work that, though there might be even more room than in that picture because the front dome is not in proportion to the others by the looks of it, and the rear section looks to be spherical, when it’s actually a very short sort of pill shape. It has a sliver of a cylinder in the middle, so it’s hemisphere, cylinder spacer, hemisphere. Could just be the angle though for that.

    The large studio model had hemispheres of 8″, 10″ and 14″ diameters if you ever want to work out the ratios.

  42. I’m from Scotland, which is part of Britain. Unfortunately.

  43. Don’t know how you can’t know howay if you’re from Britain, it’s like *the* Tyneside word.

    as someone from Britain but no-where near Tyneside, I’ve never heard that expression before at all.

    Though I was having to explain cockney slang to someone from this forum a couple of days ago, so I’m in good company.

  44. Don’t know how you can’t know howay if you’re from Britain, it’s like *the* Tyneside word.

    as someone from Britain but no-where near Tyneside, I’ve never heard that expression before at all.
    Though I was having to explain cockney slang to someone from this forum a couple of days ago, so I’m in good company.

    What are they teaching in schools these days?!

    :D

    It’s sort of just like knowing a bit of stereotypical dialect from each region, bit of rhyming slang, knowing Yorkshiremen say Ayup, West Country farmers say Oo-arr, North West have La etc

  45. Maybe ‘Howay The Lads’ is a bit old-fashioned now, but I would assume everyone would know it too.

  46. Well in particular they thought “use your loaf” was just a Talkie Toaster pun. Though, as with ‘howay the lads’, it maybe a bit old fashioned and the origins lost to time on a younger audience.

  47. G&T Admin

    More people need to watch Auf Wiedersehen Pet.

  48. I had to ask a Geordie friend what the hell it meant the other day, strangely enough. Totally new one to me.

  49. Cockney Rhyming Slang I found out about when I was 10 or so watching Austin Powers in Goldmember. There’s no need for somebody living in Scotland to learn about random bits of regional slang from specific parts of England, is there, so I’m unaware of most of the rest of it.

  50. Richie: oh Eddie, you’re such a southerner aren’t ‘cha. Us geordies say it all the time. ‘Wa-hey the lads. Haddaway and the shite’.

    Eddie: Ok, I’ll repeat it… What the fuck. Does it meeeeaaaan?

  51. The thing with cockney slang, if nothing else, is that lots of it has filtered through to everyday speak. Hence “use your loaf” and other such things are uttered by people, not quite realising they’re using old slang or where is came from.

  52. England really is just some bazarro land down there where people say the maddest shit, isn’t it

  53. Spent a good half an hour last night trying to think up an incredibly convoluted alternative headline to this article, based on the bit from ‘Blue’ where Rimmer blows the party horn and says ‘Hey, hey” (ie. AA). Eventually gave up and decided to move on with my life.

  54. “AA! I didn’t do anything! It was *you* who didn’t fix the drive plates properly.”

  55. Spent a good half an hour last night trying to think up an incredibly convoluted alternative headline to this article, based on the bit from ‘Blue’ where Rimmer blows the party horn and says ‘Hey, hey” (ie. AA). Eventually gave up and decided to move on with my life.

    I’m Not Used To The Controls in Starbug 1

  56. Spent a good half an hour last night trying to think up an incredibly convoluted alternative headline to this article, based on the bit from ‘Blue’ where Rimmer blows the party horn and says ‘Hey, hey” (ie. AA). Eventually gave up and decided to move on with my life.

    “Get your hanging rope now, while there’s still some left – AA!”

  57. It’s a name I made up, double-A actually!

  58. “I thought it was a publicity shot for Planet of the AA-pes.”

    I’m sorry.

  59. “It is when you mean it to mean what *I* mean it to mean, and I mean it to mean ‘OK’, Rimmer, oak AA!”

  60. “AA! I’ve still got me [breakdown] plan! And I’ve still got a car, okay it’s not *Starbug* but it’s still a car!”

  61. “Hey wait a minute. Gelf moon bearing 356 by 121. It’s got an ocean. Can you get us there?”
    “Does an AA car loan have a typical rate of just 6.2% APR? I’ll get you there, bud.”

  62. An orange! A melon! A female AArdvark!

  63. “You probably have to be an AA member to get one that goes forwards”.

  64. In The Sunday Times today, there’s an interview with Robert Llewellyn (page 16 of the Business and Money insert), which mentions that Red Dwarf will begin production this year to be shown on Dave next year. It seems everybody but GNP and UKTV are confirming there’ll be another series.

  65. the pertinent bit is in the opening paragraph.

    https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/robert-llewellyn-windfall-made-me-a-paranoid-android-bjxb6lvzk

    I’d AArgue that the

    He appears as Kryten in a new advert for the AA, airing tomorrow

    at the very end is pretty big.

    I spent about a minute in the studio saying the words: “Macleans — for a whiter, brighter smile!”

    I believe the actual phrase was “New Macleans Whitening – For a Brighter, Whiter Future!”

  66. Unless there are episodes as sharp and witty as ‘Timewave,’ I’m not interested.

  67. I’ve gotta say I wasn’t expecting it to look so close to actual Red Dwarf. I was expecting the cast to do voiceovers, maybe be in photos considering the pics Danny posted in makeup. Wasn’t expecting them to pull the Starbug set out of mothballs and do a scene!

  68. Yeah, this is pretty good (and raises the show’s current profile more than a million Big Finish audios).

  69. It’s been spotted on the M25 today apparently.

  70. It’s been spotted on the M25 today apparently.

    If there is going to be a series of these ads, then I assume they’ve all been recorded, with the odd new location shoot here and there. Up and down the country, maybe? UK tour..?

  71. Basingstoke Me a Clipper

  72. Are you trying to tell me that we just stuck out our thumbs and some green bug-shaped space craft will appear and say, Hi fellas, hop right in. I can take you as far as the Basingstoke roundabout?

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