You Stupid Ugly Goit

ED BYE: Rob and Doug and I made the decision that it’d be better to see Norman rather than just hear him, because he’s got a great lugubrious face.
NORMAN LOVETT: Initially the money was low because it was a voiceover, so they can get away with paying you peanuts for that.
ROB GRANT: Norman had been banging on from the start saying “Get my face on-screen, that’s the money…
NORMAN LOVETT: So I kept moaning and whinging about this. I said “Why have I got to do a voiceover in a TV show? Why can’t you see this face, and why can’t this computer called Holly look like this bloke here?” By the time we’d recorded the third episode of the first series, it had been agreed that we would see Holly, and we’d go and reshoot some of the bits for the first and second and third episodes…

The Beginning, Series 1 documentary, The Bodysnatcher Collection

The above story – in endless slight variations – has gone down in Red Dwarf lore. Norm whinged right at the start of Series 1 that Holly should be in-vision, the powers that be eventually agreed, and they went back and did some reshoots to add his FACE to the early episodes. (The real horror arises when you consider that due to the electrician’s strike, where Series 1 was entirely rehearsed but never actually recorded, Norm was probably on his ninth week of moaning about this, rather than the third. Try not to let that shrivel your soul too much.)

However, what hasn’t been done is going back to examine those early episodes in detail, to see exactly how those reshoots worked. And when you do, you spot a few interesting details which haven’t been widely talked about.

Let’s take a look. Doing this takes a certain amount of extrapolation; without access to the proper production paperwork, we have to do a bit of stretching and join some dots along the way. But I think the below makes sense. Obviously, to get any kind of idea of how this worked, we have to take the episodes in production order rather than broadcast order.

The End – Original Shoot

Surprise! The very first attempt at The End – as seen as The Original Assembly on the Bodysnatcher DVD – contains no visuals of Holly at all. Of course.

It’s instructive, however, to look at how the crew talk to Holly in the episode. Both at McIntyre’s funeral, and when Lister and Rimmer receive the message for the ‘Welcome Back George McIntyre Reception’, they gaze upwards, listening to Holly’s disembodied voice.

McIntyre's funeral Lister and Rimmer in the bunkroom

In fact, it’s easy to imagine Red Dwarf treating Holly exactly like this. Sure, we’d lose some great stuff, but with Rob and Doug’s background in radio, they could happily write funny stuff for just a voice.

But things wouldn’t stay like that for long. Onto the second episode recorded.

Balance of Power

Ah-ha. Here we get to the real meat of the reshoots.

Firstly, we have the first bunkroom scene between Lister and Holly. As in the original version of The End, Lister spends the scene talking to a disembodied voice and looking upwards; there’s no sign of Holly on the monitor.

Lister talking to a disembodied voice Lister still talking to a disembodied voice

But what’s this? There’s a couple of shots of Holly in-vision!

Norman Lovett's FACE

Presumably, this scene was originally shot with Holly as just a voice, and then they went back later and shot a couple of cutaways of Norman to stick in there. Which, it has to be said, works very well: the cutaways could have felt awkward, but the scene feels perfectly natural. It’s certainly not obvious that they are cutaways shot after-the-fact.

Meanwhile, the bunkroom scene with Rimmer and Holly is similar, with Rimmer talking to a disembodied voice. Unlike the first scene, however, there is no attempt to disguise this with cutaways shot later:

Rimmer talking to a disembodied voice Rimmer still talking to a disembodied voice

However, straight afterwards, we cut to Cat in the Drive Room. And whoa ho ho, what’s all this? Holly on the monitors? This hasn’t happened before now!

Cat in the Drive Room with Holly in the background Rimmer in the Drive Room with Holly in the background

Indeed, this scene is key to establishing Holly as a visual character. This is disguised somewhat by reshoots and the jumbling of the episode order. But in terms of production, here is where Holly is born. Just take a look at the scene again, with this in mind – for the first time, the dialogue specifically references how Holly looks:

RIMMER: Holly, as senior rank aboard this ship, I order you to tell me where he is.
HOLLY: I’ve told you. I can’t.
RIMMER: Holly, that’s an order! You stupid ugly goit!
HOLLY: Ugly? I’ll have you know I chose this face out of the billions available cos it happened to be the face of the greatest and most prolific lover who ever lived. [Holly sticks his tongue out.]
RIMMER: Really? Well, he must have operated in the dark a lot.
HOLLY: You what?

There is something delicious about Rob and Doug responding to Norm moaning that he should be in-vision by writing dialogue where Rimmer outright calls him ugly.

I think it’s unlikely this was shot during the original Balance of Power recording session. If it had been, then Holly would surely be in-vision properly elsewhere in the episode. Besides, most accounts of this state that at least the first two shows were recorded with Holly as just a voice. Which leaves us with an interesting question: surely there was an original version of this scene, with Holly out of vision? Sadly, it didn’t show up on the Series 1 DVD. Wah!

Waiting for God

Third recording session of the series, and things have settled down somewhat. We have Holly present and correct visually in the Drive Room:

Rimmer and Holly in the Drive Room Holly in the Drive Room

In the Observation Room:

Lister and Holly in the Observation Room Rimmer, Lister and Holly in the Observation Room

And we even have our very first example of a DVE being used to place Holly into a set without a monitor:

Lister and Holly in a corridor

Bit-by-bit, the production is figuring out how to make Holly work as a visual character.

There is one aspect, however, where the show hasn’t quite figured things out: the bunkroom. The show is still alarmingly inconsistent when it comes to visualising Holly in the key set of the show. We do get the following when Lister walks back into the bunkroom, as Holly is explaining the fate of the Cat people:

The cat ark on the monitor in the bunkroom Holly on the monitor in the bunkroom

But this is the only shot of Holly on the monitor in the bunkroom in the whole show; we never get to see him in a wide. It’s a very half-hearted stab at establishing Holly’s presence in the set. The show is nearly there… but not quite.

One further thing: in the quote which opens this article, Norman indicates that the decision to add him visually to the third episode recorded was taken after it had been shot; note that he mentions they reshot “some of the bits for the first and second and third episodes”. It is possible, therefore, that every single instance of Holly in-vision in this episode is a reshoot. I think this is highly unlikely; there’s simply too much material here, especially considering huge chunks of The End really did have to be reshot. I would suggest that the vagaries of Norman Lovett’s memory is a more likely explanation. Certainly, in this Mr. Flibble interview, Rob Grant mentions that the reshoots involved “putting Holly in shot on screens on the first couple of shows”, and I trust Rob Grant more than I do Norman Lovett.

Future Echoes

And the oddities continue into Future Echoes.

Firstly, we have, again, a single attempt at integrating Holly’s visage into the bunkroom set, with the answerphone message he leaves for Rimmer:

Holly on a screen in the bunkroom Full frame image of Holly

It has always fucking annoyed me that the still is different in the wide and the close-up, and this article is finally the ideal vehicle to express my annoyance. I AM ANNOYED.

We also get something brand new: when Holly is trying to navigate the ship at light speed, we get the show messing around with the pixellation to indicate his frazzled brain. Followed shortly afterwards by the first time Norman does anything other than stare straight ahead. “Gordon Bennett, that was a close one…”

Holly pixellating Holly looking to his left

In other words: This is the very first time the show experiments with any kind of additional effect on Holly’s visuals to help tell the story, or make a joke.

Still, aside from the answerphone message gag above, the bunkroom scenes in this episode have the crew talking, and then we cut to a close-up of Holly. We never actually see him on the monitor in the bunkroom itself.

The crew in the bunkroom Full screen image of Holly

Which is odd, because when Rimmer calls Holly a goit, he directly points his finger at the mirror/monitor in the bunkroom. So although we don’t see him on there in the wide shots in this episode, he’s clearly implied to actually be there all the time by this point!

Rimmer pointing at Holly on the monitor Full screen image of Holly

Which is at best, peculiar, and totally different to the way the crew have talked “upwards” to Holly in previous episodes. Again, we’re really in a transitional state here.

Mind you, transitional state or not, it’s very interesting that Future Echoes was bumped up from fourth to second episode in the run. One effect this has is to establish Holly as a more successful and ever-present visual entity earlier on in the series than would otherwise be the case. It certainly helps disguise some of the fudging that affects Balance of Power.

Confidence & Paranoia

There are very few developments regarding Holly in Confidence & Paranoia. So instead, here’s something from its opening scene which I would like to ponder. You remember the one. The one where Holly keeps interrupting Lister as he’s watching the film.

Lister watching the film Lister watching Holly

The question: how would this have played out as originally scripted, with Holly out of vision? Would the video have just kept dipping to black as Holly spoke as a disembodied voice? Or, perhaps more likely, would the film have continued, and Holly just spoke over the top of it? Or is it possible that this scene wasn’t in the original script at all, and was added when the decision was made to put Norm in-vision?

It’s at this point that I’d love to see copies of the scripts brought into Red Dwarf‘s first set of rehearsals. I’m convinced there would be all kinds of revelations about this stuff.

Me²

Me² signifies a great step forward for Red Dwarf. Nah, I’m not talking about character development for Rimmer. Fuck that needy gobshite.

No, I’m talking about the following bunkroom scene between Lister and Holly, about the NORWEB Federation:

Holly on the screen in the bunkroom Ditto, from a different angle

This is the first, honest-to-goodness scene where we actually see Holly properly on the bunkroom set monitor, and Lister has a proper conversation with the screen. Sure, there are hints of it in the past – Rimmer’s answerphone message in Future Echoes, and the ultra-brief odd close-up in Waiting for God – but here is where it all clicks together. In the penultimate recording session for Series 1. Awfully late, really.

And when Holly appears with those glasses, and says the immortal words “April Fool”…

Holly wearing Groucho glasses

…I mean, it’s not like you couldn’t do that joke with Holly as a voice. But surely the moment wouldn’t be even remotely as satisfying.

The End – Remount

I suspect anybody who has got this far down into this article knows the score about what happened with Red Dwarf‘s final studio session for Series 1. But just in case, the short version: the BBC asked for seven episodes, Paul Jackson got away with only delivering six, and the final audience session was used to beef up The End by reshooting half the show.

Which means: plenty of putting Norman Lovett in-vision, where in the original recording he had just been a voice. The following gives an idea of how extensive this is, and this isn’t even every single example I could give. Original (unbroadcast) version on the left, reshot (broadcast) version on the right:

Rimmer and Lister in the bunkroom Rimmer and Lister in the bunkroom with Holly on the monitor

Lister talking to Holly out-of-vision in the Teaching Room Lister talking to Holly in vision in the Teaching Room

Lister talking to Holly out-of-vision in the Drive Room Lister talking to Holly in vision in the Drive Room

Rimmer and Lister in the Drive Room without Holly in vision Rimmer and Lister in the Drive Room with Holly in vision

Lister puzzled in the Drive Room learning about Cat, with Holly out of vision Rimmer and Lister puzzled in the Teaching Room learning about Cat, with Holly in vision

Of the above, I particularly want to single out this shot, from the very first bunkroom scene as broadcast:

Rimmer and Lister in the bunkroom, with Holly on the monitor

This shot, I believe, is the one which sells Holly’s position in the bunkroom. And it stays in the mind – perhaps subconsciously – and gets you right through all the transitional weirdness throughout the rest of the series. It gets you through never seeing Holly on the screen in the second bunkroom scene from The End, taken from the original recording session. It gets you through Rimmer pointing at the screen in Future Echoes… even though we’ve never seen Holly on it. It gets you through the inconsistent added cutaways in Balance of Power. It takes you right through until you get to Me²… where they do things “properly” again.

These reshoots immensely helped Holly become a real, visual character, from the very first episode. I think we all understood this in theory. But above is the proof.

Series 2

So, with the above, is Holly’s journey complete? Far from it. But he’s sure come a hell of a long way, and going through Series 2 episode-by-episode isn’t necessary. However, it’s worth taking a brief look at how Holly’s on-screen role continued to develop.

Firstly, Better Than Life – and specifically, that first bunkroom scene:

Everyone looking at Holly in the bunkroom Close-up of Holly

This takes the bunkroom scene between Lister and Holly in Me², and runs with it. Everything suddenly feels natural and right. We’re a long way off from some of the weirdness of Series 1 here.

Then there’s the first time we see Gordon, the computer on board the Scott Fitzgerald – and the first time we see another computer in the vein of Holly, an idea which would have lasting repercussions for the series:

Lister and Gordon Close-up of Gordon

Better Than Life also shows us the first time Holly becomes portable. (So many new ideas in one episode!)

Holly on his portable monitor, approaching Cat and Lister Close-up of Holly on his portable monitor

So, bung those last two ideas together – of a different computer like Holly, and Holly becoming portable – and we get a little episode called Queeg:

Queeg on the monitor Lister with Holly on his portable monitor

And I just don’t believe Queeg is the kind of episode which would ever have been written unless Holly had become a visual character. Two disembodied voices yakking on while Lister looks upset probably wouldn’t have made amazing television. As it is… we got one of the finest half hours of sitcom ever made.

Although we all know the real reason why it was vitally important for Holly to become more than just a voice:

Holly wearing a WIG

All this careful thought, just to wind up with a wig joke. And isn’t that really the entire spirit of Red Dwarf, encapsulated in one throwaway moment?

Cheers, Norm. For once, your whinging paid off.

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33 Responses to You Stupid Ugly Goit

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  1. It definitely helps that episodes / re-shoots recorded later go out in the first couple of episodes to help sell the idea Holly is always on a screen somewhere. Though I’ve never really felt it too odd when he isn’t shown and they are talking to the air. There are times in corridors where they would legitimately just be talking to the thin air as there aren’t monitors, and there’s the odd occasion in the sleeping quarters where it almost feels Holly is deliberately not showing himself.

    That said, it is interesting being able to look through all the released material and figure out how and when they inserted Holly. Really interesting read. And something I’d never even considered, probably because, as you point out, they tend to hide it / cover it quite well.

  2. Great article! I’d noticed lots of those odd moments in Series I but it’s interesting to see a timeline put together, and I’d never really considered how very different the show might have been without Holly as a visual character.

    Going even further into III-V, I think that it was interesting how Hattie’s Holly played to her different strengths, and arguably did a lot more with Holly visually. The stuff like ducking the bazookoid, fainting at meeting Ace, bashing her head on the screen while counting… all of that was great physical comedy for someone who’s just a head on a screen.

    It’s also worth considering that if Norman had stayed as just a voiceover, he may never have been recast – it would have maybe been easier to keep him on and record his lines remotely. But who knows?

    Fun hypotheticals.

  3. It has always fucking annoyed me that the still is different in the wide and the close-up

    Oh God, and me.

  4. It’s also worth considering that if Norman had stayed as just a voiceover, he may never have been recast – it would have maybe been easier to keep him on and record his lines remotely. But who knows?

    Given they sacked Norman because he only wanted to do the studio days, and Doug and Rob’s case was that Norman needs to be there for rehearsals to everyone can practise their back and forth with him. I can’t imagine that even as just a voice over they’d have allowed him to just record his lines separately and dumb them in. It’s all about timing and delivery isn’t it, without the actor there to rehearse that with it’s a bit tough.

    Though that could also just as be as much to do with Norman whinging enough to be allowed to be shown visually. They might have felt they conceded to that and it worked, but then Norman was taking the piss by asking for a bigger part one year, then asking to do 1/5th of the work of everyone else the next.

  5. The blue background always looked fucking shite, didn’t it? It looks like they filmed him in front of a bluescreen, and then forgot to chroma key it out. Except obviously they didn’t because they really did CSO out his neck etc. So it’s like they replaced the blue with blue. What the fuck is going on, really, and why is it black occasionally? The pixelation was never that great either, although it at least enabled that one gag in Future Echoes. I’m glad they removed it, and kept him on a black background for Series II. But then why did they bring back the pixelation for Hattie? It is again inconsistent, although I don’t know if it ever gets as bad as tearing away half of Holly’s face, like in the April Fools scene.

  6. G&T Admin

    Yeah, I nearly went into all the stuff with the backgrounds/varying pixellation in the article, but it was already too complicated and I thought it might make a piece on its own one day.

    Worth noting that Holly looks especially different in Waiting for God than any other episode – far darker. And that was the first episode shot with him in-vision.

  7. >The blue background always looked fucking shite, didn’t it? It looks like they filmed him in front of a bluescreen, and then forgot to chroma key it out.

    They tried to fix that in the Remastered, but looking at it i think you can kinda see why they didn’t do it and chose blue instead. the black makes him look like he is fading into the shadows.

    But then maybe they just filmed it in a way that made it impossible to work.


  8. Those 2 images are from the same scene btw. when Rimmer is asking Holly why its raining fish in the sleeping quarters. a monitor was played around the footage in the remastered.

  9. Here’s a thought, we never get a straight close up shot of Hattie’s Holly do we? Like, just that camera’s feed, it’s always her on a monitor …

    waiting to be proven wrong in 3….2…

  10. > I’d never really considered how very different the show might have been without Holly as a visual character.

    It’s a pretty big stretch, but I do wonder whether Doug ever looked at Holly on the trolley and thought ‘You know, what that really ought to be is a robot…’ I say Doug because of course Rob was initially against the idea of a robot as a regular character.

    > it was interesting how Hattie’s Holly played to her different strengths, and arguably did a lot more with Holly visually. The stuff like ducking the bazookoid, fainting at meeting Ace, bashing her head on the screen while counting… all of that was great physical comedy for someone who’s just a head on a screen.

    Yep. I also love pissed Holly in The Last Day, even though funny headwear is a clear sign that Rob and Doug struggled to come up with decent material for her version of the character. There’s loads of little moments like that we’d have been deprived of if Holly had remained just a voice, but on the other hand we’d never have got charades using just your nose or the fucking Nostrilomo either.

  11. G&T Admin

    The blue background always looked fucking shite, didn’t it? It looks like they filmed him in front of a bluescreen, and then forgot to chroma key it out. Except obviously they didn’t because they really did CSO out his neck etc. So it’s like they replaced the blue with blue. What the fuck is going on, really, and why is it black occasionally?

    It’s more likely that he was shot on black (and in a black poloneck, naturally), which was played through live to the monitors with just the pixellation effect added for scenes where he’s visible, and then they luma-keyed the black away and whacked it on a blue background for the cutaways. The shots from Me² and the remounted The End above where he’s blue on the monitors look like they could be DVE, but I’m not certain.

    Quite why they did this is a bigger, perhaps unsolvable mystery, but that answers the how.

  12. The blue background always looked fucking shite, didn’t it? It looks like they filmed him in front of a bluescreen, and then forgot to chroma key it out. Except obviously they didn’t because they really did CSO out his neck etc. So it’s like they replaced the blue with blue. What the fuck is going on, really, and why is it black occasionally?

    It’s more likely that he was shot on black (and in a black poloneck, naturally), which was played through live to the monitors with just the pixellation effect added for scenes where he’s visible, and then they luma-keyed the black away and whacked it on a blue background for the cutaways. The shots from Me² and the remounted The End above where he’s blue on the monitors look like they could be DVE, but I’m not certain.
    Quite why they did this is a bigger, perhaps unsolvable mystery, but that answers the how.

    I had always assumed they thought it would look too obviously like a bloke standing against a background, and felt Holly had to look more “computerised” (for want of a better word), but changed their mind when they saw the finished product.

  13. G&T Admin

    But then why did they bring back the pixelation for Hattie?

    I’ve wondered this before too, incidentally.

    It is a very odd production decision. I love the look of Series III, but there’s something extremely weird about going… well, backwards, with that one.

  14. I always liked how Holly looked in series IV. They gave her that sort of bright white look, that I thought looked really effective.

  15. In that corridor scene in WFG, Holly is a floating projection rather than in a monitor. Oddly, using that technique never happened again until Series IV with Holly appearing as a floating projection in the room beside Talkie Toaster.

  16. So surprising how much of this went in subconsciously, but only once it’s put down in black and white does it really sink in. Superb article, John. 👏

  17. G&T Admin

    Cheers, Pete and Andy! I’m really glad people enjoyed it. It was fun to write, if a little exhausting about halfway through.

    In that corridor scene in WFG, Holly is a floating projection rather than in a monitor. Oddly, using that technique never happened again until Series IV with Holly appearing as a floating projection in the room beside Talkie Toaster.

    I don’t *quite* see it like that. I think the intention is that Holly is on a monitor hanging from the ceiling in that shot, and due to the rather primitive implementation and lack of actual monitor on the set itself, it just looks a little odd. Which is understandable, given its their first try at this idea.

  18. Yep, I’ve always read it as them trying to create a large monitor there, through a slightly crude technique, rather than it being Holly as a projection.

  19. Thinking about Holly projecting herself in White Hole, there’s an episode in having Holly use the hologram projection suite to create herself/himself a body.

    Would perhaps have elements of Bodyswap, DNA and the TV series Andromeda in it, but if they’d done it in the early 90s it would have been before that was ever made so it wouldn’t have matter.

    I’m surprised Rob and Doug never did anything like that really, especially when they’re sitting their scratching their heads as to what to do with Hattie before writing her out entirely.

  20. Oh, I like that.

  21. They’d better call it “ooo-eee-ooo you look just like Holly’s body”.

  22. They’d better call it “ooo-eee-ooo you look just like Holly’s body”.

    I’m giving you a standing ovation, sir.

  23. I remember a Smegazine strip that gave Hattie’s Holly a body – a striking red jumpsuit and a tie, if I remember rightly – as part of a dream or hallucination of Lister’s.

  24. Excellent article as ever John, keep ’em coming!

    Giving Holly a body would have been a really interesting idea, and would have been 33,000 times better than Andromeda.

  25. Keep meaning to say the series 1 documentary was called The Beginning, not It’s Cold Outside. Great article as always John, shining lights in to interesting areas.

  26. I’m surprised Rob and Doug never did anything like that really, especially when they’re sitting their scratching their heads as to what to do with Hattie before writing her out entirely.

    Perhaps they would have felt it was to similar to DNA. this was back when they were alot more strict on doing ideas similar to other episode ideas.

    But wasn’t it said Rob and Doug thought about the concept of having the crew transported into where Holly is and Holly was just a person sitting infront of a huge screen? in retrospect, i can see why they didn’t go with that idea.

  27. G&T Admin

    Keep meaning to say the series 1 documentary was called The Beginning, not It’s Cold Outside.

    I am a moron. Corrected, thanks!

  28. Well, it is 12 years since Bodysnatcher was released. To quote Dave Smash – ‘let’s sob’.

    Your reviews of Bodysnatcher and Just The Smegs should be bumped up the forum as they are great.

  29. I just popped by to say that i really enjoy these articles, even the one about that bit of wall was somehow incredibly interesting. If only there was someone doing something similar with doctor who…keep it up please!

  30. Not to plug other sites, but Dalek6388 have very detailed articles on every single Dalek prop/casing made for the show, where they ended up and how they were refurbished over the years etc, for every story they appeared in. It’s really quite something, if that’s your bag. Shannon Sullivan also has write-ups on every Classic Who serial which go into script drafts, filming dates and locations etc. Really gives an insight into how cheap the BBC were, that the original props from the 60s were still being wheeled out well into the 80s, despite looking naff by the beginning the 70s.

  31. I prefer the show with Holly than without. Regardless of gag quality, or whether he/she has much to do, it just IS Red Dwarf, for me, when Holly is there.

    Over the years I’ve often (seldom…once or twice…just now) wondered exactly what it is about series 1 & 2 that makes me love them more than most, and what sets them apart as, almost, a separate show from the rest of Dwarfdom. Holly being a central character is definitely a big part of that.

    I LOVE Kryten, and Robert’s performance, everything that character brings. Yet, with him coming in and taking over what would have been much of the Holly dialogue, the instant humour of Norman’s face, on a black background, coupled with the surreal nature of that entire situation, is suddenly lost.

    Holly is a character that shouldn’t work, and yet does. Kryten is a character that SHOULD work, and indeed DOES. Because you expect Holly to either be wrong, mess stuff up, or play a joke on the guys, that’s somehow funnier, to me.

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