G&TV logoThis month on G&TV, let’s take a look at something we’ve been meaning to cover for ages. A shade over two months after Series 1 of Red Dwarf was first transmitted, Children’s BBC show Take Two asked kids what they thought of the series.

Which is automatically a very interesting little time capsule. After all, whether given by kids or by adults, contemporary opinions of Series 1 are as rare as hen’s testicles.

Firstly, an apology. The first time we talked about this Take Two episode was in this article from me, back in 2007. In it, I mention that the show contains “the famed bit with Rob and Doug talking about Red Dwarf. This is, not to put too fine a point on it, utter bollocks. Having viewed the full episode (through nefarious means that you don’t need to know about), I can confirm that no such interview took place. I can only assume that I was getting confused with this BiteBack segment which we’ve previously covered. So, only 12 years before we managed to issue our correction, then. We may not be fast, but we get there etc etc etc.

In order to make up for the above error, I’ve done a little digging. And the interesting thing about the clip above – as published by the excellent BBC Archive Twitter account – is that some clips of Dwarf that were in the original broadcast version have been removed, presumably due to worries over copyright. The clips removed are as follows:

  • At 1:01, there was originally a 52″ clip of the crew in the bunkroom from Future Echoes, starting with Rimmer’s line “Holly, watch my lips – What Is Hap-pen-ing?”, and ending with Cat saying “Nobody gonna break my tooth!”
  • Then, at 1:58, we get a surprising cut – some of the kids talking has been removed! This is because if it wasn’t, there would be a jump cut, as it’s the same group of kids talking either side of a removed clip. The deleted section has the girl in the middle saying: “He’s a right poser, the Cat was – I’ve never known a Cat to be a poser before. That was really good.”
  • Following that, the other removed clip is 41″ of Cat’s introduction from The End, starting with his squealing and “How am I looking?, and ending with his exit: “This way!”

Personally, I don’t think they needed to remove the above clips in the version posted on Twitter; they are clearly justified “for the purposes of review”. I guess they took the path of least resistance just to be on the safe side, which is understandable. Certainly, the clips of Dwarf themselves aren’t the important bit of the segment.

Speaking of which: the segment itself? I find it endlessly fascinating, from Phillip Schofield’s introduction onwards:

SCHOFIELD: The creators of the series asked us to imagine a science fiction comedy series with no robots, no aliens, and a heavily-disguised message. It was a series set in space: ‘Red Dwarf’ was the name of a mining ship, which was five miles long and three miles wide; an old tramp steamer, mining around the moons of Saturn.

This is a very similar description of the series that was given in the original Radio Times capsule for The End. But I’ve never heard the phrase “heavily-disguised message” in relation to the show before. Doesn’t that sound an awful lot like an amusing joke Rob and Doug would make when a children’s TV series asks about covering their show?

As for what the kids themselves say, it’s far more interesting than adults writing to Points of View manage in 2019. Admittedly, this might not be a difficult bar to clear, but that should probably still inspire some soul-searching among a certain brand of cretin. I particularly liked the boy who says that the show is “quite subtle in places, and other places its not”, which is a genuinely good piece of critique, nailing an aspect of Dwarf that so many seem to miss. The mix of the subtle and the broad is part of what makes Dwarf so good.

Meanwhile, the discussion of the sets is fascinating, and proves that unlike Rob and Doug themselves, not everyone was screaming about how awful they were. “They look just like a spaceship” isn’t just a clever-clever thing fans said years after the fact; some people were saying it at the time. Even the boy who complains about the wobbly sets admits a few seconds later that it isn’t actually true, which is more than a certain breed of TV columnist does these days.

The rest of their comments I’ll leave for your comments below. Instead, I’ll leave you with one final thought. If CBBC brought back Take Two tomorrow… I bet you their first act wouldn’t be to ask a bunch of kids about a show broadcast post-watershed. And I very much suspect parents would be up in arms if they tried.

I’m not saying that it’s right the show did that. Wait a minute, actually, I am. It’s fucking brilliant.

22 comments on “G&TV: Take Two (1/6/88)

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  • Wow-wee indeed, Pip.

    Hard to imagine a group of schoolkids discussing an episode of the first/only series of Red Dwarf from the previous night. ‘That new programme…’
    A proper little snapshot.of eighties schooldays. Wonder what those fortysomethings are up to now?

  • I wouldn’t say CBBC covering a post-watershed show at that time would’ve got much complaint. CBBC skewed a bit older back then as well; it’s only in the last fifteen years or so that they’ve decided that kids TV is only for under 14s or something.

    I maintain the boy sat with the two girls has never been sat anywhere near them before, and never did again.

  • I wouldn’t say CBBC covering a post-watershed show at that time would’ve got much complaint. CBBC skewed a bit older back then as well; it’s only in the last fifteen years or so that they’ve decided that kids TV is only for under 14s or something.

    That, indeed, was my point. It certainly wouldn’t have attracted complaint then – but it definitely would now.

  • “Wowee, that’s a popular programme,” has never sounded more sincere.

    It’s heartwarming to hear about school-bus conversations about last night’s episode though. I remember having exactly those conversations about Future Echoes, albeit on the repeat run a few years later.

  • Though I also agree it sounds like a joke, I think there probably also is a “heavily disguised message” in the show, about class, and work. Maybe not even that heavily disguised.

    I have often pondered – as Red Dwarf is basically just a B-Ark and Lister is both the only one that actually deserves to survive and the only one genuinely capable of leading the ship (and clearly knows it by the fact he runs rings round the system a la Fletcher, which would have been spelled out knowingly in the “did you bring a cat on board” scene had Ronnie Barker said yes), he’s wracked with the exact same regional-working-class imposter syndrome as both Rob and Doug must have spent the entire 1980s fighting against. Lister’s predicament and the show’s premise as conceived – being forever isolated and alone in space – is essentially a literalised version of this (as made even more explicit by Confidence & Paranoia which sees Lister confront his own id face-on). Lister in space could easily be Rob and Doug working in the media industry. The ship is the BBC, Rimmer is all producers, and the Cat is all performers. They might have dressed it up in the imagery of three films they liked, but is Red Dwarf not just The Grant Naylor Story?

  • I think it’s a bit more universal than that (no pun intended), but at the same time I think it’s reasonable to suspect that some of that might have played into it.

    I’m not sure I read the “disguised message” thing as a joke, I just wonder whether it’s a comment on the fact that the stories didn’t really have explicit moral lessons or messages in their stories, you had to dig a bit deeper to extract any greater meaning from them.

  • It’s the use of “heavily” which gets me. “Disguised” is one thing, “Heavily disguised” feels like a joke. An elaborate synonym for “none”.

    (Though for what it’s worth, I also think the shows have morals and messages, as virtually any show does.)

  • I don’t think there’s an ‘overall’ message in Red Dwarf, but given they’re discussing the series that features Waiting for God, I’d say there are definitely messages there. Almost every episode of 1-VI has a very strong philosophical or psychological point to make.

  • I wish they’d explained the one in Justice a bit better, I was still very unclear on that by the end.

  • Brilliant how these kids were so interested in the show, and clearly cared a lot about seeing another series. Girls, no less! In fact, it’s WELL funny how, after that lad slates the sets in a typical ‘ohhh Doctor Who remember the wobbly sets??’ type way, that girl in the middle is all, and rightly, ‘fuck off nope they’re great’ and he has to accept it. :D Real opinions from teenagers who watched the show, with no spin, no made up quotes. Excellent.

    Actually one of the most fascinating archive videos. Also takes me back to the days when I didn’t hate @SchofeOnWine *cough* I mean Phillip Schofield, with a passion…xD

  • Wait… there are people who hate Philip Schofield? Did I miss a major news item about him or something? Was he named in the Panama Papers?

  • There was a major news item about Schofield about 25 years ago which has an injunction on it the size of Jupiter and even now nobody is allowed to talk about it. So I wouldn’t.

  • Well I just hope that the time comes when Gordon the Gopher gets to tell his side of the story

  • There was a major news item about Schofield about 25 years ago which has an injunction on it the size of Jupiter and even now nobody is allowed to talk about it. So I wouldn’t.

    Well, that’s not going to pique anybody’s interest.

  • Well, that’s not going to pique anybody’s interest.

    Spitting Image in 1992 were braver than I am in 2019.

  • Ah, this makes me nostalgic for the days when everybody would watch the same TV shows and discuss them the next day at school…

  • I think I remember the Spitting Image song Darrell. Was Jason Donovan in it too? I think I spent all of 1992 recording every comedy show that was on.

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