While we’re all working on bigger things for G&T behind the scenes, it’s left to me to keep the front page updated. And what better way to do that than foist some unpleasant off-cuts from an old article onto you?
Here is your plate of raw offal, then. A couple of months back I posted this piece, on the reshoots required for Series 1 to put Holly in-vision. There was one thing I was never quite able to nail down, however, and going after it seemed like an annoying diversion in an already faintly annoying article, so I pretended not to notice and hoped everyone else would happily ignore it as well. Still, perhaps you’re cleverer than me, and can figure out the below mystery. And it concerns a very important scene in the development of Holly.
Yes, it’s the scene from Balance of Power, where Holly is really born, with Rimmer calling Norm – sorry, Holly – a “stupid ugly goit”. As the second episode of the series recorded, it was originally shot with Norman Lovett as just a voice. A later reshoot put Norm in vision, and – aside from a couple of cutaways and the title sequence – it remains the only visual presence Holly has in the episode.
My question: when exactly was this scene reshot?
The answer at first appears obvious. Let’s take a look at what Rob Grant says in this Mr. Flibble interview:
“Well, for some odd reason, the BBC had paid for seven shows, but only wanted six, so we had a spare week at the end of the run to touch up any bits we didn’t like. That included putting Holly in shot on screens on the first couple of shows, because we’d only introduced him after the first few shows.”
So, the answer is: the reshoot happened in the final week, alongside all the other material for The End, correct?
I would suggest that there is a problem here. If all the reshoots happened in the final week, then the below two shots are from that same final session. On the left, the reshot Balance of Power scene, and on the right, a scene reshot and included in the final version of The End:
If both these shots are from the same session, where is the vending machine in the second shot?
OK, I admit, it’s not entirely unexplainable. I’ve been to my fair share of sitcom recordings, and I’ve seen how they mess around with sets, even in front of an audience. But something gives me pause here. I can’t really see any reason why they’d be moving around a vending machine prop during this recording; there is certainly no story need in The End for that rather obvious and crap-looking blank wall. Why wouldn’t you just leave it there for the whole recording?
So, if it wasn’t shot during that final session, when was it shot? The next obvious choice is perhaps the session for Waiting for God – the third episode recorded, and the first for which Holly was in-vision for the majority of the show. In a week where the focus was on putting Norm visually into the show, perhaps it makes sense to record his “introductory” scene at the same time?
But this has a different problem. Again, the reshot Balance of Power scene on the left, and Waiting for God on the right:
Throughout the whole of Waiting for God, Holly is noticeably darker than at any other point in Series 1. (This was their first stab at putting Holly in vision; perhaps they weren’t entirely happy with how it looked, and made some amendments for future episodes?) So if the Balance of Power scene was reshot during the Waiting for God session, Holly would surely have that same, dark look – which he clearly doesn’t.
In which case, what other options are there? Well, there’s the recording sessions for Future Echoes, Confidence & Paranoia, and Me². Of course, all of these feature the Captain’s Office set in some form or another:
To be fair, the scene could have been re-recorded during any one of those episodes. My first instinct was that it was impossible, as we’re used to the vending machine being used to cover the blank wall when the Captain’s Office isn’t present, as in this shot from the original shoot of Balance of Power:
But there’s no reason why the vending machine couldn’t just be bunged in front of the Captain’s Office set. After all, it is needed for the Balance of Power scene, as the Cat is getting his ridiculous amounts of fish from it.
Crucially, though: we don’t actually know, and I haven’t been able to figure it out from what we see on-screen. Hence the above ponderings. Maybe you lot will be able to figure out something which I haven’t. And I’m presuming, if you actually got this far down this stupid piece, this kind of thing keeps you awake at night as well.
I’ll tell you one thing, though. All this makes me very, very jealous of all the research conducted by hundreds of fans for Doctor Who, which has documented pretty much every single production decision and ludicrous piece of trivia associated with the show. You can pick pretty much any scene in Who and not only know exactly when it was shot, but what mood Tom Baker was in when they shot it.
Even if it isn’t a Tom Baker story.