Over the years we’ve written loads of stupid articles here on G&T. But one thing we’ve never got round to is a full list of repeats Red Dwarf has had over the years. So if you want that, you should visit the blog of Christopher Wickham of this very parish, and peruse The Red Dwarf BBC Broadcasts Guide.
Still, one self-confessed omission from that article is anything to do with cable/satellite repeats and the like. I don’t intend to provide a full list of these, because while I might be a moron, I am not an absolute fucking moron. It seems worth asking one question, however: when was the first repeat of Red Dwarf in the UK which was not on the BBC?
Before researching this article, my massively naive guess was: around 1992. UK Gold launched on the 1st November of that year; I’d just assumed that repeats of Red Dwarf had been part of the channel from the very beginning. But then, I never had access to the channel back then; the first time I ever experienced the wonders of multichannel television was in the late 90s, when we got NTL analogue cable, and we couldn’t afford any of the extra pay channels. Instead, I whiled away my days cheating the receiver into giving me 10 minutes of free Television X. Believe me, when you’re 18, 10 minutes is all you need.
Anyway, there is a very easy way of telling when Red Dwarf was first shown on UK Gold, and it doesn’t involve doing any hard research. Just ask people on Twitter, and get them to do that hard work for you. And here is the answer from Jonathan Dent, cross-referencing the Guardian’s TV listings and this Usenet post. The repeats of Red Dwarf on UK Gold started with a double-bill of The End and Future Echoes, and premiered on the 5th October 1997 at 11:05pm.
What I find especially interesting about all this is that it coincides with the 1997 resurgence of Red Dwarf, which started with the first broadcast of Tikka to Ride 10 months previously, along with the programme’s first Radio Times cover. A resurgence which many of us look back on with mixed feelings, to say the least – but very much part of the second wave of the show and its fandom. Being one of those fans who got into Red Dwarf during the 1994 BBC2 repeat season, I had no idea that I was already watching the show way before it got its very first non-terrestrial UK showing. It’s all so much later than the history I had made up entirely by myself in my own head.
Now, would it be too much to hope for that this first broadcast on UK Gold was captured by someone on video? Maybe even with the accompanying – and presumably quite excitable – continuity announcement?