After the merest Morse-based mumblings on Thursday afternoon, the news we’ve all been waiting for dropped in the very early hours of Friday morning. It’s quite late at night and we’ve got work in the morning, so here’s the short version: NEW FEATURE LENGTH SPECIAL! THREE-PART RETROSPECTIVE DOCUMENTARY! LIVE AUDIENCE! RECORDING IN DECEMBER! AIRING NEXT YEAR! TOS, of course, has some finer details, and here are our initial bleary-eyed thoughts…
Firstly, hooray! After so many false dawns and irritating gun-jumping incidents over the last couple of years, it’s great that it’s finally official (for real this time, Digital Spy). It’s perhaps not quite what we were expecting prior to last week’s cast picture giving a bit of the game away, but it is now confirmed that Red Dwarf will be returning in the form of a feature-length special; we don’t know exactly what length Doug has in store for us, but to us “feature-length” implies something around 90 minutes long, hopefully in terms of actual running time rather than its advert-laden broadcast slot. Some fans are already being entitled pricks about not getting a full-length series, but come on, people. We’ll take what we can get at this stage after another barren few years, and we’d rather have about half a series’ worth of Red Dwarf than no Red Dwarf at all.
Whatever the duration, it will be recorded across two studio dates on December the 6th and 13th. Given the amount of material they usually get through on an average audience night, expect a fair bit of pre-recorded stuff – the article does mention that at least some of it will be filmed on location. Tickets are once again being distributed through a ballot system, which really is the best and fairest way of doing it. It’s open from midday Friday until midday Monday, through Lost in TV. It feels like it’s all happening very fast, but there’ll still be roughly a month’s notice between the lucky winners being notified and the day they have the schlep to Pinewood.
Yes, Pinewood, back there as per Series XI & XII rather than returning to its former home of Shepperton. Another piece of continuity from that run, and one that’s very welcome indeed, is that Baby Cow are once again on board. Interestingly, they’re the only production company referenced in the article (in conjunction with the special), and are listed merely as the producer rather than co-producers. With Kerry Waddell and Henry Normal having since departed Baby Cow, Richard Naylor is seemingly the sole producer, and we welcome Christine Langan, Baby Cow’s new CEO with a hugely impressive track record, as executive producer. Needless to say, Doug’s writing and directing, and all the cast are back.
But that’s not all! As well as the special, we’re also getting treated to 3×60′ retrospective documentaries, produced by North One, who have previously made similar docs on The Young Ones and Only Fools And Horses for UKTV. We’re promised “a wealth of rare and unbroadcast material”, which is obviously mouth-watering, although bear in mind that “unbroadcast” doesn’t necessarily preclude stuff that’s already been released on DVD. Regardless, I’m fantasising about the possibility that someone somewhere is sifting through twelve series’ worth of rushes as we speak.
As for when all this will be broadcast, “2020” is as specific as it gets at this point; based on past form we’d say it’ll be the latter half of the year, but with less post-production time needed for a special than a series, perhaps it could be sooner than we think. So yeah, this is pretty good news, isn’t it? And no doubt there’s much more news to come, increasingly rapidly for the rest of the year. And there was us worried that the AA advert would be all we were getting.