Ho ho ho, Merry Christmas everyone. It was twenty-five years ago this very month that all our mums went out to buy the Smeg Ups tape for us to open on Christmas Day 1994. For Red Dwarf fans of a certain age, this seems to be an almost universal experience, especially the ones like us who are still obsessed with it now – the joy and laughter provided by seeing the cast off-guard and out of character cemented our love for the show, and imbued us with a fondness for and fascination with the behind-the-scenes process too. So what better way to pay tribute than to investigate the process of making the video itself?
At some point during the compiling stage of production, a rough cut was dubbed on to VHS, before any grading, mixing or sound effects were added, and with big “LINK Goes Here” captions in lieu of Llew. This tape somehow made its way out of the edit suite and into the hands of fans, who made copies for their friends, who made copies for their friends, and so on until an extremely low quality version, suffering from multiple layers of analogue generation loss, became a relatively readily available open secret. Inevitably, you can now find it on YouTube. The full length tape is there as an unlisted video, and there’s also a compilation of the most interesting bits:
The sequences in the rough cut bare little resemblance to what was released – as well as the order of the out-takes changing, many of them were originally longer, a surprising number were dropped altogether, and of course the beeps were yet to be added, making this a much swearier viewing experience. Because there’s so much that’s different, we thought we ought to go through it and make a note of all the major changes. As well as all the unused ones, we’ve summarised any significant differences on the ones that were used, and of course jotted down the swear words. We’ve not bothered when it’s just an extra couple of seconds of footage here and there, and we’ve ignored the multiple model shot failures that are dotted around the tape, but there’s still a huge amount to talk about…
1.03 – UNUSED – From Legion, Cat threatens his host with “you come anywhere near me, buddy, you’ll be wearing them… green suits.”
1.14 – UNUSED – Between takes at some point in Series VI, Robert puts on a camp voice to ask “are you alright Craig now, do you know what to do?” Craig responds “do you want to come and teach me”, and coyly runs away for Robert to give chase.
3.13 – UNUSED – A brilliant moment from Dimension Jump:
DANNY: Has anyone seen the keys to the medical cabinet? I feel the sudden urge to suffocate myself with a two pound black ribbed… [dries]
CRAIG: How could you blow that gag?!
CREW: [off-screen] OK, once more, from the same place.
CRAIG: [laughing] Fucking hell! He’s been telling me what he’s going to do with that line all day!
3.45 – UNUSED – Chris, between takes of Meltdown: “That is the way, for all up and coming comics, that’s the way to blow a gag, ok?”
3.50 – UNUSED – A lengthy sequence of pissing about, in the car park location for Back To Reality, while they’re waiting for an aeroplane to pass:
CRAIG: That’s my own personal jet, that’s got to maintain a constant 500 feet.
CRAIG: It’s got to circle, it’s supposed to fly me to the match.
DANNY: What’s it run on, bullshit?
ROBERT: Yo, Danny’s kickin’, man.
ROBERT: This guy is kickin’!
4.44 – UNUSED – A further failed take of the ultimately deleted line from Psirens about the authenticity or otherwise of nurses’ uniforms. Robert gets further than in the smeg up used in the final cut, but then stumbles again, and quips: “Isn’t that quite extraordinary how that can happen to you? One day your mouth is your own, and the next day it belongs to somebody else three hundred miles away.”
5.09 – UNUSED – Two gun-based moments from Meltdown, one where Clayton Mark’s jams when he fires it, another where Queen Victoria actress Alice De Mellet De Bonas recoils from hers when it does go off.
6.31 – SWEARING – The word that’s “not in the script” when Rimmer/Chris is objecting to the previous objection in Justice is “shit”.
8.15 – SWEARING – Ahead of Robert’s song and dance routine when he should be relocating Red Dwarf’s vapour trail in Psirens, he says “oh, fucking hell, what am I doing, yes”.
8.45 – UNUSED – When facing the stellar fog in Out of Time, Rimmer demands “absolute concentration ’til we’re through the squall, this could be… bollocks”.
9.47 – EXTENDED – One of the most famous Smeg Ups of all originally went on for longer. In Meltdown, Craig actually says “they were gonna sort that out in the dub… and you just went and fucked me up, guys!” This is followed by a crew member instructing him to “just mime it” on the next take, and Danny ad-libbing, “that’s funny, that was brick earlier!” Interestingly, the rough cut also includes the previous shot of Lister and Cat activating the matter paddle for context at the start, which the final version omits.
10.59 – SWEARING – The thing reportedly attacking Starbug at the start of Emohawk is a “fuck knows what, actually”.
11.20 – SWEARING – Unsurprisingly, Robert’s exclamation when a series of explosions are detonated on his person during the filming of Gunmen is “fucking hell!”
11.56 – EXTENDED – After the vase falls apart in his hand before he has chance to hit Rimmer with it in Legion, Robert pauses and quips “I never quite made it with the vase, sir”.
12.15 – UNUSED – A very brief and very murky shot from Dimension Jump, where the Cat’s medical trolley fails to move when action is called.
12.24 – SWEARING – Other than an excuse to publish a load of swear words, the reason we’re bothering to log these is for things like this. Without the beep over Chris’s “fuck” in the Meltdown out-take that ends with “there’s an aircraft overhead as well”, it’s clearer that Chris stumbles over his line beforehand, and that the swearing is in reaction to that rather than the plane.
12.56 – UNUSED – A section of location footage from Terrorform, with the guys rowing their boat semi-successfully until they crash into the bank; similar footage was eventually used in the Series V DVD documentary Heavy Science.
13.36 – EXTENDED – The “lor-la-lor-la” outtake from Rimmerworld begins here with Rimmer’s preceding line about Simulants having food supplies, during which the boom mic is veering wildly all over the shot above Chris’s head.
13.56 – CONTRACTED – For some reason, this version of the luck virus out-take from Quarantine cuts straight from Robert’s “wibbley wobbley hoobly hoobly hoo” to Craig’s “well you haven’t got it then, have you?”, omitting “bibbley bobbley boo”. A rare example of there being more rushes material in the final release than in the rough cut.
14.21 – UNUSED – Following the “epidural” line in DNA, Chris becomes alarmed when Craig starts gently slapping his own face, and hesitates before asking “sorry, are you acting?”. When Craig clarifies that he was, Chris explains “I thought you were saying ‘oh shit, I fucked up the line'”.
14.55 – UNUSED – Clayton Mark’s gun jams again. He says “fuck”. This is followed by another take of Queen Victoria with a gun, but this time hers too fails to go off.
15.15 – UNUSED – After a successful short take of Craig saying “he is really beginning to get on my pecs” from Holoship, he gives Robert a little kiss on the cheek and walks off. It’s really rather nice.
15.26 – UNUSED – Craig pauses during the original shoot of the opening scene of Demons & Angels to insist that he’s “not eating the one with the maggots on”, and we get a good look at the strawberry in question – unlike the enclosed maggots in the final version of the episode, this is an actual strawberry with a load of maggots plonked on the top.
15.47 – EXTENDED – An extra little bit at the start of this out-take from Rimmerworld, in which Chris asks a crew member “so from the ‘flaw’ line, yeah?”. Then after Robert corpses, we see him say “sorry, I’m here, I’m here”. Also, this third cock up from the same scene is on its own here, whereas it’s placed in one long sequence with its brethren on the final tape.
16.06 – UNUSED/EXTENDED – It would appear that the iconic moment where Robert cacked his pants actually took place in the middle of a much longer period of pissing about, although thanks to the poor quality of this copy, we can’t quite tell for sure that it’s been been spliced in from elsewhere. It’s definitely from the same scene though, and it does all seem to flow. Like some cack.
CHRIS: He’s making it up, isn’t he? The bloody book doesn’t exist!
ROBERT: Sir, I assure you…
CHRIS: Why are they only ever used against me? Why does he never use them against Lister? Why do we never hear him quoting Space Corps Directives that state clear… [vaguely Chinese voice] cha choo taiii… [vaguely Robert-esque voice] It’s a longy, this one. It’s a very long one but I’m going to have a go at it again. And I think it’s going to be absolutely wonderful again. I don’t know why but… [normal voice] I’m impersonating Robert.
ROBERT: [exaggerated version of his own voice] I don’t know why you’re trying to talk like me, I don’t talk like that at all.
CHRIS: [David Coleman] I do it a bit like David Coleman on most of them, eeeeerr…
ROBERT: [David Coleman] Eeeeeeeerr… Extraordinary!
CHRIS: [David Coleman] Extraordinary! Everyone can do it. You can all do it. Extraordinary.
[The cast all do bits of David Coleman.]
CHRIS: Extraordinary! Absolutely extraordinary!
CREW: Kryten’s line, “sir I assure you”.
ROBERT: I’ve just cacked me pants.
[The camera tilts down to Robert’s undercarriage, and shakes from side to side.]
ROBERT: It were, it were bloody lovely. That feeling when it all just goes, you know.
CHRIS: Confusing old speech.
ROBERT: It is a confusing old speech. It would kill me, let me tell you. There’d be big boards everywhere, everybody would be holding them up by now. [He does the cacked pants face again, and points to his head.] Empty up there, bloody empty. It’s all come out me pants.
17.33 – UNUSED/SWEARING – Following a couple of establishing shots of a crashed Starbug and Kryten trapped in the wreckage, a take of Lister using the blowtorch in which his dialogue is completely drowned out by the noise of the tool. He turns it off and says what sounds like “I can’t hear a fuck with this”. We then see Kryten’s line about a can of sardines before cutting back to the out-take that is used in the final tape, except we get to hear the word “fucking” preceding “knob”.
18.57 – EXTENDED – The multiple takes of the “we don’t exist here any more” bit are presented as one continuous shot, without the cuts where it’s trimmed slightly in the final video. Nothing much in the extra bits other than studio floor chatter, but fascinating nonetheless. However, this cut only includes the bits of business with the piece of paper; rather than opening with Robert’s original paperless fluff, this is found later in the rough cut, and his successful take that ends the released version is missing entirely.
19.52 – UNUSED – A camera push into Chris in full holovirus costume goes too far, and it ends up hitting him in the face.
20.01 – UNUSED – An out-take from Legion in which the eponymous gestalt invites Kryten to join the table for dinner, and then fails to sit down because he “can’t see the fucking chair”.
21.13 – UNUSED – From Quarantine, a crew member carefully positions the fireaxe in its case ready for a take, but it falls out the second he steps away.
23.29 – UNUSED – A static shot of Legion while, off camera, Robert practices his line about off-world eating techniques. “Piece of piss that line, I don’t know what the problem is.”
24.08 – SWEARING – Interestingly on this one, you can barely actually hear Craig say the offending word in “that fucking cigarette” without the beep, but with the tape quality it’s not clear if it’s Craig going quieter to self-censor, or if the audio’s been dipped in the edit, or if it’s just a coincidentally-timed fault.
24.55 – UNUSED – The bit where future Kryten attacks The Inquistor, except his visor keeps sliding back down every time it gets lifted up. We then get to hear a bit of Robert and Jack Doherty discussing how best to work around it, which is a little nugget of gold.
25.21 – UNUSED – Another bit of Queen Victoria with her machine gun; this time it’s relatively successful, and so the crew applaud with relief.
25.47 – UNUSED – And another Clayton Mark one, where once again his gun fails to fire.
25.54 – UNUSED – One out-take from this deleted Terrorform scene made it on to the tape, the one where Chris flubs a line about ordering Kryten to don his old spacesuit, and segues into a Kenneth Williams impression. This is the first of two further moments from that scene that only appear here, this one coming as Robert and Chris wait for another take to start, and Robert starts laughing:
ROBERT: It’s your fucking nostrils, they’re like… This close… This close, ladies and gentlemen, believe me, they’re big. Extraordinary.
CRAIG: Trans Am wheel arch nostrils.
ROBERT: I can see right up into his brain, ladies and gentlemen. Quite extraordinary.
26.49 – EXTENDED – A longer version of the “but I will still have control” out-take from Holoship. It starts with Robert waiting for an off-camera noise to die down, saying “there was a pig in the audience I think there for a moment, I didn’t think they could get tickets, I didn’t realise”. When Chris eventually gives him the feed line, he completely dries, turning to the audience to say “it’s amazing how blank your mind can go, isn’t it?”. After receiving a prompt from a crew member, the sequence continues into the material that was kept for the final version. Curiously, the final bad take, where Robert just bursts into laughter as soon as Chris finishes speaking, was included on its own much earlier in the tape, and doesn’t work nearly as well out of context.
28.40 – SWEARING – “Fuck” is the naughty word that Rimmer’s Mum says to give Young Rimmer the giggles.
29.26 – UNUSED – A very short moment between takes in Holoship, where Danny leans out of the way of the make-up woman who’s trying to touch him up.
29.31 – UNUSED – This is the other extra bit from that Terrorform deleted scene, the infamous Captain Bollocks out-take. Whether it was a deliberate reference or otherwise, Doug eventually used the phrase to great effect in Give & Take, which spawned its use on official t-shirts. The fact that the t-shirts appeared in the online shop before the episode actually aired was a source of great confusion to those who’d seen this rough cut. Before the main event, this out-take starts with an additional bit of pissing about, after Craig complains about how hot his hat is:
CRAIG: It’s like I’ve got a dead polar bear on my head.
ROBERT: I’ve got a dead condom on mine, sir.
CRAIG: You’re wearing one too.
DANNY: That’s why they call him ‘dickhead’.
CRAIG: [laughing] “That’s why they call him ‘dickhead'”!
CHRIS: [back in character] I then order you to don my old spacesuit, the one with the word… oh, bollocks.
ROBERT: Oh, I love that one! The one with “oh bollocks”, sir! Very nice.
DANNY: Captain Bollocks!
ROBERT: Captain Bollocks! He was a great man.
CRAIG: Captain O.J. Bollocks.
CHRIS: [Ronald Reagan voice] That’s one in the eye for those who call me an asshole.
31.23 – UNUSED – A lovely moment of Nicholas Ball as the Simulant in Justice preparing for a take:
Well? Say something. Erm… Well, yes indeed. Hold on, we’ll get all this right in a minute. I’ve just stabbed meself in the arse.
31.37 – UNUSED – This one confused me initially – it’s Robert coughing and then mentioning “a little bit of robo-phlegm”, but not the out-take that’s used in the final tape. That’s from Justice, but this is from The Inquisitor, in the middle of his speech explaining the myth. As an added bonus, on this occasion he goes on to add that the robo-phlegm “completely fucked up my breathing tube apparatus”.
And sadly that’s the last complete out-take on the tape – every version I’ve seen over the years either ends here or a few seconds into the next clip, a used smeg up from Psirens. All the copies that are currently out there are clearly derived from the same source. As with most things about this curiosity, it’s unclear how much longer it’s supposed to run for, and whether there are any more lovely juicy unused or extended bits that we’re still missing out on due to this copy being the one that everyone else copied. The campaign for a Just The Complete Unedited Rushes For Every Episode Ever boxset in time for next Christmas starts now.