Hang on, I’m writing the G&T Christmas Message for the first time in 13 years? I guess I’d better do some Christmas song references. So: I’m giving Santa a Pikachu this Christmas, I just can’t wait till I am sitting on the bog, and… erm, I got nothing.
Moving swiftly on, then. The last 12 months have been rather surprising in that things have actually happened in the land of Dwarf this year, unlike the mildly disappointing 30th anniversary. Not fast, get there in the end, etc. The biggest news was obviously the Red Dwarf Special, from Danny tweeting a picture of the readthrough, followed a week later by its erm, the official announcement. It perhaps seems unfair to talk about the production of the show never running smoothly – it’s not like there are fansites examining the minutiae of Still Open All Hours audience recordings – but there was a distinct air of familiarity when one of the two audience recordings was postponed until next year. Well it probably is déjà vu, it sounds like it. Luckily, the other recording went off fine – bar Norman Lovett having a cold – and 2020 will hopefully see the second recording rescheduled. If not, at least we can look forward to Chris Barrie shooting linking footage vaguely in-character in 13 years time.
Although in many ways, I don’t know why they’re bothering with any of it. Earlier in the year, Red Dwarf was banished from the artistic roll call forever, by doing some adverts for the AA. (That’s the Automobile Association, not Alcoholics Anonymous, though I can already imagine an ad for the latter in the spectacular taste that Red Dwarf is famous for.) This started with a sighting of a huge Starbug near the Angel of the North, followed by the actual TV advert at the start of July. A radio advert also appeared at the same time, with a second radio ad in late November. The fandom vibe around the adverts seemed to be generally more positive than Red Dwarf XII, a fact which has continued to amuse me for the rest of the year. Also, I’d like a go with the fandom vibe at some point, so whoever has it please pop it in the post, ta.
For those of us who obviously hate every single new piece of Red Dwarf made since 1993, however, the big news this year should have been the Complete Series I-VIII Bluray, released in January. Opinions on this have been mixed at best, and our review certainly reflected the ambivalence. It certainly didn’t help that some of the episodes suffered frame rate issues which the BBC were slow at best to acknowledge; they finally did in February, and replacement discs arrived to people in July. JULY. And we still don’t know whether those replacement discs ever made it into the actual boxsets people buy from retailers. The whole thing left a nasty taste in the mouth, and a distinct feeling of a release done with far less care than the DVDs. Just buy the Python Blu-ray instead.
Away from Red Dwarf, Rob Grant’s sudden and welcome increase in visibility carried on apace this year. While we wait for Series 2 of The Quanderhorn Xperimentations, Grant (along with Andrew Marshall) decided to throw us a curveball. That curveball was The Nether Regions, a Radio 4 sketch show pilot, which when it finally aired in October didn’t really bear much resemblance to the programme as described back in January. For more on the show, listen to our DwarfCast interview with the pair of them. We hang out with all the stars these days.
Ah yes, DwarfCasts. Slightly surprisingly, we actually made a half-decent stab at a proper series of them this year. Pride of place goes to our 100th episode spectacular, which focused on our favourite topic: ourselves. We also finally got round to our Red Dwarf XII retrospectives – Byte One and Byte Two, naturally – and even managed a couple of commentaries, for Emohawk: Polymorph II, and the quite excellent in every single way Ouroboros. Will we manage to do as many episodes next year? Spoiler: no.
In terms of features, I took a look at the dreaded fifth episode syndrome, investigated early reshoots to put Holly in-vision in Series 1, and bored myself and everyone else to tears with the final part of my ad break analysis. Ian, meanwhile, managed to finally bring our long-dormant feature High & Low back from the dead, firstly looking at Holly scenes, and then by celebrating 10 years since Back to Earth. He also talked about how a show set in the future still preserves aspects of the past in amber, and took a trip to the BBC Visual Effects department in 1997. What a clever fellow.
Our regular feature G&TV continued, and achieved the remarkable feat of actually being something we published every month of the the year without missing one, which is something we have never managed before and probably never will again. This year we covered Red Dwarf reusing a set from US drama series Covington Cross, Channel 4 panel show Space Cadets, Red Dwarf’s hull appearing in Filthy, Rich & Catflap, the first series of Rob and Doug sitcom The 10%ers, Mac McDonald appearing as a human jukebox on Tyne Tees kids programme Razzmatazz, Craig Charles hosting virtual reality gameshow Cyberzone, kids giving their opinion on Red Dwarf in Take Two, Sci-Fi Friday Night on Iowa Public Television, KCTS and their special Smegheads in Space, Robert Llewellyn being interviewed on Australian talk show Denton, Chris Barrie being interviewed on ITV’s Night Network, and finally that Smeg Ups rough cut we’ve been meaning to talk about for ages. Bloody hell.
Other nonsense we indulged in this year included figuring out when Red Dwarf was first repeated on UK Gold, and the kind of thought experiment which should get you locked up. Pride of place, however, has to go to us making fun of old Red Dwarf VHSes, which surely has to be the stupidest thing we’ve ever posted on this site. Good.
That was last year. Next year promises to be a surprisingly busy one for Dwarf; as well as the broadcast of the special, we also have three hour-long documentaries on the show to look forward to. (Something which is incredibly easy to forget, but we’d be shouting about them from the rooftops if the news of the special hadn’t overshadowed them.) There’s also Dimension Jump XXI to look forward to in May. I predict that some cast members from popular science fiction comedy series Red Dwarf will show up.
So a Merry Christmas to all of you at home. Thank you for continuing to read and listen to our absolute bollocks, and we’ll see you in SPACE YEAR 2020. And if that Pan-Dimensional Liquid Beast from the Mogadon Cluster turns up, tell him to fuck off back to Hitchhikers. We don’t want his sort around here.