We have something interesting for you today.

Parallel Universe script cover

Cor. Right, go and do what you need to do, and come back when you’re finished.

Back? Excellent. Firstly, many thanks to Keith Jacobsen for the above picture, who you will be unsurprised to hear worked on Series 2 of Red Dwarf. The revelations you can get out of something like this are many and varied. So let’s just concentrate on one thing. Because I know the kind of thing which really excites you all. And that is: recording dates for Tongue Tied.

List of scenes to be recorded

A quick recap. Parallel Universe, despite being the last episode broadcast of Series 2, was the penultimate episode recorded – on the 25th/26th of June 1988. Queeg was the last episode recorded, on the 2nd/3rd of July 1988. Which means the following note is extremely interesting:


Which is a full week later than Queeg!

It’s when you read things like this that you understand how many dodgy assumptions we’ve all made about the production of Red Dwarf over the years. In my head, I had always assumed that Tongue Tied was just recorded during Parallel Universe‘s pre-record day, on the 25th June. The fact there was an entire two days of recording after the series had finished – containing one of the show’s most famous sequences – has never been documented anywhere publicly before. It’s at this point you realise exactly how spoilt Doctor Who fandom is for this kind of production information – so many people have done so much legwork over the years. With Red Dwarf, there is still so much left to discover.

It also leaves us with something else to ponder. The documentary The Beginning on The Bodysnatcher Collection documented something major which had never been talked about before: that Series 1 had seven episodes commissioned, seven recording dates, but only delivered six shows. Here we find out that Series 2 had a similar situation: there were two whole recording days spare for other things, after the last episode had been recorded. It makes you wonder what other things we just don’t know. Did Series III have similar extra recording days at the end of the series?

Finally: it brings home the fact that when Parallel Universe was shot, the studio audience didn’t even see the best-remembered sequence of the show. Where does the audience reaction come from for the sequence? Real laughs? Canned laughs?

Anyway, a few things to think about. And we haven’t even started considering the code NGTV 029 on the front page of the script. NGTV will be Noel Gay Television; as this is show 5, presumably the first four episodes of the series are NGTV 025 – 028. Series 1 of Red Dwarf will take up six more of the numbers… leaving 18 unaccounted for. So if you fancy speculation about the production codes of early Noel Gay productions, this is an ideal opportunity.

Oh, go on then, one more little tidbit:

Cast List

Peter Simon did warm-up.

I need a lie down now.

16 comments on “NGTV 029

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  • The cast are always going on about how having anything to do with Red Dwarf short term gets you a better career than them, Peter Simon did a wet fart and soiled himself on Bid Up TV once so that’s another one to add to the list.

  • Loving that font on RED DWARF II, the effort put into that, even if the stuff at the top makes it look like it’s badly copied and makes it slightly harder to read.

    I also like how, removed from context, it looks like the episode contains 59 shots of “SLEEPING”

  • The audience laughter on Tongue Tied *does* sound a little odd once you watch it with this in mind, doesn’t it? Did the audience on the recording night still see the Cat looking through the dream-viewer? I suppose it does still make sense even with Tongue Tied missing, so presumably yes, but was it explained to them that there was a huge musical production number missing that they hadn’t filmed yet?

    If Series 2 also had seven recording slots but six episodes delivered, was it a similar deal to Series 1 and simply nobody at the BBC ever noticed, or did someone request it having remembered how it was needed for the first series?

  • Perhaps Tongue Tied was shown to a private audience to get a laughtrack. A bit like how the BBC organised a special private showing of the first episode of The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy in order to record a laughtrack (as was policy at the time).

  • Wow!

    I’ve always wondered if the Tongue Tied laugh track was fake anyway because there’s laughs on the Holly bits which can’t possibly have been ready by the audience night.

    It wasn’t that uncommon by this stage of course, the technology was getting good enough to make it straightforward. Naming no Blackadder Christmas specials comprised almost entirely of canned laughter… again…

  • One other thing: it seems really odd to me that Tongue Tied would take two whole days to record. Surely it wouldn’t have taken more than a single day at most?

    It makes me wonder whether they did any other shoots – or reshoots – at the same time.

  • They’d have needed to learn the routine and rehearse it, I imagine that took up a fair chunk of one day. The actual recording of he sequence probably didn’t take too long once they had it down, a few takes over a couple of hours. But also imagine there were likely other pick ups done at some point in those two days too.

  • Well, there’s the key – what were they doing the week *before* those two shooting days? Were they back at Acton like the rest of the series, rehearsing the dance? That’s kinda what I assumed, and that far less rehearsal would actually be needed using expensive studio time, but who knows?

  • Had the standing sets been struck by the time they shot Tongue Tied? If so that narrows down what else they could have been up to. Rimmer’s ‘Someone To Watch Over Me’ dream?

    Or was day 2 for Norman? Or post?

  • Why does seeing the front of that script almost make me well up…? (with no ‘almost’ about it, as you well know)

  • Amusing to see the series referred to as Red Dwarf II on the front. What would it be, 3 years before the VHS release?

  • Also: Given Charles Augins was cast as Queeg because of his involvement in choreographing Tongue Tied, presumably they were already putting the number together several weeks before it was shot if it was actually done *after* Queeg was filmed?

  • Charles Augins worked with Danny on Labyrinth in 1986 though as well, so he wasn’t an interloper. Interestingly Gates McFadden was their choreographer on that, I think her very last work for Jim Henson, or as a movement coach generally, before Star Trek came knocking.

    But I’m guessing the prep time on Tongue Tied was crazy anyway. Even the track got done twice, although it’s hard to verify the actual chronology about that. The version as filmed is still shows surviving evidence (the dancers and ‘live vision-mix’ aesthetic) of being conceived as a pastiche of the Chain Reaction video, even though the playback track had metamorphosed into something that was no longer a pastiche of that song. Wonder if they’d ever planned to turn it black and white…

  • Also: Given Charles Augins was cast as Queeg because of his involvement in choreographing Tongue Tied, presumably they were already putting the number together several weeks before it was shot if it was actually done *after* Queeg was filmed?

    The cast (and Ed Bye) have said a few times that almost the whole week of rehearsal for the episode was taken up with rehearsing the number, which was frustrating for nearly everyone but Danny by all accounts. Why, when they evidently recorded it a fortnight later? … Now there’s a mystery.

    Though even then, you’d expect Queeg to have been cast rather before that. Maybe they met Charles Augins as a potential choreographer before or early on in production of the series, early enough to also be able to cast him as Queeg.

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