Red Dwarf Special - Set Report (Byte 2) featured image

This article discusses the Red Dwarf Special whilst adhering to G&T’s spoiler policy. Please ensure your comments do likewise…

The concluding part of a very long episode of Red Dwarf has been recorded in front of an audience for the first time this decade. Well, for the first time ever, come to think of it. G&T were there.

It’s a now-familiar journey to Pinewood for Red Dwarf fans lucky enough to get tickets or brave enough to risk it on a standby, but the studio seemed a lot busier than it did for the first recording. Despite the rearranged nature of this event leading to fears that attendance may be affected, the marquee was packed to the wind-swept rafters, with the security team sensibly electing to conduct their checks inside this time, away from the bitter cold that the snaking queue outside had to endure. The higher than average number of production guests included James Baxter, who brought his Dwarf character to mind when he went through the security checks and posed with his arms outstretched.

Perhaps the reason for the high turnout is that it’s much easier to get to the relatively remote studios in good time on a Saturday, with attendance not reliant on time off work for the majority of people, making last minute drop outs less likely for ticket-holders and production guests alike. And as usual, there were many who took a punt on the standby list, all of which meant, unfortunately, there were far more people than there were seats. My wristband was #154, but by the time I made it into the studio in my batch of 50, there were only single spaces left. Later, it emerged that some people were sitting on the floor, for more than three hours. [EDIT: As clarified in the comments by, erm, Rodney Trotter, the people who were described by the warm-up as “sitting on the floor” were in fact on chairs, they were just extra chairs that had been plonked on the side rather than part of the main seating.]

But there were many more that didn’t get in at all. We’ve heard that some of those people were ones with supposedly guaranteed entry tickets, yet we’ve had numerous reports that a few people on standby tickets managed to make it in. We can’t be sure exactly what happened, but it seems that some seats had been become unavailable at relatively late notice; one friend of ours who didn’t make it in was told that around 40 seats had been removed because the cameras needed more room, while another explanation could be that a group of thirty local film students were in attendance. Either way, it would seem that the night was accidentally over-subscribed, which is the default setting for almost all television recordings, but extremely rare for Red Dwarf. It’s hard to know what could have been differently, and not being able to squeeze everyone in was clearly not for the want of trying, but it must have been heartbreaking for those who missed out, and it’s an issue that shouldn’t be allowed to happen again.

Those who did successfully complete the journey from tent to studio were once again instructed multiple times to ensure their phones were off along the way, with the security team even more over-zealous in this mission than last time. At one point we were made to show our blank screens to three different people in the space of one minute and around twenty metres as we bottlenecked through a single-file gate, after which we were told off for the fact that the queue had broken off into chunks. It has to be said that some, though not all, members of the security team were decidedly unfriendly and at times downright rude to the fans. At the end of the recording, the left-most section of the audience was ushered out while the cast were still taking their bows, and barked at to hurry up when we paused to put our coats on. All entirely unnecessary and extremely annoying.

But anyway, let’s loosen our tight diamond shoes and talk about the show itself. We were sad to read during the afternoon that the always-brilliant Ian Boldsworth was ill and unable to make it, but we knew when we were in safe hands when we were greeted by Mark Olver, one of the finest and most experienced warm up people in the business. Like Boldsworth, he favours a conversational style with the audience, getting through the night by generally being amiable and gently amusing rather than trying to squeeze bits of material into gaps of unknown length. He also professed to being a Red Dwarf fan, and he showed great judgement throughout the night of knowing when to intervene and when to just hold back and let us enjoy the studio atmosphere – the golden rule for most television recordings is that all lulls must be covered, but Red Dwarf is not most television recordings, and Olver knew this.

Much of the audience interaction was on the topic of best and worst snacks, with Mark’s views on Roast Beef being the superior Monster Munch flavour, and what does and doesn’t qualify as a “two fingered snack”, proving controversial at times. There were also running threads about the shittest towns the audience had come from, and regarding the youngest member of the crowd, 12-year-old George, and all the things that he’s too young to remember. The comedic highlight was when Mark was teasing a Liverpool fan in the crowd that he knew the final score of their game against Tottenham Hotspur, but wasn’t going to tell him, only for a beaming Craig Charles to bound over shouting “Liverpool 1 Spurs 0, come fucking on!”

Following the customary welcome from Doug and introductions for the cast – including three guest characters that had appeared only on VT at the first recording, but were needed on the night this time – the evening’s entertainment started with a seventeen-minute cutdown of the first half of the Special. This brings to mind the precedent set by the Back In The Red (Part Three) recording over twenty years ago, which similarly had to bring attendees up to speed; based on a show of hands conducted by Mark, the vast majority of this audience hadn’t been there for the first part. All the plot-relevant bits were included, along with a few gags that it transpired would pay off during the second recording, but anything that wasn’t strictly vital was chopped out, with some whole scenes replaced by captions.

The VT ended with one short scene that wasn’t captured on the first audience night, instead being a pre-recorded scene that happened to be the first bit of business for the second half of the show. Our first live scene of the night took place in Starbug’s cockpit, which had been moved from its usual position in the corner, instead placed slap bang in the middle, in front of the Red Dwarf corridor and bunk room. What’s more, it had been rotated to accommodate the mid-section, similarly moved to be in view of the audience for the first time. Each and every scene recorded in front of the audience took place on these two sets, although there were plenty more glimpsed on VT. They shot a large number of different scenes with similar set-ups, interspersed with lots of relatively short pre-recorded bits, and illustrated with mock-ups of effects shots. As the cockpit is a four-walled set, the new position didn’t make much difference in terms of visibility for the audience, but confining the live action to one location meant much less resetting and repositioning between scenes, allowing the action to unfold smoothly and with very few gaps. Or at least, very few gaps for that particular reason.

We mentioned last time that there were much fewer mistakes and retakes than usual, and that seemed to have carried over when the opening short scene initially went off without a hitch. But this didn’t last long, and for the majority of the night they struggled to get through more than a few lines at a time without something going wrong, be it a forgotten line or a blocking problem whereby the camera’s view of one character was obscured by the positioning of another. Thankfully, the atmosphere didn’t suffer, and there was a lot of laughter and light-heartedness from the cast throughout the process. There are one or two Smeg Ups that will potentially go down as all-time greats, but would be impossible to describe now without giving away too much context. The old favourites were referenced too, with Robert cacking his pants at one stage, and Chris combining two of his standbys into one glorious whole – the vaguely-Italian sounding gobbledygook he flows into when he stumbles over a line, but done in Kenneth Williams’s voice.

There were also a number of technical issues throughout the night, with floor manager Matt bemoaning gremlins in the system, most of which seemed to involve lights going out, unexplained noise, or bits of set falling off. As the evening wore on and tiredness set in, the series of niggly short delays added up to a realisation that the shoot was running behind, and the mood did drop a little for a brief period, during which the cast seemed more frustrated than amused by cock-ups – but notably only ever getting annoyed with themselves, there was always a palpable sense of supportive camaraderie between the guys.

And while the multiple retakes interrupted the flow of the episode for the audience, thus making the pace of the story impossible to judge and the scene count incredibly difficult to approximate, they may have had positive consequences for the finished show. After the third or fourth false start for one particular scene, a note came down from the gallery via Matt for Craig to insert an extra line into the set-up for a gag, which consequently got a much bigger laugh than it did beforehand. The script for a Red Dwarf episode being improved by rewrites happening right before the audience’s eyes. It’s a classic tale.

The biggest technical problem occurred right at the end, when the live action was done with and the episode concluded with ten minutes or so of pre-recorded VT. The lights were dimmed, the video played… and then the dialogue disappeared a few seconds in. The music and sound effects were there, but not the speech. Playback was swiftly stopped, while the audience were literally kept in the dark, with the not-yet-fully-wrapped cast milling about bored – we’re very much looking forward to seeing whether the lengthy tour of the darkened studio that Danny filmed on his mobile phone will ever make it online. Eventually, floor manager Matt explained that they’d “lost” the dialogue in the edit, but gave us the gist of what was said before playback resumed. It seemed to be quite a crucial bit that had been missed, but at least it gives attendees something new to look forward to on broadcast, assuming they find it again.

After that, all that was left was a couple of pick-ups of individual shots from across the evening, before the cast took their bows, Danny got on the mic to ensure the hard-working crew got their ovation too, and we were ushered back into the cold Iver night to mull over what we’d witnessed. We’re not going to pass judgement on anything at this stage, especially as we’re hopefully not too far away from broadcast when you can make your minds up without any pre-conceptions, but to answer some specific questions that were asked of us: it’s very much an ensemble piece; the plot is at the forefront, is multi-faceted and is suitably incident-packed for the running time; there’s also enough character work to ensure at least some emotional impact; and almost all the bits that were set up in the first half are resolved in the second, but not all.

The ultimate question remains: is this one last hurrah for Red Dwarf, or the start of a new way of keeping the show going for a fifth straight decade? At this stage, it could still be either. There was a real sense of celebration throughout the evening; partly due to the content of the Special itself, partly because of the end-of-term atmosphere that will always permeate the final night of any production, regardless of length. While the bonhomie between cast and crew, along with the obvious affection within the core group firmly on display, could be interpreted as an indication that this is goodbye, there was also no clear reason why they wouldn’t want to do this all again, and again, and again. But regardless of what happens next, and indeed how it all turns out in the edit and is received on broadcast, the main feeling we’re left with after seeing the recording of the Red Dwarf Special is appreciation of just how special Red Dwarf is.

TINY TEASER: Moonlight
VERY APPROXIMATE SCENE COUNT: 34 (total: 84)
APPROXIMATE SMEG COUNT: 1 (total: 2)

Pictures lovingly stolen from the social media accounts of Danny John-Jules, Matthew Clark and The Official Red Dwarf Fan Club.

120 comments on “Red Dwarf Special – Set Report (Byte 2)

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  • Nice write-up, thanks. Gives a flavour without giving too much away. The reference to the content of the story makes me think this is going to be a little more than just an extra-long regular episode.

    Organisation of the non-show aspects sounds poor though. Glad I didn’t chance it on a standby ticket and a real shame that some of those with guaranteed tickets got turned away.

  • You’re not kidding about security being rude. When they started organising the queues to let us in, I had to get a security escort to the toilet. Despite this, a second security guard screamed at me and accused me of trying to sneak in without a ticket. When I finally got in the cubicle a third showed up and I could hear three security guards loudly arguing about the whole thing. It’s the most contentious piss I’ve ever had.

  • Interesting that they moved the Starbug set to be front and center for this part so it must have a bigger role to play in this part of the piece. Nice to read they have included the midsection properly it seems this time, hopefully that means we will see the boys walk around Starbug and not have cuts from them sitting to them standing in the midsection and that silly door blocking it off.

  • Thanks for the write up and for responding to my specific enquiry, Ian. Great stuff as always.

    I am wondering if the mid-section set has had any updates since the last series, as it sounds like it is a main set in this episode compared to Timewave where the set felt a bit thrown together for that one scene.

  • Excellent report. Thank you.

    Pickled Onion Monster Munch are best, but pickled onion Space Raiders are even better.

  • “Later, it emerged that some people were sitting on the floor, for more than three hours.”

    Just on this – assuming you mean in the studio… I was in the stands on the very far left. The ones who came in right at the end and were ‘on the floor’ all had chairs. They just weren’t in the stalls with the rest of us :)

    And Milky Ways are ‘thumbs’. Definitely not a two-fingered snack!

    Great writeup of a great evening.

  • Ah, thanks for clarifying, Rodney Trotter. You plonker. I only had Mark Olver saying “there’s people over there sitting on the floor” to go on, as I couldn’t see anyone from where I was sat – your explanation makes much more sense!

  • what does and doesn’t qualify as a “two fingered snack”

    what the fuck is a two-fingered snack? you stick two fingers up your ass while eating it, or…?

  • what the fuck is a two-fingered snack?

    It’s a snack, right, that consists of two fingers. Like a Kit-Kat, Drifter, Twix or Kinder Bueno. There was some debate as to whether a Bounty counts, and one particularly witty and devilishly handsome member of the audience received a round of applause for suggesting they were more like thumbs.

  • Thanks for the report – was present for the first recording night, so I’m excited to see how it all wraps up in the second half when the show eventually airs~! = )

    Great to hear they’ve changed the layout for night two to allow for Starbug’s rooms to be properly interconnected – the lack of this was one of my main gripes with XI and XII’s Starbug scenes (and was thus something I was excited to see in the AA advert), so it’s nice to see the team have addressed this for what sounds like some more Starbug-heavy scenes.

  • I was on standby and didn’t get in. I only live 25 minutes away so it wasn’t a massive ballache, just a bit disappointing. I can tell you the reason some on standby got in and some guaranteed tickets didn’t was because the shouty guy forgot to mention in the first ‘purple wristband numbered 1-50’ call that it didn’t mean you if you had a squiggle next to your number. He came back in to clarify but by then some would have already (without being insidious about it) got through leaving little to no space for people with regular tickets.

    A shame. Organisation did seem very lacking.

    Very glad to read the set report though. Excited to see the special when it airs.

  • Commiserations on the wasted trip. Always a chance with standby, but it sounds like they could have bossed this one a lot better. I’d be mighty pissed off if I was turned away with a full ticket though, so real shame for those guys. There were people we chatted to at the December recording, who’d come specially from Holland, so the cost/time element for some people to travel can be very high.

  • The shouty guy forgot to mention in the first ‘purple wristband numbered 1-50’ call that it didn’t mean you if you had a squiggle next to your number. He came back in to clarify but by then some would have already (without being insidious about it) got through leaving little to no space for people with regular tickets.

    This definitely happened. I was on standby too, and when purple wristbands were called I made my way to the door and was basically berated by the chap and sternly told I was on standby, and shouldn’t have been approaching the door.

    I literally had no idea there were other purple wristbands, seems like a massive oversight to make them the same colour.

    As I was going through there was a moments hesitation before he realised I had the “standby squiggle” and I got the telling off, so I wouldn’t be surprised if some did slip through as you say.

    You never know what you’re going to get with standby, but this one didn’t go too well!

  • So the guaranteed entry ticket holders had purple wristbands with numbers on them, and the standby ticket holders had purple wristbands with numbers on them, and squiggles next to the numbers…

    HENNIMORE!!!!!

    What a shitshow. I hope there’s some kind of recompense for the people who didn’t get in even though they had guaranteed tickets.

  • I was on standby and after being told I wasn’t getting in one of the Lost In TV guys scanned my ticket and said it would be valid for the next recording (if there ever is one!) So hopefully not a wasted trip… But apparently guaranteed entry doesn’t mean guaranteed entry anymore! 🤷‍♂️

  • Sad to hear so many people had problems with entry this time around – nothing like that happened on the first night to my knowledge!

    To anyone affected, I’d suggest politely reporting your experience to Lost in TV via their e-mail (info@lostintv.com) – the more aware they are of the issues, the more likely they are to take steps to avoid them if there’s another series/special in future.

  • unfortunately, “make it up to you somehow” will probably mean a free blu-ray boxset, complete with dodgy discs.

  • “Is this a purple wristband? Does this look anything remotely like a purple wristband? THIS is a purple wristband….”

  • seems like a massive oversight to make them the same colour.

    100%

    My partner and I both did the same as you. He let her through and clocked the mistake with me, so called her back. Quite a few of that first block went in meaning you can guarantee some standby tickets went in hence the overfill.

    Like I say, the journey there and back is negligible for me so it wasn’t a mega pain. But I feel for those who made a long trip, especially if they had guaranteed entry but didn’t get in and am a little annoyed by the organisation and behaviour of the staff.

  • Playing devil’s advocaat, the “squiggles” on the standby wristbands were an ‘S’ for standby. They should definitely have been different colours to avoid all ambiguity, but I’d say the standby people who stepped forward when the first 1-50 wristbands were called – knowing that nobody else had gone through to the studio yet – were probably just chancing their arm.

  • For experienced recording goers, yes. Having never been to one before and being handed a purple wristband with the words, “You’re numbers 37 and 38,” we had no idea whatsoever that that squiggle was an s or important at all.

    We thought it quite soon for us to go through but be fair. “Purple wristbands numbers 1-50 were exactly what we were told we were upon entry. I don’t think it was chancing arms, we went perfectly innocently, if surprised.

    Sure, maybe some were in there knowing full well but I do tji k the blame with guaranteed tickets not getting in are with the staff and not the audience.

  • Playing devil’s advocaat

    I was going to laugh at the fool who’d typed “advocaat” (a drink) instead of “advocate”(a supporter type), but then I realised that it was the boy Symes, and he presumably meant it.

  • The second the bloke had a problem with me for coming up to the door with a standby wristband it all clicked into place in my head – I realised there must be other purple wristbands and that’s why he’s so annoyed as we must’ve seemed to him like we weren’t following instructions.

    Sadly we didn’t have that info on the wristbands prior to that encounter though, but it instantly made sense and we sat back down and didn’t make a peep after that. Just a bit of an unfortunate situation, no one to blame really.

    I do see how you could come to the conclusion some were chancing it, and I bet some were. For me it was just, when your wristband colour is called and you have no idea there’s another type, it was natural to stand up and head over.

    That’s just sort of an update on my experience rather than a complaint about anything. I understand how difficult it is to organise these things and obviously the most unfortunate thing of all is if people with proper tickets didn’t get in.

  • Great to read another review – definitely sounds like a Starbug-heavy second half from both reports. Pleased to hear the reviewer found it both funny and meaningful, which is pretty much what I’m hoping for from a feature-length special.

  • “at Pinewood Studio’s second audience screening” – this line from that review has annoyed me already, its a recording, not a screening!

    I’m three paragraphs in and it is all needlessly wordy.

    “attendees for Dwarfian screenings” – there it is again!

    “Fortunately, they weren’t checking for biogenically-engineered, auto-live streaming, hyper-ocular implants, or I’d be in real trouble. I wonder how long it’ll be, before that actually happens?” – what?!

    I can’t read any more of this, I give up.

  • Can anyone who was at one of the recordings confirm (as long as it doesn’t spoil anything obviously) that the cockpit and mid-section are used like they used to be, i.e. the boys walk around the internals of Starbug unhindered by a closed door and that there is a nicely dressed mid section set that doesn’t feel as cramped as the cockpit now does?

  • Yeah that’s a good question. My head canon just assumes each Starbug is different .

    Starbug from VI was made more homely by Kryten while the boys were in Stasis

    VII was due to the Time paradox ( Timey-wimey)

    Etc

  • Which leaves X/XI/XII which seemed like they were down to their last one ?
    A more cramped shuttle craft .

    I’d liked to have seen if they ever had a White Giant on board the Dwarf.

  • Well, I don’t recall the mid-section being used at all in the first recording. Pretty sure the Starbug cockpit door was closed throughout those scenes.

    I was initially sat directly in front of the Starbug set on night #1, though was moved to a seat in front of the bunkroom before shooting began. From memory, I seem to recall that there was a wall section from the midsection placed some distance behind the cockpit door, presumably to give the illusion on-camera that the midsection set was present. I can’t remember if the door actually opened while the cameras were rolling though, so whether this detail will be visible in any of the footage shot that night is another matter!

  • I was initially sat directly in front of the Starbug set on night #1, though was moved to a seat in front of the bunkroom before shooting began.

    Oh yeah! The camera crew there needed more room didn’t they, because Norman was sat in front of the Starbug cockpit (I was in the row behind you guys who got moved).

  • Not gonna lie, the Starbug set looks pretty sexy in that purple tint and I’m not even that big a fan of the cockpit itself.

    Where’d you get that?

  • I hope that hair dryer is in the special, such a shame to have a nice set piece like that never see any use.

  • I hope that hair dryer is in the special, such a shame to have a nice set piece like that never see any use.

    Isn’t there a second AA advert on the way? according to Danny there is a 2nd advert. presumably, thats where you see the hairdryer set piece.

  • Yeah, that doesn’t look like a midsection, it looks like a tiny little room with not much in it

  • It’s a shame they didn’t attempt to make the Starbug set more faithful/ have room to. Based on the cockpit, current Starbug is either the prime example of wasting available space in a vehicle, or is shaped like a sausage.

  • Never thought to ask, but for anyone who went to the recordings, did the footage look like an upgrade from the 1080p of the previous series or did they stick to 2K?

  • Never thought to ask, but for anyone who went to the recordings, did the footage look like an upgrade from the 1080p of the previous series or did they stick to 2K?

    Good question, but probably not something one could discern from the recording considering those scenes were projected from a distance. Also bear in mind that the live camera feeds were likely at whatever resolution the cameras natively operate at rather than the final resolution of the edited program.

  • “Who’s desperate for their first sneak peek of the #RedDwarfSpecial? 👀

    Then check out the latest issue of @pilottvmag
    which comes out on Thursday!

    But be warned, there may be some minor spoilers and the reveal of one of the guest stars. 🤔

    Check it out on Thursday!

    #RedDwarf”

  • And here we see why the concept of “spoilers” is a load of old shit and, rather than being a tool to deify and preserve the importance of virginal narrative surprises (a questionable ideology to begin with), almost always becomes a vessel to enlist fans – without their prior consent or agreement – into being unpaid PR admins for the duration of a show or film’s publicity campaign. We’re all mugs for it. And I think show producers etc do it completely automatically these days without even thinking about it or why they’re actually doing it in the first place. It’s just a weird dance we all have to do, and then everyone looks silly when they have to do perfectly legitimate things like press teases, trailers, previews, interviews, photo releases which reveal all of this stuff anyway. The last 15 years have a lot to answer for, really. I don’t even think it’s any individual’s fault, and I don’t blame anybody on this production. But it turns everybody into fragile, paranoid wrecks under the mass delusion that capsule details and plot summaries of TV shows are worthy of the Official Secrets Act – I still cringe my tits off at the time Linda Glover bollocked and shamed someone on Twitter for watching Timewave wholly legitimately on Virgin Media when it was briefly released too early.

    I don’t chastise or blame G&T for keeping step with all of this either, in a climate which does now place high amounts of value on spoiler protection it’s basic manners and professional protocol. I just think it’s a bit exhausting that the Western world is inextricably trapped in such bullshit, and wants to turn us all into world-beaten supply teachers half-arsedly burbling ‘the bell is a sign for me, not for you’. Particularly as in the world of soap operas it’s so comically the other way around (full detailed plot synopsis with about 50 photos for every upcoming episode in large print a week ahead!) that it does rather make a mockery of how seriously some TV/film (ideally really daft, silly stuff like fantasy and SF that is already fooling nobody whatsoever) takes itself.

    But hey, that’s just me! I wonder if they’d had Twitter 40 years ago some poor sod would have got a bollocking for revealing what colour Mrs Slocombe’s hair would be the week after. Big angry screed from Jeremy Lloyd (@lloydyjeremio) about how “some people have to ruin it for everybody. These are NOT. REAL. FANS and make our beautiful and inclusive Served community a sadder place to be” with 14 thousand retweets and a supportive quote tweet from Arthur Bostrom.

    So yeah, it’s all bloody daft.

  • My perspective is that I like watching an episode of something as it’s intended by the writer. If there are plot points, jokes, reveals, etc. that are intended to be revealed as part of the plot, that’s when I want to find out about them. All the promotional shit that surrounds it effectively goes against the pacing of the episode, and I don’t care for it. I enjoyed XII a lot more than XI in part because I didn’t read a single episode summary or watch any trailers. At least some of the disappointment about Can of Worms was because the promised ‘another Cat episode’ turned out not to be an another Cat episode: that’s all down to the promotion, and when Doug wrote it, I’m sure he wasn’t thinking how well the Polymorph reveal would stand up to weeks of fan expectation about another Cat.

    I’m the same with pretty much all TV shows and even films and books where possible: I don’t read blurbs or reviews, I don’t watch trailers, I’d rather watch or read as the writers intended.

  • I’m not sure I understand the strength of the reaction here. As someone who runs a fansite for a popular TV show in his spare time and runs promotional campaigns for different popular TV shows professionally, I kind of have a foot in both camps here. I strive for a good sensible balance with whichever of those two hats I have on. I don’t think it’s unreasonable for a production company or broadcaster to want to keep control of when and how information is released. If they’re choosing to unveil some plot details and guest cast info at this stage, fair enough. Anyone who went to an audience recording *could* supersede that PR activity now if they wanted to, but they’d be a prick for doing so when they’d been explicitly asked not to. By the same token, I think it’s unreasonable for a production to expect fans not to spread info that’s been put into the public domain by other means, hence us tweaking our spoiler policy to allow us to cover what the cast and crew post on social media. In my work, I’m frequently asked what can/should be done about coverage of information that’s “leaked” by whatever means, and the answer is “nothing, it’s too late, deal with it”.

    All of which relies on good faith on all sides. To use two recent examples: when Baby Cow posted a photo of Norman Lovett at the readthrough, we were more than comfortable with reporting on it, even though it felt like a bit of an accident, and it took several weeks for his presence to be confirmed by TOS. On the other hand, Dave tweeted a picture of the front cover of the script on October 23rd. After spending three minutes in Photoshop in order to see what was on the first page of the script proper, we could have completely spoiled the plot of the Special before it was even recorded. But we didn’t, because that would be excessively obtuse and unnecessary.

    I don’t really know where I’m going with this, other than to say that I don’t see what the problem is in either fans respecting the wishes of the production by keeping privileged information quiet until the appropriate time, or in some of this information being used as part of a PR campaign. It’s worth noting that all of this is a relatively new phenomenon, and the television industry has been extremely slow to react to the impact of the internet and social media across the board. What I’ve previously found frustrating is when the fans duly keep quiet only for massive spoilers to be revealed by the cast or crew, but deliberate, planned PR activity is a completely different thing.

  • >the concept of “spoilers” is a load of old shit
    Wew lad. Some of us want to go in blind, okay? I haven’t even read this set report because I want to go into this thing as blind as possible. People who want to find out some more details about the show and who will guest star in it, can go pick up the magazine. Those of us who don’t want to know these things can ignore it. The strength of your response is utterly baffling, I’m very sorry that the concept of somebody wanting to know as little as possible about something before they watch it is so frustrating to you.

  • I read your post again and I’m actually in shock at how much you’re seething over this. Please calm down

  • I don’t disagree with any of that, and I should probably re-clarify that I’m not criticising anyone or anything, nor am I suggesting anybody should be behaving any differently about this.

    I was mostly just talking about how I think that spoilerphobia is a bit of a regrettable and uniquely modern phenomenon in general. I certainly don’t think fighting it with obnoxious info leakage is the solution. But there is a very obvious battle between the subjective belief in the sanctity of surprises (which as I said I don’t agree with in general regards film/TV – you can change the way something is viewed but I’m not convinced you can harm or make less entertaining something by knowing its reveals in advance, and I worry about a secondary trend towards empty rollercoaster thrills in stuff becoming a means to an end), and the objective necessity to advance promote shows/films and keep them in the wider conversation. It creates this tertiary situation where people are bound to virtual NDAs on info which will appear in advance publicity anyway, and it’s a waste of everybody’s time that I think often makes unwitting fools of those following the rules, and indeed of those enforcing them at source.

    My problem is quite wide and nebulous, and I’ll repeat that nobody is consciously misbehaving or doing any individual thing which I would choose to change. I’m not trying to put the world to rights, I just think it’s sad that we as a mass audience have become unhealthily paranoid about all of this when it isn’t objectively a problem. If it’s revealed online in advance that Bumbum from The Arsewizards isn’t really dead and comes back for the St Georges Day Special, we’ll still watch the St Georges Day Special of The Arsewizards and enjoy Bumbum’s return just as much as if we’d retreated into a zone of Bumbum virginity.

    But please take this as the rambling microblog it was intended as, it’s not a rant and it’s not targeted. I just find it all strange and a little bit sad. I get that we all want that Christmas morning feeling once in a while, but it’s also okay if we know what’s inside the box beforehand. It’s the same present inside.

  • I read your post again and I’m actually in shock at how much you’re seething over this. Please calm down

    I am not remotely seething over anything!

  • This was genuinely not intended to be an argument in any sense and I apologise if it appeared as much. It was a mixture of bemusement and melancholia about the religion of spoilers. Sorry if my tone was unclear.

  • Using phrases like “cringe my tits off” does suggest a rather heated tone, I would say, lol

    Some of us really do not want to see spoilers and really do think that you can “spoil” (negatively affect somebody’s enjoyment of) a narrative by just having every little thing that’s going to happen in it explained to you beforehand. I don’t even watch trailers anymore, I dropped out of the Doctor Who fan community in the run up to the 50th anniversary, and I think my experience of these things has been all the better for it. I would operate on the assumption that most people don’t want spoilers, and even if they do, it’s incredibly unfair to mar somebody’s experience of something just because YOU don’t believe in that kind of thing. It is significantly more annoying for someone who doesn’t like spoilers to be spoiled, than it is for somebody who is fine with spoilers to not get any, wouldn’t you agree?

  • Using phrases like “cringe my tits off” does suggest a rather heated tone, I would say, lol

    I think in that Glover/Timewave example, “cringe my tits off” was an understatement. I don’t think there was a bit of me spared from cringe ejection.

    I don’t even watch trailers anymore, I dropped out of the Doctor Who fan community in the run up to the 50th anniversary, and I think my experience of these things has been all the better for it.

    To be fair; “the Doctor Who fan community” is a hundred times worse than any spoiler. I genuinely can’t comprehend an objection to trailers though – surely they’re part of the core experience? I mean that sincerely – when choosing a film to watch for example, what wouldn’t you expose yourself to? The trailer?

    I would operate on the assumption that most people don’t want spoilers, and even if they do, it’s incredibly unfair to mar somebody’s experience of something just because YOU don’t believe in that kind of thing. It is significantly more annoying for someone who doesn’t like spoilers to be spoiled, than it is for somebody who is fine with spoilers to not get any, wouldn’t you agree?

    I would never wilfully ruin what was important to somebody if I had the option, and I never do. But I don’t think it’s fair to expect that from everybody as if it were a civil right. The guy next to me might want to tell the cinema queue that Bruce Willis is a ghost, and it wouldn’t be a tangible injustice if he did. I certainly don’t think that spoiler virginity should be an inalienable right (particularly regards promotional material), nor do I think it’s acceptable for the producers of things to have a 100% complete expectation of people’s silence. These aren’t military or security secrets – film/TV spoilers are much less important than liberty is, and no surprise in a thing is worth that amount of paranoia and infighting that they always engender. You might hope that everything stays secret in keeping with your desired way of consuming something, which is absolutely your right to treat with priority and importance, but I think a literal expectation of that for anybody is a stretch. But we are at that point.

    FWIW I will always keep things secret for people, as an individual choice. I do think personally that it’s daft and doesn’t matter though, just as I will happily blow ‘secrets’ from things for myself in advance and not have my enjoyment impacted one iota. It just seems one more stress in a stressful world to be bothered *to be bothered* about!

  • One last thing I’ll add which might shed light on my position – I absolutely hate hype and hysteria over film/TV things, I think it’s juvenile and toxic and obnoxious and ruins anything it spills over, leaving me to wait often several years until the nuclear fallout has dissipated to dig into something (I think you can probably identify with this given your DW fandom detachment). But I think that spoilerfree/shock/surprise reveal culture is a big part of this, hence why I’m so indisposed to it.

  • I think the safest thing to do would be to not tell anyone that a Red Dwarf special was being made, record it in secret without an audience, and rush it out unadvertised on Dave at 3am on a random Thursday to minimise the risk of anyone seeing it by accident.

  • The guy next to me might want to tell the cinema queue that Bruce Willis is a ghost

    Is this a plot point in the next Die Hard film?

    I think the safest thing to do would be to not tell anyone that a Red Dwarf special was being made, record it in secret without an audience, and rush it out unadvertised on Dave at 3am on a random Thursday to minimise the risk of anyone seeing it by accident.

    You joke, but dropping things as a surprise has worked before.

  • It was actually already on last night. The subplot about a dying Kryten trying to build himself a new body out of dead Skutters was pretty good, but the extended Frasier parody kind of ruined it all and went on far too long. And they never should have recast Kochanski as Sandi Toksvig.

  • And they never should have recast Kochanski as Sandi Toksvig.

    Kochanski is playing the role of Sandi Toksvig now? Can’t wait to see her on the next series of QI

  • Unfortunately the new actress playing Toksvig took over QI at the same time it switched to being recorded without a studio audience, applied a film effect, and gave Alan Davies a new catchphrase whereby he replaces the QI siren by instead whinily shouting “you’re lying!”.

  • I read the synopses and, in one case, the script to most of the bubble episodes of Red Dwarf before watching them. Didn’t affect my enjoyment one iota. Didn’t even seem strange at the time.

    I think that’s mainly because Red Dwarf is a character-based sitcom; so the enjoyment should predominantly come from the dialogue as delivered by the actors; none of which is going to be spoiled by an article on what the plot’s about and who’s starring – or, in my case, the entire script of Psirens. (I’ll ignore the fact that I don’t particularly rate Psirens).

    And yet, I respect that some people don’t like this stuff spoiled, so I keep my mouth shut. I’d be interested to see what this article can spoil, that wouldn’t already be revealed by, say, the title of the episode, a brief summary or the cast list; all of which will be available in the Radio Times in a couple of months, prior to broadcast. So, I can see what Darrell’s irritated by.

    I think it’s a -slightly- different thing with movies and [proper] TWISTS and I would consider someone in a cinema queue telling people that ‘Bruce Willis is a ghost’ to be a complete douchebag; as that would actually change the initial viewing experience of the entire movie (irrespective of knowing how it ends).

  • I’d be interested to see what this article can spoil, that wouldn’t already be revealed by, say, the title of the episode, a brief summary or the cast list; all of which will be available in the Radio Times in a couple of months, prior to broadcast.

    Well last time around for XII we had that preview article that focused on Cured and gave away the Hitler/Lister guitar duet and even specific gags (Rupert Murdoch) in a fashion that definitely made them land differently on a first watch. So these things can spoil quite a bit.

    On spoilers in general, I find myself somewhere in the middle of this whole argument. There are shows where your first viewing could definitely be harmed by knowing spoilers in advance – Inside No. 9, say, where the twists and guessing games have become part of an interplay between the show and the audience that would be ruined if you were given a synopsis beforehand. For that kind of thing, the journey and discovery of the secrets and twists is all part of the fun.

    But there are definitely other circumstances in which advance spoilers aren’t so damaging and don’t make that much difference to the viewing experience.

    Personally, for comedy I’d rather the funny bits go unspoiled, so as not to blow the gags ahead of time abd ruin that punchline moment. But I can understand other people not being so bothered.

  • If you’re all done being strange, the magazine should be available over there today, so someone post it here and there’s a bag of chips in it for ya.

  • I was only thinking to myself at work a few hours ago when we’d get the first bits of info/pics/news for the special, didn’t take long for the other shoe to drop!

  • If it’s revealed online in advance that Bumbum from The Arsewizards isn’t really dead and comes back for the St Georges Day Special, we’ll still watch the St Georges Day Special of The Arsewizards and enjoy Bumbum’s return just as much as if we’d retreated into a zone of Bumbum virginity.

    You speak for a lot of people there – there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence around of people suggesting that having surprises given away DOES ruin the enjoyment. We’re talking on a forum for a comedy series here, and one of the key aspects of humour is the element of surprise. Advance warning of plot aspects and jokes won’t put me off watching something, but I will definitely get more enjoyment from the programme without knowing them in the first place.

    I genuinely can’t comprehend an objection to trailers though – surely they’re part of the core experience?

    Not really, no. The ‘core experience’ is the episode itself. Regardless of how well they’re put together, trailers are PR. If you’ll allow me to get a touch sanctimonious, I generally don’t consider marketing a ‘core’ part in a work of art.

    But I don’t think it’s fair to expect that from everybody as if it were a civil right.

    Well, no, but nobody sensible is arguing that. It would just make you a knob.

  • I think it’s perfectly reasonable to not want to accidentally hear major details about what happens in a TV show or film that you haven’t seen yet without going cold turkey on the internet. “Spoiler culture” isn’t really that people are more averse to being told spoilers on a case by case basis – I’m sure people were just as pissed off when Homer Simpson spoiled the twist ending of The Empire Strikes Back to them in 1980 as they would be now for Game of Thrones or whatever – it’s that (A) the sheer amount and easy accessibility of movies, TV shows, web series, video games etc. means the average person watches and cares about more things that have “spoil-able” aspects to them, and (B) the way social media works makes it extremely easy for people to spoil each other without meaning to, or to run into people who might do so maliciously.

    True, there are people who will treat any vague glimpse or description of an upcoming thing as a “spoiler” and act like people are being bad by sharing, but I don’t think this is how people in general feel.

    I also think that PR folks are usually not going to spill any big reveals or twists ahead of time, and that knowing the kind of information that could be included in a trailer is not really “spoiling”. I think they were just being extra cautious with the spoiler warning here, for the sake of people who truly want to go in blind or almost blind.

  • The BBC did reveal John Simm being back in series 10 very early on, which annoyed a lot of people, including myself, but I had another think about that the other day and thought well wait a minute, there’s no WAY something like that would go completely unspoiled in the months leading up to the episode. They were just jumping the gun on that and using it to their advantage for publicity. Conversely, the of the greatest moments even in Who fandom for me was refreshing YouTube one day and seeing Night of the Doctor starring Paul McGann just sitting in my recommended, uploaded completely unannounced. The sheer “holy shit” shock factor of Moffat actually bringing Paul McGann back was one of the hypest things I’ve ever witnessed. That was shot and released very quickly and wasn’t an actual episode, though, so I assume it was slightly easier to keep under wraps.

    If fans are really really really forensic for Dwarf like they are for certain videogames, the guest actors and who they’re playing etc could definitely be leaked early, so revealing that kind of stuff is basically fine.

  • FWIW the McGann thing was known about in spoiler circles for quite a while beforehand. It was the Tom Baker appearance that they managed to keep a secret.

    I still find trailer avoidance inexplicably bizarre. YMMV with everything else but they are specifically something made by the creators of the thing that they want you to watch.

  • It was the Tom Baker appearance that they managed to keep a secret.

    That did get out beforehand too – I remember hearing about it ahead of broadcast – but maybe wasn’t so widely publicised.

    Didn’t the McGann leak even force them to release it a little earlier than planned?

  • It was the Tom Baker appearance that they managed to keep a secret.

    Although Mad Old Uncle Tom himself casually mentioned his forthcoming cameo on Graham Norton’s Radio 2 show that morning. Amazingly, nobody followed it up and plastered it all over teh interwebz. Graham didn’t press for more info, and neither Tom nor the Beeb said anything else.

    It was definitely the McGann appearance that was the biggest surprise for me.
    God, can you imagine if they’d managed to talk Eccles into that Regeneration though? Fucking Hell, I doubt the internet would have survived.

  • The Macra reveal in 2007 was an interesting one – it actually had been leaked far in advance but absolutely nobody believed it, so the surprise was that it wasn’t a lie.

    Ach, I wish I could still find the enthusiasm for it all anymore. Used to be my life… couldn’t give a shit these days. Just thinking about it feels like housework. All that money…

  • McGann turning up in The Night of the Doctor wasn’t a spoiler though. That was an entire covert project that was released as soon as it was announced. Like The Cloverfield Paradox. Only not shit.

    If they’d announced it a couple of months before, it would have ruined the 50th Anniversary surprise but it wouldn’t have spoiled the content of the episode. (Sure, it would allow more time for solid speculation, but that’s true of anything).

    The ESB and The Sixth Sense examples, are not quite the same thing either. And the Simm appearance is in that bracket of stuff that shouldn’t be spoiled, because they affect the initial viewing and are built in on twisting what you *think* you know. For me, I’m pretty certain I’ve have worked out it was Simm under all the prosthetics but was irritated that I didn’t get to reach that conclusion myself.

  • I’d forgotten about Simm being teased as being in the series, and. It was only the last five minutes or something before the reveal that realised what was about to happen.

    AAAANYWAY, were we talking about Red Dwarf somewhere on here?

  • Weirdly, the Simm Master reveal actually worked for me. Because his appearance was teaseed so far ahead of time, I wasn’t expecting his appearance to be a surprise within the story itself. Therefore I wasn’t looking for an in-disguise Master in the supporting cast, therefore I genuinely was surprised when he was revealed.

    It probably would have still been cooler if they’d managed to keep it a secret though.

  • I’d avoided all spoilers, teasers and trailers, so the John Simm reveal was a total shock for me. It was very cool and definitely a wow moment for me, just as the master being O was a few weeks ago.

  • Even with his return spoiled, I was so engrossed in the episode that I kind of forgot to be looking out for him, and I basically realised it was him all along at exactly the moment the episode wanted me to, right before the reveal. That “oh shit” moment was truly phenomenal, as was the blatant fanwank of the line “it’s like… a genesis… of the cybermen”. I’ve said it before, that line makes absolutely NO sense in-universe, why would he say that, but I still think it’s an incredible little nod and it gave me chills. Moffat managed to “redeem” Simm’s Master in my eyes, after he was handled somewhat poorly and… goofily, in his later RTD appearances. Simm’s Master in The Doctor Falls is an UTTER cunt, you really, really despise him after some of the things he says.

  • I do recall just being relieved that the Master was being written as the Master again, after the brilliant Missy stuff from s8 being ruined by her reappearing (too soon) the year after and having suddenly turned overnight into Moriarty (because Steven Moffat couldn’t run two shows at once without mixing up everyone’s voices like he was having some kind of breakdown).

  • I also forgot about the Simm reveal in the trailer and then as I watched World Enough and Time I thought “why is this actor needlessly covered in prosthetics?” then I saw the eyes and went “Oh yeah, John Simm is back isn’t he?”

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