Set to Rights: The Teaching Room

After over a year’s gap, welcome back to Set to Rights, the series where I look at Red Dwarf‘s sets in mind-numbing detail. And having already looked at some thrilling wall sections and the Captain’s Office, we turn to what might initially seem an unpromising avenue for spectacular revelations: the Teaching Room in Series 1.

I think, however, you may be surprised. Because telling the story of this set leads us into some rather interesting areas which I don’t think have been examined before. As ever, we don’t have the paperwork handy to be able to check any of this: instead, we have to do some deduction, some guesswork, and leave some questions unanswered.

With that health warning, let’s take another trip through early Red Dwarf – as usual with these articles, in order of recording date rather than broadcast.

The End – Original Shoot

Of course, the very first time we see this set was in the original recording of The End – although this scene actually made it into the final broadcast version. Yes, it’s Rimmer’s exam unpleasantness:

Rimmer sitting in the Teaching Room for his exam Rimmer saluting to Todhunter

Unique to the original recording of The End, however, is this footage of Lister walking through the set asking whether everybody is dead, which was later re-recorded:

Lister learning that everybody's dead

Put next to one another like this, one thing immediately becomes clear: the set has actually been changed. The panel on the right – which originally had the Teaching Room sign and the coloured tapes – has been entirely removed, revealing the corridor set behind it.

In other words: in this latter scene, this isn’t supposed to be the Teaching Room at all, but an entirely different place on Red Dwarf.

Balance of Power

Onto the second episode recorded, and we have the Teaching Room back in action:

Lister in the Teaching Room Rimmer and Lister in the Teaching Room

But the room Lister takes his exam in is clearly the same set… but as in the first recording session of the series, has the right panel removed for the latter scene:

Lister and Fake Kochanski in the exam room Rimmer staring at his own tit in the exam room

It’s at this point that I begin to feel rather stupid. I’ve watched Balance of Power countless times over the years, and I never actually realised that the set wasn’t identical between these two scenes. I certainly never noticed that they removed that panel. For years I assumed that it was supposed to be the same room. I’m sure you all noticed, and are just itching to call me a twat.

There’s one further oddity. Take a look at this angle in the exam scene:

Lister learning that everybody's dead

The idea that the exam room is right next to the bunkroom is frankly a weird one, and doesn’t really seem to make an awful lot of sense. On the plus side, once you see that, and notice that Rimmer wanders off into the bunkroom fondling his newfound tit, then that joke suddenly becomes infinitely funnier.

Waiting for God

Up until this point, things have been fairly obvious. Waiting for God, however, throws us a curveball.

Lister in the Observation Room Lister and Rimmer in the Observation Room

At first sight, the Observation Room looks nothing like the Teaching Room set. But look closer. Ignore the huge additional wall in the middle of the set. Instead, look at Holly’s monitor, and the array of buttons underneath it. Look also at the door and the wall on the left. This is clearly the same basic set as used for the Teaching Room – admittedly with a fair few alterations, but the same basic set nonetheless.

Indeed, the Observation Room set is clearly in the same place on the studio floor as the Teaching Room set in the previous episodes. For proof of that, compare these two shots – the first from Balance of Power, and the second from the It’s Cold Outside documentary from The Bodysnatcher Collection. (Yes, the Series 2 documentary, not Series 1.)

Shot showing the exam room is next to the bunkroom Shot showing the Observation Room is next to the bunkroom

That second picture… sorry, I need to go for a lie down for a moment. Back soon.

Future Echoes

Come the next episode? Why, we’re back to the bog standard Teaching Room again, including its errant wall:

Rimmer and Holly in the Teaching Room Rimmer and Holly in the Teaching Room again

Now, we know that Red Dwarf‘s sets weren’t kept up all week in Studio A at Oxford Road – they were only ERECTED for the two days of recording each week. Still, I find it a fun revelation that the Teaching Room set wasn’t just put away wholesale between recordings – it was adapted into the Observation Room set, and then adapted right back to the Teaching Room set. And if you don’t find that interesting, I don’t know how you’ve managed to make it this far into the article, to be honest.

Confidence & Paranoia

Oddly enough, Confidence & Paranoia is the only episode of Series 1 not to make use of the main section of the Teaching Room set. So instead, a bit of bonus trivia for you. Where do you think we’ve seen that airlock door on the right before?

Outside the ship The Observation Room

If that isn’t just the door to the inner part of the Observation Room painted red, I’ll… do something very complicated.

Me²

Not to fear, the set returns for Me²… but in a rather different form than we’ve seen it before. It’s the the double Rimmer’s bunkroom!

Lister and the two Rimmers in Rimmer's bunkroom The two Rimmer's in their bunkroom

Again, there are a fair number of changes – in particular, the monitor has gone, to be replaced by a window – but the basic structure of the set is entirely the same. The lighting strips and central vents just above them are a dead giveaway that huge chunks of the same set are being reused here.

The above really changes the perception of this set significantly. To me, the Teaching Room set always felt a little odd – like something useful for the pilot, that then hung around a little longer than it should. But once you look at it closely, the Teaching Room didn’t hang around all series, but became the adaptable main third set of the show, depending on what that week’s episode needed.

The fact this wasn’t immediately obvious means that Paul Montague should get far more credit than he generally receives.

The End – Remount

And finally for Series 1 – the remount of The End. And for this, the set was transformed back into its Teaching Room guise – in fact, both different variants of it, as seen in the original recording of the episode.

So, as Lister learns that everybody’s dead again, the right hand panel is missing:

Lister learning that everybody's dead Lister still learning that everybody's dead

But when Lister and Rimmer recover from meeting the Cat – a scene originally set in the Drive Room with just Lister in the original recording – the set has transformed into the Teaching Room proper, complete with right hand wall and tapes:

Lister and Rimmer in the Teaching Room Lister and Rimmer still in the Teaching Room

This episode does give us a particularly good shot to compare the Double Rimmer bunkroom and the Teaching Room set, just to prove the basic structure of them is essentially identical – Me² on the left, and The End remount on the right:

Lister and the two Rimmers in Rimmer's bunkroom Lister and Rimmer in the Teaching Room

And surely that’s where we leave things, yes? After all, Series 2 doesn’t have anything which looks remotely like this set, does it?

Series 2

Yes it bloody does. And here’s where the history of this set takes a genuinely surprising turn.

First off, we all know how the Series 1 Drive Room set was replaced entirely for Series 2. The first picture is from the last audience session of Series 1 – the remount of The End – and the second is from the first audience session of Series 2, Better Than Life:

Rimmer being a twat in the Series 1 Drive Room The gang in the Series 2 Drive Room

Haaaaang on a moment. I smell something fishy.

True, at first glance, the Series 2 Drive Room set doesn’t look much like our old friend the Teaching Room. The addition of all the monitoring gubbins makes it difficult to tell. But let’s take a closer look.

Most obviously, there’s the central pillar of the Holly monitor. But look to the right, and the view of the corridor:

Kochanski and Lister in the exam room The gang in the Series 2 Drive Room

The gap to the corridor outside, the lighting strip above the doorway, and crucially: the vents above the lighting strip, which are difficult to see properly in a still image, but are definitely there when you’re watching the episode. This is all in exactly the same configuration.

And finally, the clincher. Let’s take a look at the doorway on the left of the set:

Rimmer and Lister in the Teaching Room The gang leaving the Series 2 Drive Room

I would be willing to stake money that the Series 2 Drive Room is the same basic set as the Teaching Room, and all its various other incarnations in Series 1. And very few people have ever noticed before, because they did a bloody good job of hiding it.

For more corroboration? Take a look at where the Series 2 Drive Room is placed on the studio floor, taken from It’s Cold Outside:

Rimmer feeling his TIT in the exam room The Series 2 Drive Room next to the bunkroom set

It’s exactly where the old Teaching Room set used to be: directly next to the bunkroom. Case, as far as I’m concerned, closed.

So I’ll leave you with one final exam question. The destroyed Hologram Simulation Suite in Queeg: part of this same set, or something completely different?

The gang in the destroyed hologram simulation suite

If anybody comments with “I am a fish”, I will kill you.

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29 Responses to Set to Rights: The Teaching Room

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  1. I bloody love these articles. Its always fun spotting how things all fit together. I’d always picked up on the re-use of the set but not quite as extensively as you’ve covered here so glad you’re able to fill in some details.

    I’d always sort of understood the placement of the set as being between the bunk room and the drive room, with a corridor going around the back of it, and the shot of Rimmer walking from the set into the bunk room with his tit I’d always known about, but the other little details you’ve been able to pick out are great for really seeing how it all sits together.

    I’d never noticed that the series 2 drive room was this set redressed though. I’ve always spent too much time trying to make it work that it’s actually the same room as the series 1 drive room, just shot from the other side – it sort of works, even though it isn’t and doesn’t at all.

    What this doesn’t answer then, is what happened to the series 1 drive room set, and what sets in series 2 replaced it? Weekly guest sets such as the Nova 5? Blue midget cock pit perhaps?

  2. Mindblowing stuff again. These might be my favourite articles on G&T.

    And they make me feel stupid for literally not having noticed *any* of this stuff before.

  3. This article is bad, and you should feel bad

  4. I’m sure you all noticed, and are just itching to call me a twat

    It’s alright, I never noticed, either.

    One thing that *has* bothered me over the years is the fact that the Rimmers’ bunk room has a window in the middle when it’s supposed to be next to Lister’s room.

  5. Is it stated that its directly next door? It could be down the corridor and around a corner.

  6. The banging on the wall always made me think it was right next door.

  7. It being next to a desolate corridor would help the sound bounch off the metal walls easier.

  8. I always imagined the corridor going ’round’ a bit, and thus it’s kind of nextdoor to the toilet / sink side right-hand wall of Lister’s room.

    Oh and yes, superb as ever John. Never change.

  9. Thanks all. I think it takes a certain kind of mind to find this kind of stuff interesting, so I’m glad I’m not the only person who has it.

  10. Putting “Authorised personnel only” on the outside of an exterior airlock seems a bit harshly bureaucratic.

  11. Maybe if more of the entry ways into Red Dwarf had such signs, the Polymorph and other sundry hostile life forms wouldn’t have gotten on board.

  12. The sign’s placement on the side of a console in the drive room is something to behold.

  13. Another great article :-)

    It makes sense they would make the set as modular as possible. At the time they were trying to get it made in the first place the BBC had to be convinced it could be made with the relatively small budget they’d be willing to give it. Making it so they could use one set in so many ways fits into this quite well.

  14. > It makes sense they would make the set as modular as possible.

    And in-universe, it makes sense for all these areas of the ship to have been constructed from basic sub-assembly parts. Obviously all this reusing of bits of sets was for practical reasons, but I do wonder whether Paul Montague had that thought in the back of his mind.

  15. The destroyed Hologram Simulation Suite in Queeg: part of this same set, or something completely different?

    I don’t know!

  16. I know it’s meant to be the hologram simulation suite, but for ages I did think it was the drive room, because it basically is the same set re-dressed isn’t it?

    It is also different to the suite we see in Thanks for the Memory

  17. for ages I did think it was the drive room, because it basically is the same set re-dressed isn’t it?

    That’s what I thought too, but mainly because of the screen.

  18. That’s what I thought too, but mainly because of the screen.

    The screen at the back, plus the bank of monitors in front of it.

    it just looks like the drive room a bit messed up and destroyed, because that is exactly what they’ve done.

  19. I know Series 2 attempted to jazz things up a bit, but I think both the Hologram suite and the S2 Drive Room are a step backwards. They look shit.

    (I’ve probably moaned about this before).

  20. Seconded. The Hologram Suite is actually painful to look at (but at least it isn’t on-screen for long).

  21. > But when Lister and Rimmer recover from meeting the Cat – a scene originally set in the Drive Room with just Rimmer in the original recording

    This should be “a scene originally set in the Drive Room with just Lister”, surely.

  22. This should be “a scene originally set in the Drive Room with just Lister”, surely.

    I knew I wouldn’t be able to get through one of these without some kind of mistake. Fixed, thanks!

  23. You refer to the Teaching Room as the “Learning” Room somewhere.

    I mean, they clearly should have called it the “Class Room” or stopped feeling the need to put signs up everywhere, but there we go.

  24. You refer to the Teaching Room as the “Learning” Room somewhere.

    I mean, they clearly should have called it the “Class Room” or stopped feeling the need to put signs up everywhere, but there we go.

    There’s a burglar? downstairs? In the sketching room???

  25. You refer to the Teaching Room as the “Learning” Room somewhere.

    Fixed. For some reason, I keep doing this, and have no idea why. I’m vaguely surprised it was just once…

  26. There’s a burglar? downstairs? In the sketching room???

    Think you mean the lounge. The amount of errors on this page is so intolerable it’s spread to the comments, this website is in shambles. Just close it down now while we still have our dignity.

  27. Too late for that.

    Bit weird to me that the teaching room would say TEACHING ROOM inside itself, rather than like, on the door, or whatever. Also the JUPITER MINING CORPORATION sign on the wall seems a bit redundant. It’s not quite 60s Batman “SECRET BASE”, “BOMB” signs etc, but it is a bit like that.

  28. That carries over into series three etc with “OFFICERS QUARTERS” printed on the wall inside the bunk.

  29. Love this – would never have guessed that the Teaching Room was both the Rimmers’ quarters and the Series II Drive Room…! It looks to me like the Hologram Suite is indeed the same set, just redressed and with a few extra wall sections added in within the room itself to make it look a little differently shaped.

    Although it’s not quite in the same vein as the three so far, I’d love to see an article on the Starbug cockpit/mid-section sets, showing how they were updated/augmented between their various appearances in recording order.

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