Take the fifth! News Posted by Ian Symes on 4th February 2021, 12:04 This is probably the most unpleasant news story we’ve had to cover in the more than eighteen years this site has been going. Not least because it involves linking to the Daily Mail, who today report that Doug Naylor is suing Rob Grant and Grant Naylor Productions, following Doug’s removal from the board of the company last year. To save you from clicking onto that shithole, the relevant parts of the article are below, and below that is our initial reaction. [Doug Naylor] has just initiated a dramatic High Court action against his former co-scriptwriter and one-time best friend, Rob Grant. The claim also names Grant Naylor Productions, the company which he and Grant established 30 years ago ‘to exploit their services as scriptwriters’. In his claim, Naylor, 65, says that he was removed last March as a director from the company’s board — just four days after the company held an Extraordinary General Meeting. ‘I have brought this claim as a last resort,’ Naylor assures me. ‘This is not primarily a claim about money.’ He is, though, claiming £160,096.80, partly for allegedly unpaid invoices dating back to 2018. He also alleges in his claim that following his removal as a director, the company informed UKTV that he ‘had resigned’ and claimed that it ‘retained all rights in Red Dwarf’. At the time, Naylor was in negotiations with UKTV and claims that, had it not been for his removal as a director, ‘those negotiations . . . would have resulted in UKTV commissioning two further Red Dwarf specials’. Grant could not be reached for comment, while Grant Naylor Productions declined to do so. ‘I have been excluded from Grant Naylor Productions, the company I co-founded and which bears my name,’ Naylor tells me. ‘I want to make sure that I get back the rights to allow me to keep making Red Dwarf, the show I have been writing for more than 20 years. ‘It is bizarre and regrettable that Grant Naylor Productions and its other shareholders are trying to prevent me from doing so. ‘I’m sure that Red Dwarf fans and the much-loved cast would agree.’ The article then goes on to discuss the requirement of an intimacy coach for numerous sex scenes, but it turns out that bit was about a different show, thankfully. But anyway. First of all: for fuck’s sake. Nobody wants this. It’s hard to know how to respond, so let’s begin with addressing the veracity of the piece. I’d normally be loathed to describe anything in the Daily Mail as “accurate”, but the fact that it carries direct quotes from Doug, and is bizarrely specific with some of the details – even down to the number of pennies that Doug’s claiming – shows that it’s not been completely plucked out of someone’s arse. It’s also true that Doug is no longer a director of Grant Naylor Productions, as of 13th March 2020, leaving Rob Grant, Paul Jackson and Lesley Armitage (widow of Charles) in charge of the company. By the way, I wouldn’t read much into the Companies House website stating that Doug “resigned” on that date – it also says that Charles Armitage “resigned” in February 2017, which isn’t quite how I’d describe what happened. Must be just their terminology. So those are the facts. What appears to be disputed is the how and why of this state of affairs coming about. There’s no way we’re going to be speculating too wildly about what appears to be an ongoing court case, and we’d urge you to be balanced and considerate in your comments too. What we will say at this stage is this: 1. We only have one side to this story as things stand. 2. The timing of this news – days before the Fan Club’s Holly Hop virtual con, at which Rob Grant features heavily – is less than ideal. 3. Whoever wins, we lose. This is a horrible, horrible day for Red Dwarf fans, as we find ourselves cast as the unfortunate children stuck in the middle of an increasingly messy and vicious divorce. For one thing, I don’t much like the line from Doug in the article about being sure that the fans would agree with him – I’d prefer to make my own mind up, and I can’t do that until we’ve heard from the other party. But mostly, I don’t want to have to fucking choose between Rob and Doug in the first place. They both created – together – the show that has shaped my life. I love them both as writers, and I owe them both so much. Why can’t you two get on?! It’s never easy for Red Dwarf, is it? Never fucking easy. When the show returned in 2009, it smashed all sorts of records for UKTV, and instantly became its new broadcaster’s most important property by far. That was twelve years ago, and they’ve managed to make three new series and a special since then. Don’t get me wrong, we’re grateful that we’ve had even that, but when you’ve got commissioners chomping at the bit for new material and you can only manage to get your shit together to deliver it on three individual occasions in twelve years… well, we’ve always known that there was something seriously amiss behind the scenes. This latest development certainly won’t help. While I take with a pinch of salt the claim that two new specials would definitely have been commissioned by now if it wasn’t for Doug’s dispute with GNP – for a start, this all happened in March 2020, so there maaaaaay just have been other factors at play in any decision – the future is looking pretty bleak at the moment. How can Red Dwarf continue in its current form after this? We knew that Doug was no longer a director of GNP, but assumed that some arrangement was in place that allowed him to continue to work on the show itself. But if the relationship between Doug and the rest of the board is this toxic… well, Red Dwarf is dead. That’s it. However, there are some significant “ifs” there. I’m clinging on to another one – if this can be resolved amicably, if Rob and Doug can put at least some of their differences aside, if a compromise can be made, then it’s surely in everyone’s interests to allow this hugely popular and profitable property to continue. Never say never. Sometimes you live, you die, and then you live again. Right now though, I’m hurt and I’m angry. It’s depressing and infuriating that the situation has escalated to this point. This is a dark day for Red Dwarf.