G&TV Special: Holly on Tomorrow’s World Features Posted by Ian Symes on 3rd April 2021, 12:38 The latest edition of our now officially sporadic archive telly feature is something truly special for once: a rare in-character appearance by one of the boys from the Dwarf on a different programme, unseen for over twenty years. On Wednesday 3rd March 1999 (the day before the seminal Back In The Red (Part Three) first aired), Norman Lovett popped up as Holly on Tomorrow’s World, the BBC’s flagship technology programme that ran from 1965 to 2003, to discuss AI with host Philippa Forrester. He was there to launch their Turing Test experiment, to see if chatbots could convincingly pass as human. He returned two weeks later for the show’s annual Megalab live event, briefly cameoing in character before appearing as himself to take part in the test, alongside Sir Terry Pratchett and Jaye Griffiths from off of Bugs. Never repeated, and not included on the Series VIII DVD for whatever reason, this has been one of the rarest and most elusive pieces of Red Dwarf ephemera – it was even mentioned in a forum thread about unattainable Dwarf-related media as recently as two weeks ago. But now, just over 22 years later, here are the relevant moments from both episodes. The first appearance is the most substantial in terms of Holly content, and it starts with an introductory clip of Holly’s “become a dog” plan from Cassandra. That episode was still eight days away from airing at the time, and so the clip will have given away the fact that Lister is sentenced to two years in prison at the end of the following night’s episode. The subsequent chat with Philippa, also known at the time as Craig Charles’s co-host on Robot Wars of course, is amusing at times and yet slightly odd; Holly calling Philippa “babe” and awkwardly flirting with her doesn’t feel like something he’d do, but then this is Series VIII era Holly, so all bets are off. Big fan of him throwing to Peter Snow at the end though. The return at Megalab ’99 a fortnight later is little more than a cameo for Holly, with a one-liner about programming VCRs which most definitely feels like a joke from that era of Dwarf. This brief moment requires Norman to be dressed in a black polo neck throughout his subsequent appearance as himself, and he can be seen rushing to his seat on the panel juuuuust in time for his introduction. After he and his fellow sci-fi/fantasy alumni have an off-screen natter with Schrödinger’s chatbot, Norman seems moderately annoyed to have his conversation interrupted by the necessity to take part in a live television programme, which is perhaps the funniest moment of the whole endeavour. Closely followed by the look of realisation that he’d been fooled by an AI, possibly contemplating his role in helping to create a nightmarish Judgment Day type scenario. It’s great to finally see these fabled moments after so many years of searching. All that remains now is the question of how we’re going to justify all this being canon.