Ganymede & Titan: 20 Years in 20 Articles Features Posted by Ian Symes on 14th September 2022, 09:00 2002. Tony Blair is Prime Minister. The Fellowship of the Ring wins four Oscars. Atomic Kitten’s cover of The Tide Is High is Britain’s best selling single. And on a free web-hosting provider, a brand new website starts. A website that features Red Dwarf, but is regularly updated. A website full of opinions, but with no justifications. A website that has already been started and abandoned three times by its teenage creator, and then almost scuppered by a part time job, but which finally hits the internet on the 14th September 2002, the date on which pedantry goes beyond the final frontier. The website is Ganymede & Titan, and tonight we salute the inexplicably still active site and its tedious crew. Twenty years is a ludicrous time for a site like G&T to have been going. A Red Dwarf fan site that’s long since been running for more than half of the show’s existence, and indeed more than half the lives of its creator and the rest of the current team. That team has expanded and contracted at numerous points over the years; we covered the potted history of G&T for our tenth anniversary, so for the big 2-0 we thought we’d take a look back on some of our favourite or most significant features from each year of the last two decades. One article that best represents each year of the site’s life, plus some honourable mentions and the marking of the most notable dates. It’s a chance for the veterans to reminisce, and for the newer recruits to explore more of what is by now a very hefty back catalogue, starting with the article that first got us noticed. 2002 – Series 1 DVD Review After a couple of false starts in the previous couple of years, the version of Ganymede & Titan which still exists today launched on Saturday 14th September 2002, resplendent in its royal blue background, which in hindsight clashed horribly with the bright red headline text. One of the motivating factors in finally committing to producing Red Dwarf content was the forthcoming DVD range, which themselves will of course be celebrating their 20th anniversary in a couple of months, just in case you weren’t already feeling old. I’ll always remember taking Monday 4th November off college in order to be outside Woolworths when it opened, then rushing home to devour the discs’ content before hurriedly bashing out my review. It couldn’t actually be published until 6pm, as that was when the dial-up internet became free to use. The swiftness and thoroughness of the review meant that it spread quickly throughout the forums and handful of other still-active fansites, and ultimately came to the attention of DVD producer and GNP polymath Andrew Ellard, who was no doubt both delighted and alarmed to see his work scrutinised in such minute detail. I have very fond memories of attending my first DJ the following April, and staying up until all hours having the nerdiest of conversations with Andrew and a few others, which coincided with what perhaps remains the most crucial development in the site’s history. 2003 – Red Dwarf A-Z Friday 4th April 2003 was both the start of Dimension Jump X and the deliberately-chosen relaunch date for G&T, as I joined forces with John Hoare to form a double-pronged attack on the notion that there was only so much left to be said about Red Dwarf after fifteen years. Spurring each other on and both keen to impress the other, we somehow managed to update every single day for two months, from 4th April to 5th June. News on the “forthcoming” Movie, the next batch of DVDs and various bits of merchandise and cast activity, were published alongside in-depth editorials and comprehensive documents, leaving no stone unturned in covering absolutely anything tangentially related to the show. Consequently, there was a lot of choose from in this year’s archive, so honourable mentions go to: the SOTCAA-emulating Edit News features; a dissection of Out of Time‘s cliffhanger; an impassioned defence of the model shots; a comprehensive guide to every single alteration in The End Re-Mastered; and an analysis of the concepts from Son of Cliché that would end up being revisited by Red Dwarf. But our breakdown of Red Dwarf A-Z was chosen as an early example of the puerile humour which blights Ganymede & Titan, and as the origin of several in-jokes, most notably one that we probably wouldn’t make today but are nevertheless quietly proud of as a piece of heritage. 2004 – Celebrities Disfigured More of the same came in 2004, which was a rather prosperous time for Red Dwarf fansites. Inspired and influenced by G&T, new sites launched this year included Austin Ross’s Garbage World and Seb Patrick’s Fuchal, while Jonathan Capps’s The White Hole was at its most prolific. As a community, we and a few of our regulars joined forces to launch Observation Dome in November, a group blog which was home to all our minor Red Dwarf thoughts that wouldn’t make for full articles. Not that G&T’s subject matter would become any less niche, although it did become more ambitious – we interviewed Peter Tyler, subjected the world to John Hoare’s face, and cracked open Paint Shop Pro to pull off the first of many April Fools stunts. But the most enduring feature was a review of Celebrities Disfigured, a spectacularly ill-advised programme featuring Craig Charles ruining a Red Dwarf convention panel in what was very much a product of the 00s television landscape. It’s taken on an almost mythical status since then, with no copies having made their way to the internet and any coverage other than ours thin on the ground. It’s nevertheless etched on the brains of those who saw it, and even occupies the thoughts of those who have only read about it. 2005 – The Movie: Yeah No Yeah No There are 547 updates in the archive for 2005. Five hundred and forty seven. One and a half updates per day. Admittedly, the vast majority of these were originally Observation Dome posts, which were hastily migrated to G&T when the sites merged (spoilers). It was around this time that G&T itself first faltered in its full-tilt, full-power, red-hot maximum pace. Standards slipped to the point where were publishing articles in defence of Series VIII. Instead, our side project flourished – 2005 was the year for Observation Dome. One highlight was an unassuming post about the Chicken (Mc)Nugget line from Kryten; while the comment count seems solid-but-unspectacular by today’s standards, this remains a fond memory of what felt like a really epic discussion springing up within a growing community. But the site’s crowning achievement was The Movie: Yeah No Yeah No, the competition-winning fan film that made it to the Series VII DVD. On a technical level, I’m thoroughly ashamed of it, but it will forever occupy a very special place in my heart for the friendships that were formed and solidified during its production. This is especially true as the filming weekend marked the first time I met Seb Patrick in person, and so the film means so much more than the sum of its parts. 2006 – DwarfCast 1 – DJXIII Byte 1 As work and/or university started to take up more and more of everyone’s time, the current model of one group blog and several sporadically updated fansites was looking increasingly silly, and so the big merger came on 5th September 2006. G&T swallowed up the competition and team numbers peaked at eight: Jonathan Capps, John Hoare, Tanya Jones, Seb Patrick, Phil Reed, Austin Ross, Danny Stephenson and Ian Symes. We must confess that we’re not really sure how and when Austin and Phil ceased to be on the team; we think they both left around mid 2008, but I can’t find any evidence in my emails and none of us remember any resignations or fall outs. One thing’s for sure – if it wasn’t for the decision to pool resources, there’s no way G&T would have reached its tenth anniversary, let alone its twentieth. Anyway, the other significant moment of 2006 came a month after the merger, when Dimension Jump was once more the springboard for the next step in G&T’s evolution. Those of us who were there went armed with an audio recorder, and gathered the Q&A footage and embarrassingly adolescent discussions that formed the very first DwarfCast. We eventually recorded the hundredth thirteen years later, which covers the history and highlights of the podcast, as well as containing Seb’s final contribution to G&T. 2007 – G&T Interviews Doug Naylor By this point, the community that had sprung up in our comments was really thriving, and so we launched our very own forum in the early hours of the 28th March. The very first topic? “Just had a wank…” For better or worse, the Forum soon took on a life of its own, and is another vital factor in the site’s longevity. We ran through some of the highlights of the first ten years back in 2017, and it’s gone from strength to strength ever since. As for ourselves, several milestones were reached this year – The Bodysnatcher Collection wrapped up the original run of extraordinarily in-depth DVD reviews, and Red Christmas gave us our first coverage of new Red Dwarf material, if nothing else. But the daddy of them all came via one of the daddies of the Dwarf. Two very nervous nerds gathered around the landline in my tiny flat and interviewed Doug Naylor about Bodysnatcher, mobisodes and the future of the franchise, if indeed there was one. In retrospect, we did get some hints of what was to come, with Doug saying that show “could move” from the BBC, and mentioning how well the repeats on Dave were doing. It was a stupendous moment in G&T’s personal history, and one that gave us the confidence to assert ourselves as a heavyweight of Red Dwarf‘s web presence. 2008 – The Top 51 Episodes of Red Dwarf That said, we did seem to be running out of steam as the following months brought a complete vacuum of news. The DVDs were over, whispers of potential new material stalled, and Red Dwarf seemed like it was dead as a creative endeavour. We find ourselves in a similar situation today, but back then we weren’t used to the idea of being a fansite for something that was over. And so we started looking back, and for the show’s twentieth anniversary, we organised the first of our quinquennial episode rankings. It was on a relatively small scale, as the polling only sampled six of our eight team members, as opposed to the wide-ranging public votes of The Silver Survey, The Pearl Poll and the forthcoming Coral Canvass (w/t). Nevertheless it’s included here because a) one’s first time is always special, and b) we did other half-decent things in 2013 and 2018. Not so much here, although in September, we got confirmation that things were about to change… 2009 – Carbug …and all of a sudden, we were a fansite for a show that was couldn’t have been more alive, with an explosion of news updates covering the production of Back To Earth almost in real time. Regardless of your thoughts on the final product, the excitement was palpable throughout the early months of the year, and we attracted hundreds of new readers, including members of the cast and crew scouring our stories during breaks in filming. In the spirit of being as up-to-the-minute as possible, we launched our Twitter account on 8th April, primarily to cover the utterly surreal Berkeley Square publicity event, our video report on which mainly concerns members of the public heckling the cast. Each episode was marked with what soon became a traditional “Let’s Talk About” post, and our Instant Reaction DwarfCasts, recorded immediately after each episode finished and released overnight, were the precursor to the Live DwarfCasts we’d present for the rest of what would become known as the Dave era. But if there’s one defining image of that time, it’s a Smart car decorated to look like Starbug rocking up on the cobbles of Coronation Street. We called it Headfuck Monday. Heavy snowfall left most of the country shut in, and so there was no distraction from these bizarre images suddenly appearing out of nowhere, giving us the first indication that these new specials were not going to be as straightforward as we’d assumed, and sending the speculation into fever pitch. 2010 – DwarfCast 24 – Waiting For God Commentary We were evidently shagged out from all the excitement of Back To Earth the following year. There were only eighteen site updates in the whole of 2010, an all-time low by some considerable distance. I was shocked when I discovered this fallow period, as I can’t think of any particular reason for such a dearth of updates. We’ve done much better at keeping a half-decent pace between series since then, but it must have been a combination of fatigue and the expectation that more new episodes were surely just around the corner. How naive we were. The only non-news features published all year were two DwarfCasts, so here’s one of them. 2011 – Red Dwarf X – Episode 1 – Set Report It’s around this point we hit the sweet spot of being old enough to see a reduction in the desire to socialise, while young enough not to have too many time-draining adult responsibilities. We even released a bloody book, which we have fond memories of flogging at that year’s Dimension Jump. Seb acted as the book’s editor, putting in roughly 98% of the work required, and he cheekily included a print-out of his CV tucked into the complimentary copy we gave to Doug. That seemed to pay off, as a few months later he received the offer to up sticks and join GNP as Andrew Ellard’s website-editing successor, cruelly leaving the G&T team behind on 4th November. I suppose now’s the time to admit that despite years of jokes about him being a traitor, we were all incredibly delighted for him, and knew that he was absolutely the best candidate possible for the job. Another significant moment at that DJ was the official announcement of Series X, with its triumphant return to filming in front of a studio audience. Using the sophisticated technique of getting as many of us as possible to apply for as many tickets as possible as soon as possible, we managed to have a G&T representative at every recording, and duly launched our series of Set Reports, published the day after each taping and treading a very fine line between teasing and spoiling. The very first one remains one of our most read articles ever, reaching tens of thousands and establishing G&T as the place to be for new episode coverage to this day. 2012 – Dave’s Red Dwarf Weekends: VIII Edits In preparation for the new series, we had a bit of a tidy-up, completely redesigning the site (adhering largely to a sketch scribbled on a bit of A4 paper by Seb before he left) and migrating to a new content management system. It amuses us that this is still listed as one of the most notable aspects of the site in our entry on the Tongue Tied wiki. The big relaunch happened on 4th September, just in time for our tenth anniversary on *checks notes* oh, exactly ten years ago today. For Series X, our coverage stepped up a gear, with the Instant Reaction DwarfCasts being broadcast live after each episode aired, and half of them including exclusive interviews with cast and crew. We started publishing in-depth written reviews too, and we also had a lot of fun with the promotional material beforehand, most notably the Vindalunar incident. So naturally to represent this monumental year of brand new Red Dwarf and its incredibly bright future, we’ve chosen a series of articles detailing the edits made to old episodes repeated in a pre-watershed slot on Dave. It was very us. 2013 – DwarfCast 48 – 25th Anniversary Live Special And so there was a bit of a lull in the following year while we awaited news of when we’d get to do all the exciting stuff again, but thankfully we weren’t as rubbish as we were in 2010. There was a steady dribble of DwarfCasts throughout the year, another Dimension Jump to keep us all busy, and of course the Silver Survey. It was this that provided the starting point for what turned out to be our favourite DwarfCast to date, and which remains fairly high up in our rankings today – going live once more with a big room full of people to celebrate the show’s 25th anniversary. The highlight was undoubtedly Pecos Pete, one of a handful of resident trolls we’ve had in our midst over the years, managing to be the first person to call in during our mildly-terrifying “dial up my Skype and talk to us about anything” section, using it to tell Cappsy to fuck off, and then hanging up. We should have won a Sony Award for that. 2014 – Low & High: Red Dwarf Re-Mastered Not for the first or last time, news on more new Dwarf wasn’t coming as quickly as everyone anticipated, so we started making a conscious effort to keep the features ticking over regardless, adapting to be a fansite for both a current and former TV show, rather than one or the other – tracking the latest news while still looking to the past for discussion points. It was either that or dedicate ourselves entirely to Over To Bill. And so 2014 became the year of High & Low – taking a topic from Red Dwarf‘s vast oeuvre and providing a personal top ten and bottom five. It was a nice little format, if a little limiting, and would no doubt have continued for much longer had I not ruined it by having a dig at slash fiction in an April Fools themed edition. We could have linked to any of them, but our favourite is probably John taking one last opportunity to get some shit about Re-Mastered off his chest sixteen years later, a topic which required a format-breaking flip of the positivity : negativity ratio. 2015 – Red Dwarf: The Complete Guide To Almost Everything It was a very good year for Red Dwarf, with not one but two new series announced at Dimension Jump, and also a good year for our completist tendencies. John dusted off his Xtended Revisited strand from 2007 and finished the job, and also investigated stuff like Grant Naylor using multiple versions of the same joke, and Bob Monkhouse’s attempts to steal Son of Cliché material. Hattie Hayridge came round to G&T Towers for a chat, and the year was rounded off by another series of set reports. This time round the ticketing system was fairer, which unfortunately meant that we were only at a handful of them. But the community came good, with all manner of different people acting as spies throughout the recordings, giving a whole new feel to the reports. But our biggest update of the year, and probably the biggest update ever, came as a result of me having three weeks off work in the middle of summer as a result of Channel 5’s scheduling decisions, and deciding to write a G&T version of a Red Dwarf episode guide, ie. a Red Dwarf episode guide that has more detail about inconsequential skits than it does about the actual episodes, and with copious amounts of swearing. It’s due an update on The Promised Land, the AA Adverts and more, but that’s currently on hold as I have lofty ambitions to revise and expand the Guide significantly. So look out for an announcement on that in around 2038. 2016 – Red Dwarf XI: The Game Review 2016 is unique in the Dave era as being both a production year for one series and a broadcast year for another. The collaborative set reports continued in the new year, and we also interviewed one of the returning guest stars before we were allowed to mention that he was a returning guest star. I used the brief lull between new episode excitement to put together a catalogue of all the Smegazines, ticking off something that had been on the to-do list for about a decade. The publicity juggernaut for Series XI gave us lots to talk about, such as the trailer, a special edition of SFX magazine, and a shop full of new merch. It also gave us a major headache for our coverage when it was announced that each episode would premiere on UKTV Play a week before its linear broadcast, but we’re still sick of moaning about that. Instead, let’s focus on Red Dwarf XI: The Game, a glorious mobile playalong of two thirds of the series. Game Digits were really invested in fans’ feedback, to the extent that an extraordinarily niche G&T in-joke involving the word “cloche” made it into later episodes of the game. 2017 –Red Dwarf VII: The Early Drafts Two new series broadcast in as many years, Lister, I don’t know. Halcyon days from a current perspective, where we’ll be lucky if we get two specials within the next two decades. We figured out better ways of coping with the UKTV Play/Dave divide for Series XII, and enjoyed putting our coverage together a hell of a lot more as a result. But before that, we spent the gap between series looking back once more, by making the legendary Forum Hall of Fame flesh, and running a World Cup of Guest Characters series of polls on Twitter. That was good fun – remind us to do it again at some point. Another major project to finally get ticked off the to-do-list was me getting off my arse and doing something with the early draft Series VII scripts I’d had lying around for 13 years. What probably put me off was that back in 2005 I decided to dip my toe in the water by publishing the entire script for Identity Within verbatim. We were unsurprisingly issued with a cease and desist, but we’d never have done it in the first place if we knew GNP already had plans for that script. Anyway, this article is perhaps the one I’m most proud of personally in the twenty years I’ve been writing this nonsense for. 2018 – Set to Rights: From Supply Pipe 28 to Floor 592 Other than those early days of youthful enthusiasm and the coming together of lifelong friendships, this was the start of my favourite period of G&T. We wanted to harness the energy with which we’d tackled Series XII and keep the momentum going, so we set out on a plan to publish at least two features per month, regardless of any news updates, which by and large we managed for a good few years until life got in the way again. In 2018, we of course had another milestone anniversary to cover with a poll and a Live DwarfCast, and another dig through my script collection bore a Back In The Red shaped fruit. The thirtieth anniversary Dimension Jump was suitably epic, with everyone who’s ever been a regular cast member in attendance along with both Rob and Doug (separately, obviously), Ed Bye and Paul Jackson. We also started another regular feature, G&TV, a trawl through obscure Red Dwarf related treats from the television archives, which lasted much longer than most of our ideas for running strands, and should return soon. But the headliner was undoubtedly John’s Set To Rights series, poring through screengrabs of the early series in extraordinary detail to piece together a history of the show’s set design. 2019 – G&TV Special: Smeg Ups Rough Cut This would prove to be the absolute peak of our newfound productivity. John and I in particular both set ourselves targets of how many pieces we wanted to publish each month, and we ended up with some pretty decent stuff, if I say so myself. I mused on the implications of a future-set show being made in the past, we all mused on how brilliant we are in the 100th DwarfCast, and a PBS special from 1998 finally made its way online. There were brand new things to react to as well, with the shambolic Bluray release, the AA adverts, and a radio sketch show pilot giving us the opportunity to add Rob Grant to our list of interviewees. All of which and more could happily be the featured article for this year – 2010 was crying out for some of this shit – but we’ve plumped for a G&TV Special which sums up how much has changed in the time this site has been going. I first got hold of the Smeg Ups rough cut on a multiple-generation VHS dub in around 2003. The idea of digitising and uploading it was beyond me at that stage, so instead I pointed my Walkman at the telly to record the audio on to cassette, which I then took in to a different room to type up on to the computer. I eventually lost the transcript and forgot all about it. Now? It’s just on YouTube. You whipper-snappers don’t know what we had to go through in the early days of the web. 2020 – DwarfCast 111 – Book Club #1: IWCD (Part One) I think it would be fair to say that 2020 was a time of upheaval. I don’t want to blame it all on Covid-19, but it certainly didn’t help. John and Tanya decided to leave in January, bringing the size of the team down to its smallest level since 2006, then there was the whole global pandemic thing. As you all are no doubt aware, we lost Seb in August 2020, and life hasn’t been the same for us since. The recovery continues. But actually, despite all the difficulties, it wasn’t a terrible year for G&T. After the fun of The Promised Land, we needed to come up with a way to keep the site going while two thirds of the remaining team were having their writing time swallowed up by childcare, and the other third is more of a podcast producer than a writer. So the solution was obvious, and we DwarfCasted to our hearts’ content, to the extent that we’ve already done half as many episodes in the last three years as we managed in the first thirteen. We finally finished off the commentaries for the BBC episodes, set about doing the same for the Dave era and even made a start on the Book Club – another of those ideas that had been floating around for years, but we did it justice with the help of our loyal listeners/readers feeding us their delicious comments. Most importantly, getting together on a regular basis to chat shit for several hours and record some of it was what kept the three of us sane during an incredibly difficult time in our lives. We had a bit of a break this summer, but we’ll be back at it in a big way soon. 2021 – Introducing The Smega-Drive The era of the DwarfCast continued, with the Book Club moving on to the thorny issue of the two solo novels, our new Wafflemen segment breaking out into a few standalone specials, and even dabbling with covering shows other than Red Dwarf. All the while, the only news was of a depressing legal battle between Doug Naylor and GNP, which leaves us concluding that once again this is a fansite for an ex-programme. There was however some more interesting titbits dug up from the archives; it was really satisfying to be the ones to finally bring a piece of long-lost Red Dwarf ephemera back on public view, namely Norman’s in-character appearances on Tomorrow’s World. There’s another one of those in the pipeline too. But the final big highlight of this list could only be one thing. The thing that’s revolutionised Red Dwarf shitposting forever, and seen the emergence of top class memeing as the primary way of communicating in our comments and forum. The idea was first suggested by Seb a few years back, when he casually said that someone should do a Dwarf equivalent of Frinkiac/Partridge Cloud, knowing full well that those someones would be Cappsy and Danny. My favourite thing about it is that they went away and developed this entire thing without telling me. Secret evenings spent building huge databases and figuring out ways to translate subtitle files into searchable captions. They just presented me with a link to a nearly-fully working version one night. The subsequent conversations led to the creation of the Super-Random button, and that was the cherry on top. And so that brings us all the way to 2022, where the most substantial feature is probably the one you just read. We did of course start the Smegazine Rack series of DwarfCasts this year, and also jumped on a gaming bandwagon by launching Smegle, which technically speaking means that we’re back to having new content posted absolutely every day. We’ve also lost another of our former team members this year, Phil Reed, which makes this anniversary even more poignant, in addition to the reminder of how vital Seb was to so much of G&T’s history. So that’s the story of the first twenty years of Ganymede & Titan. The brainchild of one teenage nerd that grew and grew into something beyond his imagination, establishing a presence and a reputation that I could have only dreamed of as an enthusiastic sixteen year old. We’ve gone from a tiny team to a huge group effort and back again to reach our current incarnation – three best friends who love making stuff together, and love seeing the reaction of the people who grace us with their time, their jokes and their incredibly pedantic discussions. We see our community as kindred spirits, as dedicated as we are to our love of Red Dwarf and of dissecting it in the minutest detail. While the scale and the scope of the site has evolved over the years, there’s always been that defining characteristic, which will never change. And the reason for that is simple – we do it for love. Love of the show, love of our community and love of each other. While twenty years is a hell of a milestone to reach, I’ve long since stopped being surprised that the site is still going, and I’m confident that it will still be here for another twenty and more. And let me tell you, we’ve still got a hell of a lot to cover. Our to-do-list is still mammoth, and while life gets in the way from time to time, I promise we’ll get round to it all, even if we have to wait until we’ve all retired from work and our kids have moved out. I’d like to end with a huge thank you to Cappsy, John, Tanya, Seb, Phil, Austin, Danny and all our regulars past and present. Twenty years ago today I started something which changed my life for the better. Thank you to everyone who made it that way.