DwarfCast 160 - Rob Grant Interview featured image
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“I’ve got a lot of Red Dwarf to give.”

Well then, this is a little bit special. Fresh from the fantastic news that the Red Dwarf legal kerfuffle is officially resolved, we speak exclusively to Rob Grant himself – the co-creator of the programme, who’s now returning to the franchise after an absence of close to 30 years. We found out exactly what the legal resolution means for the future of the show, got clarification on the new status quo for Rob and Doug, discovered what new projects are being pursued, discussed possible collaborations with established cast and crew, and touched upon merchandise, continuity, technology, Marilyn Monroe, and much much more.

This is not one to be missed. We strongly recommend listening immediately to hear all this directly from the man himself, along with our own reactions and post-interview analysis, but if you’re unable to listen right now, there’s a full transcript of the interview portion below.

DwarfCast 160 – Rob Grant Interview (52.1MB)

Ian: So the current state of play – correct me if I’m wrong – is that there are no longer any obstacles to new Red Dwarf being made?

Rob: No, no, there aren’t. I mean, in fact, there are provisions precisely to make new Red Dwarfs all over the place. And it’s very exciting. We reached a resolution whereby Doug and I both have different exclusive exploitation rights. And I don’t want to second guess him by announcing, you know, what they are specifically between us, but we both have a right to a spin off on telly, and there are movie rights, animation rights, theatrical rights. And in addition to that, there are a number of rights that aren’t exclusive to us, but we can exploit, for instance podcasts, novels, radio shows, that kind of thing. And to top it all, then if a different kind of project comes along, we just have to get the other’s approval to get that off the road. So technically, everything’s feasible.

I: It’s insane that we’ve gone from a bottleneck where everything was stopped, and now all of a sudden, anything is possible. Absolutely anything.

R: Yeah, it really is, it’s mind blowing. And very, very exciting. I mean, of course, not all of these things are going to come off because you know… death. We’re not going to be around forever, but we want to be able to exploit what we can while we can.

Cappsy: So this situation is essentially designed to avoid any toe-stepping, presumably?

R: It was a very difficult and delicate negotiation, but yeah, that’s fundamentally what we had to try and do, yeah.

C: That’s good, because that is a concern that we’ve seen some in the community say, like what  happens if there is toe stepping? So it’s good that’s there, I guess that would be the first thing to resolve isn’t it?

R: Yeah.

I: Yeah we’re not going to be in a situation where you’re both pitching rival versions of Red Dwarf to the same people, it’s more that you will have your own areas divided up that you can do without clashing with each other.

R: Yeah, I mean, there are lots of versions, for instance, of Star Trek currently on all over the place, and they seem to survive side-by-side without stepping on toes.

C: Well, there’s been multiple continuities of Red Dwarf since 1989, so it’s something we’re used to!

R: So yeah, it’s all good, I think. I mean, I’m very excited to see what Doug comes up with. I love the show and I want more of it. I did see that there’s some people commenting saying, “leave it now, it’s had enough and we don’t want to see a new cast”. And I just think, you know, I’m old enough to remember when we got the new Doctor, Patrick Troughton, from William Hartnell, who’d died, I think, so it wasn’t like there was an option. And the people were saying “oh no, you can’t have another Doctor”. And you can! You can have multiple Doctors.

C: And I think history proved them right in the end!

R: Yeah. And I get it, you know, we love the cast, of course we do. They’re a unique bunch of incredibly talented, funny actors. We really got lucky casting them because I thought they were all idiots. (Laughs) No, I didn’t, I didn’t). But you know, going over those performances, during the quarantine shows, I really began to appreciate just how talented they were. Craig and Chris and Danny, they light up the room, they know what they’re doing. And they were doing things I didn’t notice, you know, when I was shooting it, they’re very clever. But you know, we can’t go on with that forever. That’s got a limited lifespan, and hopefully, Doug will be able to get at least one more series out of them, or a special. I certainly hope so, we’ll have to see.

C: Would it be fair to say then, given what we know about how difficult it is to get the cast all together at the same time, also some health problems that Robert’s had with the mask in the past, that it may be fair to say that Doug will be the one working with the cast, maybe in the short term and anything you’re doing would be sans cast, perhaps?

R: Well, I think Doug certainly will be working with the main cast. I mean, it wouldn’t make sense to break up that kind of continuity now. But you know, there is nothing stopping the cast making appearances in spin-offs. Like, you know, Spock was in bloody every spin-off, wasn’t he? So it’d be nice to have them there. There will be a place for them.

I: And I suppose you’ve already mentioned radio, animation, things like that – there are things that you can do with the original cast that aren’t a TV show.

R: Exactly, I’d expect to get most of them, I hope, in the animation, because then they don’t have to put on the makeup, they don’t even have to leave their home most of the time.

C: Literally phone it in.

R: They do these days! And that would be nice. So yeah, one thing I was actually going to put to the G&T mob is, I’ve seen a lot of people over the past couple of years talking about a Red Dwarf animation. And what are they looking for? I’d like to hear what kind of things they’d like to see. Do they imagine it like a Rick and Morty, or Below Decks, the Star Trek one, or an anime?

Danny: Do you mind if I jump in? So I’ve seen a lot of shows where there’s been a lot of good… Have you seen Love, Death and Robots on Netflix? 

R: No. 

D: So that’s like a sci-fi anthology show. And I think what could work is an anthology show that might not always be every cast member in every episode, but it could just be like an episode that focuses on a single character.

R: And what would they be, sequential or they’d be completely independent?

D: They could be completely unrelated, they don’t have to have a continuity. They could have a continuity, that could also be a way it would work, but I was thinking it could be almost like stories within the universe of Dwarf, it doesn’t have to have continuation, but you could also have origin stories as well. I’m speaking rather selfishly, but this is the stuff that appeals to me is kind of extending the universe of Red Dwarf and seeing what Titan looks like and seeing what the universe of Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers looks like. Like, that’s the kind of stuff that really appeals to me particularly, but that seems to be where a lot of shows tend to do these anthology shows where there’s a lot of scope and possibilities. 

R: Like Tales From The Dwarf basically.

D:  Yeah, Tales From The Dwarf basically, yeah!

C: I think as well, one of the things that people really respond well to is kind of a grander realisation of those early ideas and early setups that you had. So for example, we’re going through the Smegazine at the moment…

R: It’s quality stuff that!

C: It’s brilliant! So right at the start, they adapted The End and Future Echoes, and script wise, it’s pretty much word for word but some of the evocative imagery that the artists managed to put in, like the scale. The first scene between Rimmer and Lister and just showing the kind of the huge area that they’re in, that really appeals, I think, to people for animation, like the almost… not the limitless possibilities, but just being able to push that out a little bit. 

I: Yeah, there’s definitely things that you can do in animation that you can’t do in live action without having a Hollywood budget. And there are so many ideas in Red Dwarf, like… So we’re going through the Smegazines and spoilers for Danny and Cappsy who haven’t gotten to this stage of their readthrough yet, but there’s spin offs for the Inquisitor, for Ace Rimmer, for Duane Dibbley, for Jake Bullet. There are so many ideas that you and Doug just burnt through in half an hour that haven’t been returned to since.

C: Sometimes two or three in half an hour.

R: Yeah I know, well that’s kind of why we went into the novels because we thought, you know, there’s a little bit more in this.

C: Yeah. And that’s the big thing that everyone says they like about the novels is how they weren’t just novelisations, it was a whole new universe as well. I think that’s something that really interests the Red Dwarf fan group as as a whole is like the idea that we’ve been used to the fact that we’ve got two Red Dwarf continuities, like even thinking that different series would be in different continuities really if you think about it, like III and 2 don’t feel like they’re in the same show, you know, things like that. So like, anything that kind of exploits that and just starts right back from the beginning – could be the same characters, but just retell it slightly differently, like USA did, like the novels did. This is all kind of the points of excitement, I would say.

R: Excellent, this is music to my ears, honestly. I feel like I’m interviewing you guys. Okay, so what can you bring to Red Dwarf

C: Are you up to speed with Doug Dwarf, as it were?

R: Only in very broad terms. I mean, I have people who are very familiar with it, who would look at my stuff and say, “oh, actually, Doug’s done that.”

I: Yeah, you did Into the Gloop a couple of years ago, a little sort of reintroduction to the world of Red Dwarf. My reading of that, in part, was that you were establishing a multiverse for Red Dwarf, like a point at which Red Dwarf could spin off and say, “well everything that happened after this is still valid, but here’s an alternative version…”

R: That certainly occurred to me. I mean, at the time, it didn’t look like I could ever get it off the ground or anything, but it was kind of a thought experiment, really. I thought the fans did really well in it, didn’t they?

[general agreement]

R: It was a lot of fun. But yeah, that was kind of what I was thinking, Ian. I was kind of thinking “well, you could just split it”, and of course it’s science fiction, you can split off, you know, wherever you want. 

C: Yeah, exactly, and also at this point, you know, Red Dwarf isn’t totally too in love with its own continuity, it never has been really, so…

R: I mean, I’m a continuity Nazi. Honestly. 

C: Yeah, this is what we’ve heard!

R: And it was Doug who said ”look, if it’s gonna be a better show, stuff it”! And you know, he had a point, we would never have got the look from season three, if you’d gone with me and been compelled to keep things as they were.

C: “The same generation nearly”.

R: Yeah! So yeah, I am a continuity freak, really. It really interests me.

I: What has prompted this return to the Red Dwarf sphere? Because presumably, you could have had a conversation at any point in the last nearly 30 years since you and Doug stopped writing it together. What made you want to return to the show after such a long break?

R: No, I’ve wanted to return for a long time. And I kind of don’t want to rake over the coals of the past really, and I understand why you guys want to know that. But I really don’t want to rock the boat right now. I never left Red Dwarf in my heart. That’s all you need to know.

I: OK. Have you been bubbling away with ideas for 30 years, basically?

R: There was a period where I just had to shut it out and move on and do other stuff, and I kind of expected it to fade and die really, and it kind of did, it went away for a decade. But yes, you then go back and think, yeah, there was so much good about the setup, and so many more ideas to explore. And I’m really quite pumped now, I’ve got a lot of Red Dwarf to give. If only we can get a broadcaster to listen.

C: Well, I guess what we’re all thinking is that there is a particular broadcaster that we would hope would be a perennial kind of partner.

R: Yes, indeed we do. But we’ll see. We’ll see what interest there is. I’d have thought there’s a guaranteed audience out there… but that doesn’t seem to matter these days! Or that it’s funny or you know… you’re kind of in the lap of the gods, really. But something will come off, definitely.

C: So, something we’ve been doing over the last couple of years is we’ve been revisiting all of the Red Dwarf novels, we finished that a while ago now. And so us and the community have had an opportunity to kind of re-evaluate things and we’ve almost surprised ourselves with how much we’ve enjoyed about it. And the community have even started their own reread of your books, the Rob Grant trilogy, and finding a hell of a lot to love about those. So I think if you were to ask anyone what they would be most excited about you doing next, it would probably be a Red Dwarf novel. Whereabouts is that in your mind or your list of priorities?

R: My idea is that we get something off the ground – and again, I can’t be too specific about what we’re going for – but that would become the next novel, sort of in tandem. Which I always find it the best way to do it, because then the novel informs the series and the series informs the novel and you get…

C: Like Quanderhorn.

R: Yes. You get an explosion of ideas really.

C: Fascinating. And would you continue – I mean, I don’t want to get too deep here – but I’m interested what you think about the way you left Backwards, the novel. You left it open ended, almost as if to say like, I could write anything after this. Is that still the intention? Or maybe would you wipe the slate clean? 

R: Again, I’d be giving too much away, guys!

C: But you did say you were a continuity Nazi and continuity Nazis don’t throw away continuity, so…

R: No! Oh, I’m giving away too many clues!

C: Ok, point taken!

R: No, I’m bursting to tell you, honestly guys. I hope very soon I will be able to.

C: We’re just excited that there’s ideas bubbling and that, you know, this is even a conversation we could have in 2023, to be honest. I’m still shocked that the show came back in 2009, I haven’t got over that yet…

R: Me too!

C: …let alone what’s going to happen in the future now with both of you working on the show again.

I: “Red Dwarf flying out of our buttskis” I believe was the phrase.

R: I promised it, I promised it!

C: You did, it has become a meme in the two years since you promised it!

I: You mentioned a while back, literally two years ago, that there’d been an approach from an American company. It was shortly after Holly Hop and Into The Gloop, you mentioned yourself on the official website that there’d been an approach from an American company. Did anything come of that? You’re looking like you can’t even remember saying that…

R: No, I can’t even think of what that was. I mean, these things happen all the time, you know? But yeah, America would be a place to exploit. And we are in a position where we can authorise new merchandise. The whole company now is me and Doug, so we don’t have to go to anyone else. I would definitely like to see a Red Dwarf beanie hat.

I: That’s very specific.

C: Do you get a cold head often, Rob?

D: Can I offer a suggestion? Can I offer one with a ‘H’ on it?

R: Oh, that’s not a bad thought, is it?  

C: That is a good idea.

I: Now you’re gonna have to sign something that says you waive the rights to that, Danny.

D: Yeah, I’ll happily give you one pound.

R: I’ll give you a copy of the hat!

I: I’m aware asking this that you may not be able to or want to answer in too much detail, but we did notice from the Companies House website that in the shakeup of all of this that Paul Jackson and Noel Gay are no longer involved in Grant Naylor. Is that going to help streamline things for you now? Is that an extra obstacle removed type thing?

R: Well, it depends where you’re coming from really, it is a much cleaner way of doing things, just Doug and I have to agree on stuff. Hopefully not too much stuff. And Grant Naylor really is now, it’s not a production company any more. We go off to our own separate production companies and Grant Naylor basically administers the rights. That’s all it does.

I: That makes a lot of sense. And so that wouldn’t preclude you presumably from working with Paul on projects in the future? 

R: Of course notAbsolutely not, I’d love to! And we actually, Paul and I, had a ridiculous lunch with Ed…

C: I can imagine…

R: Oh, you can’t! They had to pull us out of the restaurant, honestly. But we talked about our projects, and we’re all giddy with excitement and working, and Ed is available. He said he would definitely love to direct it, so…

I: That would be a dream come true, it really would.

R: It’d be squaring the circle. It’d be lovely.

I: Again, through the Quarantine Commentaries, and everything there, we as a fan group have come to appreciate just how much Ed brought to the party. How advanced his techniques were, and how far he was pushing the limits of what he could do back in the late 80s. And yeah, I’d love to see the 21st Century equivalent of that.

R: The thing about Ed is when I went into telly, the first director I worked with was Geoff Posner on Carrott’s Lib, and he never said “I can’t do that”. Never once in his life have I heard Geoff Posner say that. And I thought that’s how all directors were, and then I worked on Spitting Image, and I found out most directors are the exact opposite, they just rip up the script and say that’s impossible to shoot. And Ed was from the Geoff Posner school, he never said “no, you can’t run tape backwards through one of these, you morons!” He just did it. He found a way to do it. The confidence of ignorance!

C: Also in those early series, working with technology that was already out of date… 

R: Yeah, yeah!

C: …in the eighties, the one inch tape and everything. He was like “yeah, sure, I’ll do pioneering split screen on a sitcom. What else do you want?”

R: It would be great to hook up with him again. I think he’s gotten even better since then.

C: Well, the fan community definitely loves you guys as a trio, like, obviously, you know this, that the commentaries went down very well indeed. It was very heartwarming to kind of see you revisit old work and see those passions. I just love listening to Ed talk about how brilliant he is. He’s so good at it!

D: And how difficult it all was.

R: Yeah no, I enjoyed them tremendously. We were all a bit adrift, weren’t we, in that period. It gave a focus to the week.

C: Yeah, it was so important for a lot of people.

I: It was, yeah. You did a really good thing there. As Red Dwarf fans, it was good content, but also at that particular time, like you say, having some structure, something to look forward to each week, something to gather round as a community when we couldn’t see people, we couldn’t see our own families or friends. Thank you for that.

R: No, thank you guys as well because we got the same from it. We got the same, it was this fantastic sense of community, the great feedback. We used to send all those comments up to all the guests and everything. And rekindled some old old friendships. I mean, it was lovely the episode with Howard, wasn’t it? I mean, what a genius. And David Ross and…

I: Lee Cornes dressed as Hitler.

R: Why not!

C: I’d be more surprised if Lee Cornes wasn’t dressed as Hitler. Very Nazi heavy, isn’t it, this interview?

R: I blame Gary Lineker.

I: Well Hitler is one of the most recurring guest characters in Red Dwarf, he’s been in it so many times.

D: He’s almost the sixth Dwarfer.

R: We also had Marilyn on a couple of times.

D: Can you explain what that was about? Like, why was Marilyn Monroe so prevalent in Red Dwarf

R: It was iconic figures really. And you know, in Red Dwarf there’s a lot of film reference, and so I guess that’s what it was. These people were icons. And Einstein, these were icons in our childhood, I guess.

C: So I guess you were trying to go for things that would likely still be iconic 200 years later? 

R: Yes, yes, exactly.

C: Berni Inn didn’t quite make the cut for that one, but…

R: Cliff Richard didn’t make it either and he’s still here!

I: Norweb doesn’t even exist. And why was Lister sending a photo to be developed anyway? What’s going on there? Why didn’t he just take it on his phone?

C: It’s almost like he was living in the 80s.

R: Okay, we didn’t get everything!

C: We have kind of a group headcanon that the internet doesn’t exist in Red Dwarf.

I: In the Red Dwarf universe they never invented the internet, and that explains why you have 80s technology basically in the far future.

R: Ah, yeah.

C: And it is a theme that’s continued as well to this day, you never really see anything internetty happening at all.

D: It all comes through mail, it all comes through snail mail to the ship.

C: 80s retro-futurism.

R: Actual postmen, it’s snail mail in space! The Internet did change everything. I kind of remember when I first came across it, and I thought right then “oh, this is going to change everything”. I got a modem and bought an ISP space. And I was chatting to people in Australia and I was thinking, “oh my God, this is free, this is just brilliant”. This was in ‘93, and the internet went down one day, and it turned out that the guy I was buying it off was just a kid with an Amiga 64 in the attic, and he’d been hit by lightning, and he was waiting for his dad to get him a new computer.

D: That is amazing.

C: Wonderful. It’s still not massively more stable than that now, to be honest, as someone who works as a web developer.

I: Well, we don’t want to get too bogged down in continuity and nerdy stuff because we can save that for a future interview, Rob.

R: Get me for that when I commit the crimes, all right?

I: But we do have one final question, a very important question. It’s something that has been divisive, controversial, something that has been splitting the Red Dwarf fan community in two, and we’re hoping you might be able to provide some clarification. Is Rastabilly Skank an artist or a genre?

R: It’s a genre. 

C: Wow.

D: Categorical. There you are, ladies and gentlemen, there’s your answer.

C: That is seismic. You have no idea the effect that’s going to have.

R: It was Craig who came up with it.

D: Oh, that’s so cool.

C: So it’s like rockabilly then? 

R: Yeah!

D: So it’s a Jamaican rockabilly. 

R: With a bit of skank thrown in, yeah. 

I: Well, even if nothing actually comes of any of these fantastic ideas you’re putting out in the universe, then at least we’ve got the answer to that. This was all worthwhile

R: OK! (laughs) Thanks guys, lovely talking to you and I hope I’ll be back with some definite news soon.

C: Can’t wait.

A huge, huge thank you to Rob for being so accommodating and generous with his time. All of a sudden, after such a terrible couple of years, this is a very exciting time to be a Red Dwarf fan. Watch this space.

Show notes

102 comments on “DwarfCast 160 – Rob Grant Interview

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  • How exciting. This is great to hear.

    Figuratively, anyway. I’ve only read the transcript, I haven’t listened to it yet.

  • Cappsy told me this was coming several minutes early so I’m special.

    I believe Twitter had also been informed.

  • I’ve read the transcript and that is all very exciting.

    My tuppence on animation, I really don’t want a Rick and Morty/Lower Decks style or Family Guy. I know they’re cheaper but I just hate how much chance for detail is lost.

    My dream for a Red Dwarf animation would be photorealistic style 3D sets/vehicles and either CG animated characters, or anime style characters, something a bit more detailed. There’d be room for stylisation without losing detail, and you could even render it on twos as CG to give it a look. 

    I agree that Red Dwarf can survive without the cast, if they did a Tales from the Dwarf anthology sort of thing, as long as the guest actors are strong and the story compelling. I’ve been pointing out that you can’t keep putting Robert’s head in a bag for a long time, and at some point even the crew will agree haha

    The universe of Red Dwarf is a strong one, lots of great ideas that have been barely explored. I’m looking forward to expanded content, also since they’re related (aren’t they?) a coffee table book of Paul Grant behind the scenes photos? 

    Great access and interview guys, cheers.

     

  • Ooh, exciting!  I look forward to listening/reading the transcript when I have time later.

    My tuppence on animation, I really don’t want a Rick and Morty/Lower Decks style or Family Guy. I know they’re cheaper but I just hate how much chance for detail is lost.

    My dream for a Red Dwarf animation would be photorealistic style 3D sets/vehicles and either CG animated characters, or anime style characters, something a bit more detailed. There’d be room for stylisation without losing detail, and you could even render it on twos as CG to give it a look.  

    Star Trek Prodigy style animation might be a good reference point too, not exactly photorealistic but very detailed, and more realistically anthropomorphic than, say, Pixar.

  • I want Rob to do a resolution to the Series VIII cliffhanger. He has the opportunity to really fuck with our heads here*.

    (*I’m guessing for one thing, legally it probably couldn’t happen – regardless of the fact that he’s likely not watched it. 

    But christ, could you imagine… We all thought “Headfuck Monday” in 2009 was difficult to comprehend…) 

  • Ooh, exciting!  I look forward to listening/reading the transcript when I have time later.

    My tuppence on animation, I really don’t want a Rick and Morty/Lower Decks style or Family Guy. I know they’re cheaper but I just hate how much chance for detail is lost.
    My dream for a Red Dwarf animation would be photorealistic style 3D sets/vehicles and either CG animated characters, or anime style characters, something a bit more detailed. There’d be room for stylisation without losing detail, and you could even render it on twos as CG to give it a look.  
    Star Trek Prodigy style animation might be a good reference point too, not exactly photorealistic but very detailed, and more realistically anthropomorphic than, say, Pixar.

    Yeah, I think that’s so much better for Star Trek than Lower Decks style. I was sort of gutted when Lower Decks was revealed with the Rick and Morty style. I just don’t think it’s the optimal style, 3D props and sets would also transfer over to other mediums like videogames and reference for comics.

    I know it’s all about budget constraints so it’s more likely that Red Dwarf is going to end up with a knock off Rick and Morty style than anything else but a man can dream.

  • Picturing British CGI or 2D animation, I’m seeing CG Captain Scarlet (Emerald?)/Fireman Sam or that sort or murky Cosgrove Hall style that never seemed to leave the ’70s.

    And I don’t particularly want either of those. I guess I want the smoothness of ’90s animation that evokes retro-80s.

    Personally, Who spinoffs are often tonally off for me because of that unlimited budget approach. I don’t go in for any wobbly-sets-made-the-show thang but the straining a budget does channel the show down a certain direction.

  • So incredible to hear such positivity about the shows future! Personally I’d love to see a follow up to thr Backwards novel, and perhaps a pre accident Rimmer spin off!😊

  • On the other hand, I’ve just started watching Lower Decks and think the animation is brilliant, a lot better than it looks in stills. I wouldn’t complain if a Red Dwarf cartoon came out looking like that. 

    I’d prefer 2D, personally, but something like the style used in Dennis and Gnasher Unleashed (which looks horrifying in screenshots but is really well animated) might work with Dwarf. 

    https://youtu.be/ewZ26T879Rc

  • Great interview guys, really amazing to hear Rob talking about some of the things we might be seeing from his buttski in the near future!

    Also nice to get a bit more detail/insight into the resolution regarding Doug / GBP – especially the fact that Dwarf never left Rob’s heart and how he was still thinking about doing more with it post Backwards, which really reignites the whole “what exactly happened in 93!?” situation (yes I know, we’re never going to get the real story here, but a guy can dream!)

    Regarding animation, I’d be far more in favour of “2D” animation of some form (I think R&M and Lower Decks are both fantastic looking shows) rather than something obviously CGI which makes me think of either DreamWorks/Pixar style stuff (which no way are we getting a budget to match) or crappy kids stuff like Paw Patrol or the hideous new CG Fireman Sam…  

  • I must admit, I would be surprised if spin-offs or an animated series actually happened. I’m not sure that the show has the kind of wide-reaching popularity amongst the key demographics, now, that you’d imagine would justify investing in either but I could be wrong? I just find the idea of that extremely unlikely, which may be a carry-over from all those years believing that a Red Dwarf movie would happen just because some people involved in it we’re confident that it would. 

    Not to be overly pessimistic, I do think a new book is extremely likely and possibly something like a radio show (which I would love to hear, I have fond memories of the old ones!). 

    Even more print comics would be nice. Hell, 2000AD has come up a bit recently and they have run adaptations of stuff in the past, I’d even take a Red Dwarf tie in appearing in that or (possibly more likely) the Judge Dredd Megazine. It would totally fit, too. Give Tharg a bell, Rob! 

  • Holy moly!

    Rob laying out all the cards like this – opening up the possibility of Red Dwarf cartoons, radio series, books etc. as well as the regular live action TV show – is overwhelming honestly, like emotional whiplash from where we were 5 weeks ago. But it was so delightful to hear his enthusiasm, and have him actively ask you questions about what you’d be interested in too.

    The most surprising thing (other than the Rastabilly Skank revelation of course) is that Rob doesn’t consider himself as having left the series and is now coming back, but that he was always still with it, even if he didn’t engage with Doug’s solo series or publish any further contributions after 1996 (save for Bodysnatcher and Into The Gloop). It puts the last 25 years of the fandom into a wholly different perspective. We were always treating it like Rob had just moved on from Red Dwarf and was more interested in pursuing other projects (which is perfectly valid), while Doug was like the loyal steward of the franchise, but clearly there’s a lot more to this story we don’t know, and may never know on ‘none of our business’ grounds. The way Rob speaks about it makes it sound like he tried to get involved in making new Red Dwarf during this time, and either Doug or GNP as a whole told him “no take backsies”, but I’m sure it’s a lot more complex and nuanced than just that. Regardless, it’s sad to think about what could have been, if Red Dwarf as an IP had been allowed to branch out and diversify like this 20 years ago.

    However, while I’m obviously elated to potentially enter a world where Snacky and Chippy Investigate and The Customer in Cafe Chronicles could actually happen, I am trepidatious about this assertion that the Red Dwarf universe could be treated like Doctor Who’s or Star Trek’s, as I really don’t feel like they’re appropriate examples to follow. As effective as a lot of the worldbuilding in Red Dwarf is, especially in the novels, it is still a sitcom, so its core appeals are in its character dynamics and, well, the situation they’re in.

    Doctor Who and Star Trek, within 3 years of starting, had either been cancelled or had replaced 100% of their original principal cast. But 32 years after Red Dwarf started they still had the same 4 principal cast members (plus 1 extra) as they did to begin with, and there’s a good reason for that. A more obvious comparison point would be Hitchhiker’s Guide, which despite having 5 or 6 different continuities, doesn’t really have any stories that go beyond the core cast of Arthur, Ford and Trillian. All those continuities are very similar.

    I do broadly trust that Rob and Doug both know what they’re doing, but it just seems like a strange angle to approach the continuation of the series from. I’m not sure I’d want to be inundated with spin-offs that are ostensibly set in the world of Red Dwarf but only have very loose connections to the actual characters we’re here to see. (Rob’s repeated use of the word “exploit” seems a little cold and corporate too, but I assume that’s just legal phrasing.)

    I also find it confusing that Rob feels the need to push back against people saying “leave it now, it’s had enough and we don’t want to see a new cast”, because that suggests that the 2 possibilities are “Red Dwarf is over” and “Red Dwarf continues, but with a new cast”. Are the originals not interested in coming back? Why is this being mooted exactly? Despite my uncertainties, I’m open to spin-offs, but the idea of having a full cast Red Dwarf TV or radio series where Lister is played by someone other than Craig Charles… well, it’s going to take an awful lot for me to be on board with that. The actors pretty much are the characters as far as I’m concerned. Fans putting in good performances as those characters for a short scene at a convention doesn’t change that. Doctor Who got away with recasting by taking the bold step of having The Doctor undergo a complete transformation in appearance and personality. Red Dwarf achieved this with Holly, but I can’t imagine it working for the rest of the regulars too.

    Anyway, hey, I’m up for some new Red Dwarf merch! Maybe I’ll be up for getting a T-shirt at the same time as they’re actually making T-shirts this time. My other suggestions:

    – Red Dwarf character figurines, but good (so not like Pop Vinyls). I will also accept a Head Knockers comeback.

    – Replica Mr. Flibble hand puppet.

    – 35th anniversary hardcover edition of Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers, because it bugs me that the first was the only Dwarf novel not to get a hardback version. (Just don’t change the content, for the love of god.)

  • I got a bad feeling about recasting at one point, but hopefully I misinterpreted. Spin-offs with new characters, go for it. No recasting, no youthing. Rob’s very finite suggestion of how much TV the “main cast” have left in them is probably what most of us realistically expect.

    The idea of animation doesn’t excite me. If they’re not filming it, I’d rather just have the audio and my imagination, it’d be quicker and cheaper to make too. But hey, I can just close my eyes.

    The Quanderhorn novel wasn’t different enough from the series to be a worthwhile supplement, so I’d worry the same for a Red Dwarf novel(isation) written in tandem with the thing it’s adapting, rather than the old revision/expansion/mashup approach with hindsight that was so successful (at least 3 times out of 4).

    Despite how negatively all that reads, I am actually pleased by the news generally. It doesn’t all have to be for me.

  • The thing that most strikes me is that on one occasion he says “the animation” and that seems to be the idea that has him most excited.

    Also, my theory will be that he’s playing silly buggers with us by pretending he doesn’t remember what he said about USA, to hide the fact it’s in the pipeline. 

  • We were always treating it like Rob had just moved on from Red Dwarf and was more interested in pursuing other projects (which is perfectly valid), while Doug was like the loyal steward of the franchise, but clearly there’s a lot more to this story we don’t know, and may never know on ‘none of our business’ grounds. The way Rob speaks about it makes it sound like he tried to get involved in making new Red Dwarf during this time, and either Doug or GNP as a whole told him “no take backsies”, but I’m sure it’s a lot more complex and nuanced than just that.

    Can’t remember where it was said, or if I’m paraphrasing accurately, but there was a Doug quote mid-Dave-era about how they approached Rob every series about getting involved and he always declined. The reality was obviously a bit more complex and nuanced than I took it at the time.

  • I have to agree with Podey in thinking that anything animated is unlikely to end up happening. But that did seem to be the prospect that Rob was most interested in talking about here.

    So let’s speculate for a moment…

    He said that Ed Bye is eager to direct a project that has been discussed. Should we take that to mean that if an animated thing does happen, Ed would be directing it? I ask because live action directors moving into animation is quite rare. (Examples of it happening the other way round spring to mind first – Tim Burton, Frank Tashlin, Brad Bird, Terry Gilliam, etc.) Maybe he’d just be directing the voice recording sessions, and a more experienced animation director would oversee the animation itself?

  • Can’t remember where it was said, or if I’m paraphrasing accurately, but there was a Doug quote mid-Dave-era about how they approached Rob every series about getting involved and he always declined. The reality was obviously a bit more complex and nuanced than I took it at the time.

    Or am I thinking of Steven Moffat talking about Russell T Davies or something.

  • A really interesting interview and congrats on making it happen.

    The animation idea seems a solid one, to me, and you made a good point by saying that it would be possible to see the ship in the vast way that it was originally imagined. It would also be possible to show the crew as being pretty much any age and you could have flashbacks or flashforwards without too much trouble.

    I can imagine Chris being willing to participate in any kind of project like that. I’m not so sure about some of the rest of the cast (not that I’m saying that I know what any of them are thinking for sure), but I guess they wouldn’t be entirely necessarily as long as they were willing to allow their likenesses be used.

    It also makes sense that Rob would consider a novel to be a part of any new project. If he’d wanted to solely write a novel, he probably could have done that in the past.

    Anyhow, nice to be able to discuss the various possibilities whether they come off or not.

  • We were always treating it like Rob had just moved on from Red Dwarf and was more interested in pursuing other projects (which is perfectly valid), while Doug was like the loyal steward of the franchise, but clearly there’s a lot more to this story we don’t know, and may never know on ‘none of our business’ grounds. The way Rob speaks about it makes it sound like he tried to get involved in making new Red Dwarf during this time, and either Doug or GNP as a whole told him “no take backsies”, but I’m sure it’s a lot more complex and nuanced than just that.

    I got the same impression.

    For example, it made me wonder if it’s possible that Backwards happened quite straightforwardly because of the existing contract for Grant Naylor novels, but after that there was something that prevented Rob from writing further Red Dwarf books?

    As you say, we’ll probably never know. If something like that did happen, it’s been kept private for this long, and there’s no reason for that to change.

    Can’t remember where it was said, or if I’m paraphrasing accurately, but there was a Doug quote mid-Dave-era about how they approached Rob every series about getting involved and he always declined. The reality was obviously a bit more complex and nuanced than I took it at the time.

    Yes, I vaguely remember that. Possibly a comment at Dimension Jump about Rob potentially writing an episode for series XI/XII? (Or maybe I’m just thinking of fan speculation from that time…)

    Even more vaguely: long before that, I think I remember a comment about how Rob was invited to participate in the original DVD documentaries, but didn’t do so until The Bodysnatcher Collection. Where am I remembering that from…?

  • Even more vaguely: long before that, I think I remember a comment about how Rob was invited to participate in the original DVD documentaries, but didn’t do so until The Bodysnatcher Collection. Where am I remembering that from…?

    IIRC, Doug said it in an interview here that was done around the time The Bodysnatcher Collection was released. 

  • I hope this isn’t too pessimistic and raining on anyone’s parade but I still get the sense that Rob is trying to “win” the fandom.

    This very appearance (great as it is to listen so thanks to all involved for getting it together) seems like cleverly constructed PR.

    Doug shooting for the Radio Times instead…well he’s positioned himself in the public facing position and Rob is looking to “exploit” the hard-core fans whenever Doug takes his eye off the ball

  • I hope this isn’t too pessimistic and raining on anyone’s parade but I still get the sense that Rob is trying to “win” the fandom.

    This very appearance (great as it is to listen so thanks to all involved for getting it together) seems like cleverly constructed PR.
    Doug shooting for the Radio Times instead…well he’s positioned himself in the public facing position and Rob is looking to “exploit” the hard-core fans whenever Doug takes his eye off the ball

    I think that’s somewhat fair, but a fair proportion of the fanbase have a bit of a one sided relationship with Doug Dwarf, sticking with it, but not necessarily getting much back out of most of it, so there’s going to be excitement about Rob Dwarf from the perspective of “maybe it’ll be better/more consistent/ in a different format than Doug Dwarf” rather than a “I prefer Rob to Doug as a person – I’m team Rob now” way.

  • Creative control, spin-off rights and theme park approval for Red Dwarf, Junior Angler, and any other Dibbley family character that might emanate there from.

  • There’s definitely something from Doug about approaching Rob every time he does a new series. I wouldn’t take that as Rob not still wanting to do Red Dwarf, though, rather that he didn’t want to write it with Doug. Although then there’s Bodysnatcher. Who knows. When you’ve got childhood friends who go on to being professional partners, it’s always going to get tricky and the whole situation is such a headfuck that I’m sure neither of them can remember half of what happened back then and why they no longer work together.

    In terms of the interview, I’m 50/50 between the optimistic and pessimistic comments here. Rob’s enthusiasm comes through very clearly in there and I’m sure whatever he ends up making, it’ll be done with a lot of passion and will hopefully be pretty good. Needless to say I’ll watch / listen / read regardless. That said, I’m a little cautious about the expanded universe idea as, as has been mentioned upthread, Red Dwarf is still, fundamentally, a sitcom. It’s a very odd one, in that it’s treated like a serious sci-fi franchise by its fanbase half the time, but without that sitcom formula it can so easily fall apart – VII and BtE are the two times when the TV version has tried to be Not a Sitcom, and the only series less popular is VIII. Sitcom spinoffs can work – Frasier is always the best example – I can’t think of many examples that are successful, especially when the original is successful from such great character work as Red Dwarf. I like to think that Going Straight would have lasted longer had Richard Beckinsale not died, but otherwise I just end up thinking of stuff like Green Green Grass and Joey. Having said that, I just realised that technically Alan Partridge is a spinoff character, so sometimes it does work.

    If there’s going to be anything, I think the anthology idea is a good one. The Smegazine is clearly a forerunner to this. I’m not sure there are any characters in the show that are well developed enough to guarantee a great spinoff. You either have to change the character to some degree, or make a very repetitive show. I was thinking of the three Fast Show spinoffs, and how they barely even feel like them – I know Billy Bleach was an existing character of Simon Day’s from before, but on the whole Grass could be an entirely new series without any links to its parent show really. I absolutely love it, but it’s such a strange concept; Swiss Tony starts as a bit of a daft 2D character awkwardly expanded into a half hour sitcom in the first series, but becomes quite strong in the second series by adding pathos and depth. But by the end, he doesn’t feel remotely like the same character as the one you see in the sketches; Ted and Ralph is the only one that vaguely stays true to the sketch version, and I think it’s the weakest of the lot because it doesn’t really add anything new, and the actual dramatic elements feel too over the top for the much subtler characterisations of the sketch versions. 

    You could certainly do a ‘young Rimmer’ show or something, but I think it’s the only way a straight forward narrative series could be achieved. An anthology series holds a lot of potential though, with pre-accident Dwarf, exploration of the worlds and moons of the solar system, Kryten on the Nova 5, the Cat race and other potentials immediately springing to mind. The novels do a great job of expanding on the TV version a fair bit: the pre-accident chunk of the book takes up as much room as adaptations of the second half of The End, Future Echoes, Me2 and Kryten, showing how it alone could be turned into a mini series. Having appearances from the main case would be great and, frankly, kind of necessary. Rimmer and Lister’s first meeting, Cat’s solo explorations of the ship, Holly’s memoirs, etc. would all be great episodes, but also a Lower Decks style look at other Red Dwarf crew could work because they could encounter the regulars from time to time. It would be great to get David Ross back for a Nova 5 story. These things would make it feel like real Red Dwarf rather than vaguely related stuff. But unless Rob worked heavily on serious backstory stuff, I think there would be a struggle to make a non-anthology series. You can see it if you look at Big Finish – stuff like the MCU isn’t a great comparison point, because it’s based on an existing comic universe, while Big Finish basically took a single show and created spinoffs of individual races or characters that were never intended on their original creation – where the vast majority of spinoffs are either based on reasonably well established characters (River Song, Bernice Summerfield), or are incredibly short lived (Lady Christina, Jenny). The latter really feel like cash-ins, a case of ‘which characters were performed by people who’ll be willing to work with us?’ and have only lasted a series or two. The rare exception is Jago & Litefoot, which ran for 14 series based on two characters from one story, and that’s almost certainly because The Talons of Weng Chiang was written by Robert Holmes who was a genuine master of brilliant characters. Their series is an absolute joy and feels totally natural, but I struggle to think of a Red Dwarf character that has that much potential. 

    Animation is very clearly at the top of Rob’s list. It’s interesting, because I really expected a Radio 4 series to be the way he was going, especially as he’s worked with them on his only broadcast comedy since The Strangerers. I wonder how far along the process he is. The fact that he was asking you guys about what style animation would be popular suggests it’s not very far, although he seemed to feel that some kind of announcement wasn’t so far away. Animation is quite expensive – it’s not a completely accurate comparison, but again with Doctor Who, the missing story animations were cancelled because they weren’t cost effective, and that’s for things which are often only a few episodes at a time, with existing character designs and audio – so it’s a risky area. His optimism about the idea suggests he might already have explored it and maybe even have interested parties, but at this point I honestly wouldn’t put Red Dwarf Animated Series at the top of my list of things to pitch to production companies. I’m not a real fan of CG animation, be they obvious stuff like Pixar or computer 2D stuff like Rick and Morty, so I have to say it wouldn’t be my first choice for Red Dwarf, but I’m sure I’d still watch regardless. I’m also very surprised that he’s only really considering a novel as a tie-in rather than as an original creative idea. But then it’s easy to say the same about Doug, who’s been the sole creative head of the show for 30 years, and yet written as many actual episodes in that time as he wrote in the first six years. Tie-in novels have always been a huge market for sci-fi, so in terms of the spinoff/expanded universe side of things, they’re the safest bet, and it’s amazing it’s been more than 25 years since the last one. Doug’s spoken about his long list of episode ideas, and I do find it odd that he hasn’t just put them out as books. 

    Interesting that there’s a stipulation for allowing Doug to do a spinoff TV series. It seems fairly clear that the main TV show will continue to be his through to the end, which I reckon is most likely to be the previously expected two specials and that’ll be it. I wonder if he’ll pick up that idea, or if it’s just there as a freedom to stop any future legal issues. 

    The worries I have basically come from the fact that we live in an era where expanded universes are accepted and even expected, to the extent that they exist purely to fill in gaps – I say this as someone who’s tried to sit through all the Big Finish Time War stuff – rather than because someone has an idea they want to make. If Rob has a backlog of great Red Dwarf stories that have brilliant ideas and fantastic jokes, then bring it on. I can forgive his late ’90s flops, because Doug has done similar since (Over to Bill) and still managed to write Skipper and The Promised Land. As long as it’s not a contrived spinoff that just exists for the sake of making something Red Dwarf related. Which I wouldn’t expect of him, to be honest, but there’s always that fear when spinoffs and expanded universes are mentioned.

    Lovely Dwarfcast, anyway, and great to hear Rob talking so openly to fans. He’s been out of the show, on a creative level, for such a long time, that I don’t at all blame him for coming in this way. Doug’s been in charge of the TV version for the vast majority of its existence, time-wise, that he’s obviously going to be the one talking to the Radio Times; Rob knows that he will have at least something to prove by doing his own version, and that it will appeal to hardcore fans more than the casual ones who just know it as that sci-fi sitcom that occasionally does new episodes, so it totally makes sense that he’s happy to talk to G&T. 

  • All very interesting. If Rob’s trying to get an animated Red Dwarf project off the ground I wonder whether he still has contacts who were involved with Cruel Aliens. I know that was in development at Aardman at one stage. 

  • “There are so many ideas that you and Doug just burnt through in half an hour that haven’t been returned to since.”

    That’s part of what makes those episodes so great and rewatchable, Emohawk was already a diminishing sequel. I think Doug’s had the right approach in theory of continuing with familiar themes and variations for consistency while constantly exploring new concepts that tickle his fancy. Those new ideas were the most interesting parts of Doug Dwarf, it’s just that the execution wasn’t always satisfying.

    But if Rob’s looking to exploit in a Big Finish kind of way,

  • 35th anniversary hardcover edition of Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers

    Not sure of the format, but a reprint run of the novels was mentioned in the last Rob DwarfCast interview in 2019, and there were placeholders on Amazon that never materialised.

  • Young Sheldon as a spin-off from Big Bang Theory works really well.  It’s miles better than TBBT, much better written and more rounded characters – yet with adult Sheldon narrating, it feels very much part of the continuity.  I would love something like that for the Dwarfers.  While other areas of the universe could be interesting, for me they would have to have a clear link to and impact on our characters.  Otherwise it would just be too detached – the real heart of Red Dwarf has always been the characters and their relationships, take away the original characters and we’d lose that.

    I really like the idea of radio (ideally for continuing adventures), if we had to choose between that and animation, I’d choose radio.

  • I’m never really a fan of animated shows.  Not sure what about the medium it is but I always end up dropping them after a short time.  Though I did love Love Death and Robots I’m not sure I’d want to see an anthology series of Red Dwarf exploring other characters in the universe or whatever.  Feels like expanding it beyond its parameters a bit like VIII did.  I just want the four man guys on a ship getting into trouble mostly.

    I’m the same with comics and audio shows.  With comics I just end up reading the text and skipping over the pictures, and with audio shows I end up wishing I was reading or watching it.

    Give me another Rob novel but beyond that anything that deviates from what Red Dwarf has been for most people for 35 years I’m at best indifferent to.

    Whilst it’s exciting to hear Rob’s interested in making more Red Dwarf I can’t believe he’s wanted to for 30 years and just decided to come back.  The whole thing feels like a man who had recently decided he wanted to recapitalise on his creation and had to wrestle a little of control back from Doug to go and do loads of whacky things. 

    I love the optimism he has but I’ll echo what someone said above and say I can’t imagine there’s enough of an appetite or audience (outside of our group) for all the things he envisions.

    Star Trek messily manages a couple of different time lines and all the various different types of series at the moment because it’s a massive global franchise.  Rob seemed to think what he wanted to do was possible because of Star Trek when they’re very different things.

  • I just realised that technically Alan Partridge is a spinoff character, so sometimes it does work.

    Red Dwarf is just a Son of Cliché spin-off anyway, ahh.

  • Having now listened to the full (excellent) Dwarfcast, I think you can pretty clearly read between the lines and see what is the most likely avenue for a Rob-oriented Red Dwarf spinoff.

    It’s an ongoing series about the adventures of Joey, Sally and Marcus.

  • The reaction to all this has been – as I’d expect from you lot – entirely fair and reasonable. I totally get the note of caution; I’m not totally sold personally on all the ideas mooted, but it’s important to remember that 99% of what’s being debated is just the ideas we’re imagining in our heads. We still don’t know what any of the plans are other than a list of media types that *might* be in development, although it is of course fun and mostly harmless to speculate. I have full faith that Rob (and Doug for that matter) are going into this new era with the best of intentions, and overall I’m excited about what’s to come.

    Genuinely, no matter how good or bad any future projects are, as long as they’re not Timewave, it’ll be worth it. With that one exception, everything that Doug has done with the franchise this century has at least *some* merit, and while I don’t think we’ll ever get anything as consistently brilliant as the original 36 episodes, whatever comes next is going to be *fun*. Even if the fun comes mostly from ripping it apart. And let’s not forget that the whole point of the last two years is we’re not getting Rob Dwarf at the expense of the Doug Dwarf, or vice versa, we can have both. Any projects that Rob gets off the ground are in addition to the ongoing series that Doug’s been running solo for all this time, not replacing it. Bring it on.

    This comment, however…

    I hope this isn’t too pessimistic and raining on anyone’s parade but I still get the sense that Rob is trying to “win” the fandom.

    This very appearance (great as it is to listen so thanks to all involved for getting it together) seems like cleverly constructed PR.

    Doug shooting for the Radio Times instead…well he’s positioned himself in the public facing position and Rob is looking to “exploit” the hard-core fans whenever Doug takes his eye off the ball

    …is bollocks. Again, I understand where you’re coming from to an extent. The word “exploit” can certainly be misinterpreted, especially in written form, but I didn’t bat an eyelid when Rob said it during the interview. It’s just industry corporate speak for “doing this thing”. Considering the last two years, no wonder the legalese is at the forefront of his mind when he’s discussing this stuff. He was very keen and enthusiastic to do the interview, but both him and us were cautious throughout that the last thing we want to do at this stage is piss anyone off. What you interpret as “cleverly constructed PR”, I interpret as Rob keeping himself in check in terms of what he could and couldn’t say off the back of a two year legal battle.

    If Rob does want to win the fans over (which I don’t know either way whether that was part of his motivation for agreeing to speak to us), I’d say it was more as other people have suggested, that it’s because he’s been away from the creative side of the show for so long and hasn’t had any new Dwarf material to speak for him (a five minute sketch for an audience of hundreds aside) since the mid-90s. He’s also spent the last two years unable to say anything publicly, but reading comments and tweets from people assuming he was the bad guy, trying to steal Red Dwarf away from Doug, or stop the show being made altogether. No wonder he wants to talk now.

    And I don’t know how you can listen to Rob talking about how he never left Red Dwarf in his heart and how he has so much Red Dwarf to give, and come to the conclusion of your last sentence. Either he’s some sort of evil genius con man, or just a bloke with loads of ideas that he wants to see made. 

  • Can I also say well done for thanking Rob so explicitly for the lockdown commentaries? They were genuinely a highlight of those weird, isolated months and provided something genuinely important for the community beyond just being cool Red Dwarf stuff, and it’s great to hear that the people doing them felt the same.

  • It’s also worth remembering that Rob has a pre-existing, direct and positive relationship with the fan base because of the Quarantine Commentaries, so talking to us is presumably quite a safe and relaxed way to start the new era. I doubt winning over 100 disgusting nerds on a fansite is a good tactic to achieve anything nefarious.

  • I usually find it a real stumbling block when a franchise whose parent medium is live action stuff does animation. I’d definitely prefer a novel from Rob, ideally a proper sequel to Backwards, or something audio-only.

    Reading between the lines here it sounds like Rob’s talking about doing an animated spin-off with the potential for guest appearances by the main Red Dwarf cast. Something set pre-accident maybe? 

  • I loved the Bodysnatcher episode and, as any animation would be rather less primitive, I’m sure that I could enjoy Red Dwarf in another medium if the writing was good enough.

    Also, while Rob may had some vague feeling about wanting to do more Dwarf again for years, I can remember the interview that Andrew Ellard did with him when the Bodysnatcher DVD came out (which went something along the lines of).

    Andrew: Is it true that you and Doug each have the option to do another book?

    Rob: I think that’s right, yeah.

    That didn’t seem to suggest that he was particularly passionate about writing another novel, at least.

  • I imagine there are probably a lot of aspects at play in terms of deciding which projects to pursue, and personal passions are just part of that.

    From a fan perspective, another novel would be great as it’s such a satisfying expansion of the show and Rob has proven himself to be a great author both in the solo novel and joint novels.

    But realistically, in terms of something that is going to reach a wide audience and create fresh new interest in Red Dwarf (and make money), I can see why Rob might prioritise a more fully-fledged spinoff or continuation in another format like animation or audio, and then make any further novel an adjunct to that.

    The novels are fantastic but are always going to be a bit niche-interest in the context of the larger audience for new Red Dwarf.

  • I doubt winning over 100 disgusting nerds on a fansite is a good tactic to achieve anything nefarious.

    Winning over 100 disgusting nerds on a fansite is definitely a good tactic to achieve nefarious things… but not nefarious things that are also helpful in furthering a career in comedy writing.

    I mentioned that I also found the usage of “exploit” weird, but I didn’t think he meant anything bad by it.

    It feels strange at this point to suggest such a wide range of spin-off possibilities, when that seems like Rob and Doug could end up biting off more than Red Dwarf can chew. But make no mistake, my reaction at this moment is still hugely hopeful and positive. We just need to get to a point where the parties that could actually make new Red Dwarf happen boil down the ideas to just the ones that make the most sense. None of it is real until a project actually gets announced.

  • I suppose it depends on what expanded universe means for Red Dwarf.

    I don’t want a ‘busy’ concurrent universe with the Dwarfers in 3 million CE and change. Life on board ship in X was too populated with all the AI for my tastes not because of how many there were but my feeling is the main characters shouldn’t able to hold a proper conversation with anyone else living there.

    Dispensers and toasters can be of tedious singular focus but Kryten shouldn’t able to have an active social life with Lamp 86 who likes going to the disco when not on his day job as chief interrogator for the Canaries or whatever.

    Life on Earth pre-accident or within the Despair Squid dystopia seems to be where the most mileage lies outside of doing more TV episodes [edit: oh and novels]. Maybe series VII Rimmer Rimmering an existence as Ace Rimmer across dimensions but I don’t see Rob Grant interested in tackling that one for some reason.

  • This comment, however is bollocks. Again, I understand where you’re coming from to an extent. The word “exploit” can certainly be misinterpreted, especially in written form, but I didn’t bat an eyelid when Rob said it during the interview. It’s just industry corporate speak for “doing this thing”. Considering the last two years, no wonder the legalese is at the forefront of his mind when he’s discussing this stuff. He was very keen and enthusiastic to do the interview, but both him and us were cautious throughout that the last thing we want to do at this stage is piss anyone off. What you interpret as “cleverly constructed PR”, I interpret as Rob keeping himself in check in terms of what he could and couldn’t say off the back of a two year legal battle.
    If Rob does want to win the fans over (which I don’t know either way whether that was part of his motivation for agreeing to speak to us), I’d say it was more as other people have suggested, that it’s because he’s been away from the creative side of the show for so long and hasn’t had any new Dwarf material to speak for him (a five minute sketch for an audience of hundreds aside) since the mid-90s. He’s also spent the last two years unable to say anything publicly, but reading comments and tweets from people assuming he was the bad guy, trying to steal Red Dwarf away from Doug, or stop the show being made altogether. No wonder he wants to talk now.
    And I don’t know how you can listen to Rob talking about how he never left Red Dwarf in his heart and how he has so much Red Dwarf to give, and come to the conclusion of your last sentence. Either he’s some sort of evil genius con man, or just a bloke with loads of ideas that he wants to see made.

    Ah. Right. Okay. Clearly I have failed to avoid being too cynical. There’s been a bit of a cock-up in the cynicism department.

    Let me just address this because I’m not being as much of a dick as you think I am.

    I used his word “exploit” in a tongue-in-cheek way reflecting how he uses it. There’s no malice in the way he uses it, nor is there is mine. The readers and listeners of G&T are a different kettle of fish than the Radio Times online readers as more hardcore RD fans. I think Rob wants to position himself, and not necessarily maliciously, as the side of RD that is closer to the fans.

    Secondly, what I mean with constructed PR doesn’t mean rehearsed answers to your questions or anything that extreme. I just mean his intention is to make his voice heard with the Red Dwarf cultists and say “hey, I’m your guy! Doug does his traditional Red Dwarf stuff but I want animations, novels, merch, the real nerdy stuff”. The “five minute sketch for the audience of hundreds” lends itself to this. Again, not necessarily in any evil genius con man way, but just that he wants the sort of fans that are on this site to know he’s their guy. Nothing to do with the legalese or anything like that

    Anyway, there’s no need for us to be at loggerheads. I’m tense, you’re tense etc. I enjoyed the listen and it sounded like good news to me. I just had a pinch of salt for the waves of sugar coming out the other side of the podcast

  • Oh, fine, you be perfectly reasonable and sensible then, see if I care.

    Ah see you’re a G&T admin, so if I try to de-escalate the situation, I win by moral high-ground and you can’t ban me

  • That was a thrilling interview, and I’m so happy the future is looking so rosy now…

    But for me (and, I think, for most fans) the “holy grail” of Red Dwarf going forwards isn’t the possibility of a thousand different spinoffs, books, animations, sequels, prequels, reboots, and reimaginations… It’s the impossible, forbidden dream that we’ve all been dreaming for more than twenty five years now – the prospect of Rob and Doug sitting down together with a crate of Leopard lager and writing new episodes of Red Dwarf. They’re both geniuses, but something intangible and wonderful happens when they collaborate. Whatever it is that distinguishes them as individuals, the gestalt entity Grant Naylor was always bigger than the sum of its parts. It allowed Rob and Doug to be the best versions of Rob and Doug possible.

    However wide the Dwarf universe expands, even if a few years from now we’re talking about another Doug Solo Series 13, a new novel, a web series, a radio show and smeg knows what else… that’s what I’ll be yearning for.

    I notice that in the interview, nobody directly asked about the chances of that happening (I understand why – more than ever, we know that the situation was and remains complicated, far more than any of us had guessed, and at this early stage it’s probably a more “personal” question to ask than would’ve been appropriate) but I’d venture to suggest it’s the question that everybody wants to know the answer to, and nobody is brave enough to ask.

    It feels like the legal issues have been resolved and that the relationship has thawed somewhat… but of course that doesn’t necessarily mean anything.

    But a man can dream…

  • I think we’re about 30 years too late to be entertaining the idea of them writing a new series together.

  • I suspect no-one asked because it was pretty damn clear they have no intention to. The entire settlement is for them both to do their own thing and Rob spoke solely and excitedly about all the things he can now do with Red Dwarf whilst Doug does his. 

    Whatever the relationship is between them it’s clearly not one of working together in any real capacity. Even Rob said himself GNP is basically just a rights holder now that is structured to give them permissions to do what they want. 

  • I’d venture to suggest it’s the question that everybody wants to know the answer to, and nobody is brave enough to ask.

    I think it’s more that it’s a question that everybody already knows the answer to, so not really worth asking in the first place. You don’t announce a settlement like this that allows for creators to have separate rights to a property if there’s any plan to work together on it.

    Rob was pretty diplomatic I think about making it clear that he doesn’t want to rake over the past while acknowledging that fans will always want to know more details than it would be proper for him to disclose, and I thought G&T balanced it nicely by asking some questions that naturally arise from the new settlement without prying unnecessarily. 

  • Yeah, it’s just so clear that it’s not going to happen, directly asking about it would have been a waste of time, and not worth the cost of making the interview awkward. If there were any chance at all, then I think Rob would have volunteered the information when they were talking about how the opportunities would be divided between them, or when it was said that seeing “Rob and Doug” in the anniversary message was exciting.

    I understand the yearning for a new episode with a “by Rob Grant & Doug Naylor” title drop, but that yearning isn’t just for a collaboration, but for a particular point in time, 1988-93. Both of them are different people now, so if they did team up again, then it would obviously be very exciting and different, but I don’t have confidence the result would be as good as Series 1-VI, or even as good as some of their solo efforts. Ultimately they’ve long since moved on from the partnership, and for the most part so have we. That’s why the question stopped being asked.

    But it can’t possibly be overstated how much of a win this outcome is regardless. An actual Rob V. Doug legal battle over the rights to Red Dwarf, and not only does it resolve in a way that both of them are happy with, but they’ll both be making new Red Dwarf going forward?! That’s a dream result. It almost feels like divine intervention.

  • I still want Doug to make Series 14 and focus all his time and energy on just six scripts without any massive production fuckery. We could almost certainly get the best run of episodes in the revival.

    I know we’re infinitely more likely to get a special but I consider episodes inherently far more casually rewatchable than anything feature-length.

  • It might be how I’ve been conditioned by the tendency of shows graduating to movies and sitcoms ageing into their infrequent specials phase, but I think specials are the best fit at this point, even since it was first attempted with Back in the Red in ’99.

    One or two specials up to the quality of TPL would be ideal (if two, the first is allowed to be slightly weaker, but don’t take the piss).

  • Agreed, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. I want to see him make Series 13 first.

    I dunno, I think there’s something to be said for skipping ahead, maybe to series 30 so it can rebrand as Red Dwarf XXX to seal a broadcasting deal with the valued partners at Babestation.

  • Agreed, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. I want to see him make Series 13 first.

    Agreed, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. I want to see him make Series 9 first.

  • Doug talked about Chris being superstitious about a “Series 13” in something to do with TPL. Maybe the Behind the Scenes, I don’t remember. I’m just assuming based on the suggestion that TPL is effectively Series 13 in the same way BtE is 9 that any potential future series would be 14, not 13.

    At this point it’s become needlessly confusing no matter how you count them.

  • Doug talked about Chris being superstitious about a “Series 13” in something to do with TPL. Maybe the Behind the Scenes, I don’t remember. I’m just assuming based on the suggestion that TPL is effectively Series 13 in the same way BtE is 9 that any potential future series would be 14, not 13.

    Well, at least with the BtE/X situation you could rationalise Back to Earth as being quasi-Series IX even if it wasn’t officially that, but there’s really no way of arguing that a single episode is a series.

    If they make more specials before the next series, then I will begrudgingly accept the specials together being considered “Series XIII” retroactively, but if they go straight to Series XIV, I will have no choice but to cancel Doug for crimes against numeracy.

  • Agreed, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. I want to see him make Series 13 first.

    Agreed, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. I want to see him make Series 9 first.

    Agreed, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. I want to see him make ‘Dad’ first.

  • Doug talked about Chris being superstitious about a “Series 13” in something to do with TPL.

  • Animations and expanded universe spin-offs can get in the bin. I don’t want to see Jake Bullet investigate anything.

    Just adapt Infinity and BTL and maybe Backwards into a three seasons of a big budget Netflix show. Recast it. Show us Lister in the locker and the space hopper and all that. Just a good-quality adaptation of the novel universe. Give it the lovely treatment.

  • I still want Doug to make Series 14 and focus all his time and energy on just six scripts without any massive production fuckery. 

    Red Dwarf getting made through production woes is part of the fabric of the show so if Grant loves us and continuity as much as he claims, he’s morally obliged to writhe about on Naylor’s keyboard and paw at the screen like a big cat.

  • Just adapt Infinity and BTL and maybe Backwards into a three seasons of a big budget Netflix show. Recast it. Show us Lister in the locker and the space hopper and all that. Just a good-quality adaptation of the novel universe. Give it the lovely treatment.

    I also think the structure of Infinity’s opening would be a great headfuck for viewers who are familiar with the TV show but not the books. You’d have no idea what Lister was up to, and assuming a recast you wouldn’t immediately know his fare was Rimmer etc. – it could be a fun way to reintroduce Red Dwarf. 

  • Animations and expanded universe spin-offs can get in the bin. I don’t want to see Jake Bullet investigate anything.

    You haven’t read the latest Smegazine covered by G&T? Or you have, and this is your “please god, no more” moment?

  • I’m pretty adamant that a full radio series starring the original cast would be a great way to get a ton of mileage out of them without the headache of TV production.

  • Doug talked about Chris being superstitious about a “Series 13” in something to do with TPL. Maybe the Behind the Scenes, I don’t remember. I’m just assuming based on the suggestion that TPL is effectively Series 13 in the same way BtE is 9 that any potential future series would be 14, not 13.

    Well, at least with the BtE/X situation you could rationalise Back to Earth as being quasi-Series IX even if it wasn’t officially that, but there’s really no way of arguing that a single episode is a series.
    If they make more specials before the next series, then I will begrudgingly accept the specials together being considered “Series XIII” retroactively, but if they go straight to Series XIV, I will have no choice but to cancel Doug for crimes against numeracy.

    Call them seasons and you can have a season of one episode

    whilst it seems by official channels BtE is IX and TPL isn’t XIII just for the sake of ordering and chronology I have absolutely no issue if they quietly add XIII to the TPL meta data and just call the next series XIV

  • Doug talked about Chris being superstitious about a “Series 13” in something to do with TPL. Maybe the Behind the Scenes, I don’t remember. I’m just assuming based on the suggestion that TPL is effectively Series 13 in the same way BtE is 9 that any potential future series would be 14, not 13.

    At this point it’s become needlessly confusing no matter how you count them.

    There was a press release that talked about TPL being “the thirteenth outing for the Dwarfers” or suchlike. I proposed at the time that we should all just start referring to them as “outings” instead of “series”, as then there’d be no disputes about BtE or TPL’s numbering, and we’d all live in peace and harmony.

  • Call them seasons and you can have a season of one episode

    I’m not sure what definition of season you’re using that has this difference with series. They’re pretty much synonyms, aren’t they? If they had announced in 2019 “A new season of Red Dwarf is coming!” and then still just delivered The Promised Land, I’m pretty sure we would have declared the announcement a lie.

    There was a press release that talked about TPL being “the thirteenth outing for the Dwarfers” or suchlike. I proposed at the time that we should all just start referring to them as “outings” instead of “series”, as then there’d be no disputes about BtE or TPL’s numbering, and we’d all live in peace and harmony.

    Ah, to have such optimism… But I know for a fact that the war would just change to be between people agree with the new “Outing” labels and the people who insist on sticking with the old “Series” labels. And the old conflict would still rage as a civil war within the Series faction.

    The striking thing to me is that if no official Red Dwarf outlets had ever linked the number 13 with The Promised Land (and they hadn’t established a precedence for numbering weirdness with Series X), then I’m certain nobody would have been confused by the concept of having an un-numbered special in between series (as happens with tons of other shows without controversy). Surely nobody would see the announcement of a new series and go “hang on, wasn’t The Promised Land already Series 13?”. If GNP do call the next full series (if it happens) “Series XIV”, then that’s a problem they’re just actively choosing to create for no apparent reason.

  • I think Doug should reset by naming the outings alphabetically so the next one is Red Dwarf A. I see no possible issues with this because it will be completely obvious when it’s Red Dwarf X (in Roman Numerals) and when it’s Red Dwarf X (just alphabetically because there will be a LOT of outings in this new era).

  • Animations and expanded universe spin-offs can get in the bin. I don’t want to see Jake Bullet investigate anything.

    Just adapt Infinity and BTL and maybe Backwards into a three seasons of a big budget Netflix show. Recast it. Show us Lister in the locker and the space hopper and all that. Just a good-quality adaptation of the novel universe. Give it the lovely treatment.

    For what it’s worth, I still think this would be the best way to go to keep Red Dwarf on TV in the future, especially after Outing XV when The Original Series will probably finish. 

    Obviously Rob and Doug not working together would make the four seasons of eight episodes structure that I worked out not really possible, but I’m happy to work as a consultant should GNP be interested. 

  • Have to say, I find it quite interesting how many people just don’t want anything but “Robert, Craig, Danny, Chris on TV Red Dwarf” when it seems so much of Red Dwarf web traffic/ fan consensus since the late 90s has been “Robert, Craig, Danny, Chris on TV Red Dwarf” has fell off.

    I’m of the opinion that they should try and make as much stuff as possible (in good faith, if they think it’s worth it), it’s not like they’re making a spinoff and it’s going to harm the property.

    If it’s mediocre, it’s company for a lot of VI onwards, if it’s bad, Red Dwarf Prime itself hasn’t gone away, if it’s good, bonus!

  • I definitely think I’m in agreement with you, GlenTokyo. I’m up for whatever the fuck, to be honest.

  • It might be how I’ve been conditioned by the tendency of shows graduating to movies and sitcoms ageing into their infrequent specials phase,

    I proposed at the time that we should all just start referring to them as “outings” instead of “series”, 

    The Dwarfy Boys’ Outing

  • I think Doug should reset by naming the outings alphabetically so the next one is Red Dwarf A. I see no possible issues with this because it will be completely obvious when it’s Red Dwarf X (in Roman Numerals) and when it’s Red Dwarf X (just alphabetically because there will be a LOT of outings in this new era).

    You may find the problem starts around Red Dwarf C and really kicks in around Red Dwarf I.

  • You may find the problem starts around Red Dwarf C and really kicks in around Red Dwarf I.

    That’s fine, we can skip over I very easily

  • This is great, all. 

    I’d hoped they were getting the gestalt back together but this is the next best thing. Or, better. (Double the pleasure, double the fun.)

    Heartening to hear talk of Ed and Paul being involved – opposed to Doug’s almost auteurism. I wonder if Rob will consider working with other (high quality) writers. 

    Hard to replace the cast, which is why I’d love a novel over anything else. But Danny’s Love, Death & Robots type idea sounded fun. Plus it might be worth a try. We’ve all come this far. 

    Message end. 

  • I hope this isn’t too pessimistic and raining on anyone’s parade but I still get the sense that Rob is trying to “win” the fandom.

    This very appearance (great as it is to listen so thanks to all involved for getting it together) seems like cleverly constructed PR.
    Doug shooting for the Radio Times instead…well he’s positioned himself in the public facing position and Rob is looking to “exploit” the hard-core fans whenever Doug takes his eye off the ball

    Same vibe I get

  • As much as I’d love an animated ‘wider universe’ anthology series (a la smegazine jake bullit/ace rimmer/flibble etc) I also seriously doubt this will happen. RD has nowhere near the appeal/reach of brands like Wars and Trek, or even Who, which is only just beginning to get its wider universe properly off the ground (after a few noble attempts).

    I feel like it must have been a huge relief to Doug when it turned out that that’s what Rob wanted out of the deal. Sure thing, go right ahead, make all the animated series you want, good luck with it *eye roll*.

    Books/comics seem much more likely, and these are probably Rob’s strong point, so I’ll be chuffed with that. And for the record, I thought those Big Finish series were real and was ready to order them ALL – heartbreakers!!!

    P.S Exploitation or not, Rob’s return to Dwarf is most definitely an about-face, and that ‘never left it’ business is fairly flimsy PR. What happened to ‘I don’t want it to be the only thing on my CV’? He fell out with Doug, he did his own things, they were/are great and now for whatever reason he wants back in. I’m happy about it – but don’t kid a kidder, kid

  • So this week I found a new copy of the Red Dwarf Omnibus in Waterstones, and it’s kind of convinced me even more than before that a Red Dwarf multimedia future will  – or at least should, from a financial perspective – include new novels.

    Not only is the book still in print after over 30 years (maybe not continuously, but still, it’s up to 49 printings!), but its RRP is now £16.99, essentially the exact same as it was in 1992 taking inflation into account, which means that Penguin don’t even regard its value as having gone down at all. Imagine if your local HMV had a newly printed copy of the Red Dwarf Series 1 DVD set, and were charging upwards of £20 for it.

    If the Omnibus is still reliable business after all this time, surely a new Red Dwarf novel would be a good prospect too?

  • Who is going to write the article about all the differences across the 49 editions?

  • Who is going to write the article about all the differences across the 49 editions?

    Good question. No rush though, aim to have it by the end of the week?

  • Haha, it’s definitely printings not editions. I would die.

    There shouldn’t be any changes to the core text just from reprinting (other than maybe typo fixes, which I may check for).

    However, for what it’s worth there are small differences between the 11th printing and the 49th. The ISBN is no longer on the spine, the book ads at the end are now all for Red Dwarf books like Last Human and Primordial Soup instead of miscellaneous Penguin titles, the ad for the Penguin quarterly newspaper is gone, and the page suggesting you write to them is replaced with one suggesting you visit their website.

    The biggest difference is that the “about the authors” page has been rewritten to be shorter, less funny, and refer to Grant Naylor in the past tense.

  • If there’s any kind of substantial revision to the text you can tell from the copyright dates. Referring to Grant Naylor in the past tense jibes with the about the author pages for Last Human and Backwards so I doubt that’s a recent change.

  • Exactly, the latest copyright date is still 1992. And yes, I guess it makes sense that you would only change the author bio if it either stopped being technically correct or you had newer books by them to sell, so no real need to do so since Backwards was released. (They could have updated it again to plug Colony as well perhaps, but maybe they didn’t want to make the bio unequal between Rob and Doug.)

    Personally, I think they should update it again to make it even shorter:

    Rob Grant and Doug Naylor were part of the gestalt entity known as Grant Naylor, and together they wrote Wrinkles for BBC radio.

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