The G&T Review of the Year 2023 Features Posted by Ian Symes on 31st December 2023, 15:16 At the start of Red Dwarf‘s 35th anniversary year, things had never seemed grimmer for the health of the franchise. The protracted legal kerfuffle between the show’s creators was dragging on into its third calendar year, with no indication whatsoever that it would end any time soon, and any possibility of new material dwindling with each passing day. But as 2023 comes to an end, despite there still being no solid news in terms of actual production, there has been so, so much to give us hope that Red Dwarf shall live again. The first indication came on the day of the anniversary itself; exactly 35 years to the minute that The End first aired, a short message was released which would have been fairly unremarkable if not for one extraordinary detail. It was signed by “Rob and Doug”. The first collaboration between the pair since 2007’s Bodysnatcher. It wasn’t much, but it was something – some small beacon of hope that perhaps they were willing and able to put their differences aside – and it completely changed the mood of the fandom overnight. Sure enough, just under a month later, our wildest hopes were confirmed – the legal kerfuffle was officially over. For the first time, both Rob and Doug are now free to pursue their own Red Dwarf projects, and the possibilities are endless. Of course, we knew back in March that the buttski floodgates wouldn’t be opening immediately, and indeed they’re yet to secrete even a dribble after nine months and counting, but the possibilities are there. We were lucky enough to discuss some of those possibilities with Rob himself in an exclusive interview. One of the things he told us was that he was keen to continue working with Paul Jackson and Ed Bye, and when the three of them appeared at a BFI screening of Backwards in November, he took the opportunity to unveil his latest project – Red Dwarf: Titan, a prequel set during shore leave on the eponymous moon, co-written with Quanderhorn collaborator Andrew Marshall. He elaborated in a subsequent interview (not with us, the bastard) that the show will feature younger versions of Lister and Rimmer, be set “one universe to the side” of the main series, star a whole new cast, with the original cast making guest appearances, and is planned to be both a TV show and a novel. A sizzle reel exists, but we have no idea whether any broadcasters or publishers are on board. But I’ll tell you which broadcaster is interested in the type of audience Red Dwarf attracts all of a sudden – the BBC, who out of the blue decided to put the entire series, including the Dave era, on BBC iPlayer. Well, eventually – Krytie TV was missing at first, leading to a brief manufactured panic about wokeness, even after it turned out to be a technical error that was quickly fixed, and it took another month or so to resolve some rights issues with Back To Earth. But it’s all there now, and we can focus on the important things, like whether iPlayer or UKTV Play has the best selection of thumbnails. But not only that, Auntie also gave Red Dwarf some linear love too, with Series 1 and 2 repeated on BBC Two, airing on their original channels for the first time since 2007 and 2003 respectively. We were hoping that this would be the start of a complete run through, but it seems to have stalled twelve episodes in. It was fun while it lasted, however, particularly continuity announcer Duncan Newmarch paying tribute to his 1988 predecessor (and not for the first time). This all felt like a slightly belated tribute to Red Dwarf‘s 35th anniversary, which we celebrated in the traditional manner with The Coral Canvass, our very latest and very greatest episode ranking. A change in methodology gave us by far our biggest response yet, and there were some shocks along the way, with a brand new worst episode ever and a shake-up to the top four for the first time in a decade. All of which was discussed in great detail in our first ever live video DwarfCast, along with the inaugural edition of Clochebusters, the year’s hottest new game show format. There was more video fun to be had later in the year, firstly when we ruined the word “Kryten” for everybody, and then when we tracked down the ancient Macromedia Flash trailer for The Official Site. This was just one of the ways we lived up to our moniker of potty-mouthed archivists this year, along with highlighting the Red Dwarf RPG‘s retrieval from the digital scrapheap, and uploading a lovely clean copy of the Red Dwarf episode of Whatever You Want. But our biggest project of the year was undoubtedly Cappsy’s painstaking reconstruction of reddwarf.co.uk, rebuilding and restoring the site from multiple caches. It remains baffling and sad that we’ve had to do this, but we’re very proud to have saved some of Andrew, Seb and Curtis’s fantastic material from eternal obscurity. As ever, we’ve tried to fill the gaps between actual news as best we can, and this year our DwarfCasts mainly focussed on progressing through our two concurrent series, ticking off Smegazine Issues 7, 8, 9 and 10, and re-disc-overing Series 2, III, IV and V on DVD. Additionally, there were a couple of special editions; I’m particularly proud of the documentary celebrating 40 years of Son of Cliché, and we ended the year with a good old Christmas special. And in our final act of self-aggrandisement for the year, our other bits and bobs of content included a couple of editions of G&TV, taking in Danny’s appearance on CBBC’s Chute! and a full, terrible episode of Craig’s chat show Funky Bunker. I also spent an afternoon pissing about with a new Photoshop feature instead of working, and, rather more substantially, raided the newspaper archives to examine Red Dwarf‘s context in the TV schedules of its time. Oh, and of course there were 365 new rounds of Smegle’s Difficult Daily puzzle, some of which were actually difficult. Sadly, with a show of Red Dwarf‘s age, no round up of the year can be complete without mentioning the people we’ve lost in 2023. Jake Abraham, known to us as the alternative Lister in The Inquisitor and to millions more from his role in Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, passed away from cancer in October, leaving behind a powerful lesson about how he left it too late to seek treatment. We also said a sad goodbye to John Pomphrey, one of the show’s key founding fathers and genuine Red Dwarf royalty. And so as we once again gear up for a night of aged popstars serenading us across multiple BBC channels, and hoping that the barrage of fireworks doesn’t wake our various children and/or cats, we salute John and Jake, as well as raising a huge glass to you, our loyal readers slash listeners slash viewers, who have brought so much joy and entertainment to our year with your continued support, Smega-Drive memes and semi-comprehensible waffling. From Cappsy, Danny and Ian, a very happy new year to all of you.