British geeks of a certain age will have been intrigued by the recent news that the iconic gaming show GamesMaster is to return to our screens later this year. While we ponder the challenges the new series will face of balancing nostalgia for the original and relevance in a market now saturated on Twitch and YouTube, thoughts turn to fond memories of the original. Hosted (in the most part) by Dominik Diamond, and featuring the disembodied head of Red Dwarf A-Z's one-eyed right-wing astronomer Patrick Moore, the show brought us news, reviews, features, cheats and tips, but its most memorable segment was challenges whereby gamers and/or celebrity guests competed for a coveted Golden Joystick. And on one such occasion, very nearly 25 years ago, the celebrity guest was one Danny John-Jules.

His segment begins at 14:01, but let's face it, you might as well watch the full episode:

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We’re very sad to report the terrible news that Stephen Critchlow has died, aged just 54. We know him best for his role as Captain Herring in Series XI’s Officer Rimmer, one of our favourite guest characters of the modern era. His superb comic timing and the contrast between his plummy officer persona and the ridiculousness of his appearance made for a memorable and hilarious character. He’s also fondly remembered as a guest at Dimension Jump XIX, where he was generous with his time, brilliant in his Q&A and enthusiastic when meeting fans – one of those guests that really seemed like they were having a great time too. The following year, he was one of many guest stars to send in a video message to celebrate Red Dwarf‘s thirtieth anniversary, in which his charm and enthusiasm shone through.

He’s also well known to Doctor Who fans, having performed dozens of roles for Big Finish, displaying his skills as a voice actor and narrator. As well as many television parts, the stage was perhaps his forte, from rep to touring to the West End. Plus of course, we were amused that his appearance in Red Dwarf meant that, following Philip Labey, both stars of the long-running Oak Furniture Land adverts had been in the show. Tributes from those who worked with him have come thick and fast, and speak of someone who always lit up a green room with his warmth and humour. A truly popular man who touched a lot of lives. RIP Critch.

DwarfCast 142 - Dimension Jump XXI Special featured image
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For the first time in far, far too long, a small army of Red Dwarf fans laid siege to the Nottingham Crown Plaza last weekend. We called it Dimension Jump XXI, and the last survivors converged on Sunday night to see what they could remember under the glare of our microphone. So join Ian Symes, Fan Club team members Andy Holland, Dan "Pendo" Pendleton and Shelley Smith, plus attendees Dave Billingsley, Si Bromley, Stephen Fletcher, Peter Jones and Jo Sharples as we run through such diverse topics as Lee Cornes meeting his alter ego, Doug Naylor's plans for future projects both?Dwarf and not-quite-Dwarf, Danny John-Jules's reworked lyrics to Tongue Tied, touching tributes, scandalous cheating and taking Johnny Vegas to bed.

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You join us live from Sunday lunchtime at Dimension Jump XXI, and as the cockroaches have finally finished their incessant shuffling, we're able to bring you an update on what happened last night. For the first time in a long time, Doug Naylor is not attending in person, which we presume is due to, you know, all that stuff. Nevertheless, he sent in a video message which was played betwixt costume competition and auction as part of the Saturday night entertainment, and it was both extremely positive and surprising in its content. With thanks to Si Bromley for sneakily filming it on his phone, here's a full transcript of what was said:

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At the third time of asking, Dimension Jump 20201 is finally here! The twenty-first Official Red Dwarf Fan Club convention today returns after an enforced absence to the Nottingham Crown Plaza for the fourth consecutive event, and it will feel all the more special after the long, long wait since October 2018. It will be a slightly unusual occasion in many ways. Twice postponed due to Covid, for many attendees this will be their biggest social gathering for some time; there’s bound to be mixed feelings along the way, but let’s hope the abiding memory will be the extremely happy one we’re accustomed to from past experience.

On a personal note, it’ll be the first DJ since 2007 that none of the current G&T staff are working at, and thus all the offers of drinks and chats that we’ve been too busy to accept over the previous six events can finally be cashed in. Two of our trio are giving it a miss, still suffering from PTSD from their time on the team, but one brave reporter is prepared to throw himself back into the fray for you, so we’ll be reporting on events as best we can over on Twitter – handle is @ganymedetitan, as you should know by now after twelve yeeeeears.

And we’ll be joined by Danny John-Jules, Hattie Hayridge, Norman Lovett, Rob Grant, Paul Jackson, Ray Fearon, Lee Cornes, Ian Boldsworth, Matthew Clark, Chris Barrie and Robert Llewellyn (those last two via Zoom), along with a super secret mystery guest which isn’t at all obvious from the silhouette and caption. See you back here next week for the traditional post-DJ DwarfCast.

As we approach the August Bank Holiday weekend, and therefore the conclusion of this year's Edinburgh Festival Fringe, let's travel back in time to 31 years ago. It was a time when the festival had more of a reputation for weird and wonderful variety acts than a focus on stand-up comedy, when multi-channel television was in its infancy in this country, and when Norman Lovett still had hair.

These three states of affairs combined to form episode seven of Up Yer Festival, a daily show broadcasting live from the Fringe to an audience of tens on BSB, an early satellite service that was very briefly on air from March to November 1990, when it merged with fellow fledgling broadcaster Sky Television to form the more familiar BSkyB. Produced by Noel Gay Television, at the time the parent company of both Paul Jackson Productions and the newly formed Grant Naylor Productions, the show combined a sample of acts from the festival with specially shot sketches, all linked together by a guest host, including on one occasion, recent Edinburgh migrant Norman Lovett.

It's an obscure show on an obscure channel that aired on an obscure satellite service over thirty years ago, but thanks to the magic of the internet (and also to our good friend Jonsmad for pointing us towards it), the full series is available on YouTube, uploaded by the show's producer Richard Hearsey.

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Along with the Quarantine Commentaries, one of my favourite pieces of lockdown-based entertainment has been No More Jockeys, a joyous and frequently hilarious parlour game from the minds of comedian and novelist Mark Watson, comedian and poet Tim Key, and comedian and psychopath's assistant Alex Horne. I subsequently discovered that the game first appeared as a spin-off from a short-lived BBC Four panel show devised and hosted by the trio, We Need Answers. I further discovered that all sixteen episodes of the parent show are on YouTube, and that the second episode of the first series featured as a contestant none other than Robert Llewellyn.

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We bring you news of two good causes involving two much-loved figures from Red Dwarf fandom.

Firstly, the family of our dear departed friend, former G&Ter and TOS editor Seb Patrick are campaigning to have a memorial bench installed overlooking Crosby Beach, one of Seb’s favourite places in the world. They’re prepared to foot the bill, but the council have refused, claiming that people don’t want a bench in that location. This is nonsense, as evidenced by the overwhelming support the family have received in a petition to urge Sefton Council to reconsider. We have the support of the official site (you know it’s serious when they update and it’s not a Friday), Robert Llewellyn, Danny John-Jules (this one also retweeted by Craig Charles), Doug Naylor and Norman Lovett, plus many other senior Dwarfy figures who have pledged their support by signing. This bench would not only honour the great man and provide comfort to his family, but also improve the facilities in the area. If you haven’t already, please take a few seconds to add your name to the petition, and share the ever-living fuck out of it.

And secondly, we were very sorry to hear that the brilliant artist Colin Howard has been suffering from multiple sclerosis, and now requires a powered wheelchair to help him regain his mobility and freedom. Naturally, this doesn’t come cheap, and so his wife Michelle has set up a GoFundMe to raise the ten grand cost. As well as being a regular at the last few Dimension Jumps, Colin is responsible for such iconic Red Dwarf artworks as the Beat The Geek cover, Danny’s Tongue Tied single sleeve, and many a Smegazine cover, my personal favourite being The Many Faces of Lister. Now he needs our help, so please donate if you are able to, and if you can’t help financially (which is totally fine), you can do your bit by spreading the word.

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The latest edition of our now officially sporadic archive telly feature is something truly special for once: a rare in-character appearance by one of the boys from the Dwarf on a different programme, unseen for over twenty years.

On Wednesday 3rd March 1999 (the day before the seminal Back In The Red (Part Three) first aired), Norman Lovett popped up as Holly on Tomorrow's World, the BBC's flagship technology programme that ran from 1965 to 2003, to discuss AI with host Philippa Forrester. He was there to launch their Turing Test experiment, to see if chatbots could convincingly pass as human. He returned two weeks later for the show's annual Megalab live event, briefly cameoing in character before appearing as himself to take part in the test, alongside Sir Terry Pratchett and Jaye Griffiths from off of Bugs.

Never repeated, and not included on the Series VIII DVD for whatever reason, this has been one of the rarest and most elusive pieces of Red Dwarf ephemera - it was even mentioned in a forum thread about unattainable Dwarf-related media as recently as two weeks ago. But now, just over 22 years later, here are the relevant moments from both episodes.

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Today’s TOS update is an exciting one, featuring as it does both a rare interview with Rob Grant, plus a PDF copy of his Into The Gloop script, giving non-Holly Hop attendees an opportunity to experience the co-creator’s first Dwarfy material since the mid-90s. Now that it’s out there officially, we’ll get to work on a proper review, but in the meantime it’s well worth reading the accompanying interview, as Rob discusses working with Paul Jackson and Ed Bye, tailoring the script for the cast of fans, and – most intriguingly – his desire to do more.

Indeed, it’s one question in particular that’s raised our eyebrows, regarding future Dwarf projects. Rob essentially gives an answer similar to his statement at Holly Hop, but with one additional detail:

There are lots of ideas on the table – a stage show, a movie, a new series, spin-offs. Last week we were told of an approach to do an American version again. We’d love to do any and all of them. We want RD flying out of our buttskis. We want to take the diminutive scarlet one on another trip to the stars. Watch this space.

Lol. Of course, just because there’s been an approach, it doesn’t mean it’ll happen. I’m sure lots of people start conversations about working on Dwarf-related stuff all the time, but we never hear about them. There’s no reason to believe that this has more chance of coming to fruition than if I was to “approach” GNP with an idea to make a Red Dwarf breakfast cereal. But just imagine if this is the ultimate outcome of everything that’s been said over the last few weeks. A new Red Dwarf USA for the 2020s.

Excuse me while I have a humiliating panic attack under the scanner table.