NOTE: While this review is spoiler free, readers are free to discuss the novel in the comments, which may contain spoilers for future episodes of the radio series.
The first thing that strikes you when you pick up a copy of The Quanderhorn Xperimentations is that it’s BIG. Certainly a heavier tome than any of the Red Dwarf novels, and comfortably the largest installment of Rob Grant’s post-Dwarf literary career so far. He has some help here, of course, from the presence of co-writer Andrew Marshall, as well as the existence of six freshly-written radio scripts to adapt. The press release that first alerted us to its existence promised us the book would be “springing and expanded from” the radio series, bringing to mind the aforementioned Dwarf novels, which still stand as masterpieces of their genre for the way they take the source material and use it to build a much bigger universe. Now that the book has hit the shelves, does the reality meet those, admittedly rather hard-to-match, expectations?
Tell me when will you be mine? Tell me Quander Quander Quanderhorn. Well, the brand new sci-fi comedy radio series, written by Rob Grant and Andrew Marshall, starts today at 11:30am on BBC Radio 4. You can listen live via the Radio 4 website or the iPlayer Radio app, or tune in on an actual radio via DAB, FM or LW. It should be available on catch-up pretty much straight after it finishes airing, again via iPlayer Radio, or on the BBC programme page, which has now been updated to get the co-writer’s name right. (This is all assuming you’re in the UK, of course – foreign types will have to resort to more nefarious means, I would imagine.)
Anyway, this is your thread to discuss the episode before, during and after broadcast. Spoilers for episode one are allowed in the comments, but when the book comes out on Thursday, keep please keep discussion of the book confined to that thread, so as not to reveal anything about future episodes of the radio series. Why can’t anything vaguely Red Dwarf related ever be released in a straightforward manner?
This will most likely be the only Let’s Talk About for Quanderhorn, unless each episode ends up attracting as many comments as a new episode of Red Dwarf does. Either way, the signs are very promising, and we’re very much looking forward to devouring new Rob Grant material for the first time in years. Let the Xperimentations begin.
Hello and welcome once again to G&TV. It’s a shorter than usual video this month, but an incredibly interesting, and ever so slightly surreal, one. Full credit must go to our very own Darrell, who recently discovered the existence of a cover version of The Chicken Song – the parody novelty single, with lyrics by Rob and Doug, which originated in Spitting Image and later reached number one in the UK charts – recorded by a Belgian band called De Strangers. After Darrell tweeted about this, Ben Baker then went and dug out the video…
It’s always the way, innit? You hang around Rob Grant for ten years and you don’t see one new project. Then all of a sudden, three of them turn up at once. More accurately, one new project turns up, but released in three different ways. The Quanderhorn Xperiment, in its various forms, will be with us before the month is out, so let’s take this opportunity to summarise what we know about the three individual products and their release schedule.
This was a great find, remarkable for several reasons. Firstly, it turns out that the internet-enabled fans of the late 1990s had a dangerously casual attitude to spoilers compared to the self-regulating secrecy of today – every single scene described in detail and badly remembered jokes reproduced in full, online months before broadcast. It also throws up some neat little details about the production that would otherwise be lost to the mists of time, such as a message to the fans being signed “big hugs and kisses – the Inquisitor”, the audience being shown a picture of Ed Bye in a dress, and an incident where a make-up artist is caught unaware by a freshly-painted set.
In the last decade or so since Red Dwarf slowly creaked back into production, certain traditions have been established. The frantic hunt for audience tickets. Scouring the social media feeds of the cast and crew for teasers during production. The carefully orchestrated promotional campaigns culminating in something important being accidentally leaked early. And, of course, the complete inability of the main cast to keep their mouths shut.
This last one has lead to a confusing and mildly irritating secondary tradition in more recent years, as blogs and entertainment sites vie for clicks in an increasingly crowded market: announcing that a new series is confirmed before a new series is actually confirmed. You can track the development of this phenomenon by noting the increasing levels of weariness in our coverage of it happening for Back To Earth, Series X and the Series XI & XII couplet – twice. So imagine our delight when we saw an article on the otherwise excellent British Comedy Guide loudly proclaiming “Red Dwarf Series 13 confirmed”.
Previously on G&TV, we brought you an archival treat starring Chris Barrie. This month, we bring you the results of a YouTube search for a different member of the Red Dwarf cast; from September 1992, it’s The Reconstructed Heart, an illustrated lecture by Robert Llewellyn. It was broadcast on Channel 4 in the same month that it became Robert’s first published book.
It’s been nearly three years since we launched our Complete Guide To Almost Everything, the G&T equivalent of an old-fashioned episode guide but with loads of extra, obscure stuff included too. Since then, there have been two more series of Red Dwarf broadcast, along with the accompanying Bluray/DVD extras, so it’s about bloody time we got our fingers out and updated it. Presenting:
Exciting news – more than a decade on from Fat, Rob Grant has a new novel out later this year. It’s an adaptation of The Quanderhorn Xperimentations, the Radio 4 sitcom he’s co-written with Andrew Marshall of 2point4children fame, set to be released in June at the same time as the radio version is broadcast. We’re told that this will be “expanded from” the radio series, prompting hopes of a Red Dwarf style full novel treatment, rather than a straightforward transposition of the scripts.
We’re very much looking forward to all of this – it’s been far too long since we got hold of any new Rob Grant material, and now we’ll be treated to new examples of both his dialogue and his prose, all within the next few months. It’ll also be interesting to see how he works with another writer; correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe this is the first time he’s collaborated with someone other than Doug.
Time is short and we are lazy, so here’s the press release in full:
Ooh look, a new regular feature. Let’s see how long we keep this one up. Once a month or so, we’ll be providing some interesting or obscure Red Dwarf-related viewing, usually something involving the cast and/or crew that we’ve found buried somewhere on YouTube. First up, in authentic slightly-glitchy-VHS quality, an edition of Saturday Live from 15th February 1986 – precisely two years before The End aired – co-produced by Paul Jackson and guest-hosted by Chris Barrie.