In some distant parallel universe, Red Dwarf only got one series. It was never released on VHS or DVD. A fan club never appeared. It got a few reviews in some Doctor Who fanzines, and then quietly faded away.
Yes, the great and the good in the world of Dwarf are gathering for the third convention running at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Nottingham, for a weekend of wonder, excitement, and… wonder. And as usual, unlike the early days of G&T, a great many of us are either official fan club members or are helping out in an unofficial capacity, so the weekend promises to be “fairly busy” for most of us.
Fear not, however: I’ll be trying to keep the Ganymede & Titan Twitter updated as much as possible over the next few days, for those of you who can’t make it. As usual, there will also be a DwarfCast looking back on the whole event, although it probably won’t be up until some point late next week. So don’t wait up on Sunday night desperate for our hot content, because we’ll all be too busy wishing we were all still in our 20s full of endless energy, rather than hopping over that invisible line where you really feel death and total oblivion staring you full in the face.
When I say to random people “Hey, what do you remember about the sets of the first two series of Red Dwarf?”, they back away from me and look for the nearest exit. Before they manage to escape, however, they usually mention the bunkroom. They might stammer out an anecdote about a yellow banana. Really cool people might mention how the Drive Room changes between series, or how the Observation Dome is a perfect combination of live set elements and special effects.
Still, all those stories have been told. I want to dig a little deeper, and I don’t care how boring things get in order to do so. With that in mind, Ganymede & Titan proudly present: a history of three wall sections, used at BBC Manchester in 1987-88.
Hello there! In lieu of anything especially Dwarfy happening at the moment, let me talk to you about 1970s post-apocalyptic drama Survivors. And while I could do 10,000 words on how the show transitioned from being shot on film to recorded on VT and why that was a good thing, a) That isn’t strictly within the remit of this website, and b) It would probably make you want to drown me in the nearest river. Even more than usual, I mean.
So instead, let’s do an old-style Observation Dome post and take a look at the Red Dwarf connection with the show. Specifically: Series 2 of Survivors contains no less than three Red Dwarf guest cast members as regulars. And the first time they all come together is in Episode 5, The Face of the Tiger.
For this month’s G&TV, we take a look at an old favourite: Rob and Doug appearing on BiteBack, also known as “Points of View but with a budget”. This was broadcast on the 23rd May 1993 – precisely 25 years ago today.
I should warn you: at 41 seconds in, they do a “Beam me down, Scotty” gag. I’m warning you now so your expensive phone or computer doesn’t end up through the nearest window.
The following article is intended for those watching at UKTV Play pace.
Dave viewers be warned that the content and comments could contain spoilers. More info.
There’s a moment, very early on in M-Corp, which set my mood for the entire episode. It’s a very small exchange, I’ve got to admit.
KRYTEN: Now, eat up. It’s time for your present. LISTER: Ah, I don’t need a present, Krytes. I’ve got everything I need. KRYTEN: Sir. You’ve got nothing.
And with this single joke – with its bleak matter-of-factness – I relaxed. I relaxed in the same way Back to Earth made me tense up, with its tedious ironed sneezes and unearned graveside pathos. Unfairly or not, I’ve had enough problems with post-1993 Dwarf that each episode needs to win me round anew. Many never manage it. Just make me laugh, dammit.
M-Corp not only won me round. It’s my favourite Dave-era episode, by a considerable margin.
In a parallel universe, I know nothing about Red Dwarf XII.
Well, maybe not nothing. I probably know it exists. I may even have clocked that it was back on Dave, perhaps even that it was being broadcast in October. But I didn’t pay that much attention.
In that universe, maybe I still got into Red Dwarf when I was 13, and loved it. But I never really got into fandom, perhaps wasn’t as keen on later series… and just drifted off. Maybe I would have ended up watching XII. Maybe I wouldn’t.
SHORT VERSION: A number of us here on G&T used to run a site called Observation Dome. Having been offline for over ten years, I’ve finally restored a backup and it’s now back. Never to be updated again… but as an archive, and a record of a certain time in Dwarf fandom.
Back in 2016, I took a look at the placing of ad breaks in Red Dwarf X, and how so many of them were a wasted opportunity to use the opportunity for a cliffhanger to its maximum effect. (I highly suggest you read that piece before this one if you haven’t done so; otherwise, this article will come across as entirely ridiculous rather than just mostly ridiculous.)
With publicity for Red Dwarf XII about to kick off properly, it’s time to tie up one last loose thread from Red Dwarf XI. How did XI fare when it came to ad breaks? Did they seem like an afterthought, like much of X? Or was the chance taken to actually do something with them – to add a lovely punctuation point to the episode, and make viewers want to come back after the break?
I’ll be honest… the answer surprised me. Let’s take a look.
Here’s some brand new gossip then, from comedy writer extraordinaire Andrew Marshall, (co-)writer of The Burkiss Way, End of Part One, Alexei Sayle’s Stuff, If You See God, Tell Him, and 2point4 Children. Speaking to Steve O’Brien about his old fanzine:
If you still do that, Rob Grant and I will have something new to talk about soon.
Andrew Marshall and Rob Grant collaborating? That is a very, very intriguing team-up indeed. And something to keep us all excited until Red Dwarf XII hits our screens. Then we’ll forget all about it and moan about UKTV Play for six fucking weeks straight instead.
Anyway, here’s one of my favourite End of Part One sketches, for precisely no reason at all.
With thanks to Ian Potter for the friendly nudge towards this news.
“I alter people’s perception of reality.” – Dr. Hypnosis
One recurring theme of Red Dwarf has always been the rather tenuous grip on reality our crew have. Whether it’s the Total Immersion Videogame of Better Than Life, the hallucinations suffered in Back to Reality, those damn reality pockets in Out of Time – to name three of many – perception of reality is something which Grant Naylor return to time and time again.
What’s interesting, however, is that Red Dwarf is far from the first time Grant Naylor have explored this idea. In fact, we can trace their fascination with it right back to their very first solo writing credit: the first episode of Radio 4 sketch show Cliché, broadcast on the 16th March 1981.
I present to you the strange adventure of Dr. Hypnosis: his real name… Dr. Hypnosis.