Hello everyone. When we last met, I guided you through a history of three wall sections used in Red Dwarf in 1988. This went down disturbingly well. You fucking weirdos.
With this in mind, let’s continue our in-depth examination of Red Dwarf‘s sets in its first couple of series with one of their most famous oddities: the disappearing and reappearing Captain’s Office. This article was intended to be a more general look at the Drive Room set, but believe it or not I have found enough to say about this single topic to make a full standalone piece. We’re not dumbing down our material. It’s always been this stupid.
As before, we need to take this one in recording order, rather than broadcast order.
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Well, in the absence of any Series XIII news, and with no Bluray until the new year, we’re scrabbling for crumbs. We’ll take whatever morsels of intrigue are thrown our way, but when our friend and loyal G&Ter Jonathan “Jonsmad” Young recently got in touch to draw our attention to The Prop Gallery, we didn’t realise how intriguing these particular morsels would turn out to be.
It’s one of those places that sells props, costumes and other film and TV memorabilia, often at somewhat eye-watering prices. In the past, such items have included Red Dwarf scripts, and a quick search reveals that twelve have been sold in total. They’re all long gone now, but the listings remain online. As well as providing details of their condition and provenance – many have come from the personal collection of the late, great Peter Wragg – what we’re really interested in are those tantalising images of sample pages.
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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.
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UPDATE (20/05/18): New documents come to light!
The recent mumblings regarding a possible imminent announcement of brand new Red Dwarf naturally lead to a discussion about the merits of Series VIII, because this is Ganymede & Titan. In the course of what would go on to be a characteristically tedious debate, an interesting link was brought to light by commenter bloodteller: a contemporary set report on the final studio recording of the series, miraculously still online nearly twenty years after it was first published.
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.
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Ladies and gentlemen, on the occasion of Red Dwarf‘s thirtieth anniversary, we invite you to join us, if you dare, in a journey through the Top 73 episodes of all time, as voted for by YOU. This is the biggest such poll we’ve ever undertaken, both in terms of the amount of episodes it covers, and the number of people who took part. A huge and heartfelt thank you to everyone who submitted their rankings. In return, our gift to you on this special day is several thousand words of analysis to go alongside the full results. Get comfortable.
How will Series XI and XII, still so fresh in people’s minds, compare to the older episodes? Will Series X have maintained its good performance from 2013, or has the novelty worn off? Can Series VII or VIII finally improve their reputations? Is there such a thing as “the bubble” any more now that the number of episodes made after Rob left outnumbers those made before? It’s finally time to find out.
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The following article is intended for those watching at UKTV Play
Dave viewers be warned that the content and comments could contain spoilers. More info.
Part of the fun whenever there’s a new series of Red Dwarf is in the anticipation, trying to skip ahead and find out what’s coming up next. Having previously analysed the shit out of a teaser and a trailer, it’s time to round off the trilogy of impatient speculation by combing for clues in the Series XII title sequence. This is the landmark tenth title sequence of its type, with a fast-paced montage of clips from the across the series, set to the guitar-based version of the theme tune. Several of the shots within are things we’ve seen in previous promotional material, and a fair few are taken from Cured, but there’s a lot of new material to take in here. Off we go…
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Just as we were all getting over the first teaser, news emerged today that a special preview would air on Dave during Taskmaster, foreshadowing the handover of the “most popular show on Dave” mantle, due to take place in just over three weeks’ time. The “preview” terminology left us a little unsure what to expect, but we’re definitely in full-blown trailer territory here – forty seconds long, loads of previously unseen clips, a classic rock soundtrack and even a specially-created graphics package in the middle.
Having aired once more during another Dave original, Porters, the trailer then turned up online, albeit in optimised-for-social-media format, with subtitles and big chunky borders to make it square. Worse still, there’s a fairly substantial change to the soundtrack, which we’ll come to later.
There’s no sign of a nice official 16:9 version yet, so the screengrabs below are taken from a slightly inferior-quality TV rip. (UPDATE: UKTV have uploaded a lovely high-quality YouTube version. All screengrabs have therefore been upgraded.) Let’s take our customary closer look…
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We’ve only just realised that our humble Forum is now over ten years old. Having cultivated a small but dedicated discussion community through our article comments, and following the previously-discussed closure of Observation Dome, we opened the floodgates by launching a dedicated place for the assorted freaks and arseholes we call our friends to set their own agenda, free to discuss any old nonsense they see fit, Red Dwarf related or otherwise. The very first thread was started by an man announcing he was having a wank, and that pretty much set the tone.
Of course, Red Dwarf had been off-air for eight years when the Forum launched, and what a turbulent and surprising decade in the show’s history it has witnessed. But regardless of how many fourth-wall-breaking specials, brand new series, Bluray releases, spin-off games and curries-launched-into-space we’ve seen, the Forum will always be dominated by two things: 1) tedious discussions about whether Series VII and VIII are any good; and 2) extreme silliness, intentionally or otherwise, laced with a very specific and esoteric sense of humour.
It’s the latter that we’re celebrating today. At some point over the last decade, a meme started whereby long-standing members of the community – more often than not Phil Reed, initially – would nominate certain threads for a mythical “Hall of Fame”, which they’d do by simply posting “I nominate this thread for Hall of Fame status”, or variations thereof. This was sometimes a badge of honour, awarded to topics that were particularly funny or informative, and sometimes an ironic accolade, doled out to a failed troll or exceptionally dull post. It seems apt to commemorate both types of thread now, as we turn this mythical Hall of Fame into an actual Hall of Fame.
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