G&TV: Craig Charles on All Star Squares (1999) featured image

Welcome to Season 2 of G&TV, our monthly trawl through the world's television archives for any interesting Red Dwarf-related nuggets. Following our accidental break, we return with an exciting adventure in internet archaeology.

Thanks to his ubiquity on our screens at certain points during the 90s, a large number of the videos we come across involve Craig Charles popping up in unexpected places, either as the host of a one-off programme, or a guest on an established show. This month, we bring you the latter, but in an unexpected twist, it's the short-lived Australian version of a much-travelled format.

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The G&T Review of the Year 2020 featured image

What a very strange year. It seems to have lasted for several millennia, but 2020 is finally over, pending any last minute shenanigans, which we can't entirely rule out. By now you'll have already read a dozen depressing round-ups cataloguing what a horrible anus it's been for the world at large, so let's focus instead on our small corner of it. The trials and tribulations of Red Dwarf may seem insignificant in comparison to the fucking atrocious circumstances we find ourselves in, but it feels more important than ever to find distractions and positives wherever we can, and it's actually been a pretty busy year for a show that's rapidly approaching its mid-thirties.

Let's go through some of the highlights, and inevitably some massive lowlights, topic-by-topic, starting with The Promised Land, which yes, really was only this year.

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G&TV Halloween Special featured image

This month's G&TV contains scenes which are unsuitable for younger viewers and people of a nervous disposition. You have been warned.

Well, it doesn't really, but then neither does Polymorph, so it's fair game. Anyway, when we noticed that the latest edition of this feature would coincide roughly with a notable date in the calendar, we decided to run with the theme. The Red Dwarf cast and crew haven't had a great deal of crossover with the horror genre over the years, other than a couple of notable and obvious exceptions, which we'll come to. We couldn't find much in terms of full-length programmes that are not commercially available (and so therefore we feel comfortable linking to off-air recordings of them on YouTube), which is the usual remit for G&TV. So instead, we present a thrilling compendium of terror, with four short clips relating to each of our main cast members, which fit the theme with varying degrees of contrivance.

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Simulants' Revenge - Full Playthrough featured image

EDIT (21/09): Thanks to MiloScat (double thanks, in fact, since he was the one to get us looking into the same in the first place) we've very quickly discovered that the version we play here is in fact a medium fidelity version and there's at least a high and low fidelity version. We've now repackaged the downloads to include these versions. This also clears up speculation in the video and in this article regarding the visuals, as the high fidelity version seems to have all the visual features seen in the screenshots.

Back in 2003, TOS and a company called Blue Beck launched the first ever official Red Dwarf game, Simulants' Revenge. Billed as the first of a "host" of new games, it would sadly be the only example of its kind and the only official game to be made for the next decade plus. It was made for the then prominent mobile platform J2ME (if you had a phone in the early to mid 2000s that produced actual colour images it was probably running this platform) but it quickly fell off the face of the earth as GNP's short lived foray into the mobile space was put on ice. After a question submitted to an episode of DwarfCasts piqued our interests we promptly tracked down a copy to fill a 17 year gap in our collective knowledge, so we can now present to you a full run through of the game with colour commentary from Jonathan Capps, Danny Stephenson and Ian Symes...

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Red Dwarf: The Promised Land Trailer Analysis featured image

Ah, here were are again. You'll all have seen the full 40 second trailer for Red Dwarf: The Promised Land by now, and made your minds up about the jokes within. Personally, I like them, my favourite being the way Kryten, Cat and Rimmer all confirm that Lister is a nobody in slightly different and expertly timed ways. But let's face it, we always get into a bit of a tizz ahead of a new Dwarf broadcast by over-analysing the handful of gags we've seen, when deep down we know that only a certain type of quick-fire joke works in a trailer, and they're not necessarily representative of the humour of the whole show.

So we're going to ignore the actual dialogue for now, and instead do what we do best - painstakingly and pointlessly analysing every single shot, pointing out both the big talking points and the little things you may have missed. Well, we say "every shot", we've not bothered doing screengrabs every time it cuts back to a similar shot within the same scene, because the tiny snippets you see in the montages are much more interesting anyway. Here we go...

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G&TV Special: The Strangerers featured image

G&TV logoThe 15th of February is a date forever etched into the history books of both science-fiction and comedy. It's the anniversary of one of Britain's most beloved sitcoms, from a writing lineage that includes Spitting Image and Son of Cliché, and with a cast featuring the likes of Mark Williams, Jack Docherty, Sarah Alexander, Ricky Grover and Morwenna Banks. Yes, Rob Grant's The Strangerers debuted on Tuesday 15th February 2000, twenty years ago today.

Made by Absolutely Productions for Sky One, it was much-hyped as the channel's first foray into original comedy commissioning, but it's fair to say that it didn't quite make the same impact as Rob's previous sci-fi sitcom. It was never released on video or DVD, and has never been repeated since its original broadcast. But luckily, it's all on YouTube (albeit in off-air VHS quality, with the credits cut off and irritatingly in the wrong bastard aspect ratio), so let's all give it an anniversary airing and see if it's worth reappraising.

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Red Dwarf G.A.G Playthrough featured image

Many years ago, when a young teenage boy who for some reason liked to call himself "Ian The Smegmeister" first got home internet access, there was only one thing on his mind. But after that, I searched for all the information about my life-long obsession Red Dwarf as I could. I signed up for forums, chatted in chat rooms and delved deep into webrings, which sound a lot more sinister now than they did in the late 90s. It was undoubtedly the first step on a path that led to this place existing, for better or worse, and I'll always fondly remember and salute our fansite forefathers from that era, such as Smegweb, Red Dwarf World, The Red Dwarf Clearing House, Groovetown, and Planet Smeg among others.

Inevitably, most of those are long gone now (although the Wayback Machine is always useful), but the exception is Planet Smeg, which I accidentally stumbled across a few months ago while looking for something else, and was amazed to see was still online. Its USP back in the day was its collection of unofficial Red Dwarf games, lovingly created by site owner Greg Haywood. I had vivid memories of playing his magnum opus, the Red Dwarf Graphical Adventure Game (GAG), a javascript-based in-browser point and click adventure. 'There's no way that will still be online and functional in modern browsers', I thought. I was wrong. I fired it up and it was just how I remembered, only much wider.

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Red Dwarf Special - Set Report (Byte 2) featured image

The concluding part of a very long episode of Red Dwarf has been recorded in front of an audience for the first time this decade. Well, for the first time ever, come to think of it. G&T were there.

It's a now-familiar journey to Pinewood for Red Dwarf fans lucky enough to get tickets or brave enough to risk it on a standby, but the studio seemed a lot busier than it did for the first recording. Despite the rearranged nature of this event leading to fears that attendance may be affected, the marquee was packed to the wind-swept rafters, with the security team sensibly electing to conduct their checks inside this time, away from the bitter cold that the snaking queue outside had to endure. The higher than average number of production guests included James Baxter, who brought his Dwarf character to mind when he went through the security checks and posed with his arms outstretched.

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Set to Rights: The Teaching Room featured image

After over a year's gap, welcome back to Set to Rights, the series where I look at Red Dwarf's sets in mind-numbing detail. And having already looked at some thrilling wall sections and the Captain's Office, we turn to what might initially seem an unpromising avenue for spectacular revelations: the Teaching Room in Series 1.

I think, however, you may be surprised. Because telling the story of this set leads us into some rather interesting areas which I don't think have been examined before. As ever, we don't have the paperwork handy to be able to check any of this: instead, we have to do some deduction, some guesswork, and leave some questions unanswered.

With that health warning, let's take another trip through early Red Dwarf - as ever with these articles, in order of recording date rather than broadcast.

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The G&T Christmas Message 2019 featured image

Hang on, I'm writing the G&T Christmas Message for the first time in 13 years? I guess I'd better do some Christmas song references. So: I'm giving Santa a Pikachu this Christmas, I just can’t wait till I am sitting on the bog, and... erm, I got nothing.

Danny, Robert and Doug on the set for the Red Dwarf SpecialMoving swiftly on, then. The last 12 months have been rather surprising in that things have actually happened in the land of Dwarf this year, unlike the mildly disappointing 30th anniversary. Not fast, get there in the end, etc. The biggest news was obviously the Red Dwarf Special, from Danny tweeting a picture of the readthrough, followed a week later by its erm, the official announcement. It perhaps seems unfair to talk about the production of the show never running smoothly - it's not like there are fansites examining the minutiae of Still Open All Hours audience recordings - but there was a distinct air of familiarity when one of the two audience recordings was postponed until next year. Well it probably is déjà vu, it sounds like it. Luckily, the other recording went off fine - bar Norman Lovett having a cold - and 2020 will hopefully see the second recording rescheduled. If not, at least we can look forward to Chris Barrie shooting linking footage vaguely in-character in 13 years time.

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