Hancock’s Half Hour: The Tycoon

When people talk about antecedents to Red Dwarf, it’s often science fiction which is endlessly referenced. Films like Dark Star, in terms of the situation and portraying working class people in space, or Alien, which amongst other things directly influenced many sets in the show, to Blade Runner, which… erm… I got nothing.

When it comes to sitcoms, there’s the classic “Steptoe and Son in space”, which is often thrown around as an early concept for the show. Porridge is also mentioned, in terms of the claustrophobic trapped situation between characters which the show was trying to evoke. All of this is certainly true, but typically there’s very little analysis beyond mentioning a TV show or film, along with a one line description.

Recently, I’ve had the utter delight of watching Hancock’s Half Hour for the first time. And the episode The Tycoon (TX: 13/11/59) has a number of remarkable similarities to the Dwarf episode Better Than Life, broadcast nearly thirty years later. Moreover, I don’t just mean in terms of character work – the main plot beats of the episode are broadly identical, despite Better Than Life seemingly hanging off a science fiction idea which Hancock would find impossible to replicate.

Rather than vague hand-waving or simplistic single line reductions, let’s take a look at the episode in detail, shall we?

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“We’ve found a stasis leak on Floor 16…”

Hanging around on a deep, dark, unloved corner of the internet is an old version of Ganymede & Titan. The reasons for this are long and complex, but essentially amount to laziness: during one of our relaunches many years ago, we didn’t move all of our stuff over to the new version of the site. We thought until we did, the least we could do would be to leave all that stuff online.

We never did get round to moving it, of course, which means you can insert a certain Mickey Mouse operation quote here at your leisure. But clicking around on that old version of the site can be fun, especially for old-time G&T visitors. And one page in particular fascinates me: our links page, last updated in mid-2004. It’s an interesting snapshot of online Red Dwarf fandom at the time; a list of the sites we thought were important back then.

12 years later, how many of them are even still online, let alone important? I thought it’d be fun to go through the list and take a look at the fate of that slice of Dwarf fandom. And dare I say that it might shed a bit of light on the development of the web over the past decade? Tune in at the end to see whether I manage to tie that one up at all convincingly.

So, let’s start with…

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The Smegazine Catalogue

It seems strange now. Even though Red Dwarf is a current TV show once more, is popular enough to maintain an official fan club even during the ten year hiatus, and has always been extremely well represented on fansites, blogs and social media… a magazine? A whole magazine, dedicated to just Red Dwarf? In proper shops and everything? Monthly? It’s baffling.

But remember, back in the early to mid ’90s, Red Dwarf was a pretty big deal. Viewing figures were constantly on the rise, the likes of Ace Rimmer and Talkie Toaster were invading the public consciousness, conventions were being organised and the show was expanding into other platforms. The audience of teenagers and young adults were ripe for commercial exploitation, as books, videos, t-shirts, posters and more started to hit the shelves. So actually, why the hell not add a magazine to the mix?

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Nice Going On The Idiotic Gaffe
Front, Sirs

The other day, I snapped.

In our forums, there is a spoiler, which came about from a careless photo posted by a crew member. It’s not a huge spoiler, maybe. I doubt many people will be upset reading it. But it’s the latest in a long line of spoilers about the show posted online since the recordings started late last year.

There’s an interesting thing about these spoilers, mind. Nearly every single one them have come from the cast, crew, and – in one notable case – an executive at UKTV. The large audiences full of excitable fans who came to watch the shows have remained generally shtum.

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Red Dwarf XII – Episode 5 – Set Report

A full episode of Red Dwarf has been recorded in front of a studio audience on a Friday for the last time this year. G&T weren’t there, but once again we’re delighted to present a bumper crop of testimonies from volunteers Stephen Abootman, Kris Carter, David Fisher, Andy Holland and Simon Peel. We sent them some questions, and their answers are provided in full below, repetition and contradiction included.

Before we get started, a couple of things to note. We did ask everyone if there was any further mention of the episode six postponement. We’ve omitted their replies, but just imagine the word “no” five times and you’ll get the gist. Also, yes, that is a picture of Kryten’s full make-up and costume, courtesy of naughty DoP Ed Moore. Consider the comments section of this post as your opportunity to discuss this unexpected spoiler. The vast majority of photos in this report come from Ed’s Instagram, so do give him a follow.

But with no further ado, let the Q&A commence…

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Red Dwarf XII – Episode 4 – Set Report

A full episode of Red Dwarf has been filmed in front of an audience for the tenth time in fourteen weeks. To celebrate this occasion we have gathered what seems to be around half of that audience to give us their thoughts and feelings on what was filmed. Strap in everyone, because as part of THE WORLD’S GIANTEST SET REPORT we have detailed thoughts from the wonderful Stephen R. Fletcher, Alisdair Green, Dan Pendleton, Pete Martin, Jezz Harrison and Mel Stanley.

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Red Dwarf XII – Episode 3 – Set Report

A full episode of Red Dwarf has been recorded in front of a studio audience for the ninth time in thirteen weeks. This time round, a fair number of G&T regulars were amongst the lucky few, so we’re once more doing things a little differently. We present four mini-reviews, each produced independently of each other, courtesy of Aaron Phillips, Curtis Threadgold, Jonathan “Jonsmad” Young, and me, Ian Symes. Will we be able to reach a consensus as to the merits of this episode, or will we have all had completely different experiences? Read on to find out…

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Red Dwarf XII – Episode 2 – Set Report

A full episode of Red Dwarf has been recorded in front of a studio audience in the month of February for the first time since 1993. Well, you try coming up with relevant milestones for this many episodes in such a short space of time. As usual, there were no G&T representatives at the recording, but this week we strong-armed two “volunteers” into answering our questions, and they did so in such a thorough and entertaining way that we’re going to quote them both in full. Please welcome Jon Botham and TORDFC‘s Joey Newsome, easily the best person named Newsome to belong to that particular organisation.

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Red Dwarf XII – Episode 1 – Set Report

A full episode of Red Dwarf has been recorded in front of a studio audience, for the first time since 2015. As will be the case for the vast majority of this series, G&T weren’t there. But we have some excellent volunteers who were there. The main report comes courtesy of Emmeline May AKA The RockstarDinosaurPiratePrincess, while Carrie Parsons of the Fan Club adds her spoiler-free thoughts on what sounds like a quite remarkable series opener.

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You Have Been Watching… Part 2

Dig very, very deep into your memories and you might recall a little article called You Have Been Watching… Part 1, which was published a staggering 35 months ago. But never fear because now, finally, I have returnethed with part 2, covering every last guest character from the final three episodes of Red Dwarf Eggs (Entangled, Dear Dave and The Beginning). There are a lot of the bastards, so strap in and prepare for some hastily researched biographies and overwrought opinions on the fine people that helped make his series the lovably flawed beast that it is.

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