We’re very sad to report the terrible news that Stephen Critchlow has died, aged just 54. We know him best for his role as Captain Herring in Series XI’s Officer Rimmer, one of our favourite guest characters of the modern era. His superb comic timing and the contrast between his plummy officer persona and the ridiculousness of his appearance made for a memorable and hilarious character. He’s also fondly remembered as a guest at Dimension Jump XIX, where he was generous with his time, brilliant in his Q&A and enthusiastic when meeting fans – one of those guests that really seemed like they were having a great time too. The following year, he was one of many guest stars to send in a video message to celebrate Red Dwarf‘s thirtieth anniversary, in which his charm and enthusiasm shone through.

He’s also well known to Doctor Who fans, having performed dozens of roles for Big Finish, displaying his skills as a voice actor and narrator. As well as many television parts, the stage was perhaps his forte, from rep to touring to the West End. Plus of course, we were amused that his appearance in Red Dwarf meant that, following Philip Labey, both stars of the long-running Oak Furniture Land adverts had been in the show. Tributes from those who worked with him have come thick and fast, and speak of someone who always lit up a green room with his warmth and humour. A truly popular man who touched a lot of lives. RIP Critch.

You join us live from Sunday lunchtime at Dimension Jump XXI, and as the cockroaches have finally finished their incessant shuffling, we're able to bring you an update on what happened last night. For the first time in a long time, Doug Naylor is not attending in person, which we presume is due to, you know, all that stuff. Nevertheless, he sent in a video message which was played betwixt costume competition and auction as part of the Saturday night entertainment, and it was both extremely positive and surprising in its content. With thanks to Si Bromley for sneakily filming it on his phone, here's a full transcript of what was said:

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At the third time of asking, Dimension Jump 20201 is finally here! The twenty-first Official Red Dwarf Fan Club convention today returns after an enforced absence to the Nottingham Crown Plaza for the fourth consecutive event, and it will feel all the more special after the long, long wait since October 2018. It will be a slightly unusual occasion in many ways. Twice postponed due to Covid, for many attendees this will be their biggest social gathering for some time; there’s bound to be mixed feelings along the way, but let’s hope the abiding memory will be the extremely happy one we’re accustomed to from past experience.

On a personal note, it’ll be the first DJ since 2007 that none of the current G&T staff are working at, and thus all the offers of drinks and chats that we’ve been too busy to accept over the previous six events can finally be cashed in. Two of our trio are giving it a miss, still suffering from PTSD from their time on the team, but one brave reporter is prepared to throw himself back into the fray for you, so we’ll be reporting on events as best we can over on Twitter – handle is @ganymedetitan, as you should know by now after twelve yeeeeears.

And we’ll be joined by Danny John-Jules, Hattie Hayridge, Norman Lovett, Rob Grant, Paul Jackson, Ray Fearon, Lee Cornes, Ian Boldsworth, Matthew Clark, Chris Barrie and Robert Llewellyn (those last two via Zoom), along with a super secret mystery guest which isn’t at all obvious from the silhouette and caption. See you back here next week for the traditional post-DJ DwarfCast.

We bring you news of two good causes involving two much-loved figures from Red Dwarf fandom.

Firstly, the family of our dear departed friend, former G&Ter and TOS editor Seb Patrick are campaigning to have a memorial bench installed overlooking Crosby Beach, one of Seb’s favourite places in the world. They’re prepared to foot the bill, but the council have refused, claiming that people don’t want a bench in that location. This is nonsense, as evidenced by the overwhelming support the family have received in a petition to urge Sefton Council to reconsider. We have the support of the official site (you know it’s serious when they update and it’s not a Friday), Robert Llewellyn, Danny John-Jules (this one also retweeted by Craig Charles), Doug Naylor and Norman Lovett, plus many other senior Dwarfy figures who have pledged their support by signing. This bench would not only honour the great man and provide comfort to his family, but also improve the facilities in the area. If you haven’t already, please take a few seconds to add your name to the petition, and share the ever-living fuck out of it.

And secondly, we were very sorry to hear that the brilliant artist Colin Howard has been suffering from multiple sclerosis, and now requires a powered wheelchair to help him regain his mobility and freedom. Naturally, this doesn’t come cheap, and so his wife Michelle has set up a GoFundMe to raise the ten grand cost. As well as being a regular at the last few Dimension Jumps, Colin is responsible for such iconic Red Dwarf artworks as the Beat The Geek cover, Danny’s Tongue Tied single sleeve, and many a Smegazine cover, my personal favourite being The Many Faces of Lister. Now he needs our help, so please donate if you are able to, and if you can’t help financially (which is totally fine), you can do your bit by spreading the word.

Today’s TOS update is an exciting one, featuring as it does both a rare interview with Rob Grant, plus a PDF copy of his Into The Gloop script, giving non-Holly Hop attendees an opportunity to experience the co-creator’s first Dwarfy material since the mid-90s. Now that it’s out there officially, we’ll get to work on a proper review, but in the meantime it’s well worth reading the accompanying interview, as Rob discusses working with Paul Jackson and Ed Bye, tailoring the script for the cast of fans, and – most intriguingly – his desire to do more.

Indeed, it’s one question in particular that’s raised our eyebrows, regarding future Dwarf projects. Rob essentially gives an answer similar to his statement at Holly Hop, but with one additional detail:

There are lots of ideas on the table – a stage show, a movie, a new series, spin-offs. Last week we were told of an approach to do an American version again. We’d love to do any and all of them. We want RD flying out of our buttskis. We want to take the diminutive scarlet one on another trip to the stars. Watch this space.

Lol. Of course, just because there’s been an approach, it doesn’t mean it’ll happen. I’m sure lots of people start conversations about working on Dwarf-related stuff all the time, but we never hear about them. There’s no reason to believe that this has more chance of coming to fruition than if I was to “approach” GNP with an idea to make a Red Dwarf breakfast cereal. But just imagine if this is the ultimate outcome of everything that’s been said over the last few weeks. A new Red Dwarf USA for the 2020s.

Excuse me while I have a humiliating panic attack under the scanner table.

Today was the first day of Holly Hop, and despite the presence of Rob Grant and Paul Jackson, two of the three remaining directors of Grant Naylor Productions, we really didn't expect this week's rather shocking news to be mentioned, especially considering the Fan Club team politely requested of attendees that it wasn't brought up during Q&As throughout the day.

However, it was clear from very early on in their appearance, as they prepared to commentate on White Hole alongside their usual cohort Ed Bye, that the pair wanted to address the topic. So they both did, and then some. Here is an exact, verbatim transcript of what they said, starting with Rob Grant:

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By rights, Dimension Jump XXI should have been and gone last May, roughly a year and a half after the previous event. Plan B was to do it this very weekend, but obviously that can’t happen either, so instead the Fan Club have put together the next best thing – Holly Hop, a virtual con you can attend from the comfort of your own living room. And it’s quite the weekend in prospect. Barrie! Llewellyn! Lovett! Hayridge! McDonald! Dexter! Hawks! Clark! Grant! Bye! Jackson! Quizzes and videos and stuff! And of course, a live table read of a brand new Red Dwarf script written by Rob Grant!

There will be much to discuss, so do so here, if you like. The two day event starts at 10:30am today (Saturday), and tickets are still available at a ridiculously cheap price for this amount of entertainment. Let’s face it, there are multiple reasons we all need a nice distraction right now, and this should be just the thing.

This is probably the most unpleasant news story we've had to cover in the more than eighteen years this site has been going. Not least because it involves linking to the Daily Mail, who today report that Doug Naylor is suing Rob Grant and Grant Naylor Productions, following Doug's removal from the board of the company last year. To save you from clicking onto that shithole, the relevant parts of the article are below, and below that is our initial reaction.

[Doug Naylor] has just initiated a dramatic High Court action against his former co-scriptwriter and one-time best friend, Rob Grant.

The claim also names Grant Naylor Productions, the company which he and Grant established 30 years ago ‘to exploit their services as scriptwriters’.

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We bring you news of an excellent thing. Kris Carter, who’s been a regular fixture here for as long as I can remember, and one of my favourite creative people in Red Dwarf fandom ever since I first saw his comic strips in Fan Club magazine Better Than Life over twenty years ago, has launched a fanzine. Drive Room takes a look at each episode in as much depth as you’d possibly need, starting unsurprisingly with The End, covering the plot, guest stars, behind the scenes details, adaptations, visual effects and publicity photos, along with profiles on both Chris Barrie and Arnold Rimmer. Lovingly adorned with cover art from Kriss’s fair hand and beautifully laid out, issue one is available to download from Chris’s blog now, and best of all – it’s free.

It can’t have escaped your attention that we’ve been rather slack with the written content since The Promised Land, so it’s brilliant that Khris has stepped up to the plate and delivered something even more meticulous and in-depth than we usually manage. And how wonderful that Red Dwarf is still inspiring new and original fan endeavours after nearly 33 years.

 

It's a genuinely strange feeling for me (as indeed it would be for the rest of the remaining G&T team) to report on Fan Club activity from an outsider's perspective. I'm still not used to finding out what they're up to via official channels, rather than half-listening to their remote team meetings taking place at the other end of the sofa, worrying about what duties I'm going to be volunteered for. But today's announcement is quite a big one, as the sensationalist and yet entirely accurate headline demonstrates.

Via TOS, the Fan Club have unveiled a two-day online convention called Holly Hop, taking place on the most recently cancelled dates for DJXXI, the 6th & 7th February 2021, to tide us over until the proper convention hopefully happens in September next year, deadly pandemic permitting. So, it's a Hop for a skipped Jump, providing "guest Q&As and behind-the-scenes discussions, as well as a few surprises along the way".

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