Happy New TV Years

Having previously tackled the 80s, the 90s, Christmas telly and children’s telly, TV Years, Bauer Media’s excellent magazine that celebrates classic British television, is back with a new sci-fi themed edition, and naturally Red Dwarf features heavily. Comics writer and, it turns out, big Red Dwarf fan, James Roberts has interviewed (separately, before anyone gets any ideas) Rob Grant and Doug Naylor about the show’s development, for an in-depth feature that we’re reliably informed covers “how a lunch with Ray Galton and Alan Simpson informed Red Dwarf’s opening scenes, and how an encounter with Richard Curtis profoundly affected how we would come to know the show”.

The magazine is out tomorrow (that’s Tuesday 6th August 2019 for anyone reading this in the future), but we’ve been kindly provided with a little extract, concerning the end of Rob and Doug’s writing partnership…

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Howay The Ads

In scenes rather reminiscent of Headfuck Monday, a real-life version of Starbug has been spotted on location in the north of England. This time, it’s in the vicinity of the Angel of the North in Gateshead, and rather than a customised Smart car, it looks like a car-sized screen-accurate model, on tiny little wheels, as captured in this photo by Twitter user Lee Harris:

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Groovy Funky Channel 19

Just a quick one, this, but we felt it certainly warrants more attention than premature nonsense about Series XIII on account of the fact that it actually exists. Dave, readying itself for it’s change to its position in the digital EPG, has once again given Red Dwarf a prominent place in its marketing by getting some familiar lads involved. It’s always lovely seeing The Model Unit and their work getting some attention, and you can’t get much better than this beautiful Starbug model that’s put in decades of work at this point.

It seems a trailer is being shot here rather than it just being wheeled out for a public appearance, so we’re looking forward to what comes out of of Wednesday’s shoot, especially considering the move is happening very soon. Give us a shout when you see it pop-up, will ya?

EDIT: Mike Tucker’s been in touch to point out that despite our wonderful and thorough journalistic standards, we’v e missed the fact that this trail already went out during Taskmaster on Wednesday. Er, whoops.

Bobby Llew strikes yet again

Oh, Robert Llewellyn. You are a one man gun-jumping machine. This time, he’s turned up on the annoyingly-capitalised radio station talkSPORT, primarily to promote the forthcoming Fully Charged live shows. G&T regular Stephen Abootman was listening, and has very helpfully clipped up the part of the conversation that turned to our favourite show. Upon being asked by either Hawksbee or Jacobs whether he was “gonna do some more Red Dwarf“, Robert replied:

We are. We start Series XIII, which I can’t believe will be nearly 32 years since we started, which is quite daunting. So we’re all getting on a bit, but you know, we have such fun doing it. We’ve been working together recently and it is… I think none of us would do it any more if we didn’t get on, ’cause it’s such a difficult show to make. If you make a show that’s science-fiction, where everyone’s got loads of make-up on and props and difficult things, everything goes wrong. Mainly me and my brain not remembering what I’m supposed to say.

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The Boys Are Back In Town

Well, then. We’ve been fairly cynical about the prospect of new Red Dwarf happening any time soon. Everything went very quiet for a very long time, and it seemed like once again, circumstances had somehow conspired to kill off any momentum and put the show back into the past tense again. We refused to get excited a couple of months ago when the cast went for a curry together, given that it’s not too unusual for a group of people who’ve known each other for thirty odd years to meet up for a bite to eat, but Danny John-Jules has tweeted a picture today, and…

Yep, it seems like something is happening. All four cast members present and correct (I’d recognise Robert’s bald patch anywhere), in what looks suspiciously like a production company meeting room, with bits of paper in front of them. Doug’s even there, although he doesn’t look massively thrilled about it. Now, this isn’t necessarily Series XIII. There’s still been no official announcement about that, despite what less reputable sites like Den of Geek or Digital Spy will tell you. It could be something to do with the long-proposed live show. It could be a meeting about future merch or something. It could just be them going for a coffee in the world’s worst-decorated Cafe Nero, and we’re reading too much into it. But finally, things are starting to look a little more positive…

Scrambling in a red alert situation, a new record time…

…two months and nine days. That’s roughly the time elapsed between the frame-rate problem on the Blurays first being noticed and today’s TOS update, which represents the first time that the controversy has been acknowledged by an official Red Dwarf source. Snark aside, there are a million reasons why things like this take a while to get addressed – they have to wait for the manufacturers to investigate and put solutions in place before they go steaming in – but even so, it’s been a long wait.

There’s not a great deal of new information since the BBC finally got their arses into gear about this just under a month ago, but it’s nice to see confirmation that such a dramatic change to the source material was never the intention of the boxset. An apology might have been an idea, mind. The word “sorry” does at least feature in the BBC’s response quoted in the article, which is a slightly more official-sounding version of the email that was previously sent to complaining customers. The crux of the message is this bit:

Details of how to obtain your replacement can be obtained by e-mailing BBC Studios customer support line at DVDSupport@bbc.com

If you have already purchased the set and wish to replace the two faulty discs, you can do so at the address above; while we understand that replacement pressings of copies still in shops will be issued as soon as possible.

Good and interesting news that rogue copies in the wild will indeed be replaced. Spare a thought for the poor bugger who has to organise that.

Bluray Re-Mastered (in a good way)

It’s fair to say that the long-awaited release of Series 1-VIII on Bluray was a controversial one. Reaction to the bulk of the content has varied, but the one thing that everyone agreed on is that Series III and half of Series V were utterly ruined due to some sort of de-interlacing error that rendered the episodes in the wrong frame rate. Since we published our not-entirely-positive review, a small but noisy campaign for replacements and/or refunds started, thanks to the likes of Andrew Orton and his tireless emailing, and George Martin of Which?, who teamed up with perhaps the most intelligent and sexy Red Dwarf fan in the world in his reporting of the issue.

And today, that campaign has paid off. Those who have emailed the BBC to complain have finally received a satisfactory response, the pertinent bit of which is:

After a comprehensive review with all our suppliers involved in the manufacturing of this product we have now identified the source of the problem. De-interlacing did occur at tape to digital capture stage with one of the suppliers. This was not part of the Blu-ray authoring process as we originally had reason to believe.

The mastering of this release was a multistage process involving three separate suppliers. We hope you will understand that it would be inappropriate for us to say specifically where this fault occurred as we are remedying this with the company concerned.

We have started the process of recreating the masters and re-authoring these discs which will take approximately six weeks.

This is great news, obviously, and we’re looking forward to seeing the results, whilst not holding our breath bearing in mind that we weren’t keen on the rest of the Bluray versions in the first place. But after a frustrating few weeks in which official Red Dwarf sources have been silent and the BBC initially refused to acknowledge that anything was wrong, this is a big win. Well done and thank you to all those who fought for this.

Rob Grant’s Nether Regions

In somewhat unexpected news, Rob Grant and Andrew Marshall are doing another radio series, one that isn’t The Quanderhorn Xperimentations. Tickets have just been made available for The Nether Regions, along with a description that frankly defies neatly summarising:

Welcome to … The Nether Regions: a place where the laws of physics and even time itself take a day off, put their feet up and watch daytime television in their underpants.

This is our world, today, though not quite the today we know. And not entirely the world we live in. But nearly.

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Let’s Talk About Series I-VIII (on Bluray)

The release that is both long-awaited yet not particularly hotly anticipated is finally happening this coming Monday, the 14th January. However, it’s become clear from both social media and our forum that some lucky individuals have started to receive their pre-orders already, mostly ones from Zoom if you want to try and get in on that action. Our review will be along in due course (not promising any dates, as none of us have received our copies yet), but in the meantime, please use this thread to jot down your thoughts and share your insightful opinions.

For example, there’s an extremely intriguing nugget hidden away in today’s TOS update:

(Incidentally, contrary to our previous reporting, we can now confirm that the bonus DVDs for each series do actually contain everything that was on their equivalent original release discs – including the original menus!)

So it looks like we are getting the music cues and talking book chapters after all, so it would seem the controversy and debate on that score was in vain. Ho hum.