British geeks of a certain age will have been intrigued by the recent news that the iconic gaming show GamesMaster is to return to our screens later this year. While we ponder the challenges the new series will face of balancing nostalgia for the original and relevance in a market now saturated on Twitch and YouTube, thoughts turn to fond memories of the original. Hosted (in the most part) by Dominik Diamond, and featuring the disembodied head of Red Dwarf A-Z's one-eyed right-wing astronomer Patrick Moore, the show brought us news, reviews, features, cheats and tips, but its most memorable segment was challenges whereby gamers and/or celebrity guests competed for a coveted Golden Joystick. And on one such occasion, very nearly 25 years ago, the celebrity guest was one Danny John-Jules.

His segment begins at 14:01, but let's face it, you might as well watch the full episode:

Read more →

As we approach the August Bank Holiday weekend, and therefore the conclusion of this year's Edinburgh Festival Fringe, let's travel back in time to 31 years ago. It was a time when the festival had more of a reputation for weird and wonderful variety acts than a focus on stand-up comedy, when multi-channel television was in its infancy in this country, and when Norman Lovett still had hair.

These three states of affairs combined to form episode seven of Up Yer Festival, a daily show broadcasting live from the Fringe to an audience of tens on BSB, an early satellite service that was very briefly on air from March to November 1990, when it merged with fellow fledgling broadcaster Sky Television to form the more familiar BSkyB. Produced by Noel Gay Television, at the time the parent company of both Paul Jackson Productions and the newly formed Grant Naylor Productions, the show combined a sample of acts from the festival with specially shot sketches, all linked together by a guest host, including on one occasion, recent Edinburgh migrant Norman Lovett.

It's an obscure show on an obscure channel that aired on an obscure satellite service over thirty years ago, but thanks to the magic of the internet (and also to our good friend Jonsmad for pointing us towards it), the full series is available on YouTube, uploaded by the show's producer Richard Hearsey.

Read more →

Along with the Quarantine Commentaries, one of my favourite pieces of lockdown-based entertainment has been No More Jockeys, a joyous and frequently hilarious parlour game from the minds of comedian and novelist Mark Watson, comedian and poet Tim Key, and comedian and psychopath's assistant Alex Horne. I subsequently discovered that the game first appeared as a spin-off from a short-lived BBC Four panel show devised and hosted by the trio, We Need Answers. I further discovered that all sixteen episodes of the parent show are on YouTube, and that the second episode of the first series featured as a contestant none other than Robert Llewellyn.

Read more →

One of the many, many good things about Rob Grant, Paul Jackson and Ed Bye's regular Sunday afternoon quarantine commentaries is that their meandering conversations about comedy and their careers can sometimes dredge up intriguing lesser-known projects from the past. When Arthur Smith was a guest on the Backwards commentary, he mentioned one of his old Edinburgh shows, Arthur Smith Sings Andy Williams, which also featured fellow Backwards guest and perennial fifth Dwarfer Tony Hawks.

A truncated TV version was produced by Granada in 1993, which commenter Stilianidiadidatees suggested would make a good candidate for G&TV. Don't say we never give you anything. It's on YouTube, and it's pretty great.

Read more →

Prompted by a question from listener Si Bromley, our most recent edition of Waffle Men, as featured on the DwarfCast commentary for Samsara, included a discussion on the not-fondly-remembered Chris Barrie sitcom A Prince Among Men. Having grown tired of playing comedy prats like Arnold Rimmer and Gordon Brittas, Chris teamed up with The Brittas Empire producer and director Mike Stephens to bring us Gary Prince, a comedy prat who differed from his previous comedy prats by lacking any charm, depth or originality.

Gary was a retired footballer turned entrepreneur, and also a self-centered egotist, who spent his time annoying his German wife Lisel, belittling his loyal staff, insulting his closest friends and making terrible business decisions. The show ran for two series on BBC One, the first one and a half of which were shown in prime time during the week, before the last few episodes were quietly relegated to Sunday afternoons. It was not very good. See for yourself, here's the first episode:

Read more →

G&TV logoYou can say what you like about the deadly global pandemic currently ruling our lives, but at least the little red spikey boi has opened up access to many public events that have been forced to move to a streaming model this year. The result is I've seen two San Diego Comic-Con panels live where I would've previously seen none. Firstly, the lovely Bill and Ted Face the Music panel on Saturday and then on Sunday Red Dwarf had what we believe is its first ever SDCC panel to promote the launch of The Promised Land on BritBox and in attendance were Doug Naylor, Craig Charles, Chris Barrie and Robert Llewellyn.

Read more →

G&TV logoIt's a tricky thing trying to launch a new TV vehicle around a particular actor or comic. Sometimes you have bags of acting and comedic talent wasted on a dreadful script and sometimes the talent have an on-screen personality akin to sand paper being rubbed violently all over your brain, and make jokes so terrible by today's standards that fan sites 20+ years later have to quickly change their article plans because they don't have the brain power to handle it correctly.

No risk of that with our Norman, however, as this month we take a look at his I, Lovett-esque contribution to BSB Galaxy's The Last Laugh series, information on which is quite thin on the ground but we can definitely assume the channel offered rehearsal facilities in Edinburgh.

Read more →

It’s only taken us fourteen years, but today is the day that we record our final episode commentary from the original BBC run of Red Dwarf. With the bit between our teeth and Broadcunting House having been moved online, we want to carry on this out-of-character run of recording on a weekly-ish basis while we can, so what next for DwarfCasts? Well, we’ve still got thirteen episodes from the Dave era to tick off, plus a whole host of spin-offs, extras and rarities to jabber over if we get stuck. But we’ll be alternating those with something we’ve been wanting to do for a long time. Welcome to The DwarfCast Book Club.

Every fortnight or so, we’ll be re-reading one part of one Red Dwarf novel to then discuss in great detail, and we’d love it if you joined us along the way. First up, naturally, it’s Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers Part One: Your Own Death, and How to Cope With It, and if you can squeeze in those 94 pages before we record on the weekend of 4th/5th July, we’d love to hear from you so that we can include your comments, reviews and observations in our discussion. Whether you’re just jogging your memory or experiencing the novels for the first time, please leave your comments in this thread. To help us out, please indicate whether each point you make is a general one about the part as a whole, or relating to a specific sub-chapter, so that we can collate everything more easily.

We’re really looking forward to revisiting the novels and finally discussing them with the level of depth that they so clearly deserve, and we hope that as many of you as possible find the time to join our virtual book group.

G&TV logoConsidering Saturday Live is basically the primordial soup from which most of the 90s British comedy establishment first emerged, it should be no real surprise that many members of Dwarf royalty got if not their first, then certainly a good chunk of, their early TV exposure from the show. In fact, Chris Barrie's episode as host in the first series is what kicked off G&TV to begin with. By the second series Ben Elton was on permanent hosting duties and by the third it had moved to Friday nights and added a 'Night' to the title, because why not. It's in this series that Hattie Hayridge got what must've been her first TV appearance.

Read more →

G&TV logoAs we continue to cogitate on The Promised Land, let's cleanse our palates with our monthly dip in to the archives of vaguely Red Dwarf related things from the past. Here's a particularly obscure one, discovered by Jim Lynn of the always excellent VHiStory blog, the guy who dug up the original 1988 continuity for Series 1 a few years ago. On the end of a tape of Babylon 5 episodes, he found Beam Me Up, Scotty!, a one-off Channel 4 magazine programme about sci-fi, filmed at the 53rd World Science Fiction Convention in Glasgow in August 1995, and presented by Craig Charles.

In it, Craig introduces self-contained segments on a variety of connected topics, such as "filk music", cosplay before it was called 'cosplay', Klingon theatre, a somewhat nauseating section on sci-fi erotica and the sexual fantasies of its proponents, an extremely low-energy discussion of the British comics scene with some very morose people who are now very famous writers and artists, and Craig interviewing Terry Pratchett, best known for his appearance on the Red Dwarf A-Z. Jim's blog entry has the who's who of all the interviewees, and of course the full programme itself:

Read more →