💩 Starburst – Chris Barrie/Red Dwarf VI Interview (1994) 🚽

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  • #217021

    Jawscvmcdia

    Here’s an interesting interview with Chris Barrie, made during the production of Series VI in 1994, which I’ve just transcribed:

    As the American writer James Thurber once said, “Humour is emotional chaos remembered in tranquillity”. Tell that to actor Chris Barrie, who’s discussing his work on the long-running BBC2 series, Red Dwarf.

    Having experienced the emotional chaos of the sixth and most recent series of the popular comedy/SF programme, Barrie is anything but tranquil. Unlike previous years, where his character Arnold Rimmer, this ship’s insufferable hologram, continued to grow and develop, this time around that development seems to have taken a downward turn. For Barrie, who is currently gearing up for his other well-established role, in BBC1’s The Brittas Empire, the sixth outing of Red Dwarf may well be his last. “Unlike the fifth series, when a few months deadened the pain, I haven’t got over it since doing the show [this year],” he explains. “I’ll really have to think long and hard if I do another series. That is mainly fuelled by the production problems, and everything that goes with them.

    Mr Butt of the Jokes

    “As far as the actual character of Rimmer, I agree with some other journalists who said that in the latest series, and to some extend the fifth series, the character stopped developing and Red Dwarf became a visual effects show, with gags that existed and had been created in the third, fourth and part of the fifth series. In Rimmer’s case, he has become the butt of the jokes, and I really don’t think there’s a place for as just being ‘Mr Butt of the Jokes’. “Okay,” continues Barrie, “in every series of Red Dwarf, you get a lot of funny lines to say and that’s wonderful, but I think the entire cast will agree that we can return occasionally to the days of series two and three, like Marooned, for example, where we had long, interesting and funny dialogue about our characters and how they came about. People might say, ‘Oh, that’s revisiting the past’, but I still think that clever writing could explore them more, and get some very humorous material from that”.

    Scripting Quirks

    One of the ways in which the series has changed, Barrie notices, is that occasionally a script will focus on the actor, rather than the character he plays in Red Dwarf. “I remember one instance that was probably in week two or three, where earlier in the week I had voiced my opinion that, somewhere along the line, we were lacking in a degree of professionalism. In the script, one of Rimmer’s lines in the Starbug cockpit was, ‘Can we have a bit of professionalism, gentlemen?’ That’s a classic case, and that in my opinion is rather a sly to the point of being nasty, unnecessary kind of thing to put in. It’s lazy writing at best. I remember that example, because we all looked at each other and thought, ‘Hey, we can’t say a bloody sentence here without it going into the script!’”

    Barrie is quick to point out that as far as Red Dwarf is concerned, there is almost nothing he won’t do to make a script work. That includes wearing a red gingham dress and army boots in Quarantine. “As I’ve always tried to say, my gripe is not with that side of it. Once we get into character and get to doing Rimmer and the gang, I don’t mind. “Put it this way: I’d rather dress up in army boots and a gingham dress, and whatever discomforts that may have for me, than have to do an unimaginative, ‘Rimmer’s the butt of the jokes’ scene in the cockpit of Starbug. I’d rather go through physical discomfort to help a scene along than have to voice writing or repeat gags from series three that we’re doing now to fill in before another visual effect comes along.

    Red Dwarf is the show in which I have to through the most hard-ships,” offers Barrie, “such as having a VW wind machine blasting at you – I think I nearly drowned in series four [in Dimension Jump], with Ace and Lister in a storm outside the ship. I really did take in quite a lot of that acidy water and was quite ill doing that.”

    High Point

    In Barrie’s opinion, the overall high point of Red Dwarf was the watershed third series, which marked the beginning of the programme’s new look. “That was when we, in the opinion of most, got it right. Red Dwarf to me has never been without its problems in one shape or form, but I think by series three I was still hungry to get it right and we were still doing things that surprised each other. That made it all very exciting.”

    The actor divides the programme into two different stages of development: the first three seasons, and the latter three, which includes the current run. “The first three are what I call the ‘Dialogue’ shows, and the second three are the ‘Vis-FX’ shows. Series four was the first of the Vis-Fx shows, but still carried on some of the elements that had made Red Dwarf, such as the strong dialogue. That was also the first series in Shepperton, so we didn’t have the same resources that we had in Acton to rehearse properly. We were in that big, cold film studio and, steeped in history though it may be, it’s not the place most conducive to rehearsing a television show; particular in November and December.

    “Having said all that, the ultimate high point for me was Dimension Jump, because I had to do all these scenes playing the same character for all intents and purposes, but one is a real winner, and the other is the Rimmer smeghead we know, love, hate and pity. In a sense, it was all worth doing for that, and at my most cynical, I would say it’s been downhill ever since.”

    Loss of Direction

    Barrie feels one of the key ingredients missing in the last two series of Red Dwarf is the presence of Ed Bye, the directorial glue that held the programme together for its first four seasons. “I think because Ed was there right at the very beginning, and is a very energetic television director, we badly missed him in the last two series, really badly missed him. No matter what people may say that they tried to replace him with another director, at the end of the day, you couldn’t replace Ed, because he had a rapport with the writers and a rapport that meant he could control the studio floor in a way it needed to give everyone that enthusiasm to do the show properly.

    “Now unless you have someone who can control the studio floor, things really fall apart, because there’s so much to keep covered, and that’s what Red Dwarf has lacked over the last two years.”

    Turning his attention to the currents series, Barrie feels the stories may have levelled off a bit, as compared to previous efforts. “I remember in one of the initial read-throughs, where we initially read the scripts, I didn’t say ‘Wow!’ as much as I did in all the other series, apart from maybe Gunmen of the Apocalypse. Gunmen, as most people seem to declare, is maybe head and shoulders above the rest of the episodes in Series Six. Some of the earliest images you see on television are westerns, with John Wayne, Gary Cooper and people like that, so just to be able to don all those outfits was a great experience. We were kids again.”

    Ace Opportunity

    One episode which proved a bit of a disappointment for the actor is Emohawk: Polymorph II, which featured the long-awaited return of Ace Rimmer, the heroic, alternate universe incarnation of his character, first introduced in the fourth series’ Dimension Jump. ‘I don’t think Ace fully came back,” says Barrie, with more than a hint of disappointment. “He came back in voice and spirit, but I don’t think it was as clever a use of Ace as it could have been. I was disappointed that we didn’t have the same wig, which was apparently stolen, or the same outfit. In Dimension Jump, the wig and outfit were so right and so wonderful. It was that physicality of the character that made him so right.”

    Another episode that could have been better was Rimmerworld, where the hapless hologram finds himself trapped on an uninhabited planet, and quickly sets about populating it with Rimmer clones. “That one seemed to remind me of previous stories,” ventures Barrie. “It could almost have been Terrorform. That was another visit to Rimmer’s psyche, but Terrorform did make me say ‘Wow!’ You had the two sides of Rimmer, the good and the bad, and I thought that one was really nice.

    “With Rimmerworld, it all seemed a bit plot-y. To be fair, I’ve got to wait until I see the finished episode to make a final decision, but I just thought Rimmerworld smacked of Terrorform and that sort of thing, where you’re on a planet with lots of dry ice, and there’s lots of Rimmers around. I don’t know, maybe that was all country that was visited before in a better way.”

    One plot development Barrie was happy with was Rimmer’s new hard light mode, introduced in Legion. Originally intended as a one-off idea, the hard light drive gave Barrie’s hologram character the ability of touch, and was used at various points in later episodes. “That was a relief,” says the actor, “because Rimmer never touched. When I do Brittas, he’s normally touching things all the time, and when I did the fourth series of Red Dwarf after doing Brittas, I thought ‘Oh no, I can’t touch anything anymore: I’ve got to stop touching things!’ Those last two series were a bit frustrating, but now we’ve got this hard light drive, and it’s good to be able to lean on things without fans writing in and saying ‘Oh, Rimmer touched this, that and the other!’”

    Formula Audience

    The recent success of Red Dwarf has proved to be a double-edged sword as far as its scripts were concerned. While Barrie admits it’s nice to record the series in front of an audience who know the characters, he believes that familiarity can sometimes lead to complacency. “After a while, it becomes not as challenging, not as exciting,” he elaborates. “In series two or three, the audience knew the characters just enough to appreciate a funny line in reference to them. That meant if not a big laugh, then certainly a fresh laugh, and it made the actors grow more confident, because they knew the characters, and the chemistry was beginning to work, and they’re always pumping. In the later series, when the laughter goes to bed, the actors sometimes turn away, and their expression says, ‘There’s another one!’ It becomes too easy, too formularised.”

    Running Gags

    That formularisation has led to a number of running gags in Red Dwarf VI, which Barrie thinks may be a mistake. “In many ways, I was surprised they kept those running gags going backwards and forwards,” he confesses. “I thought Rob and Doug wouldn’t have done that. I really thought they’d treat the Cat sayings and Space Corps Directives like gold; they would put them out sparingly, whereas when you get three or four a series, that’s not sparing as far as I’m concerned.

    “When you get into running gags, that’s the sign in the kindest description of it, that a series is really working. An unkind description is that you’re really running low on new, original gags.”

    With the sixth series of Red Dwarf behind him, Barrie has turned to other projects, and has been working on a new comedy series.

    With so many irons in his fire, Chris Barrie isn’t quite sure how Red Dwarf fits into his future plans. “This new project is only in the first stages of development, so whether it will be a series or a pilot, we don’t know yet.

    “Obviously, Red Dwarf is the veteran of the fleet. It’s done six, and although it’s probably the most imaginative show that I’ll probably ever do, one has to remember that it’s been on for six years now. If one’s got to go, I must look to fresh fields and pastures new.”

    #217022

    cwickham

    Was the “wild horses won’t drag me back” quote, as cited in the VIII scriptbook, an exaggeration of Doug’s?

    #217023

    Pete Part Three

    I remember that interview. Set alarm bells ringing. Interesting how Chris isn’t quite so vocal these days.

    Was the “wild horses won’t drag me back” quote, as cited in the VIII scriptbook, an exaggeration of Doug’s?

    Less an exaggeration, more just paraphrasing.

    #217024

    Dax101

    He was quite critically vocal back then but you probably wouldn’t get chris do that these days,

    #217025

    Darrell

    That’s an amazing bit of history, really appreciate you posting that. Provides a lot of contextual meat to a few stories which now have become good-natured anecdotes.

    I think he’s broadly correct about VI. Used to be a favourite, but on my last rewatch I found myself somewhat disillusioned with it, Out Of Time particularly (and I’m not the world’s biggest V fan either). If the VIII book intro is to be believed then neither Rob nor Doug were over the moon with it either.

    I’m a contrary sod though so next time I watch them my opinion will probably change again. Currently I’m finding it hard to disagree too much with pissed off 1994 Chris Barrie.

    #217026

    Dax101

    Chris is at that point in his career where he has less of an ego then he used too in the early 90s since now days every time there has been new dwarf he has said he felt it has been some of the best red dwarf they have ever done, and yes he said that about BTE also, he likely has success tinted glasses on for the show these days

    #217028

    International Debris

    I get where he’s coming from with VI – I do think it lacks the depths of the first five series, and it’s definitely my least favourite of the classic 36. It’s very interesting to see his thoughts and him being so critical at the time though.

    #217029

    si

    I did a full rewatch in the run-up to the new series, and I was a bit down on RDVI as well. Mind you, I’ve never really thought it was quite as good as everyone else did. Emohawk is largely unnecessary in my book. An easy (lazy?) way to bring Duane and Ace back, really.

    #217030

    Dax101

    Seris 6 very much depends on the crew sitting in the cockpit taking on whatever space thing that’s happening at the time but there is still some of what made series 5 great in there with the quick wit and storytelling, so is still there so I’d still take another series 6 over 7,8,BTE,10 and probably 11 as well if honest

    #217031

    Stephen Abootman

    “Barrie feels one of the key ingredients missing in the last two series of Red Dwarf is the presence of Ed Bye, the directorial glue that held the programme together for its first four seasons.”

    Ed Bye, everyone.

    #217032

    Darrell

    Time hasn’t been as kind to VI as might have been expected and I’m curious as to why – once it was considered wall-to-wall gold. It being commercially unavailable in any form for an almost nine year stretch may must have had an impact somehow, as opinion’s gone the other way for the first series, which is exponentially more popular and respected year on year, and has been in print on home video almost unbroken since the veto was lifted. Could contagious and untenable hype around Gunmen have had a part to play too (Emmy, Making Of book, Six Of The Best, script in Son Of Soup, novelised in Backwards, repeated on Red Dwarf Night)?

    Legion, Gunmen, and the last two minutes of Out Of Time have carried VI for a long time. (Mind you, I think V without Back To Reality or the first ten minutes of Terrorform would have its pants down too, or IV if it had to live or die on its first three episodes.) IV-VI have some amazing, perfect half-hours unsurpassed in the whole programme but they’re a turning point where you can’t always bet that you’re going to get a classic every week. I assume they got burnt out by trying to make six a year (plus two books and a US version), and from that interview you get the idea that’s not a million miles from what might have happened. Say what you like about VII but as an endeavour it appears to have had a decent night’s sleep and a serviceable breakfast.

    It’s why I worry about the line-for-line script quality dropping slightly in the XI/XII block. In writing terms that’s four times the workload Doug would have had in the GN days. X may have had its production nightmares but for XI/XII they might’ve just moved onto the page rather than on the studio floor, and that could be down to burnout again. Nothing in X made me think ‘oof, just one more pass would have fixed that, Doug’ but every XI episode, even the two I’ve adored, have had chewy bits in there.

    #217033

    Ian Symes

    G&T Admin

    I think it’s possible to agree with the criticisms leveled at VI, but still adore it. I don’t deny that the changes to the format and style of the jokes make it a more formulaic and less character-driven show than it was at the start… but I like the formula. It’s a different show, but still a damned good one.

    #217035

    Dax101

    Honestly i think Series 7 having a decent night’s sleep and a serviceable breakfast is one of the problems with Dwarf after Series 6, there isn’t any particularly good about Series 7 that helped from the show having a good lay in.

    So yeah say what you like about Series 6 but it still contains some of the best gags that have gone down as classics in the shows history, something that series 7 doesn’t really have alot of, or at least i can’t think of any off the top of my head.

    #217036

    Darrell

    There’s possibly an argument that VI breaks the format more than any other series of Dwarf in terms of tone and style, so perhaps it stumbles sat in the middle of a complete rewatch where it wouldn’t viewed in isolation?

    It’s that complete and sudden change in tone which knocked me back last time. The Blackadder similes, and the weekly runners, and the singled-out focus on big woofers. Every line either a setup or a gag. I found it *knackering* to get through and less funny for its incessant nature. All that plus visually there’s a claustrophobia that borders on the oppressive that you don’t get in VII.

    Maybe me and VI need to have a reconciliation.

    #217037

    International Debris

    I still think VI is funny, certainly. There are some incredible jokes in there and some incredibly funny scenes overall. It was my first proper Dwarf (after vaguely watching V on its first run), and so the look of the show has a huge nostalgic pull for me. But it lacks the ‘heart’ of the previous series, for me. By removing the mothership, the characters have little opportunity to live normally, and thus they become less believable for me. Every element seems to be action-based, or a quick-fire joke, and I just need the occasional slow moments to allow the characters to really flourish. V is action-heavy, but there are just enough character moments to make it work for me. So yes, VI is definitely a funny series, but it just feels a bit hollow in comparison to what came before.

    #217038

    si

    Series VI is when The Cat got stupid. Like, *really* thick. And he’s been like that pretty much since. Prior to that he’d had his moments, certainly, but he was cool. Series 1&2. Smooth with a capital smoo. Series III, IV, V. Cool, but apathetic. Series VI, VII, VIII…stupid. He’s still a bit dim in X&XI, but he’s clawed some style back.

    #217042

    Taiwan Tony

    Personally, until the BTE reboot, I think the show got worse with each series. Series I was my favourite, then II, etc. Now it seems to be getting better. Which is very positive.
    Like a few people here, I didn’t notice how ‘middling’ series’ V and VI were (ironically) until recently either. They were great when I was an adolescent. Rapid one liners, big ideas, actiony sequences… gunge and smoke.
    I still like those 2 series, but not based entirely on their merits.

    #217043

    Pete Tranter’s Sister

    VI is the fucking tits, it’s the White Album of RD, it’s got something for everyone.

    #217044

    International Debris

    Other than people waiting for a slow character based episode of course.

    #217045

    Kris Carter

    I love VI. It felt like a real shake up, losing Red Dwarf and Holly, new sets, the crew really forced together, working as an actual team. And the gags were good, and constant and consistent. The vis fx were superb, the direction felt fresh. Every aspect of production felt on top of it’s game, and it’s got a fucking KILLER ending.

    Sure the running gags can get a bit tiresome, and the Cat’s burgeoning stupidity wasn’t good to see, but overall, the series is more hit than miss.

    Yeah, it lacks a slower paced “character” episode. But that’s not to say there’s no character driven moments! Look at Out of Time, as the crew are at appalled at what they are destined to become. The banquet scene in Legion may be slapstick (albeit slapstick done well, as opposed to the blatant pantomime of VIII), but it’s got heaps of character.

    Nah, I love VI. It’s an absolute fucking corker.

    On topic, excellent interview with Chris, and very interesting when held up and examined with 20 years of hindsight.

    #217046

    Seb Patrick

    I can’t get onboard with the idea of VI being considered a weak series. It tops everything but II, for me.

    Legion has a gag rate that few shows anywhere can match, and almost all of them hit. Gunmen is terrific, hipsters be damned. Out of Time is one of the greatest episodes of the lot. Rimmerworld has the teleporter joke.

    #217047

    Dave

    I love VI – I don’t think there’s a duff episode among them – but I can also see some merit in the criticisms voiced in that interview, particularly from an actor’s point of view.

    Stuff like the running gags is probably a lot more fun for the audience than it is for an actor who would like to be stretched a little from time to time, rather than adhering to a set formula.

    #217048

    Darrell

    I don’t think the Gunmen hype is unjustified – it’s thirty minutes of perfect television, a top-tenner, no question. I just wonder if its quality and status burdens the rest of the series, particularly retrospectively. And I speak as somebody who at one point used to watch the VI Byte Two VHS about once a week for a year, until I gave it away to a friend for his birthday (I thought I’d be fine because there would be a much better Remastered version out soon… don’t all laugh at once).

    Another thing I’ve considered – my first exposure to anything from IV-VI was tape two of Six Of The Best, which was like a stock cube of perfect Red Dwarf. I got into RD with VII in 1997, when all twelve episode volumes were withdrawn (I still remember phoning up BBC Video directly just after VII went out and being told that the catalogue had been deleted – god, that was a heartbreaking moment), and although I’d managed to find the series 1 tapes easily, plus VI Byte Two, SotB, and the Smeg Ups/Outs, the rest of them got very hard to find very quickly. Within a year I’d seen II and III via the Remastered videos, but it was as late as mid-1999 that, courtesy of nipping into my grandparents’ house while they were out and watching their Sky (which I wasn’t able to video because their VCR setup was prehistoric), I actually managed to see those elusive twelve remaining IV-VI shows, which I’d read about and imagined for years via the scriptbooks, the Companion and the Programme Guide, plus seeing clips on the A-Z and trying to mentally reverse engineer stuff I’d seen on Smeg Ups. When they came around, not only did those shows have an impossible image to live up to, but they were separated a long way from the nostalgia of the ones I’d watched in an endless prepubescent loop, and I’ve never loved them like I did the others.

    All of that rambling to make the small point that the way we all first saw the episodes then probably informs our current opinions about them.

    #217050

    Kris Carter

    Amen. Series III through VI were my ‘first broadcasts’ that caught me around 11 to 14 years old, and had a staggering impact on my sense of humour, creativity, everything. I and II are folded in with that as I rapidly consumed them on VHS around the same time. VII and VIII caught me on a slightly waning interest and at a more critical time, as I was going through university and ‘growing up’ (I guess…?). By contrast BTE, X and XI are hitting me hard in the nostalgia stakes, and making me long for a simpler time in my life, so they too have a much different feel for me compared to the earlier series, but I’m really enjoying them.

    I’d love to be able to go into the entire run fresh – watch I thru XI in one block, seeing each episode for the first time. That must be mindblowing, seeing a timelapse of Red Dwarf like that.

    #217051

    Kris Carter

    I have somehow managed to not quote Darrell, but quote my entire self before I said anything. WordPress wizard here. HTML master!

    #217052

    International Debris

    I introduced my girlfriend to the show six years ago, and it was almost like watching it anew – I certainly laughed a lot more simply through the joy of her laughing. It’s an experience I’d strongly recommend.

    She HATED VI.

    #217053

    Pete Tranter’s Sister

    VI or the bird, you can’t have both, ID.

    Choose or fuck off and message on a Farscape forum.

    #217054

    Taiwan Tony

    >I introduced my girlfriend to the show [a few] years ago, and it was almost like watching it anew – I certainly laughed a lot more simply through the joy of her laughing. It’s an experience I’d strongly recommend.
    She HATED VI.

    Same thing for me. I remember being almost ashamed that I used to like VI as much as I did when we watched it together. Now VI feels much more like a childhood crush.

    #217055

    Dax101

    http://www.gizmodo.co.uk has posted about this article too with the headline “Blast From the Past: Chris Barrie Attacks Red Dwarf In Newly Re-Emerged 1993 Interview”

    #217056

    Taiwan Tony

    G&T picked up on this and Tweeted about it earlier.

    #217065

    John Hoare

    G&T Admin

    I find Chris’s slightly negative reaction to V more interesting. Feels to me like he’s judging the episodes on how enjoyable they were to make than the final product. Which is understandable from his point of view – of course you want your work to be as fun as possible – but not very useful from a critical one.

    #217068

    NoFro

    I did a run through with my girlfriend this year. She had seen the odd episode of Dwarf before because her dad was a fan but had never really watched any of the show in sequence. She found VI to be as good as anything that came before it and didn’t comment on a downturn in quality until VII. She hated VIII.

    I find it most interesting to watch the Dave series with non-fans as I scrutinize everything so much that at times it’s nice to see if people just find it funny. My girlfriend found about half of X funny and half of X to be a bit crap, falling in line with my opinion. She’s enjoyed XI so far, laughing a lot at the last two episodes in particular, and she came to the Krysis recording with me and really enjoyed that whole experience. Everyone I’ve watched BTE with has found a lot to laugh at, much to my surprise. I like BTE quite a bit but I am still shocked that the non-fans I’ve watched it with have seemingly enjoyed it as much as me.

    #217074

    Stephen Abootman

    “The interview also reveals that Barrie thought the sixth series was weaker than previous – which is broadly in line with current fan opinion.”

    The Silver Survey results:

    3. Gunmen
    10. Legion
    12. Out of Time
    21. Psirens

    Top 10 series by average points
    1. Series V – 10162.5
    2. Series II – 9622.83
    3. Series III – 9567.33
    4. Series VI – 9214.33

    Superb series.

    #217075

    Taiwan Tony

    Great point about the Silver Survey.
    There’s definitely a split in “current fan opinion,” which is what makes these threads interesting.
    Have you looked at the Male Top 10 vs the Female Top 10?
    3 series VI for the men; 1 for the women.
    Why did I bring that up? Bit sexist.

    #217099

    Jawscvmcdia

    Extracts from the Gizmodo article:

    Blast From the Past: Chris Barrie Attacks Red Dwarf In Newly Re-Emerged 1993 Interview

    Red Dwarf is currently back on our screens for its 11th series – once again on Dave. And by all accounts, it appears that the Boys from the Dwarf are enjoying every moment of the show’s success. But it appears that it hasn’t always been that way, as a recently re-emerged interview with Rimmer actor Chris Barrie reveals. Giz UK has obtained a copy of the article – which as far as we can tell, hasn’t made its way online before.

    It was November 1993 and the sixth series of the show had just wrapped. At the time Barrie spoke to Starburst magazine (which is still going today), about making the show – and in it, he revealed his discontent with the direction the show had taken. The mag quotes him as saying:

    “As far as the actual character of Rimmer, I agree with some other journalists who said that in the latest series, and to some extend the fifth series, the character stopped developing and Red Dwarf became a visual effects show, with gags that existed and had been created in the third, fourth and part of the fifth series. In Rimmer’s case, he has become the butt of the jokes, and I really don’t think there’s a place for as just being ‘Mr Butt of the Jokes’. “Okay,” continues Barrie, “in every series of Red Dwarf, you get a lot of funny lines to say and that’s wonderful, but I think the entire cast will agree that we can return occasionally to the days of series two and three, like Marooned, for example, where we had long, interesting and funny dialogue about our characters and how they came about. People might say, ‘Oh, that’s revisiting the past’, but I still think that clever writing could explore them more, and get some very humorous material from that”.

    It wasn’t just the direction his character was taking either – there were also passive aggressive scripts, by the sound of it:

    “I remember one instance that was probably in week two or three, where earlier in the week I had voiced my opinion that, somewhere along the line, we were lacking in a degree of professionalism. In the script, one of Rimmer’s lines in the Starbug cockpit was, ‘Can we have a bit of professionalism, gentlemen?’ That’s a classic case, and that in my opinion is rather a sly to the point of being nasty, unnecessary kind of thing to put in. It’s lazy writing at best. I remember that example, because we all looked at each other and thought, ‘Hey, we can’t say a bloody sentence here without it going into the script!’”
    The on-set tension Barrie implies here tallies with what fans may have suspected for some time. On some of the Red Dwarf DVD commentaries, Barrie and Craig Charles (Lister) refer to how a slight tension in their real-life relationship actually improved the on-set dynamic between odd-couple Rimmer and Lister, by making it more realistic.

    The interview also reveals that Barrie thought the sixth series was weaker than previous – which is broadly in line with current fan opinion. In particularly, he wasn’t a fan of the introduction of a number of running gags. The mag describes:

    “In many ways, I was surprised they kept those running gags going backwards and forwards,” he confesses. “I thought Rob and Doug wouldn’t have done that. I really thought they’d treat the Cat sayings and Space Corps Directives like gold; they would put them out sparingly, whereas when you get three or four a series, that’s not sparing as far as I’m concerned.

    “When you get into running gags, that’s the sign in the kindest description of it, that a series is really working. An unkind description is that you’re really running low on new, original gags.”
    Fast-forward 23 years though and the good news is that it appears that Barrie’s unhappiness with his role didn’t last. Though he took some time out during series 7 in 1997, he returned fully for series 8 in 1999 and has been an enthusiastic member of the Starbug crew in the post-2009 Dave revival of the series. But this surprisingly candid interview provides a fascinating insight into the show during its peak.

    Update (13:25): Dannii from Chris Barrie Fans has been in touch – it appears that our source had taken the images from her website (this wasn’t made clear to us – and our pre-publication checks didn’t spot this). She was also able to add some interesting context: That the interview was published during a time in Barrie’s life when he was exhausted – as he was doing both Red Dwarf and The Brittas Empire simultaneously.

    #217100

    Pete Part Three

    That isn’t an extract from the Gizmodo article. That is the Gizmodo article.

    #217101

    Pete Tranter’s Sister

    I always find it rather annoying when actors and musicians talk about exhaustion but they forget the rest of the population works full-time, some in labour intensive roles and they can’t just give up work for a few months and moan about it.

    #217103

    clem

    Hear, hear. When Craig was on the One Show a while ago he was on about how he’d left Corrie because he wanted to do various other things, mentioned RD, his poetry, his funk and soul stuff, and Alex Jones commented on how hard he was working and it must be tiring. It was something along those lines, and Craig replied “Well, not really y’know – I’m not digging ditches.” I liked that.

    #217104

    Darrell

    12-16 hours plus high stress/adrenaline though, it would kill you off pretty sharpish. It’s not as cushy a job as it’s made out to be.

    Before I entered the relatively sane world of 9-to-5 I used to do a physical 12-or-more-hours-a-shift job where I was on my feet, running around and doing a lot of mic work and performance. It would catch up with me all the time through random vomiting or near-fainting. Last year I was ultimately hospitalised for three weeks because of it – adrenaline comedowns being indescribably agonising. I can imagine working on a fraught TV production is several times worse than that.

    #217138

    Pete Tranter’s Sister

    Darrell, do you enjoy anything in life?

    #217142

    Darrell

    Most things other than the leisure industry, to be honest.

    #217158

    Pete Tranter’s Sister

    Not even flumes?

    Flumes are fun.

    Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

    #219991

    Manbird

    Are people aware that this isn’t a full transcript of Barrie’s interview, rather the finished article by a journalist who seems to have an agenda?

    It strikes me the author of the piece has taken Barrie’s comments, edited the positives and tried to suggest that the series was imploding. Check the date: it’s when the show went into its first hiatus, around the time that Grant left and a full three years before it returned with VII.

    Barrie’s concerns may be legitimate, and with the benefit of hindsight they fit in very conveniently with fandom’s perception of the programme’s decline in the late BBC years, but let’s not be fooled by this and accept it as ‘fact’.

    #219992

    Ridley

    People are aware that the OP largely speaks in c/p.

    #219999

    Darrell

    To be very fair that article clearly isn’t a muck-rake or a stitch-up, it’s fairly obvious that Barrie is being quoted accurately. It’s not even inconsistent with outside knowledge – it’s no secret that Barrie left the show on bad terms, partly as a result of the stress of making both V and VI and partly due to overwork. He’s not even being bitchy, he’s just being honest.

    #220099

    Plastic Percy

    I think we dodged a bullet with Grant Naylor’s original idea of having Cat contract a virus that would cause him to turn into Dwayne Dibbley in moments of panic or fear. The crew would then have to find ways to stop him getting scared and turning into Dwayne, in fear that his clumsiness would make things worse.

    Hilarity ensues…

    #220100

    Phobos And Deimos

    That’s a great idea!

    I feel like I don’t know any of you.

    #220105

    Plastic Percy

    Whilst we’re slaughtering sacred cows, I’ve never been a big fan of III. I certainly don’t think Polymorph deserves the status it gets.

    #220106

    flanl3

    On that note, I think that the full cut of Pete, Beyond a Joke, Dear Dave, Back to Earth Part 2, and all the slash fanfics are the only good parts of Red Dwarf.

    #220107

    Dax101

    Krytie TV is Clearly the best episode of Red Dwarf to date.

    #220108

    International Debris

    I do think III is a touch uneven, with big action stuff like Backwards and Polymorph nestled next to bleak character pieces like Marooned and Timeslides. It feels like a transitional series (which it is, in many ways). Coupled with an odd performance from Robert and the grainy look throughout, it doesn’t stand up so well to the two series surrounding it for me. I mean obviously it’s still really fucking good though.

    #220109

    Darrell

    Other than the last two minutes of Timeslides, III is perfect.

    I do agree that it’s got a very strange, nightmarish atmosphere/aesthetic though. It’s like the whole series has the flu.

    #220110

    Phobos And Deimos

    There’s big, what-if concepts on the go, realised through grindhouse-esque, black humoured scripts and shot on very cluttered yet cosy sets via cameras and equipment that was for the knackers yard soon after but give an immediate life to it all. So you end up with a third series of Red Dwarf which is wholly unique visually, sets the tone for the three series after it and most importantly is very, very funny and for many, a great introduction to the show as a whole.

    I’ve always maintained that a proper restoration of Series III would look remarkable and very fitting in the modern era. You’ve got that one-time, almost accidental combination of scripts, sets and cameras that all gel seamlessly.

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