Thumbnail Wars featured image

Here at Ganymede & Titan, we're never afraid to tackle the big issues surrounding Red Dwarf. Over the last twenty years we've dealt with accusations of racism, homophobia and sexism within the show, gone through the trauma of seeing our beloved co-creators waging war through the courts, and hosted endless debates about which of Series VII and VIII was the shittest. This week, almost the entirety of Red Dwarf was published on BBC iPlayer, including all but three episodes of the Dave era. It's all still available on UKTV Play of course, meaning Mummy Beeb and Daddy Dave have joint custody of all their kids and step-kids. And so there's now a new question to settle. A question that will tax our collective IQs to their very limits. Which platform has the best thumbnails?

Let's go through series by series, awarding points to each streaming service based on which image we prefer for each episode. The iPlayer thumbnails are on the left and can be distinguished by the black background, while UKTV Play is on the right against blue. (If you're on mobile, you'll probably want to tap to expand.) While we're here, we might as well also cover any oddities or discrepancies in the metadata. Honestly, this is going to be pretty niche. Strap in.

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Yesterday, Doug Naylor updated his Twitter to say that an announcement was coming, and sure enough, at one minute past midnight, the BBC published a press release to say that all twelve series of Red Dwarf, plus The Promised Land, are coming to BBC iPlayer. This is great news for the show, with the exposure that comes from having your boxset front and centre on one of the UK's biggest streaming platforms, free to access and free from ads. And it's really significant that the Dave era is included too; it's not entirely unprecedented, and not surprising given the links between UKTV and the BBC, but it's a rare treat to see shows that originated on other channels appearing on iPlayer.

However, now that the episodes have turned up, there's a problem.

Updated with a quote from the BBC below

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DwarfCast 163 - Re-Disc-overy: Series III featured image
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"The Gall of Gary Barlow"

The third Red Dwarf DVD was released twenty years ago this November. It's time for another voyage of re-disc-overy, as we cast our minds back to a time of the online retail wild west, blossoming friendships and intense fansite rivalry. Although in practice, we probably spend more time reminiscing about our early Dimension Jump experiences than anything else, thanks to the choice of extra to receive the commentary treatment this time round, Hattie's DJ Diary. The surrounding, extremely waffley discussion takes in such topics as Red Dwarf's history with the AA, Craig Charles's overdue royalty payments, and farting in Ronnie Corbett's face. Each and every special feature is covered, we just hope that whatever you're using to watch your DVDs these days can actually access the menus...

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The new Beta version of Adobe Photoshop has an interesting feature called Generative Fill. You highlight a section of a canvas, and it uses AI to figure out what should be there, based on the rest of the image. Immediately, people started using it to extend famous artworks, album covers and the like. My immediate thought - what happens when you put Red Dwarf images through it?

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It cannot have escaped anyone's attention that Red Dwarf turned 35 years old this year. It's easy to underestimate just how long ago that was in terms of television as a medium. The BBC Television Service was launched on 2nd November 1936. That was only 86 and a half years ago - the lifespan of Red Dwarf to date covers around 40% of the entire history of scheduled broadcasting. And so it goes without saying that British telly in 1988 looked very different to the landscape of today, but just how different? What else was on BBC Two when each series of Red Dwarf first aired, and what was the competition on the other channels?

Using a combination of the amazing BBC Programme Index and newspaper archives, we're going to answer those exact questions for the first episode of each BBC series in detail, along with an overview of how the rest of the run panned out. For some readers, this will be a nostalgic reminder of the television of their childhood, adolescence or young adulthood. For those that are too young or too foreign to have lived through it, it's a window into a bygone age. Either way, the power of hindsight allows us to spot the subtle clues that television was changing before our eyes, as we piece together the transition from one era to another, through a Dwarfy prism.

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DwarfCast 162 - The Smegazine Rack - Issue #8 featured image
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"The fascist junta of the potato people"

Back in the distant mists of time, when Ian first dreamt up the idea of getting Danny and I to read through all the Smegazines and record a podcast series about it, no doubt issues like this were front and centre of his mind. Historically significant pieces on ancient DJs? Check. Some hot Wraggy action? Check. Potatits? You bet ya. *gestures vaguely at insane original comic strips*? Uh-huh.

Needless to say, this was a fun one.

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DwarfCast 161 - Re-Disc-overy: Series 2 featured image
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"Could you make Patrick Stewart come in the middle of my television programme, please?"

The second Red Dwarf DVD was released twenty years ago (as of a month and a half ago). Any bets as to whether we can get the next one done before this November?

Back in early 2003 we had barely had chance to watch the first DVD more than two or three thousand times before another release was thrust into our sweaty palms. As is expected, the Series 2 DVD was very closely related to the first so you'd be forgiven for thinking this release might be a little less interesting, but as you will hear Danny, Ian and Cappsy still had plenty to talk about as they continue on their voyage re-disc-overy.

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"I've got a lot of Red Dwarf to give."

Well then, this is a little bit special. Fresh from the fantastic news that the Red Dwarf legal kerfuffle is officially resolved, we speak exclusively to Rob Grant himself - the co-creator of the programme, who's now returning to the franchise after an absence of close to 30 years. We found out exactly what the legal resolution means for the future of the show, got clarification on the new status quo for Rob and Doug, discovered what new projects are being pursued, discussed possible collaborations with established cast and crew, and touched upon merchandise, continuity, technology, Marilyn Monroe, and much much more.

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DwarfCast 159 - The Smegazine Rack - Issue #7 featured image
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"Let wideons be wideons"

Ian Symes, Jonathan Capps and Daniel Stephenson are delighted to announce that the ongoing DwarfCast hiatus has been resolved.

Moving onwards and upwards, Ian, Cappsy and Danny hope to launch many iterations of DwarfCasts covering various media, working again with Jimmy Nail and other valued partners, and wish each other the very best.

Smoke a kipper, DwarfCasts will eat all your kippers!!

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Just a few short weeks ago, we had all but given up hope that this day would come. And yet here we are - following the promising yet inconclusive joint anniversary message from Rob and Doug, we have a brand new statement from the pair, and it's exactly what we wanted to hear.

Rob Grant and Doug Naylor are delighted to announce that the ongoing dispute over the Red Dwarf rights has been resolved.

Moving onwards and upwards Rob and Doug hope to launch separate iterations of Red Dwarf across various media, working again with the cast and other valued partners, and wish each other the very best.

Smoke a kipper, Red Dwarf will be back for breakfast!!

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