Hello there! In lieu of anything especially Dwarfy happening at the moment, let me talk to you about 1970s post-apocalyptic drama Survivors. And while I could do 10,000 words on how the show transitioned from being shot on film to recorded on VT and why that was a good thing, a) That isn’t strictly within the remit of this website, and b) It would probably make you want to drown me in the nearest river. Even more than usual, I mean.
So instead, let’s do an old-style Observation Dome post and take a look at the Red Dwarf connection with the show. Specifically: Series 2 of Survivors contains no less than three Red Dwarf guest cast members as regulars. And the first time they all come together is in Episode 5, The Face of the Tiger.
For this month’s G&TV, we take a look at an old favourite: Rob and Doug appearing on BiteBack, also known as “Points of View but with a budget”. This was broadcast on the 23rd May 1993 – precisely 25 years ago today.
I should warn you: at 41 seconds in, they do a “Beam me down, Scotty” gag. I’m warning you now so your expensive phone or computer doesn’t end up through the nearest window.
This was a great find, remarkable for several reasons. Firstly, it turns out that the internet-enabled fans of the late 1990s had a dangerously casual attitude to spoilers compared to the self-regulating secrecy of today – every single scene described in detail and badly remembered jokes reproduced in full, online months before broadcast. It also throws up some neat little details about the production that would otherwise be lost to the mists of time, such as a message to the fans being signed “big hugs and kisses – the Inquisitor”, the audience being shown a picture of Ed Bye in a dress, and an incident where a make-up artist is caught unaware by a freshly-painted set.
In the last decade or so since Red Dwarf slowly creaked back into production, certain traditions have been established. The frantic hunt for audience tickets. Scouring the social media feeds of the cast and crew for teasers during production. The carefully orchestrated promotional campaigns culminating in something important being accidentally leaked early. And, of course, the complete inability of the main cast to keep their mouths shut.
This last one has lead to a confusing and mildly irritating secondary tradition in more recent years, as blogs and entertainment sites vie for clicks in an increasingly crowded market: announcing that a new series is confirmed before a new series is actually confirmed. You can track the development of this phenomenon by noting the increasing levels of weariness in our coverage of it happening for Back To Earth, Series X and the Series XI & XII couplet – twice. So imagine our delight when we saw an article on the otherwise excellent British Comedy Guide loudly proclaiming “Red Dwarf Series 13 confirmed”.
Previously on G&TV, we brought you an archival treat starring Chris Barrie. This month, we bring you the results of a YouTube search for a different member of the Red Dwarf cast; from September 1992, it’s The Reconstructed Heart, an illustrated lecture by Robert Llewellyn. It was broadcast on Channel 4 in the same month that it became Robert’s first published book.
It’s been nearly three years since we launched our Complete Guide To Almost Everything, the G&T equivalent of an old-fashioned episode guide but with loads of extra, obscure stuff included too. Since then, there have been two more series of Red Dwarf broadcast, along with the accompanying Bluray/DVD extras, so it’s about bloody time we got our fingers out and updated it. Presenting:
Exciting news – more than a decade on from Fat, Rob Grant has a new novel out later this year. It’s an adaptation of The Quanderhorn Xperimentations, the Radio 4 sitcom he’s co-written with Andrew Marshall of 2point4children fame, set to be released in June at the same time as the radio version is broadcast. We’re told that this will be “expanded from” the radio series, prompting hopes of a Red Dwarf style full novel treatment, rather than a straightforward transposition of the scripts.
We’re very much looking forward to all of this – it’s been far too long since we got hold of any new Rob Grant material, and now we’ll be treated to new examples of both his dialogue and his prose, all within the next few months. It’ll also be interesting to see how he works with another writer; correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe this is the first time he’s collaborated with someone other than Doug.
Time is short and we are lazy, so here’s the press release in full:
Ooh look, a new regular feature. Let’s see how long we keep this one up. Once a month or so, we’ll be providing some interesting or obscure Red Dwarf-related viewing, usually something involving the cast and/or crew that we’ve found buried somewhere on YouTube. First up, in authentic slightly-glitchy-VHS quality, an edition of Saturday Live from 15th February 1986 – precisely two years before The End aired – co-produced by Paul Jackson and guest-hosted by Chris Barrie.
Rumours of a Bluray release for the BBC years of Red Dwarf have been swirling for a while. I think we’ve discussed it as an aside on a DwarfCast or two, but we’ve held off from front-paging the news until there was something a little more concrete to report, mainly because the forum was doing a sterling job of logging various developments. Today, however, Doug tweeted:
In the Blu-Ray suite working on Red Dwarf III. It’s looking nice. The Up-Rez is nice, the noise reduction is nice, the grade is nice. It just looks nice period. #RedDwarf30#October.
To celebrate Red Dwarf’s 30th anniversary, we took the airwaves (and indeed to the booze) to have a bit of a party. In a rambling, meandering and slightly shambolic show weighing in at well over two hours long, the entire G&T team – Cappsy, John, Tanya, Danny and Ian – plus special guest Jo Sharples, gathered to discuss the Pearl Poll results in very fine detail, reveal how our own preferences stack up to the general consensus, attempt our first live episode commentary on The End, and open the show up to the listeners in a chaotic phone-in free-for-all, which touched on subjects such as the Smegazines, the differences between the solo novels, Red Dwarf USA, and one hundred duck-sized Norman Lovetts.