…since the first half of the Red Dwarf Special had a studio audience recording. Well, they’re finally getting round to finishing it at 6pm tonight.

There hasn’t been too many sneaky previews on social media ahead of this recording; the best we’ve got to go on are a look behind-the-scenes of the behind-the-scenes from Nathan Cubitt, and Danny’s video of Craig playing the piano in Rimmer’s officers’ club. Frankly, we could do with a few more pictures to sneak out in order to illustrate our set report, so keep an eye out and please do share anything interesting in the comments below. And given that we covered quite a lot of ground in the last set report, let us know if there’s anything else in particular you’d like to know about this time round.

After over a year's gap, welcome back to Set to Rights, the series where I look at Red Dwarf's sets in mind-numbing detail. And having already looked at some thrilling wall sections and the Captain's Office, we turn to what might initially seem an unpromising avenue for spectacular revelations: the Teaching Room in Series 1.

I think, however, you may be surprised. Because telling the story of this set leads us into some rather interesting areas which I don't think have been examined before. As ever, we don't have the paperwork handy to be able to check any of this: instead, we have to do some deduction, some guesswork, and leave some questions unanswered.

With that health warning, let's take another trip through early Red Dwarf - as ever with these articles, in order of recording date rather than broadcast.

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Just a quick one to note that, as reported by TOS, the second recording date for the Red Dwarf Special (which was, of course, originally the first recording date) has finally been confirmed for Saturday 11th January. That’s just eight days away, and it marks a rare return to an audience recording taking place at a weekend, for the first time since Lemons went before the cameras on what was pretty much the equivalent Saturday in early 2012. Apparently ticket holders will have already been informed, but none of the ticket holders that we know were, so do note that you need to reconfirm your booking by Monday 6th if you’re one of them. Due to the extremely short notice, and given that they were still giving away tickets for the first session at the last possible minute, it’s well worth putting your name down for standby tickets if you’re able to get yourself to the vicinity of Pinewood on the night; the link will appear on Lost In TV’s Twitter next Friday (10th Jan) at 5pm. See you there.

Hang on, I'm writing the G&T Christmas Message for the first time in 13 years? I guess I'd better do some Christmas song references. So: I'm giving Santa a Pikachu this Christmas, I just can’t wait till I am sitting on the bog, and... erm, I got nothing.

Danny, Robert and Doug on the set for the Red Dwarf SpecialMoving swiftly on, then. The last 12 months have been rather surprising in that things have actually happened in the land of Dwarf this year, unlike the mildly disappointing 30th anniversary. Not fast, get there in the end, etc. The biggest news was obviously the Red Dwarf Special, from Danny tweeting a picture of the readthrough, followed a week later by its erm, the official announcement. It perhaps seems unfair to talk about the production of the show never running smoothly - it's not like there are fansites examining the minutiae of Still Open All Hours audience recordings - but there was a distinct air of familiarity when one of the two audience recordings was postponed until next year. Well it probably is déjà vu, it sounds like it. Luckily, the other recording went off fine - bar Norman Lovett having a cold - and 2020 will hopefully see the second recording rescheduled. If not, at least we can look forward to Chris Barrie shooting linking footage vaguely in-character in 13 years time.

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At least some of an episode of Red Dwarf has been recorded in front of a studio audience for the first time in nearly four years. G&T were there.

There were many things that made it unique. The first time that they'd deliberately set out to only shoot half of an episode in one audience night, and yet it will convert to the highest amount of screen time covered in a single session since Back In The Red in 1998. The fact that we were supposed to be watching the second part last night, but circumstances conspired to make this the first part, which also means that this will become the first individual episode to have its filming split roughly equally across two different calendar years. And that's not even to mention that this is a completely new format for Red Dwarf, the first time ever that - on broadcast, at least - a story that lasts longer than half an hour will be told in one uninterrupted go. But there was so much that was reassuringly familiar.

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…since Red Dwarf had a studio audience recording. Well, they’re back at it from 6pm tonight. And it’s undoubtedly the biggest, most important thing happening in the UK right now.

We noticed when looking back at some old “it’s been x days” posts that this is a pretty similar gap to the one between X and XI’s studio dates, coming in at just nine days shorter. What is unique, however, is that this will be the first time that only part of an episode is being shot in a single audience session, barring oddities like Dear Dave‘s incompleteness, or the extra dates to pick up material for The End and Back In The Red. This Friday 13th date was initially supposed to be the concluding session for the Special of course, until the original first date was pushed back until the new year. We’d assume that tonight’s audience will see what will roughly amount to the first half of the final episode in order, although they might need to mix it up for whatever reason, and the percentages might change depending on the proportion of pre-recorded and live scenes.

Either way, we’ll have a spy in the audience, and so we’ll let you know everything our recently updated Spoiler Policy allows us to with one of our patented set reports over the weekend. We expect there’ll be some action on social media and TOS today too, so keep an eye out.

G&TV logoHo ho ho, Merry Christmas everyone. It was twenty-five years ago this very month that all our mums went out to buy the Smeg Ups tape for us to open on Christmas Day 1994. For Red Dwarf fans of a certain age, this seems to be an almost universal experience, especially the ones like us who are still obsessed with it now - the joy and laughter provided by seeing the cast off-guard and out of character cemented our love for the show, and imbued us with a fondness for and fascination with the behind-the-scenes process too. So what better way to pay tribute than to investigate the process of making the video itself?

At some point during the compiling stage of production, a rough cut was dubbed on to VHS, before any grading, mixing or sound effects were added, and with big "LINK Goes Here" captions in lieu of Llew. This tape somehow made its way out of the edit suite and into the hands of fans, who made copies for their friends, who made copies for their friends, and so on until an extremely low quality version, suffering from multiple layers of analogue generation loss, became a relatively readily available open secret. Inevitably, you can now find it on YouTube. The full length tape is there as an unlisted video, and there's also a compilation of the most interesting bits:

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Fire up your podcast feed, abandon a baby in a pub and shoot an alternate version of your ex-girlfriend with a harpoon gun, because the latest victim of the DwarfCast commentary treatment is Ouroboros, the Xtended version no less. And as it tradition for the less good episodes of Red Dwarf, it falls to the double act of Danny Stephenson and Ian Symes to do the honours, because nobody else could face it. So join them as they continuously fail to remember which bits are Xtended and which aren't, and complain about the awkward pauses added by the process, while also leaving their own awkward pauses.

Nevertheless, there's plenty to discuss, including JMC's fickle uniform policy, comparisons between what's on screen and what was in an early draft of the script, how to make a disintegrator, the incestuous implications of the episode's big twist and exactly what "hospital corners" means. Oh, and the "you're lying" thing comes up every now and then.

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Bad news, everyone. Ticket holders for the Red Dwarf Special recording scheduled for Friday 6th December have received the following message from Doug Naylor, via ticketing company Lost In TV:

Oh smeg!
We’re so sorry to have to do this, but due to one of our cast members suffering from illness, we’re going to have to reschedule your live audience recording of the Red Dwarf Special.

There are so many elements to coordinate when filming a complicated show like Red Dwarf that it’s extremely difficult to pick up lost filming days within a schedule. I know many of you will be disappointed, but we hope that you can all join us at a later date.

We are currently awaiting confirmation of the rescheduled date – although we can say this is likely to be in January 2020. As soon as we have news we will be in touch to arrange your replacement tickets. Please accept our sincere apologies for any inconvenience caused and we look forward to seeing you at the studio soon.

Yours Sincerely,
Doug Naylor

Oh smeg indeed, matey. This must be extremely frustrating for all concerned, and disruptive for fans who would have already booked travel/accommodation/time off work. The delay could also have a knock-on effect on the broadcast date, and will require more praying to the gods of cast availability, especially if the recording on the 13th also ends up getting pushed back. But that’s not really the important thing here – whichever of the cast members it is that’s ill, please get well soon.