May 2019. Broadcunting House lies abandoned, a layer of dust coating its various microphones, laptops and indigenous cats. Suddenly, a door opens, a switch is flicked, and a light bulb slowly stutters into life. From the shadows emerge four mysterious, yet sexy, figures. An ancient warning system is triggered, issuing a familiar call to arms. “Awooga”, it cries, “this is a DwarfCast”. And it bloody well is. It’s only the third one since Series XII finished, and the first regular episode commentary that we’ve bothered to release since September 2017. We are back.
Oh, Robert Llewellyn. You are a one man gun-jumping machine. This time, he’s turned up on the annoyingly-capitalised radio station talkSPORT, primarily to promote the forthcoming Fully Charged live shows. G&T regular Stephen Abootman was listening, and has very helpfully clipped up the part of the conversation that turned to our favourite show. Upon being asked by either Hawksbee or Jacobs whether he was “gonna do some more Red Dwarf“, Robert replied:
We are. We start Series XIII, which I can’t believe will be nearly 32 years since we started, which is quite daunting. So we’re all getting on a bit, but you know, we have such fun doing it. We’ve been working together recently and it is… I think none of us would do it any more if we didn’t get on, ’cause it’s such a difficult show to make. If you make a show that’s science-fiction, where everyone’s got loads of make-up on and props and difficult things, everything goes wrong. Mainly me and my brain not remembering what I’m supposed to say.
This month’s G&TV is short and sweet. No prolonged, tedious analysis. No choosing something purely so I can rant about something which has been annoying me this week. Just a little something you almost certainly haven’t seen before.
With many thanks to Gary Rodger for the clip, here is Mac McDonald appearing on Tyne Tees kids music programme Razzmatazz in 1981.
Despite Red Dwarf‘s futuristic off-world setting, it’s always been a show deeply rooted in reality. Rob and Doug drew their inspiration as much from Steptoe and Son and Porridge as Blade Runner and Alien, deriving humour from workplace antics, characters being trapped together and the good old British class system, all things that are far from alien to the viewer at home. As such, it’s always been intrinsically linked to the time and place in which it was made, and the fact that this time and place was up to 31 years ago now makes for some interesting anomalies between the future as predicted in the late 80s and early 90s, and what we now know about how society and technology has developed since then.
Well, then. We’ve been fairly cynical about the prospect of new Red Dwarf happening any time soon. Everything went very quiet for a very long time, and it seemed like once again, circumstances had somehow conspired to kill off any momentum and put the show back into the past tense again. We refused to get excited a couple of months ago when the cast went for a curry together, given that it’s not too unusual for a group of people who’ve known each other for thirty odd years to meet up for a bite to eat, but Danny John-Jules has tweeted a picture today, and…
Yep, it seems like something is happening. All four cast members present and correct (I’d recognise Robert’s bald patch anywhere), in what looks suspiciously like a production company meeting room, with bits of paper in front of them. Doug’s even there, although he doesn’t look massively thrilled about it. Now, this isn’t necessarily Series XIII. There’s still been no official announcement about that, despite what less reputable sites like Den of Geek or Digital Spy will tell you. It could be something to do with the long-proposed live show. It could be a meeting about future merch or something. It could just be them going for a coffee in the world’s worst-decorated Cafe Nero, and we’re reading too much into it. But finally, things are starting to look a little more positive…
These days, it’s difficult to imagine the sheer unavailability of Series 1 of Red Dwarf. Broadcast in 1988, it was only released on VHS in 1993, and got its first repeat run in 1994. For five years, the series existed merely as fuzzy off-airs, passed around among fans with increasing generation loss. It’d be really odd if anything major linked to Red Dwarf was like that these days, wouldn’t it?
On an entirely unrelated matter, today’s topic is Grant Naylor talent agency sitcom The 10%ers. Which has never had a commercial release or a repeat run. And seeing as it’s 2019 and both are looking increasingly unlikely, we’re going to be a little cheeky. Today is the 25th anniversary of the start of Series 1, after all.
So here’s the pilot, broadcast as part of ITV’s Comedy Playhouse in 1993:
Back in 2008, when Red Dwarf turned twenty, it was very much a former television programme. The last new series had finished almost a decade earlier, fans had finally accepted that the long-proposed Movie was never going to happen, the regular DVD releases had come, gone and done a lap of honour with The Bodysnatcher Collection, Dimension Jump attendance had fallen off a cliff, and while there were still regular updates from The Official Site and the odd dribble of merch every now and then, the general feeling was that Red Dwarf was a show that should be talked about in the past tense. And that was sort of ok. We’d come to terms with it, although we were all more than a little worried about what the fan community would look like at the next milestone anniversary without any fresh stimulus to keep us going.
But when Red Dwarf hit 25 in 2013 and 30 in 2018, the landscape could barely have been more different, thanks to what happened towards the end of that twentieth anniversary year.
RICHIE: Maybe it’s a producer with a wonderful part. EDDIE: Oo-er! RICHIE: Eddie, I said wonderful part, not attractive willy.
When talking about Filthy Rich & Catflap, there’s many routes I could have taken. I could have focused on it being an ahead-of-its-time dissection on the nature of celebrity. I could have talked about alternative comedy butting heads with the old showbiz. I could mention the endless fourth wall breaking – done far more than The Young Ones or Bottom ever did.
Or I could start with a knob gag. OK, fine, I’ll go with that.
Of course, Filthy Rich & Catflap and early Red Dwarf are very much sister shows. Both were part of Paul Jackson’s pot of money at BBC Manchester, and were both recorded in BBC Manchester’s Studio A at Oxford Road. And both shared many of the same crew. As you take a look at this video from the very end of the series – featuring the show gleefully knocking down the last remaining barrier between them and the viewer – see how many people who also worked on Red Dwarf you can spot.
But that isn’t why I’ve chosen this video for this month’s G&TV. Here’s a fun fact: did you know you can see the outside of Red Dwarf – that is, the hull of the ship itself – in those closing moments of Filthy Rich & Catflap? Despite it being recorded a year before Red Dwarf?
…two months and nine days. That’s roughly the time elapsed between the frame-rate problem on the Blurays first being noticed and today’s TOS update, which represents the first time that the controversy has been acknowledged by an official Red Dwarf source. Snark aside, there are a million reasons why things like this take a while to get addressed – they have to wait for the manufacturers to investigate and put solutions in place before they go steaming in – but even so, it’s been a long wait.
There’s not a great deal of new information since the BBC finally got their arses into gear about this just under a month ago, but it’s nice to see confirmation that such a dramatic change to the source material was never the intention of the boxset. An apology might have been an idea, mind. The word “sorry” does at least feature in the BBC’s response quoted in the article, which is a slightly more official-sounding version of the email that was previously sent to complaining customers. The crux of the message is this bit:
Details of how to obtain your replacement can be obtained by e-mailing BBC Studios customer support line at DVDSupport@bbc.com
If you have already purchased the set and wish to replace the two faulty discs, you can do so at the address above; while we understand that replacement pressings of copies still in shops will be issued as soon as possible.
Good and interesting news that rogue copies in the wild will indeed be replaced. Spare a thought for the poor bugger who has to organise that.
It feels like there’s infinite possibilities for misleading Red Dwarf VHS ad voiceovers that could be constructed by chopping up unrelated lines from the series.
“Marilyn Monroe… What a bastard!”
– Dave, March 10th 2019
A stupid idea has sprung forth from its natural habitat of our forum and come to life in video form. Last week, there was a thread about Michael Jackson which was mercifully derailed early on by Warbofrog posting a link to an old BBC Video promo that lifted the audio of Lister saying “whacko jacko” and used it to create a bowdlerised version of his line about Star Trek. This led Dave to ponder on the possibilities for similar edits, as quoted above, and the suggestions spewed forth. The thread later got rerailed and went serious again, but not before planting the idea that it might be amusing to fire up Premiere.
Many thanks to the original posters in that thread, as credited on the video.