G&TV Halloween Special featured image

This month's G&TV contains scenes which are unsuitable for younger viewers and people of a nervous disposition. You have been warned.

Well, it doesn't really, but then neither does Polymorph, so it's fair game. Anyway, when we noticed that the latest edition of this feature would coincide roughly with a notable date in the calendar, we decided to run with the theme. The Red Dwarf cast and crew haven't had a great deal of crossover with the horror genre over the years, other than a couple of notable and obvious exceptions, which we'll come to. We couldn't find much in terms of full-length programmes that are not commercially available (and so therefore we feel comfortable linking to off-air recordings of them on YouTube), which is the usual remit for G&TV. So instead, we present a thrilling compendium of terror, with four short clips relating to each of our main cast members, which fit the theme with varying degrees of contrivance.

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Prompted by a question from listener Si Bromley, our most recent edition of Waffle Men, as featured on the DwarfCast commentary for Samsara, included a discussion on the not-fondly-remembered Chris Barrie sitcom A Prince Among Men. Having grown tired of playing comedy prats like Arnold Rimmer and Gordon Brittas, Chris teamed up with The Brittas Empire producer and director Mike Stephens to bring us Gary Prince, a comedy prat who differed from his previous comedy prats by lacking any charm, depth or originality.

Gary was a retired footballer turned entrepreneur, and also a self-centered egotist, who spent his time annoying his German wife Lisel, belittling his loyal staff, insulting his closest friends and making terrible business decisions. The show ran for two series on BBC One, the first one and a half of which were shown in prime time during the week, before the last few episodes were quietly relegated to Sunday afternoons. It was not very good. See for yourself, here's the first episode:

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G&TV logoYou can say what you like about the deadly global pandemic currently ruling our lives, but at least the little red spikey boi has opened up access to many public events that have been forced to move to a streaming model this year. The result is I've seen two San Diego Comic-Con panels live where I would've previously seen none. Firstly, the lovely Bill and Ted Face the Music panel on Saturday and then on Sunday Red Dwarf had what we believe is its first ever SDCC panel to promote the launch of The Promised Land on BritBox and in attendance were Doug Naylor, Craig Charles, Chris Barrie and Robert Llewellyn.

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G&TV logoLong before Paula Yates invited people On the Bed, Emma Freud was doing the same on Pillow Talk, part of ITV’s late night programming Night Network. And who did she have on the bed in 1987? None other than a certain Chris Barrie, who spends much of the interview looking fairly uncomfortable. They should have just had sex in multiple different positions and had done with it.

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With Noel Edmonds currently commanding his biggest TV audience since his mid-90s heyday on the superb current series of I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here!, now seems an appropriate time to revisit the Saturday night behemoth that was Noel's House Party. Any Brits aged around 30 and over will need no introduction, but for everyone else: this was a hugely popular live entertainment show, featuring pranks, gunge, celebrity guests, competitions, and a huge amount of involvement by the general public. It's perhaps most notorious for introducing the world to spoof kids' TV character Mr Blobby, a hugely divisive figure who was absolutely ubiquitous for a few years, spawning videos, books, a single that reached the coveted Christmas number one spot in 1993, and even an ill-fated theme park.

There's nothing quite like it on British TV these days, although Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway comes closest. Indeed, fans of that show may recognise a fair number of familiar formats in House Party's various regular features. Those segments were, of course, framed with live studio sections, with Noel hosting his various guests in the Great Hall of fictional village Crinkley Bottom. Popular television stars of the time would pop by throughout the show for a scripted comedy chat. For example, Chris Barrie, portraying his most famous character at the time - Gordon Brittas.

You can see a selection of clips here, courtesy of Chris Barrie Fans, but why not treat yourself to a full episode of the show, in which Brittas makes cameos at various points throughout:

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As previously established on numerous occasions, this year marks the thirtieth anniversary of 1988. It was a very busy time for so many of our favourite comedy talents, and shortly after the conclusion of the second series of Red Dwarf, Spitting Image preceded its forthcoming fifth series with a 45-minute special, broadcast on 29th October 1988, thirty years ago to this very day.

Of course, Rob and Doug had long since departed to create some sci-fi sitcom thing, but Chris Barrie was very much at the forefront of Bumbledown - The Life and Times of Ronald Reagan, marking and undoubtedly celebrating the end of the incumbent President's second term - the election to find his replacement took place the following week. Let's transport ourselves back to the halcyon days when nobody thought that the US could ever elect a worse President than this unintelligent, right-wing, lying celebrity.

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Yes, with just hours to spare before this feature loses its increasingly shaky-looking "monthly" status, it's time for another treat from the televisual archives. We're going all the way back to very nearly the beginning this time, with an edition of BBC1's Open Air, a magazine discussion show about television, complete with contributions from viewers at home. This particular edition aired on 23rd February 1988, which you can verify from the reference to, of all things, Eddie "The Eagle" Edwards competing at the 1988 Winter Olympics ski-jump later that day.

The more astute of you will have noticed that this edition of Open Air was broadcast the day after Future Echoes first aired, and host Pattie Coldwell is joined by Craig Charles, Chris Barrie, Paul Jackson and a semi-functioning skutter to discuss all things Red Dwarf. This hidden gem was recently resurfaced by Red Dwarf fan Chris Toone, and uploaded to YouTube by Chris Barrie Fans:

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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.

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As reported seemingly everywhere: Brittas to return?

Well… maybe. In fact, the only thing the story actually confirms is that something is in development. Which is all very well, and matches stuff we’ve heard elsewhere – Chris Barrie’s site, for instance – but this is hardly a guarantee of anything actually making it to air. As ever, it’s slightly bizarre when it’s G&T which has to add a note of caution. BLAME MODERN JOURNALISM.

(What I’m finding odd is this idea there are 53 episodes of Brittas – something both the British Comedy Guide and The Mirror are reporting. There are 52 episodes. As ever, watch incorrect information spread across the media just because nobody could be bothered to look at an episode guide and count the number of episodes.)

On the plus side, the mention Richard Fegen being involved is highly promising. And there’s an interesting parallel here with Red Dwarf X, beyond the obvious. Whatever issues I had with that series, one thing it did was prove you can still have production ambition with audience sitcom.

The return of Brittas could well prove you can still do a pre-watershed sitcom which has a bit of fucking edge to it.

UPDATE (10/07/15): FFS.

Craig Charles confirmed for DJXVII and other assorted goodness featured image

It’s been a while since we’ve mentioned next year’s Dimension Jump (in fact, I can’t be fully certain we’ve covered it at all since it was announced, which is our bad) but this week there’s been a veritable flurry of guests being announced (well, two) one of whom is everyone’s ex-Priory resident, Craig Charles.

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