Here’s one that’s been doing the rounds lately – a full, decent-quality (in technical terms at least) episode of Cyberzone has recently been uploaded to YouTube by Red Dwarf fan Chris Toone. The short-lived virtual reality game show was notable for several reasons. It was a new format from the brain of Tim Child and his production company Broadsword, in the same vein as their technologically-groundbreaking and hugely entertaining Knightmare. Cyberzone only duplicated that success in one regard, but it will always have its place in fandom folklore thanks to the presenting style of one Craig Charles, who adopted Hattie’s cry of “awooga” from Marooned as a catchphrase, which was in turn “borrowed” by footballer-turned-presenter John Fashanu – a guest on the first episode of the series – as his own catchphrase on the much more popular Gladiators.
The show saw Craig as the “Zone Warden”, guiding two competing teams of two through a series of virtual reality challenges set by arch-villain Thesp, a hybrid of the GamesMaster and Knightmare‘s Lord Fear, played by James Grout. One team comprised two members of the public, taking on a pair of sportspeople, in this case world rally champions Louise Aitken-Walker and Tina Thorner, in the second episode of the series, aired 11th January 1993:
We’re going back 22 years for this month’s G&TV, a fact that will no doubt unsettle any readers who remember watching it at the time. Not to be confused with a completely unrelated Channel 4 show called Space Cadets, which involved tricking gullible young people into thinking they were going into space when in fact they were just in a big warehouse, this Space Cadets was a 1997 panel show dedicated to science-fiction, following in the wake of other single-topic shows like They Think It’s All Over and Never Mind The Buzzcocks. It was hosted by Greg Proops, with team captains Bill Bailey and Craig Charles.
It wasn’t very good. The format was pretty run of the mill – a what happened next round, then a picture round, a bit of Call My Bluff with sci-fi props and a final quickfire trivia round – with nothing particularly unique or memorable to set it apart. The shows were often shambolic, with panellists shouting over each other and Proops coming up short in keeping control, the editing slapdash and the production values failing to disguise the evidently low budget. Although I did like Greg’s Davros-inspired chair. The first episode is available in full on YouTube, complete with original in-vision continuity announcement, and one of the guests is another familiar Red Dwarf face:
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:
This month on G&TV, we’re taking you back to the early-to-mid-1990s, a time when Sonic and Mario were competing for console supremacy, bespoke promotional home videos were an effective means of advertising, and a skin-headed Craig Charles was the go-to presenter for edgy, youth-oriented, low-budget productions. Combine all three and you get 1993’s Super Mario All-Stars video, given away by Nintendo in the UK to promote its namesake SNES game, and indeed the console in general. The nearly twenty minute tape has been uploaded in full by games journalist Chris Scullion, as part of a VHS preservation project.
Fans of Gogglebox, the popular television programme in which cameras capture the reactions of ordinary people as they watch TV, may be interested in We Have Been Watching, which is the same. Except that instead of ordinary people, this UKTV Original features comedians and sitcom stars, and their viewing material consists of classic comedy clips, old and new. The show started with a Christmas special late last year, and has since embarked on a full series, which is currently airing on Wednesday nights. Among the regulars are two elderly gentlemen named Craig Charles and Robert Llewellyn – truly the Bill & Josef of the cast.
Anyway, each episode tends to feature at least one of the regulars watching the show that they’re best known for, and according to this tweet from Gold, tonight’s the night for Red Dwarf. No official word on which episode they’ll be watching, but if it’s from Series X or XI, this is probably the closest we’ll get to a cast commentary. So we’ll be tuning in tonight at 8pm on Gold, and if you’re doing so too, then this is the place for your comments.
Those with slightly longer memories will recall that, at DJ last year, Doug mentioned that he was planning an episode where “everyone was Kryten” causing much excitement/hand-wringing/wailing and gnashing of teeth (delete as appropriate) from fandom. Now, in an interview conducted at MCM Liverpool, two chaps by the name of Robert Llewellyn and Danny John-Jules have pretty much confirmed that this episode exists. There’s no going back now…
It’s been a bumper few days over on Twitter, so much so that we’ve been moved to collate it all together even at this early point in the week. Join me after the jump for a look at a storyboard and upwards of TWO pictures of some walls.
If you were a teenager in the UK in the late 90s/early 00s, rejoice. Your favourite early evening BBC Two show is coming back. Robot Wars has been recommissioned for a brand new series of six hour-long episodes. It’ll be produced by Mentorn Scotland, and will apparently be bigger and better than ever before. There’s no word yet on who’ll be presenting. We’re obviously hoping it’s Craig Charles, partly to maintain the Red Dwarf connection, but mostly because he was brilliant at it. But he’s a very busy man, and I guess it would depend on how long it would take to film, and when.
The press release seems to be saying all the right things, especially regarding the focus on the science, and the way that the show is driven by the innovation of the roboteers. The structure of the competition will be “new”, but we’re promised that it will involve more robots and more battles than the original. Basically, this could be very very good indeed. Imagine the original show, how exciting and compelling it was, but in HD, and with the cameras right up close. Yes please.
It wasn’t the end, it was merely a pause. For this is the return, *kisses fingers*, of Robot Wars.
This weekend, Craig Charles brought The Madness House of Fun Weekender to a close with his Funk & Soul Show. G&T regular Jonathan ‘Jonsmad’ Young was there, and shared a backstage area with Craig. At 1am on Sunday night/Monday morning, he was able to interrupt Craig’s search for cigarettes for seventy-six seconds in order to conduct a very brief interview about Red Dwarf XI so far. A huge thank you to Jonsmad for sharing this with us. Over to you…