Bill Pearson RIP

We’re all very sad to hear the news that Bill Pearson, one of the all-time greats of the British visual effects industry, has passed away.

As part of a long career in film and TV, which took in such classics and cult favourites as Alien, Flash Gordon, Space Precinct, Casino Royale and Moon, his contribution to Red Dwarf was the stuff of legend. He first joined the team for Series IV, working on set dressing and handheld props up to and including Series VI. He returned for Series VIII as the visual effects designer, with perhaps his finest and most memorable triumph being the Starbug crash and explosion from Back In The Red (Part One). His ability to work to a limited time and budget was also in evidence; he famously agreed to knock up an escape pod for Only The Good for the cost of a bottle of wine, only to be presented with a full crate as a token of Doug’s appreciation.

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Gareth Gwenlan RIP

We’re sad to note the death of the hugely influential comedy producer and commissioner Gareth Gwenlan, aged 79. And on the same day as Reg Grundy, who was in many ways the real life equivalent of Kylie Gwenlyn. Yes, despite Gwenlan not having directly worked on Red Dwarf, we feel the need to mark his passing due to the way the show immortalised him, both on screen and in behind-the-scenes folklore, as being intrinsically linked to the programme’s fledgling fortunes in those early days.

As well as being the inspiration for the producer/director of Androids, the same episode, Kryten, sees Lister use his name as insult, calling the eponymous character a “total Gwenlan”. The reason for Rob and Doug’s apparent lack of affection for the man was that, as the BBC’s Head of Comedy between 1983 and 1990, he had turned down Red Dwarf several times. One notorious meeting is recounted by Rob Grant on the Six of the Best CD:

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David Bowie RIP

A hell of a lot will be written about David Bowie in the coming days. I don’t feel remotely qualified to add to it; I’m a fan, but far from a scholar. And yet I feel that Ganymede & Titan should mark his passing in some way, despite it being far beyond the remit of a Red Dwarf fansite. But then again, it’s hard to think of a single piece of popular culture from the last forty-odd years that hasn’t been influenced by Bowie in some way. And there are a handful of tenuous Bowie/Dwarf connections…

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Peter Wragg RIP

It is with great sadness that we note the passing of Peter Wragg, the visual effects designer of Red Dwarf I-VII, who died over the weekend following a short illness. He was just 65.

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Jo Howard RIP

Amid all the optimism about 2012 from everyone in the Red Dwarf community, it’s with a heavy heart we start off the year learning of the sad death of Jo Howard who, on the 21st October last year, was lost to cancer.

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New Broadcasting House, Oxford Road (1976-2011)

We admit this rather snuck up on us. Last night, BBC Manchester’s New Broadcasting House studios in Oxford Road closed its doors after 35 years. Over the decades, the studios have been host to any number of shows – A Question of Sport, The 8:15 from Manchester, Mastermind, Filthy Rich & Catflap, Life on Mars, North West Tonight… and, of course, the first three series of Red Dwarf.

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Paul Montague RIP

As first announced by Danny John-Jules on Twitter, Paul Montague, Red Dwarf production designer for Series 1 and 2 of Red Dwarf, has died.

I am possibly the worst person in the world to report such news, as I tend towards either being extremely rude or inciting flame wars, so I shall leave it to Andrew Ellard to pay tribute – and make you furrow your brow at things being lost to the mists of time.

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Dan O’Bannon 1946-2009

No direct Red Dwarf connection here, but as the co-writer of Alien and, perhaps more pertinently, Dark Star, it’s safe to say that Dan O’Bannon – who has passed away at the age of 63 – should be counted as one of the most influential figures in late ’70s/early ’80s sci-fi, and consequently can be said to be one of those people without whom the show might not actually even exist. RIP.

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