When TOS updates on any day other than Friday, it’s either extremely good news or extremely bad news. Thankfully, today was the former, with the announcement that the triple act of Rob Grant, Paul Jackson and Ed Bye are broadcasting a live commentary on Future Echoes followed by a Q&A, this Sunday 29th March at 2pm BST. It will take place via Zoom, but places on the call are extremely limited, so fill in the form on the TOS page right this second if you don’t want to miss out.
Anyone who saw the trio give The End this treatment at the last Dimension Jump will be very excited to see them reprise the act, and hope that at least another 34 episodes will follow if this is a success. At a time when content creators from across the world of entertainment are pulling out the stops with innovative ways to provide a glimmer of distraction from the shitty situation we find ourselves in, this is a much welcome venture right now.
The 15th of February is a date forever etched into the history books of both science-fiction and comedy. It’s the anniversary of one of Britain’s most beloved sitcoms, from a writing lineage that includes Spitting Image and Son of Cliché, and with a cast featuring the likes of Mark Williams, Jack Docherty, Sarah Alexander, Ricky Grover and Morwenna Banks. Yes, Rob Grant’s The Strangerers debuted on Tuesday 15th February 2000, twenty years ago today.
Made by Absolutely Productions for Sky One, it was much-hyped as the channel’s first foray into original comedy commissioning, but it’s fair to say that it didn’t quite make the same impact as Rob’s previous sci-fi sitcom. It was never released on video or DVD, and has never been repeated since its original broadcast. But luckily, it’s all on YouTube (albeit in off-air VHS quality, with the credits cut off and irritatingly in the wrong bastard aspect ratio), so let’s all give it an anniversary airing and see if it’s worth reappraising.
Ooh, that sounds a bit rude, doesn’t it! Nevertheless, the time has come to not only hear new comedy material from one of Red Dwarf‘s co-creators, but to hear it in his own voice. Rob Grant and Andrew Marshall have written *and* performed Radio 4’s The Nether Regions, also starring Helen Cripps, Edward Rowett and Holly Morgan, and it airs tonight at 11pm on BBC Radio 4. It will also be available thereafter on BBC Sounds and the programme page, for those too sleepy. This broadcast pilot, which was produced by Hudzen 10, marks a return to sketch comedy from two of its most distinguished exponents, and we’re very much looking forward to it. Do let us know what you reckon.
No, really. Ahead of their new sketch show pilot The Nether Regions airing on BBC Radio 4 on Thursday 24th October at 11pm, Rob Grant and Andrew Marshall invited your intrepid DwarfCast team of Ian Symes, Danny Stephenson and Jo Sharples for a big old chat at Rob’s kitchen table. We touched upon the “terrifying” experience of performing in front of an audience, the intricacies of their writing process, the sketches and characters that didn’t make the final cut, their “bloody magnificent” producer Gordon Kennedy, and also got the latest on Quanderhorn Series 2. And yes, we also discussed another show that Rob co-created, covering his experiences at Dimension Jump, being back on set for the first time since the 90s, and the possibility of him ever writing for Red Dwarf again.
All this, plus 2point4 Children, Son of Cliché, Strange, Week Ending and how Rob’s The Strangerers caused unexpected problems for one of Andrew’s series. We also grill Andrew about his connection to Marvin The Paranoid Android, get Rob’s thoughts on the proposed return of Spitting Image, his friendship with Martin Kemp, and how he pissed off Billy Ocean when they were both on Top of the Pops. A huge, huge thank you to Rob and Andrew for their candid, thoughtful and hilarious interview.
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:
NOTE: While this review is spoiler free, readers are free to discuss the novel in the comments, which may contain spoilers for future episodes of the radio series.
The first thing that strikes you when you pick up a copy of The Quanderhorn Xperimentations is that it’s BIG. Certainly a heavier tome than any of the Red Dwarf novels, and comfortably the largest installment of Rob Grant’s post-Dwarf literary career so far. He has some help here, of course, from the presence of co-writer Andrew Marshall, as well as the existence of six freshly-written radio scripts to adapt. The press release that first alerted us to its existence promised us the book would be “springing and expanded from” the radio series, bringing to mind the aforementioned Dwarf novels, which still stand as masterpieces of their genre for the way they take the source material and use it to build a much bigger universe. Now that the book has hit the shelves, does the reality meet those, admittedly rather hard-to-match, expectations?
Tell me when will you be mine? Tell me Quander Quander Quanderhorn. Well, the brand new sci-fi comedy radio series, written by Rob Grant and Andrew Marshall, starts today at 11:30am on BBC Radio 4. You can listen live via the Radio 4 website or the iPlayer Radio app, or tune in on an actual radio via DAB, FM or LW. It should be available on catch-up pretty much straight after it finishes airing, again via iPlayer Radio, or on the BBC programme page, which has now been updated to get the co-writer’s name right. (This is all assuming you’re in the UK, of course – foreign types will have to resort to more nefarious means, I would imagine.)
Anyway, this is your thread to discuss the episode before, during and after broadcast. Spoilers for episode one are allowed in the comments, but when the book comes out on Thursday, keep please keep discussion of the book confined to that thread, so as not to reveal anything about future episodes of the radio series. Why can’t anything vaguely Red Dwarf related ever be released in a straightforward manner?
This will most likely be the only Let’s Talk About for Quanderhorn, unless each episode ends up attracting as many comments as a new episode of Red Dwarf does. Either way, the signs are very promising, and we’re very much looking forward to devouring new Rob Grant material for the first time in years. Let the Xperimentations begin.
Hello and welcome once again to G&TV. It’s a shorter than usual video this month, but an incredibly interesting, and ever so slightly surreal, one. Full credit must go to our very own Darrell, who recently discovered the existence of a cover version of The Chicken Song – the parody novelty single, with lyrics by Rob and Doug, which originated in Spitting Image and later reached number one in the UK charts – recorded by a Belgian band called De Strangers. After Darrell tweeted about this, Ben Baker then went and dug out the video…
It’s always the way, innit? You hang around Rob Grant for ten years and you don’t see one new project. Then all of a sudden, three of them turn up at once. More accurately, one new project turns up, but released in three different ways. The Quanderhorn Xperiment, in its various forms, will be with us before the month is out, so let’s take this opportunity to summarise what we know about the three individual products and their release schedule.