You Stupid Ugly Goit: Leaseholder’s Addendum

While we’re all working on bigger things for G&T behind the scenes, it’s left to me to keep the front page updated. And what better way to do that than foist some unpleasant off-cuts from an old article onto you?

Here is your plate of raw offal, then. A couple of months back I posted this piece, on the reshoots required for Series 1 to put Holly in-vision. There was one thing I was never quite able to nail down, however, and going after it seemed like an annoying diversion in an already faintly annoying article, so I pretended not to notice and hoped everyone else would happily ignore it as well. Still, perhaps you’re cleverer than me, and can figure out the below mystery. And it concerns a very important scene in the development of Holly.

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You Stupid Ugly Goit

ED BYE: Rob and Doug and I made the decision that it’d be better to see Norman rather than just hear him, because he’s got a great lugubrious face.
NORMAN LOVETT: Initially the money was low because it was a voiceover, so they can get away with paying you peanuts for that.
ROB GRANT: Norman had been banging on from the start saying “Get my face on-screen, that’s the money…
NORMAN LOVETT: So I kept moaning and whinging about this. I said “Why have I got to do a voiceover in a TV show? Why can’t you see this face, and why can’t this computer called Holly look like this bloke here?” By the time we’d recorded the third episode of the first series, it had been agreed that we would see Holly, and we’d go and reshoot some of the bits for the first and second and third episodes…

The Beginning, Series 1 documentary, The Bodysnatcher Collection

The above story – in endless slight variations – has gone down in Red Dwarf lore. Norm whinged right at the start of Series 1 that Holly should be in-vision, the powers that be eventually agreed, and they went back and did some reshoots to add his FACE to the early episodes. (The real horror arises when you consider that due to the electrician’s strike, where Series 1 was entirely rehearsed but never actually recorded, Norm was probably on his ninth week of moaning about this, rather than the third. Try not to let that shrivel your soul too much.)

However, what hasn’t been done is going back to examine those early episodes in detail, to see exactly how those reshoots worked. And when you do, you spot a few interesting details which haven’t been widely talked about.

Let’s take a look. Doing this takes a certain amount of extrapolation; without access to the proper production paperwork, we have to do a bit of stretching and join some dots along the way. But I think the below makes sense. Obviously, to get any kind of idea of how this worked, we have to take the episodes in production order rather than broadcast order.

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Take the Fifth

“Despite some last-minute shooting by Rob and Doug after the wrap party, Demons & Angels was felt to be the weakest show of the series by Rob and Doug, and so was placed 5th – the traditional place for what you think is your worst episode. (Despite D&A being great.) Nobody cares if you’ve got a duff ep if you’ve had four great ones before it, and end the series with a blinder.”

“Episode Orders”, Ganymede & Titan, December 2005

Over the years on here, we’ve often idly mentioned the idea that the worst episode of any given comedy show should be put in the fifth episode slot out of six. In fact, we’ve mentioned it so much that it’s almost become a truism, a cliché… and yet we’ve never really examined where it came from, or actually looked at whether it applies to Red Dwarf in any concrete way.

Hello. I am John Hoare, and I am going to take a look at whether this actually applies to Red Dwarf in any concrete way.

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Set to Rights: The Captain’s Office

Hello everyone. When we last met, I guided you through a history of three wall sections used in Red Dwarf in 1988. This went down disturbingly well. You fucking weirdos.

With this in mind, let’s continue our in-depth examination of Red Dwarf‘s sets in its first couple of series with one of their most famous oddities: the disappearing and reappearing Captain’s Office. This article was intended to be a more general look at the Drive Room set, but believe it or not I have found enough to say about this single topic to make a full standalone piece. We’re not dumbing down our material. It’s always been this stupid.

As before, we need to take this one in recording order, rather than broadcast order.

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Set to Rights: From Supply Pipe 28 to Floor 592

When I say to random people “Hey, what do you remember about the sets of the first two series of Red Dwarf?”, they back away from me and look for the nearest exit. Before they manage to escape, however, they usually mention the bunkroom. They might stammer out an anecdote about a yellow banana. Really cool people might mention how the Drive Room changes between series, or how the Observation Dome is a perfect combination of live set elements and special effects.

Still, all those stories have been told. I want to dig a little deeper, and I don’t care how boring things get in order to do so. With that in mind, Ganymede & Titan proudly present: a history of three wall sections, used at BBC Manchester in 1987-88.

Enjoy.

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Gunmen of the Post-Apocalypse

Hello there! In lieu of anything especially Dwarfy happening at the moment, let me talk to you about 1970s post-apocalyptic drama Survivors. And while I could do 10,000 words on how the show transitioned from being shot on film to recorded on VT and why that was a good thing, a) That isn’t strictly within the remit of this website, and b) It would probably make you want to drown me in the nearest river. Even more than usual, I mean.

So instead, let’s do an old-style Observation Dome post and take a look at the Red Dwarf connection with the show. Specifically: Series 2 of Survivors contains no less than three Red Dwarf guest cast members as regulars. And the first time they all come together is in Episode 5, The Face of the Tiger.

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Better Than Reality

“I alter people’s perception of reality.” – Dr. Hypnosis

One recurring theme of Red Dwarf has always been the rather tenuous grip on reality our crew have. Whether it’s the Total Immersion Videogame of Better Than Life, the hallucinations suffered in Back to Reality, those damn reality pockets in Out of Time – to name three of many – perception of reality is something which Grant Naylor return to time and time again.

What’s interesting, however, is that Red Dwarf is far from the first time Grant Naylor have explored this idea. In fact, we can trace their fascination with it right back to their very first solo writing credit: the first episode of Radio 4 sketch show Cliché, broadcast on the 16th March 1981.

I present to you the strange adventure of Dr. Hypnosis: his real name… Dr. Hypnosis.

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Hancock’s Half Hour: The Tycoon

When people talk about antecedents to Red Dwarf, it’s often science fiction which is endlessly referenced. Films like Dark Star, in terms of the situation and portraying working class people in space, or Alien, which amongst other things directly influenced many sets in the show, to Blade Runner, which… erm… I got nothing.

When it comes to sitcoms, there’s the classic “Steptoe and Son in space”, which is often thrown around as an early concept for the show. Porridge is also mentioned, in terms of the claustrophobic trapped situation between characters which the show was trying to evoke. All of this is certainly true, but typically there’s very little analysis beyond mentioning a TV show or film, along with a one line description.

Recently, I’ve had the utter delight of watching Hancock’s Half Hour for the first time. And the episode The Tycoon (TX: 13/11/59) has a number of remarkable similarities to the Dwarf episode Better Than Life, broadcast nearly thirty years later. Moreover, I don’t just mean in terms of character work – the main plot beats of the episode are broadly identical, despite Better Than Life seemingly hanging off a science fiction idea which Hancock would find impossible to replicate.

Rather than vague hand-waving or simplistic single line reductions, let’s take a look at the episode in detail, shall we?

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DwarfCast 71 – Queeg Commentary

Okay, suckers. Get this into your stupid thick heads. There’s only one thing I’m going to say to you: please listen to our episode commentary for Queeg. Danny, John, Ian and TORDFC‘s Jo Sharples gather around to discuss such topics as Ed Bye’s directorial flair, the nature of Holly’s consciousness, how the show might have developed had Norman Lovett stayed on, and the surface area of peas. There’s also a somewhat startling new theory about how long Holly’s joke lasted – was “Queeg” actually in charge for five months? Join us for an uncharacteristically competent chinwag.

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