The Unofficial Behind the Scenes Guide to Red Dwarf
Based on interviews with the cast and crew, Stasis Leaked Complete goes behind the scenes of the successful space comedy, Red Dwarf. With chapters on every episode, it reveals how the series was made, with quotes from the people who were there.
Why did Holly leave? How did Cat lose his teeth? What happened when the writers split up?
All these questions are answered, and more.
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Based on interviews with the cast and crew, Stasis Leaked Complete reveals the highs and lows of making the series: from wobbly sets in the beginning, to the critical success of an International Emmy Award.
With episode synopses, chapters going behind the scenes on every episode and quotes from cast and crew.
Including bonus chapters on: Red Dwarf Special Effects, Red Dwarf’s Missing Episodes, Red Dwarf USA and the ill-fated Red Dwarf Movie.
Concentrating on the BBC era of the show, it’s the essential, unofficial, guide to the brilliant space comedy.
THE NITTY GRITTY:
ISBN: 9781908340078 (ebook) / 9781908340061 (paperback)
Pages: 348 (trade paper)
RRP: £4.99/$6.99 (ebook) / £8.99/$14.49 (paperback)
Published by: Elly Books, November 2012
Also available to order from your local bookshop.
[restab title=”REVIEWS”]I found myself itching to re-watch episodes as Killick retold fondly remembered moments, and I even dug out my credit card to fill in a gap in my collection when I realised I didnt have season nine on DVD… This should be on all Red Dwarf fans Christmas lists, as it fills in the gaps about how the show was made and what was going on behind those much loved scenes; a handy companion to have at hand while watching the episodes.
~ Suite 101
This book is a must for any Red Dwarf fan! If you think you know it all then you are probably wrong I know I was. I could not believe how much I had forgotten about the series, each chapter had me running to my DVDs partly because it made me desperate to re-watch the episodes I had just read about and partly to confirm Jane’s accuracy (she always turned out to be right).
The style is easy to read and not at all dry as some guides can be. The personal touches which can only be made by someone who is not only well informed but who was actually there for some of the time make the book even more compelling.
~ Frankie, Amazon UK
Jane Killick goes behind the scenes of one of the fans’ favourite episodes in this excerpt from the chapter on Back to Reality. In this episode, the crew venture to the planet of the Despair Squid and believe life on Red Dwarf was part of a total immersion video game, and they are really four characters named Sebastian Doyle, his half-brother William Doyle, Cybernautic Detective Jake Bullet, and Duane Dibbley.
Back to Reality had a real impact when it was first broadcast, not least because many people really thought it was going to be a change of format for the show as the characters stepped out of a computer game into a different world. They weren’t the only ones to be fooled. “We actually handed that script into the production team first and [former Red Dwarf producer] Paul Jackson read it,” said writer Rob Grant. “It was set as show one and he simply thought we had changed the entire set-up and the whole situation. He thought we were going to write a whole series about Colonel Sebastian Doyle and Duane Dibbley!”
“Without telling anyone,” added writing partner Doug Naylor. “Not set designers or anything!”
“For a long time we thought it would go out as the first show, but it was clearly better at the end,” Rob continued. But he dismissed the idea that the series could have ended without returning the old gang to Red Dwarf. “It was a possible ending, but it’s a bit too close to Bobby Ewing stepping out of the shower! I don’t think we could have lived with it.”*
The moment where the crew wake up as different people in the virtual reality suite is a real shock moment that nobody could see coming. The costumes and the cast’s reactions help to sell the concept, along with the set, which production designer Mel Bibby was proud of. “I like the reality seats and the room. That particular set I was really pleased with because it just looked as if it was right. My idea with that was they’d been locked in this game for six years and nobody ever comes to see them, they probably change their bags and that’s it. It’s not going to be crisp and clean, it’s just left to mildew on the walls, we really aged that one down.”
Also brilliant was guest star Timothy Spall, as ‘Andy’ the game technician. The consummate actor was well known for Geordie drama Auf Wiedersehen, Pet and subsequently went onto even greater fame and achievement. Red Dwarf, however, was his first sitcom in front of a live studio audience and he was incredibly nervous. So much so that, in the first take, he gabbled his words at an impossibly fast pace. If he made a mistake he would simply keep going which risked blowing the jokes in front of the audience and dampening their reaction for the final take. A lot was riding on that scene, his dialogue contained a lot of exposition and some great gags, so the production team were getting very worried. But then he came on and did it again and produced a brilliant performance — with unsurpassed use of the word ‘twonk’. A lot of people were relieved.
Another fabulous character was Duane Dibbley. Danny John-Jules always plays the Cat brilliantly, but the role is usually about two things — his vanity and his one-liners. Suddenly Danny is called on to be someone totally different and he rises to the occasion — helped by some impressive teeth and a pudding basin wig. The latter came from the Ray Marston Wig Studio in London. “We went to Ray Marston’s for the wig and he said we haven’t got one of them, it’ll cost X amount of money,” said Danny. “Then he took out a load of these wigs and the make-up lady went, ‘where did you find them?’ and he said, ‘in the basement under a load of boxes and stuff’. So it was just some piece of thing in the basement of Ray Marston’s. We put it on and everyone went, ‘that’s it, that’s Duane Dibbley!’”
Costumes for the others consisted of a snazzy half-rubber / half-metal head and a cool detective suit and tie for Kryten as Jake Bullet, a wig and a smart suit for Lister as Sebastian Doyle and a tramp look for Rimmer as William Doyle. “Getting to play someone who’s not such a slob’s quite good,” Craig Charles said during the filming of the episode. “This is a bit more like what we’re like in real life.”
“It is, actually,” said Chris Barrie. “[I’ve been on] a night out with Craig and he’s spruced up to the nines. Whereas I’m a bit of a scruff- ball, holes in my jeans.”
They were joined for one of these scenes by American actor Lenny Von Dohlen who appeared impressively oppressive as the cop in the other reality. He had recently been in the David Lynch TV series Twin Peaks and is said to have been encouraged to take the part by Frances Barber who appeared in Red Dwarf two years earlier in the episode Polymorph.
Lister, Rimmer, Kryten and Cat (or is it Sebastian, William, Jake and Duane?) make a quick getaway from the cop by jumping in Sebastian’s limo and driving off, while being chased by the other cops. At this point, the action cuts back to Starbug with Holly trying to tell them that they are hallucinating. It’s at this point that the audience starts to understand what is really going on.
Not only was it a pivotal moment in the episode, it was also a lot cheaper than filming an actual car chase.
While the Dwarfers hallucinate, the action is played out in Starbug with them all sitting on crates, leaping up in the air when they go over bumps and leaning over with the sharp bends. This all took a bit of co-ordinating as they had to do it together. In the end, Hattie Hayridge drew a map of the car chase and held it in front of them so they knew when to go over the speed bumps and round the chicane.
This sequence also provided a classic moment for the Smeg Ups tapes as, in the heat of the car chase, Chris Barrie’s crate tips over backwards and sends him crashing to the floor. He emerges moments later, red-faced, and with his fellow cast members laughing around him.
The episode was filmed in three blocks, the first of which took place at the beginning of the schedule when Juliet May was still directing and involves the location scenes on board the Esperanto (where they discover the people who committed suicide). The other two blocks were directed by Grant Naylor after she had left and involve location work in the other reality (the carpark and the alleyway), and the studio recording in front of the audience.
For some reason, when these segments were first edited together, the episode didn’t work at all — at least, not according to the producers. One of the things which didn’t help was the lack of laughs from the studio audience at the moment where the Dwarfers hallucinate they are Duane Dibbley, Sebastian Doyle and co. It’s thought that the audience were so shocked at the thought that the whole series had been part of a virtual reality computer game that they couldn’t bring themselves to laugh.
Rob Grant was so depressed about the whole thing that he went home for three days. Doug Naylor was similarly disheartened. “You can have a show that looks good, is terrible before the sound dub, then goes through the dub and is okay,” he told the Smegazine. “I wanted to kill myself after Back to Reality before they dubbed it — I just thought ‘this is so hopeless.’”
But he persevered and stayed in the editing room trying to sort it out. When it was finished, he called Rob and persuaded him to come back to take a look because, he told him, ‘it’s quite good now’. It’s surprising to think that the creators didn’t realise what they had achieved at the time. Back to Reality was, and remains, a fan favourite and ensured Red Dwarf V went out on a high.