Sunday 28 February 2016

A night at Red Dwarf XII

On Friday 26th February, I attended the recording of an episode of Red Dwarf at Pinewood Studios. Having been a fan of the series for over twenty years, being able to actually go and watch the filming is a bit of a dream come true for me. This was the penultimate episode in a recording block of twelve, which began back in December and covers the eleventh and twelfth series of the show. The episode I saw will probably go out next year, as the fifth episode of series twelve, but they might switch the broadcast order around before then. If not, though, it could be well over a year before we get to see this episode on TV.

There's a no-spoiler policy in place for audience members, so I'm not allowed to say much about the content of the episode. I will say that it's about ageing, and corporate greed. It's very much in keeping with the style and tone of 2012's series ten, and I like that Doug Naylor (who made a brief appearance before the audience to introduce the show) isn't ignoring the fact that the actors are getting older. The focus is very much on the core crew of Craig Charles, Chris Barrie, Danny John-Jules and Robert Llewellyn, but there are some small guest roles, including Call the Midwife's Helen George. The biggest laugh of the night was due to a well-timed sound effect.

The sets for this episode were very impressive. How much remains standing between episodes I don't know, but the bunk room must be a permanent feature, still there very much as it was in series ten as a focus for the characters' interactions. The other major set was the science lab/medibay. And that's as much as I think I can say on the episode, other than it had some very funny lines and a pretty strong, straightforward story. It should make a good episode once it's completed.

It wasn't what you'd call a smooth recording, though. Right at the beginning the safety curtain refused to open, and the mishaps continued from there. The guys cocked up so often that the recording went on for about an hour longer than expected, and they didn't manage to finish - the last couple of scenes will have to be picked up later. They did perform the final scene for us, though, even though they'll need to redo it from scratch for the actual episode. Some of the funniest moments were the smeg ups, though; Rob Llewellyn especially was great between takes. The warm-up guy for this recirding was Patrick Monahan, who did a good job keeping everyone entertained but suffered from the usual complaint of thinking he was the star of the show. It was, however, a great experience, and I can't wait to see it on screen someday.

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