Series XII News: Buckley, Vegas & George guest starring

We’ve all grown used to Fridays being the traditional day for new series news from the official sources. If there’s one thing we can rely on to break this schedule it’s the guest cast leaking something early.

Such was the case on Thursday evening, when James Buckley (whose involvement in Series XII has already been confirmed previously) tweeted this picture.

All of which confirms that James will be appearing as one of the many mechanoids in a series full of them. We’ve previously discussed his casting when it was announced that he would be in the series, but one thing worth noting is that casting a recognisable actor from one of the most successful sitcoms of the last decade is a canny marketing move, as the coverage in The Sun today goes to show. How he will be in the role is something we can’t tell until broadcast, but Richard Naylor had the following encouraging words:

While we’ve seen various other members of the guest cast rubbered up, this photo gives us an even better look at the costume being used. right down to the amusingly visible zips that have the strange effect of giving a slightly retro air to the costume.

It has to be said that without knowing in advance we’re not sure how easily we would have been able to guess it’s James under the mask here. It’s also something of a testament to how having a different actor under the mask causes it to shift to suit their face, as James looks facially quite unlike any mechanoid we’ve seen previously.

Looking past the actors meanwhile, the background looks rather like it may be on location, and potentially from the shoot teased in these tweets back in January. This industrial setting would also seem to fit with the grungy look of James’ costume, which looks like it’s come out of some kind of engine room, covered in oil or soot.

And if all of this has got you hyped up to some rubber masks in your day to day wear, you can either frequent your local gimp outfitters or head over the the Red Dwarf Store which has added it’s first Series XII item with a t-shirt featuring the promo image of the Dwarfers in full mechanoid guise.

Yes, we know it was last week’s news, but frankly, we forgot to cover it before as there wasn’t much for us to add. Suffice to say though that the design feels very in keeping with the t-shirts released in the 90s and recalls slogans like ‘in space no one can hear you smeg’. If that’s your bag then this is probably right up your street, but if not then you can rest assure that the store will soon be stocked with plenty of different designs to part you from the contents of your wallet.

We’ve had our issues with the distributors previously, but as you may have seen from our reviews of some of the Series XI merchandise, we’ve been rather pleased with the products themselves, so we’re looking forward to seeing what other designs Series XII brings us.

But enough of this tot. Let’s get to the next image that was released.

In another piece of casting that’s equally as noteworthy as that of James Buckley, it’s now confirmed that we’ll be welcoming Jonny Vegas to the fold. It’s a highly interesting choice as while his work both as a comedian and an actor are well known to a huge section of the public, his is not necessarily a name you would immediately link to the show. However given that similar casting before has brought us the likes of Kevin Eldon in Series XI, we feel more than comfortable here, and we’re excited to see him in the show every bit as much as he is to be in it.

With regard to the content of the photo meanwhile, it certainly ranks as possibly the oddest shot of Series XII we’ve seen so far. The reactions from the recordings and indeed the set reports is that Series XII was a bit more off the wall than it’s predecessor, and noting confirmed that like a bright pink police officers uniform in a corridor with psychedelic walls.

If there were still any doubt as to which plot Johnny will be featuring in as one of the Crit Police, this quote from the Radio Times gives us more details:

‘The star of Benidorm and Still Open All Hours will appear in one episode of the new series, which returns to Dave in October, revolving around a society where criticism is illegal.

Of course in the age of widespread and easily-triggered online offence the theme is clearly one that is designed to resonate here on earth in 2017.

“It’s a critique of free speech and political correctness and all those things where you can’t say this, or you shouldn’t be saying that… and people getting offended at the tiniest little thing,” said actor Robert Llewellyn who plays Kryten.’

Now the political leanings of the three os us that work on Gazpacho Soup should come as no surprise to anyone. Indeed, we’ve previously had our our podcast on our sister site The Spoilist reviewed as self righteous and super politically correct for making a few knob gags about Star Trek and having the temerity to suggest that female characters should be given something to do in the plot.

Naturally therefore, when we read something like this it rubs us up the wrong way. Rallying against political correctness is often the banner under which you can find some comedy that’s pretty awful, both in terms of it’s actual quality and the ideas it propagates. A lazy justification for unpleasantness, it’s the language of a particularly unpleasant section of society and feels more Jim Davidson than it does Doug Naylor.

This however is a fact that we should probably take comfort in. Can we imagine this is Doug penning a script where propping up the ideals of political correctness? Not hugely. But we can certainly imagine this being a look at the effect of criticism, both in the negative and the positive. Obviously years of thinly drawn stereotypes lead us to be a little way when we are presented with a picture and quote like this, but given the cast have been known on plenty of occasions to describe the show in this sort of manner doesn’t mean it is necessarily an accurate summation of what to expect.

We’re cautious on this reveal, but we certainly don’t want to nail our colours to the mast yet until we see the final show. Moving that to one side for a moment though, let’s take a look at the final and much starker final image that was released:

And so with this last picture we also have it confirmed that Helen George will be joining Series XII, having already had some previous experience of working with Doug and Richard Naylor on Over to Bill. Widely known for her role in Call the Midwife, it’s rather pleasing for varieties sake to see that the final of today’s three guest stars is perhaps more known for her serious roles than her comedic. Having seen her in both, we’ve also seen her in roles where the audience is to root for her and ones where we are to root against her, and we’re quietly confident that her dramatic range could be well serviced by the show.

Which way this is likely to go in her episode in question remains to be seen, though the stark white background and facial expression would certainly have us leaning towards the latter. It would also seem to suggest that she appears in the same episode as the aged Lister we saw in a preview image a few weeks ago.  We have pleasingly few details on this one, so we’re quite enjoying the mystery of where this episode may be going.

And that’s it for this week’s update. Firm confirmations on which episodes these photos are taken from have yet to be given, though readers of our Series XII set reports may be able to draw certain conclusions. Meanwhile, as this tweet from Doug shows, we still haven’t seen all of the guest cast announced:

How many of these will be announced before the series airs remains to be seen, but we’ll bring you more as we hear it.