With the big news in town being the imminent start of recording for Series XI and XII, and on which pre-production has already begun, one thing we really didn’t expect to find ourselves commenting on was news to do with the aborted movie project. Yet here we are with previously unseen concept art having been found and uploaded online.
Back at the start of September, an unusual item appeared on eBay, which propertied to be a sketch book for the Red Dwarf Movie, with a few of the images appearing in the listing. At the time, we were unable to verify the genuine nature of this piece, which the seller advised had been found at a car boot sale. However, the images provided on the listing certainly provoked our intent enough to keep an eye on it.
However, in continuing to look into this after the auction finished, we did a little research into the artist whose name appears on one of the pictures; D Lavery. In doing so, we have discovered that the buyer has scanned and uploaded the contents of the book onto their Red Dwarf Props website, and they make for interesting reading.
First of all, thanks to the greater range of images provided here than on the eBay listing, it seems we can address the question of validity. While it is certainly true that Dominic Lavery worked on the Movie, as is verified by his website, the final proof appears to be in the original version of the image of what seems to be the Homo-Sapienoid Queen as seen in this flyer produced for the film, previously seen on The Official Site:
So, it would seem that we are indeed dealing with a collection of concept art for the movie. From the look of the contents, it would seem that this was likely a pack used to help raise funding for the film, which could be shown along with the script to give an idea of what the final product may look like. With that out of the way, let’s discuss a few things of note about the artwork:
- The sets for the corridor and the stasis booth are definitely reminiscent of what we eventually ended up with in Series X. The industrial nature of the ship was something that Lavery seems to have been emphasising in his work, and it’s certainly possible that this informed the sets of the later series.
- While we always expected that costumes would likely be different, this artwork shows that it was being considered. Of course, this is only concept art and as such may be unrepresentative of what the final design would have looked like, but in the case of Kryten we may have ended up with a much more futuristic looking design. Whether that is a good or a bad thing will be down to your personal taste, but it at least remains largely faithful to the overall design.
- It seems a fairly safe assumption that the rouge craft is the ship piloted by Hoagie the Rougie. Seeing as we know that elements of The Beginning were lifted from the film script, it seems logically the the Hoagie sequence was one that would have played out largely the same, and the artwork would seem to back this up. Note the limit pod with it’s hull securing ring; perfect for cutting into the side of the Dwarf as per the start of the final episode of Series X.
- The TransCo booth artwork is an intriguing piece. With the film having been set to establish the backstory of the characters again, could we be seeing a variation on the plot of Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers with Lister drunkenly ending up on Mimus? After all, he appears to have a can in hand, a sad look on his face and it seems to be an at least partly populated location, so we have to assume that it is pre-accident.
- ‘Her Holliness’ appears in several different pictures in different outfits for different scenes. This would seem to be the Homo-Sapienoid Queen previously reference in discussions of the film, and later presumably developed into Dominator Zlurth for The Beginning. This would also seem to be the role that was touted at the time as being intended for a famous guest star, with Madonna being the name most famously associated.
That’s about everything that we have from these pictures. Once again, it’s worth remembering that this was only concept art and that had the project come to fruition, these designs may not have had any relation to what we finally saw on screen. There were also numerous drafts of the script, and as such the plot may have changed after some of this work was completed. That said, it offers us a fascinating insight in the might have been and the potential could have happened.