Red Dwarf XII Edinburgh International Television Festival report

Just as last year, the new series of Red Dwarf was given it’s premiere at the Edinburgh International Television Festival. While the Red Dwarf XI event was a daytime affair, this 7pm screening seemed like a far better time slot and Cinema 1 at Edinburgh’s famous Filmhouse was filled with both festival delegates and Red Dwarf fans. The show representation was the same as last time with Doug Naylor, Craig Charles and Robert Llewellyn all in attendance to see the opening episode on the big screen and participate in a question and answer session.

With the cinema full, Craig entered to a round of a applause closely followed by Doug and then Robert. Never one to miss the opportunity to talk to a captive audience, Craig indulged in some shouted banter with the delighted crowd with Robert following up that they were looking forward to seeing it as they couldn’t remember filming any of it.

Then Steve North, General Manager of UKTV, took to the stage to introduce the episode, telling the assembled masses about his involvement with the show going back almost a decade with the launch of Back to Earth and thanked the cast (confusing Craig with Chris which delighted the audience), production team, Baby Cow and Doug in particular for bringing this vision to the screen. He promised this will be one of the best series yet, which he would, wouldn’t he?

Onto the main event, series XII opener ‘Cured’. Obviously as we’re still more than a month away from the episode airing, we won’t say too much, except that this was a very strong opening. It’s certainly as good as the best of Series XI and feels like a more satisfying episode than ‘Twentica’ with a really right edit. With its guest characters, it brings to mind elements of a Series IV episode but its very much its own thing.

In terms of the look, Starbug and the sleeping quarters have some new screens and decoration, but as you’d expect, it feels very much in line with Series XI, with plenty of shadows and blue lighting, giving a Series V vibe. There is one beautiful effects sequence to kick off the episode which provides a suitably epic feel for the opener and a really nice new model which evokes the miniatures of the classic era. The title sequence features a few intriguing elements but doesn’t feel like it gave anything away. The ‘XII’ in the logo has a different move to XI’s interference, which is about as much fun as you can have with four straight lines.

Comedian and Uncle star Nick Helm (the kid was good, wasn’t he?) was hosting the Q&A, presumably because a) he was in Edinburgh anyway and b) he has a new show on Dave starting this week. He used his stand up persona of hating the audience and his guests which made it a very different experience to that of last year’s session as hosted by SFX’s Richard Edwards who didn’t call anyone a ‘c*#t’. Helm was wearing one of the new line of Red Dwarf T-shirts with everyone Mech’d up and the caption ‘In space no one can hear you clean.’ Helm related a story about how he was a big Red Dwarf fan growing up and made a cardboard Kryten mask and even wrote a Red Dwarf play. The cast thought Nick could be in the show as he reminded them of Back to Earth’s Noddy (Jeremy Swift) which Helm responded with a tirade of swearing saying ‘Never meet your heroes.’ You had to be there…or maybe not.

So what did we learn about the new series? Well, nothing particularly new. There was some chat about some of the future episodes with plot details revealed for M-Corp and a bit more about the team encountering the Mechanoid Intergalactic Liberation Front or MILF, which is a hilarious joke from the 1990s. Craig spoke about wearing the Mechanoid make-up and how he had a new respect for Robert because it was so uncomfortable and warm.

Doug revealed a little bit about the writing process, saying that the idea for ‘Cured’ came from a very different episode involving time travel which was abandoned after Richard read it and ‘threw it in the bin’. He also revealed that although he had never written 12 episodes before he had a clear schedule by which time he had to deliver a certain number of episodes and so he did.

In terms of cast gossip, Craig revealed he had been out drinking with his Coronation Street double act partner(and Back to Earth guest star) Simon Gregson the previous night which might explain this Tweet.

They also talked about the joys of working together for 30 years with Craig stating he’s known the guys for longer than his wife and children and it’s always a joy to come back. They have loads of in jokes with each other which are too offensive to even mention but ‘where’s Danny?’ being the most common. Robert said he recently met the producer of Death in Paradise who asked him: ‘When you’re doing Red Dwarf, do you ever lose Danny?’ with Mr John Jules having the talent to get lost on Guadeloupe. ┬áRobert also spoke of Director of Photography Ed Moore’s still photographs which he took during rehearsals which perfectly capture some of the camaraderie of the cast.

There were some audience questions with someone asking about the film, with Craig responding it works best as a sitcom with Back to Earth showing that to be the case. Doug made the case for a film saying it would have more budget than Back to Earth, which was supposed to be an anniversary clip show but got bigger once they realised they could get the guys together ┬áSomeone else asked why they didn’t stay with Legion, to which there really isn’t a good or bad answer but Robert mentioned his fondness for anti-matter chopsticks. The final revolutionary question was someone asking what their favourite episodes were, with Doug saying it’s the one he hasn’t written yet, Craig mentioning the Polymorph boxer shorts scene and Robert saying he loved the improvisation of the ‘you’re lying’ scenes from Series VII.

There was no meaningful mention of Series XIII (why didn’t you ask that audience?) but it looks like we should have some pretty decent modern-era Dwarf to look forward to going by this episode.

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