This year, I have been writing for Red Dwarf fansite Ganymede & Titan for a full 15 years. Anybody sensible would think that was more than enough, and go and do something else instead.
Spoiler: I am not sensible.
Recently I published two articles over there which might interest you, taking a look at the set design of the first couple of series. There’s this piece about the reuse of a certain corridor set, and then there’s this piece about the disappearing and reappearing Captain’s Office set. These are the first two parts of an ongoing series which should continue into next year.
I’ve got to admit, it’s been fun writing these. I sometimes find Red Dwarf a little hard to write about these days; we’ve all talked about the old shows endlessly, so going over the same old thing can feel a little dull. Meanwhile, the new shows don’t really capture my imagination in a way which makes me want to write about them. But this really is a topic that hasn’t been talked about in quite this way before. I’ve watched those old shows countless times, but when you put everything else aside just to look at how those sets were put together, it’s amazing what new things you can spot.
I sometimes think there are two kinds of people. Those who understand why I find stuff like deleted scenes, unbroadcast pilots, and the reuse of sets to be fascinating… and those who can’t even begin to understand. I don’t think it’s even a geeks v. non-geeks thing per se: there are plenty of geeks who only care about a show in-universe, and possibly its cast members, rather than how the show was put together.
They won’t get a single thing out of this. But if you’re a silly person like me, then hopefully you’ll enjoy them.
Another year, and another series of Red Dwarf. And if you’d told me a few years back that I’d be saying that in 2017, I’d have told you off for talking BOLLOCKS. Yet here we are.
Sadly, with another series of Red Dwarf comes another series of LIVE DwarfCasts over on Ganymede & Titan, the Red Dwarf website where I recently wrote about not liking Red Dwarf very much. So what better person to sit and pontificate about the show for the next five Fridays, starting at 9pm tonight? Just visit our Spreaker page twenty minutes before the show starts for some HOT STREAMING ACTION. Don’t worry, I’m just there to cause trouble – there are people far more qualified than me who are actually running the show.
We’re going at UKTV Play pace this year, rather than broadcast pace – so if you want to join us, make sure you watch the episode available for streaming late Thursday evening, not the episode broadcast on Dave the same day. (We know it’s confusing. We know.) This week, that’s the second episode in the series, Siliconia, available right now.
Oh, and as for the first episode? That was last week, and I couldn’t make it. Don’t worry, we got Clayton Hickman to do it instead. Go and visit his Redbubble store, BTW, if you like an obscure TV show called Doctor Who. I’ve never heard of it, personally. I prefer Starhyke.
Ah, it’s been rather quiet over here on Dirty Feed recently, hasn’t it? Sorry, I’ve been busy over on Ganymede & Titan, the Red Dwarf fansite I write for because I hate Red Dwarf.
Here’s what I’ve been up to over there, if you’re interested.
Better Than Reality
A short piece looking at the genesis of some of Red Dwarf‘s most popular episodes, as found in Radio 4 sketch show Cliché – Rob and Doug’s first solo writing credit. (I didn’t get much feedback on this one, and I don’t think it’s the best-written piece I’ve ever done, but the fundamental point is fascinating, I think.)
End of Part One, Red Dwarf XI Edition
A look at the placing of ad breaks in Red Dwarf XI, because I’m the only person in the world who would actually bother to write that article. (I did enjoy the person who told me on Twitter that ad breaks shouldn’t be used to set up cliffhangers in British TV shows. I told them they lost that argument in 1955.)
Observation Dome: Back From The Dead
About bringing an old part of Red Dwarf fandom back from the dead. (I’ll be writing more about this on Dirty Feed shortly.)
Red Dwarf and Me: Artificial Reality
On my relationship with Red Dwarf these days, which has been percolating in my mind for five years… and I only just figured out how to write it. The comment thread is lovely and well worth a read too.
Red Dwarf, there.
When I’m not writing over here, you can find me over on Ganymede & Titan – the Red Dwarf fansite started in 1999 which is unaccountably still running. Having just published a brand new piece of mine over there today, it strikes me that over the past three years I seem to have accidentally written myself a little trilogy about the history, influences and themes of the show.
As they’re some of my better pieces, with a strong linking thread, if you feel like diving into my Red Dwarf writing you could probably do worse than check out the following. They do go into the show in a little more depth than “Dave Hollins was on the radio, and then it turned into Red Dwarf“.
History of a Joke (2015)
Tracing the history of a single joke Rob and Doug have used in various forms, right from their first solo radio show Cliché in 1981, to their novel Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers in 1989.
Hancock’s Half Hour: The Tycoon (2016)
A look at how the basic structure of the Red Dwarf episode Better Than Life was done by Hancock’s Half Hour thirty years earlier: even the supposedly science fiction element.
Better Than Reality (2017)
A brand new piece, which takes a look at how a single sketch in Cliché informed ideas that Red Dwarf would use time and time again – in Better Than Life, Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers, and beyond.
If any of my Red Dwarf writing interests you, give the above a go. They’re some of the best stuff about the show I’ve written over the past few years, so if you don’t like them then for fuck’s sake don’t hunt down any of my other shit.
As we enter the final run-up to Red Dwarf XI‘s broadcast in September, it occurs to me that I haven’t mentioned any of the stuff I’ve done over on Ganymede & Titan recently – the Red Dwarf fansite described by someone on Tumblr as “a shining example of how NOT to do fandom”.
A few articles I’ve written which may interest you, then:
- End of Part One – About the ad breaks in Red Dwarf X… and about how more careful placing of them could have ended up with a better-structured programme.
- Nice Going On The Idiotic Gaffe Front, Sirs – On how a fansite deals with spoilers, when most of them are escaping from the production or channel itself.
- “We’ve found a stasis leak on Floor 16…” – Taking a look at how much of online Red Dwarf fandom from 2004 still exists on the web now. (Spoiler: virtually none.)
- Hancock’s Half Hour: The Tycoon – One of my favourite things I’ve written anywhere this year, all about how the basic story of the Red Dwarf episode Better Than Life was done by Hancock’s Half Hour 30 years before… even the science fiction premise.
It strikes me how most of the above aren’t really pieces purely about Red Dwarf. Whether it’s about the impact of ad breaks on TV shows, how productions and channels should be thinking about spoilers, how the web has changed since 2004, or how science-fiction style concepts are done in non-science fiction shows, there might be stuff that interests you above even if you aren’t a hardcore Red Dwarf fan.
For people who are hardcore Red Dwarf fans though, we have some fun stuff coming up over the next few weeks. Our DwarfCasts have really kicked into gear this year, with our commentaries on the episodes Queeg and Demons & Angels being some of my favourite ones we’ve done recently.1 In the lead-up to Red Dwarf XI, however, we’re going to be publishing new commentaries on Red Dwarf X every weekend – and the one for the first episode Trojan is already up.
I sometimes find writing and participating on Ganymede & Titan to be a weird experience these days, considering my extremely mixed opinions on any Red Dwarf made since 1993. And it can lead to some interesting moments. Our next Red Dwarf X commentary due this weekend is on the episode Fathers and Suns, and features the slightly bizarre sound of me – usually the person slagging off the show – defending an aspect of the episode to Ian, who is usually far more positive about the series than me. That tension will hopefully make for some good listening.
Or, y’know, just really fucking annoy everyone.
Having gone on yet another explosive rant about Sam Wollaston recently, I am reminded that I’ve never linked to any of the TV reviews I’ve written for other sites on here. Part of me, to be honest, is disinclined to do so; some of the pieces I’m not very proud of at all. But there’s some good stuff amongst the dross, and besides: I’m cursed with a bizarre sense of fair play. If I’m going to be slagging people off on Twitter, or writing about poor journalism on here, it only feels fair to actually link to some of the stuff I’ve done which I’m not that keen on, rather than pretend it never existed.
So, here is a full archive of television reviews I have written elsewhere. These are mainly from the now-defunct media blog Noise To Signal, although there’s a couple from still active Doctor Who site Unlimited Rice Pudding!, and one from Red Dwarf fansite Ganymede & Titan. It doesn’t include anything lurking in Dirty Feed’s archive, or reviews of anything which isn’t strictly a television episode.
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Another month, and another set of articles I’ve written over on Ganymede & Titan – the Red Dwarf fansite where Rob Grant’s daughter once posted the immortal words “John is a whore”. This month, I’ve been posting a few joke history investigations:
You will note from the update at the end of that last article that I am currently making my way through the entirety of The Burkiss Way. As punishments go, it’s not exactly a severe one.
As this place is a bit quiet at the moment, I thought I’d point you towards some stuff I’ve been doing over on Ganymede & Titan – the Red Dwarf fansite where my writing has been recently described as “uneducated, vulgar and puerile”. (To be fair, at least two of those descriptions are entirely correct.)
My latest series of articles has a rather bizarre history. The first one was published in 2007, but I only got round to finishing the rest of them over the last couple of months… a full eight years later. (My excuse is that I got very depressed at how bad the actual episode was when I tried to write the second article, but an eight year delay may well be taking things a bit too far.) The subject matter, however, is very much one of my favourites – comparing different versions of the same material. Previous examples on this site include a comparison of the broadcast and VHS edits of Smashie & Nicey: The End of an Era, and a look at the pre-watershed edits of I’m Alan Partridge. Very much in this vein, this set of articles compare the original broadcast versions of four episodes of Red Dwarf with the extended versions released on VHS/DVD.
It strikes me that these articles are exactly the kind of thing which induce a rather glazed look in some people’s eyes. I vividly recall, when talking about a planned article comparing the broadcast version of a Men Behaving Badly episode with its original script, somebody posing the simple question: why?
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In lieu of anything new on here for a bit, I thought I’d point towards a few articles I’ve written over on Ganymede & Titan – the Red Dwarf fansite described by none other than Norman Lovett as a “sad little site for people who haven’t got anything better to do”. Our latest series of articles is called High & Low, and is basically BuzzFeed but better.
My three articles are about the best and worst:
So, y’know. Click on those. Or just listen to Shampoo instead, I’m not bothered.
In September 2005, me and a group of friends set up a site called Noise to Signal. Its initial inspiration was pretty much “Ganymede & Titan, but talking about other media things other than Red Dwarf“. We had so many plans for it. It was going to “rock”, as I believe the kids all say.
In December 2009, it closed. And once it closed, I never got round to converting it to a static website, as I’m a lazy shit. Eventually the inevitable happened: a couple of months ago, I got a complaint from my hosting company that someone had hacked it and was using it to send spam emails, so I was forced to take it offline. Today – after some appropriate nudging – I finally got round to fixing it, and the site is now back online.
Of all the projects I’ve been involved in, Noise to Signal is the one which always makes me feel a little sad. The site never reached its true potential. There were some great writers, posting some brilliant articles – and after shaky start and an early revamp, the design of the site really worked well. (I’m especially proud of that final design, now preserved as the archive.) But the site never quite… flew.
The question is why, of course, and I can only speak for myself. I came to the conclusion that the problem with NTS was that the remit was just too wide, and the tone inconsistent. By trying to cover everything, we ended up covering nothing well – there was very little consistency in the output. This would have been mitigated somewhat if we’d had a large quantity of output, but apart from a few busy months, we never quite reached critical mass. (I take a large amount of responsibility for that, especially in the site’s later years – I just plain didn’t write enough, and often didn’t write what I promised.)
Ganymede & Titan always had a tone. NTS never quite found one.
To be brutally honest, despite my regrets about NTS, I’m far happier doing my own site now. Dirty Feed is far less ambitious than Noise to Signal ever was, and is never updated enough, but it certainly is more consistent in tone. And whilst I wouldn’t want to overstate the amount of drama behind-the-scenes on NTS – though there was a particularly thrilling midnight change of server and account block – there was inevitably some, and it could grow tiring. I like having to answer to nobody but myself.
Occasionally, one of us has the idea to do something with the site again – most recently, I brought up the idea of resurrecting the site as a group podcast. But every time, we realise we don’t have enough time to do the site justice. And the part of the spirit of the site lives on, as individual projects: here on Dirty Feed, on Seb and James’s Alternate Cover, on Tanya’s Gypsy Creams, on Phil’s Noiseless Chatter, and on Unlimited Rice Pudding.
I’m proud of the archive we left behind. It’s not all gold, but there’s some lovely stuff buried away in there. So if you get the time, have a peek through the site’s archives – and the final article, The Best of NTS, has links to some of the stuff we were happiest with.
Maybe it never worked quite the way we wanted it to. But I hope we left something behind that was worthwhile.