I have to admit, Dirty Feed and podcasts is a bit of a sore point. I did three episodes in 2012… and the fourth one has yet to materialise. Yes, a wait of seven years and counting is taking the fucking piss. All I can say is that it will return one day. I’ve spent far too much on jingles for it not to.
I have been involved in another podcast these last few years, mind. Over on Ganymede & Titan, the Red Dwarf fansite which is unaccountably still running and updated in 2019, we just published our 100th episode of DwarfCasts. The reason we managed to get to 100 episodes is because all I have to do is turn up and speak loudly and annoyingly about Red Dwarf, rather than actually do any of the hard work of getting the show prepped, recorded, edited, and published. So when I say I’m proud of that 100th episode, it’s nothing to do with me, and everything to do with Ian Symes, who put that beautiful little documentary together.1
Still, it got me thinking. Maybe 100 episodes of a podcast made over 13 years isn’t the most impressive thing in the world, even if that is 98 episodes more than most podcasts manage. But it strikes me that there’s something pleasant about devoting myself to the same thing for that length of time. Indeed, take a look at Ganymede & Titan as a whole – I’ve been writing for the site for 16 years and counting, and if you look back at the very first incarnation of the site, it’s been going for a full 20 years. And doing the same kind of thing for so long means that I’ve ended up writing and talking about areas that I never would have examined if I’d done what so many people did.
Because most sensible 90s Red Dwarf fans did the following: got a job, got a family, and stopped thinking that much about Red Dwarf. I managed the first two, but somehow never stopped doing the third. And sure, I’ve written about my frustration about that at times. I do have a bit of a love/hate relationship with the show these days.
But if I’d done what normal fans do, and drifted away from doing anything in fandom, I’d never have written some of my favourite pieces on the show. On the development of Holly in the early days of the show, on the very earliest stirrings of Rob and Doug playing with the nature of reality, or about how the glimmerings of one of Red Dwarf‘s most famous episodes can be seen in Hancock’s Half Hour, to name three of many.
All this is on my mind as we come up to this January, and the 10th anniversary of Dirty Feed. In one sense, anniversaries are an arbitrary waste of time. But as an excuse to take stock of where we are, and what’s to come, I find them useful. Over the last ten years, I’ve published stuff on here I love, and stuff which I now think is a bit crap. But the fact that I’ve been publishing stuff in the same place for a full ten years feels meaningful, somehow. As with the DwarfCasts, I haven’t been as prolific on here as I would have liked to have been; other bits of life got in the way. But over the years, it adds together into a really nice archive of fun stuff.
There’s an advantage to plugging away at the same thing for years, without getting bored and flitting to the next thing. You don’t have to give it endless chunks of your time each week. Nor do you have to worry about any kind of long-term plan, or where exactly it is you’re going. And after a few years, you may just look back in surprise.
Without even realising it, you’ve made something you’re proud of.
This year, I’ve been trying to do a bit more writing than usual over on Ganymede & Titan, the Red Dwarf fansite run by “over-entitled pricks who are upset that it isn’t actually 1992 anymore”. And one thing I’ve been doing this year is taking some Standard Red Dwarf Facts™, and digging a little deeper than usual with them.
Here’s three of those pieces in particular that I think turned out OK.
G&TV: Covington Cross
This is one of the most endlessly parroted facts among Dwarf fans: the outside village from Emohawk: Polymorph II was an abandoned set from US series Covington Cross. Which, indeed, is absolutely correct. But nobody has ever actually gone through both shows and pinpointed shots where exactly the same parts of the set are used. I have, and for some reason I am proud of this.
Take the Fifth
This is a bit of an odd one, in that this is a “fact” that we had pretty much convinced ourselves of over on G&T: that the penultimate episode of each series of Red Dwarf is where they usually hid the worst episode of the run. But does this end up being true? (I would do well to examine my own assumptions more often.)
You Stupid Ugly Goit
Probably the best thing I’ve written so far this year, on a very early piece of Red Dwarf lore. It’s generally known that at the start of the production of Series 1, Norman Lovett was originally out-of-vision, and the decision was made to make Holly a visual character after shooting had already started. But the details of exactly what was reshot to make this happen are very complicated. I think I drag up a few new things to consider here.
* * *
Meanwhile, back to Dirty Feed. And although I published some fun stuff last month, overall things have been a little quiet over here recently. I do have some silly ideas in the works, though, building up to the site’s 10th anniversary next year.
Stay tuned, as the kids definitely don’t say any more.
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.
Yeah, yeah, putting the boot into Digital Spy is a fairly pointless thing to do, really. But it’s 3am, I’m bored, and they’ve mildly annoyed me, so what are you going to do?
Over on Ganymede & Titan – the Red Dwarf fan site I contribute to when I’m not sulking because I hate Red Dwarf – a quite extraordinary thread has popped up. Short version: there are lyrics to the opening theme, nobody fucking knew about it until now, you can hear them most clearly 14 seconds into this video, we’re all gibbering wrecks because of this, and Darrell is our new lord and saviour.
Long version: read the thread. It’s worth it. Seriously.
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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.
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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