File under must-watch… Your guide to the small screen’s hottest viewing red dwarf They smoked us a kipper and they’re back for breakfast!
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Having successfully negotiated a couple of lengthy hiatuses and the move to a new channel, Rimmer, Lister, Kryten and the Cat are riding high on the wave of 2012’s excellent series X, and back for not one but two new six-part series on Dave. The 12 episodes that’ll be shared between Red Dwarf XI (due in 2016) and Red Dwarf XII (2017) are shooting either side of Christmas.
“There was an argument from UKTV that things would be cheaper if we did 12 because costs and things could be spread across both series,” explains writer, director and Red Dwarf co-creator Doug Naylor, speaking to SFX mere days before the first live studio recording in mid-November. “I found myself saying yes, okay, there is time to do that, but then when you’ve written seven or eight you go, ‘Oh my god, why didn’t I say it had to be six!’”
Naylor says the new series episodes will pick up soon after series X left off, but won’t get too hung up on serialisation. “They’re all selfcontained episodes. There are [overall] story things but not a real arc because we don’t know yet which will be the six episodes that go out in XI and which will go out in XII.”
So are there any dangling plot threads from the previous 10 series that the new episodes will pick up? “There are various things, but you’ve got to be careful that you’re not just appealing to the die-hards,” Naylor says. “There were areas we looked at very hard and thought, ‘God, you’re going to have to spend half the show explaining the backstory before you can get on with the comedy,’ so we’ve tried not to do that, so it’s accessible to both hardcore fans and more casual viewers as well.”
But surely the revelation that Rimmer’s dad was actually the gardener must have changed things slightly?
“It’s made no difference to him whatsoever,” Naylor laughs, “aside from him feeling slightly confused for a bit. But then remarkably he just returns to exactly who he was before.
“In a sitcom you don’t want the characters to mature, you don’t want them to learn anything, because when you have growth, it generally means they’re not as funny because they’re usually funniest when they’re at their most flawed. Most sitcoms don’t survive as many series as we’ve done and I think one of the reasons is we haven’t allowed the characters to mature much. Because they’re still hugely emotionally damaged, we’ve managed to survive!” Richard Edwards