Geek Dave has fun, fun, fun, in the sun, sun, sun...
1. Red Dwarf almost never made it to the screen. Rob Grant and Doug Naylor wrote the pilot in 1983, but it was continually rejected by the BBC.
Four years later, and Re-write and re-write, still the BBC did not bite - but although the Corporation were not interested, the project was generating fans within the hallowed halls of Broadcasting House.
One of those fans was Paul Jackson, he was transferred from London
to BBC Manchester and managed to obtain a budget for a
second series of Happy Families (a sit-com featuring Adrian Edmondson, Jennifer Saunders, Dawn French and Stephen Fry), knowing full well that one was not intended. Jackson then
craftily re-allocate this money to make the Red Dwarf pilot.
However, it still wasn't smooth sailing. The show was nearly canceled two days into rehearsals due to an electricians' strike, and then just as filming was about to begin it was postponed for several months due to a technicians' strike.
2. One of the people opposing Red Dwarf was the then Head of BBC Comedy, Gareth Gwenlan. In a meeting with creators Rob Grant and Doug Naylor he had flat out rejected the concept on the basis of "You can't
have a sitcom in space. There's no settee." As a result of their dealings with Gwenlan, when Red Dwarf finally
did make it to air, the creators decided to use Gwenlan's surname as
one of the show's made-up swear-words.
3. Amongst the actors who auditioned and were considered for key roles were Hugh Laurie, Alfred Molina and Alan Rickman. Rickman would only commit to one series, but Molina was actually cast. Those delays in filming meant he dropped out of the show.
4. As for the actors who make up the cast - Norman Lovett (Holly) originally auditioned for the part of Rimmer.
Chris Barrie (Rimmer) originally auditioned for the part of Lister. Craig Charles was originally offered the part of The Cat, but he asked to audition for the role of Lister instead.
Danny John-Jules arrived for his audition as The Cat in character and wearing an old black suit that his father had got married in. The design of the Cat's pink suit from the first series was copied from it.
5. For the recordings of the first series the producers had to drag customers out of a local pub to fill the studio audience - a far cry from Red Dwarf X where the demand for tickets was so great the ticket company's website crashed within minutes of them being announced.
6. Craig Charles and Chris Barrie have admitted that, in the early series,
off-camera they strongly disliked each other. In fact it wasn't until the filming of Red Dwarf VI
that their relationship started to warm.
7. In 1992 an attempt was made to launch a US version of Red Dwarf. Robert Llewellyn (Kryten) was the only member of the British cast to appear in the pilot episode, however both Chris Barrie and Danny John-Jules were both offered the chance to reprise their characters of Rimmer and The Cat, but both declined.
Instead, joining Llewellyn on Red Dwarf USA were Craig Bierko (Lister), Chris Eigeman (Rimmer), Jane Leeves (Holly), Hinton Battle (Cat), Elizabeth Morehead (Kochanski), Michael Heintzman (Munson) and Lorraine Toussaint (Captain Tau). Studio executives ordered a second pilot to be filmed, with some recasting - Terry Farrell came in as Cat, and Anthony Fuscle as Rimmer. It never went any further than that second pilot, but you can check it out below...
8. After making sure that all model sequences required for the
current series were completed, the BBC Visual Effects department destroyed the only model of Red Dwarf for a
sequence in the fifth series episode Demons and Angels (where Kryten's
triplicator sets off a chain reaction that destroys the ship). The ship doesn't appear in the
sixth series (the running plot being that the Red Dwarf has been
stolen) and only appears in the seventh series as archive footage from
earlier episodes. It wasn't until the eighth series that a
computer-generated version was created.
9. Red Dwarf debuted on February 15th 1988 - 27 years ago. And, even
though only 10 series have been produced the show is still in
production, with Red Dwarf XI currently in development. This makes it
the second-longest running science fiction series of all time, behind
10. Talking of Doctor Who - For Red Dwarf III the model effects crew added a miniature TARDIS to the set of the Starbug landing bay for one brief shot. Even though it was well hidden it was decided not to use the shot to avoid confusion or potential copyright issues. However, the shot taken was incorporated into the Red Dwarf V episode Demons and Angels...
...Can you see it? This might help...
Follow Geek Dave on Twitter