Saturday
Jan282012

Red Dwarf X last episode recording

Last Friday we finished recording the last episode of Red Dwarf X in front of an audience. What a lovely audience they were too, we were very grateful. Due to a build up of technical and logistical problems we were a little bit behind last week. One of the technical, or is that biological problems was that yours truly's eyes went all miximatosis like on Wednesday morning making the application of a full head prosthetic mask a bit awkward. That really stuffed things up. Add to that a load of promotional videos we had to make, hundreds of still photos of the cast in various locations and the fact that lovely Doug Naylor was fairly ill made the last episode recording something of a battle.

The truly amazing thing about Red Dwarf is the strength of the original idea and the resilience and mutual support of the cast. I think I can say that each of us have worked on many different productions in all manner of roles, but we all say without hesitation, Red Dwarf is the tough one. 

Not just the cast with their wierd glue on teeth, hologramatic H's and woven in dreadlocks and obviously rubber head and plastic torso covering, the set builders, special effects supervisors, camera and sound crew and production staff all work incredibly hard over many weeks to create a series.

I've worked on dozens of other productions, both sit-coms and 'factual entertainment' shows, and none of them have been anything like as difficult to achieve as Red Dwarf. 

If you think of your average sit com, a family live in a house, a lunatic runs a hotel, 4 students live in a squat, two rag and bone men live in a house. Basically they are about people who wear clothes and their most complicated prop is a kettle.

By stating this, I'm not saying Red Dwarf is better than any other sit-com, but I would wager it is a lot harder to make. We are reliant on so many variables, something that is two or three words in a script can take 2 hours to achive on camera.

However, this is not a moan fest, I'm really happy to have done another series as are the rest of the cast. Through all the hours of sweat and struggle, I haven't laughed as much or as hard since, well probably the last time we did Red Dwarf.

I think this is going to be an amazing series, each episode has all the best elements and classic Dwarfy moments, stinging one liners, wonderful visual gags and top quality banter. I can't say more yet, but there are lots of things (other than a live audience) that many long time fans of the show have asked for.

So, to re-cap, we've recorded 6 half hour episodes, they will be broadcast on Dave in the UK in September-October, they will be broadcast by many PBS stations in the US, broadcast in Australia, Japan and New Zealand, released on DVD and Blu-Ray, available globally, also on iTunes globally, also on Netflix where ever you can get it.

We are now girding our loins, inserting our overgrown teeth, smoothing our dreadlocks, applying our H's and donning some serious rubber for one more weeks filming, finishing all the fiddly bits, the pick up shots, the close ups of dongles going into dooberries and all the other faffing that we need to do to polish off a damn fine comedy series.

Monday
Jan162012

Audioboo update from set of Red Dwarf

I've posted a little audioboo recorded this morning on the set of Red Dwarf X, I was multi tasking as I was also helping Craig Charles set up his brand new iPad. Craig, as I said in a tweet, has made a tech leap from somewhere in the mid 1980's to the present day. 

Audioboo

Saturday
Jan142012

Episode 4 update

We recorded episode 4 of the new series of Red Dwarf last night in front of a truly amazing audience. They were so patient and kind, they laughed and cheered and clapped through a long night in, it has to be said, not the most comfortable seats. Our wonderful warm up man/host, Ray Peacock is a huge help in keeping the energy up. I think last nights ep could turn out to be one of the best this series, the only frustrating thing for us that due to pressure of time (lack of it) and technical difficulties we couldn't show the whole ep to the audience, still got a couple of scenes to record.
That said though, although today I am utterly knackered, it was a great night.

We are more than half way through recording 6 new episodes for the Dave Channel in the UK, they will be broadcast starting in September this year and I know they will receive wide distribution elsewhere around the globe after that. I will slap details up here as soon as I know.

On Monday we see the scripts for episode 5. We (the cast) truly have no idea what to expect, we haven't seen a page yet.

Sunday
Jan082012

Stand by for a smeg-asm

Back in the distant 1990’s taking part in the creation of a Red Dwarf series was utterly engrossing. It meant 10 weeks when nothing other than scripts, lines, blocking, camera angles, timing, beats, moves, stunts and constant cast banter entered my boil-in-the-bag-brain.

It’s very hard, if not impossible to deal with any other information when you’re up to your rubber neck in all that 6 days a week.

Now of course we have access to constant data inputs from mobiles, Twitters, Google+’s, blogs, Facebooks, and everything else.

Interestingly the news is still not getting through to me.

Oh, but this is just a poncy actor spouting off like a luvvie.

Well, I’d like to point out that I have lived in the ‘real world.’ I’ve worked as a tree surgeon, been a shoemaker, worked on a dairy farm milking cows, a factory chicken farm ‘thinning out the birds’, done washing up in a restaurant, been a cyclist courier and a nude model for proper artists who do drawing and painting.

I know what hard work is like and I’ve never shied away from it. However when I’d finished slaughtering chickens, milking cows or lopping the branches off trees my life was pretty much my own. I was in touch with the state of the world, current affairs, the news, swings in public opinion, the changing face of society yadda yadda.

With a bonkers sit-com like Red Dwarf, when we go home at the end of the day, that’s when we start the really hard work. We are working to such a tight deadline that there truly isn’t enough time in the day to do everything. It is our job as the actors to ‘get off the book.’ i.e. know all our lines, and there are a lot of them, in a very short period of time.

At the start of each week I find myself sitting in some dark corner of the studio, head in hands, confident that this week, this week I am truly going to let the side down.

I am happy, even dare I say it, proud to report that once again, we got through it. Oh, we all fluffed plenty of lines, even the demon king of line learning, Mr Craig Charles stuffed up some Naylor-esque tongue-twisters, but in the end we got the show in the can. Or hard drive, cans are for film. 

So, this morning, I discover that the poor people of Syria are still suffering, Tony Blair keeps getting richer and Cameron has put his foot in it with his Tourettes jibe. Oh yeah, and Dianne Abbot had a bit of a twitter fitter.

All that (except for Ms Abbot) had escaped me until this morning. To be honest, not being aware of the daily news churn makes you appreciate how ephemeral it all is. I firmly believe we do need to know all this nonsense, but when it passes you by for a few weeks it’s no great loss.

Anyway, essentially I just wanted to say that I now feel confident in predicting that the new series of Red Dwarf is going to be every bit as good as anything we have ever done in the past, if not better.

It’s turning out to be classic Dwarf, brilliant scripts, amazing sets, wonderful cameo roles, fantastic plots that tie into real scientific theories and ideas.

I predict series X could possibly cause a worldwide smeg- asm. 

Tuesday
Jan032012

So, while I had a little break during the Crimbo Linbo (the strange time warp between Christmas day and New Years day) I spent a couple of hours a day scrawling updates for 'The Man in the Rubber Mask.'

For those of you who don't know, I've released the original book (published in '94) as an audiobook. The first 3 chapters are free, for £4.99 (around $7 US) you can get the rest in non DRM Mp3 format, but that's not all!

At present the book tells the story of how I fell into a life of rubber on the small rouge one, but it only goes up as far as 1992.

People who subscribe to the book now will also get lots more for no extra charge, I will start uploading fresh chapters in March, and release the final part, (covering what we are up to now) in September when the series is broadcast in the UK.

When or if you get a moment, toddle over and have a listen. The picture at the top of this post is a link BTW. I'm that clever.

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