Monday
Dec052011

Lines under Rubber

This whole line learning thing really takes me back. For the past 12 years I have been learning a speech as I stand around in front of a camera, delivering it, then forgetting it instantly. This is for programs like Scrapheap Challenge, Hollywood Science, How Do They Do It, Top Trumps etc.

Red Dwarf is very different, for a start, even seasoned actors like Tim Spall found the Red Dwarf scripts fiendishly hard to learn, the language used in the scripts is what makes them so special. It’s very unique and unusual, which is a good thing. It’s what, I believe, made the shows stand the test of time but it makes them a bugger to learn.

However, I just want to say in my defence that I can learn lines and have performed many stage plays and one man shows which required me to contain vast reams of text and deliver them night after night.

This was of course with my brain at normal temperature, with my faculties fully engaged with the world and all my senses functioning perfectly.

This is not the case with old Kryters, for a start, I can’t hear much, my vision and balance are impaired and my core body temperature is close to that of Fukushima number 3 reactor on a summers day.

So the bits of paper stuck to the back of Craig’s head so popular in the Smeg Outs are part of a larger problem.

I’m not trying to make excuses, it’s my job to know my lines and I work very hard to do so, but I do have to deliver them under rubber based duress, and I’m a bit thick. Chris works very methodically to learn his lines, I envy his clarity of mind and focus. Danny, well, no one knows how Danny does anything, it seems like he hasn’t got a clue of anything until we actually record the show, and then he’s fantastic.

Craig has an uncanny ability to read a script once or twice and know all his lines word perfect from that point on. The only other person I have ever met with a similar ability is the wonderful Mel Smith, he of Not the 9 O’clock News, Alas Smith and Jones and many other fine TV shows.

So, I am slaving away, walking up and down my kitchen, repeating the lines again and again, and then letting my daughter test me. She’s tough, I have to be word perfect and she pulls me up all the time.

‘Wrong! God you’re rubbish dad.’

So far, I’ve got three whole scenes ‘off the book.’ Three whole scenes in a script with 25 scenes.

Craig has a huge amount to learn, far more than me in this episode but he’ll already have done it and he’ll be down the pub. As I said in my tweet, ‘it’s just not fair!’

Wednesday
Nov302011

The Small Rouge One

Any casual mention of the small rouge one on the Twitters at the moment really does bring on an instant tweet-torrent.

Can I suggest a scroll through recent posts here will inform more, but here's the gist.

Here’s the latest for those of you not up to full quantum speed on what’s happening.

We are making a new, 6 episode series of Red Dwarf currently titled Red Dwarf X (10)

They will be broadcast on Dave in the UK in 2012, I know that TV companies in other countries are also in the process of arranging broadcasts, no details yet.

We are recording them in front of a live audience and sadly all the tickets went out of the door in a mouse heartbeat.

The #oldboysfromthedrwarf are very happy about doing the shows in front of an audience, it really helps us as performers, even though it’s bloody terrifying. Obviously you can’t see that Kryten is bloody terrified, but his diodes are nearly melting with pure terror.

We are currently rehearsing, we’ve already blocked out a few scenes on the set but that’s still being built so we are working around the team who are sawing, drilling and banging as the whole thing comes together.

We are recording the shows at Shepperton studios which is currently jam packed with ladies in long dresses and gentlemen in breeches as they are in the middle of shooting Anna Karenina there, starring Keira Knightley and Jude Law and no, none of us have seen them….yet. Oh they’ll come around soon, tapping at the studio door…’can we see the #oldboysfromthedrwarf’ they’ll plead. We’ll be far too busy.

While I remember, Chris Barrie and Craig Charles do not have twitter accounts, Danny @DannyJohnJules has been tweeting from rehearsals which has caused some amusement and confusion.

None of us will be revealing anything about the content of the shows no matter how many times we’re asked. I can say this, I think they are bloody funny.

The big test will be when the audience sees them. Will they be able to resist posting spoilers on social media? We will certainly be encouraging them not to. I think we should all encourage them not to. This is the first time we have recorded a series in front of a live audience since things like Twitter, Google+ and Facebook have come into existence.

Anyway, I will post more soon.

 

Toodle Pipski

 

Monday
Nov282011

Day one. (I'm not making a habit of this)

There’s no way I am going to post every day during the recording of Red Dwarf X but I thought I’d just record the first day back on the show.

I’ve had a major flurry of questions on Twitter today, so to try and answer a few, here’s what I know.

We are making 6 new episodes to go out on Dave in 2012.

It’s very likely, if not definite, they will also be shown in the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand too.

All the original cast are appearing, Craig, Chris Danny and myself as Lister, Rimmer, Cat and Kryten.

Other casting and roles not yet known.

Each show is being recorded in front of a live audience at Shepperton Studios outside London.

There are no more tickets left, when the tickets were offered a couple of weeks back, they all went in less than 30 minutes.

Kryten is getting a brand new head.

So:-

We all gathered at Shepperton Studio’s today, had a read through of the first 2 scripts, had a look around the sets in the cavernous studio we’ll be working in for the next 9 weeks or so, had a bit of lunch, then worked through the first script in detail.

I only realised what a privilege it’s been to be involved in the show this afternoon, the combined knowledge and experience we all have with this show could not be created in any other way. We’ve all be doing it on and off for at least 22 years, Chris, Danny and Craig have been at it for nearly 24 years.

In that time we’ve not only got to know our own characters, we’ve got to know each other.

When I first worked on the show, Craig had a young son, but all the rest of the main cast were carefree and childless.

We are now all dads, Craig has two lovely daughters as well as his son, Chris two lovely sons and Danny and I have lovely sons and daughters. (we both have one of each)

When I first started Doug’s children were babies and toddlers, his eldest son is now an associate producer.

As we went through the script we were constantly referencing previous shows, some of which we recorded over 20 years ago, but as soon as we all get together the memories of the time we’ve spent together comes flooding back.

The pressure we are all under to get the shows done on time and within budget is not inconsiderable, most of this weight is being carried by Doug Naylor and Charles Armitage (writer/director and producer) but this is very much a family style production. No one wants to let the family down, we all want to do well, to make the show as best we possibly can.

The early signs are good, the anticipation of recording in front of an audience is at once terrifying and exhilarating.

I’m obviously not going to say anything about the storylines, no spoilers, but I can safely say they are seriously funny.

Saturday
Nov262011

Pre rubber dozey day

It's Saturday morning and I'm feeling dozy. Ive just been through the most manic week trying to sort everything out before we start work on Red Dwarf on Monday. 
It almost feels like I'm leaving the country, but actually I'm just going to Shepperton, and I will be able to talk to people and reply to e-mails, I'm telling myself this because it felt like if I didn't do everything last week, that was it. End of.
My normal working life for the past 12 years has been utterly unpredictable, constantly changeable and fairly chaotic. For the next 10 weeks it's utterly predictable, totally all consuming and fairly intense. 
I am experiencing equal measures of dread and excitement at the prospect of re-joining the posse and having read two of the six scripts, I feel confident in predicting they will be seriously amusing.

 

Friday
Nov252011

Disruptive Rubber

When things are in flux, when disruptive technologies appear, when everything, to use Red Dwarf parlance, has gone a bit wibbly wobbly, I really feel in my element.

It is the one advantage I have over my formally educated or well-established peers. I have always lived in a world where everything is a bit unclear, I’ve stumbled through life in a bit of a fug, so when the rest of the established world gets messy I feel quite comfortable.  

This messiness hit the music industry first, although I wasn’t involved in the business I did observe the seismic fluctuations with interest.

I realised a long time ago that if this kind of change could destabilize the massive corporate machine that was the record industry, it could do the same to radio, TV, newspapers, magazines and book publishing.

Well it has, the fact that I have been effectively running two TV series (Carpool and Fully Charged) which have bypassed the traditional TV commissioning system, have been seen by millions and have been produced with a combined budget of less than kitchen extension in Macclesfield says it all.

The technology that’s made this possible is disruptive. When I first worked in telly in the mid 1980’s an edit suit cost more than a family house in a neighborhood with good schools. Now you can use your phone.

Back then there was no way of distributing the resultant output other than through the gatekeepers of the broadcasting industry. Now there is.

I think I like disruptive technology because it makes the whole world a bit fuzzy, my normal state of mind.

The great thing is, no one, truly no one knows how to do deal with these changes. I mean no one in the established system.

When a lot of that old model is clearly not working, I find I am in a position to try a different tack without having to shed a lot of habitual baggage.

Hence my slightly hair brained schemes with books.

Personally I love audiobooks, I subscribe to Audible.co.uk and download a new book once a month. I’ve got 27 of them on my phone.

I’ve also have recorded something like 20 audiobooks for the BBC, so I’ve had a bit of practice. However I'm not using Audible, I'm using my wonderful pals at Audioboo.fm, the link is below. It will be for sale but at the knock down, super cheap price of £4.99.  

So in the last few months I’ve recorded The Man in the Rubber Mask as an audiobook.

I don’t know if it’s going to work, but it’s worth a try. You never know.

The longer term plan with the project is to write the next section next year, when we’ve finished the new Red Dwarf series, and then release it as an e-book and audio book around the time the series is broadcast.

I’m going to follow the Scott Sigler model and release chapters for nothing, finally making a small charge for the complete audiobook and e-book when it’s all done and dusted.

So, if you’ve listened to the first 3 chapters, I hope you’ll buy the whole book, and if you do, you’ll be first to hear the new chapters for free.

That’s the plan, but as with all fuzzy, disruptive technology plans, it could get a bit wibbly wobbly.