15 February is definitely a day to celebrate if you love British telly. Twenty-five years ago on that fateful day in 1988, the creation from the mind palace of Rob Grant and Doug Naylor which introduced the world to the remaining on-board inhabitants of a mining spaceship owned and operated by the Jupiter Mining Corporation, became a reality with the premiere broadcast of Red Dwarf. The concept for the show was originally developed from the sketch-series Dave Hollins: Space Cadet which was part of the BBC Radio 4 show Son of Cliché which was also written by Grant and Naylor. 25 years and 61 episodes later, Red Dwarf is an icon of British situation comedy history.
In 2008, The BBC opted to ‘pursue other projects’ and ‘officially’ rejected the possibility the series returning for a ninth series, some 9 years following the end of RDVIII in 1999. It was not to end, however, as Pitch, an international mobile entertainment company, working with series producers, created a Christmas ‘mobisode’ designed solely for users of the mobile medium. Months later, Dave – the home of witty banter – brought the series back for an Easter 2009 premiere of Red Dwarf: Back to Earth followed in 2012 by Red Dwarf X, recorded in front of a studio audience and the first full series since 1999.
Red Dwarf Christmas ‘mobisode’
Back in December 2000, I found myself at Shepperton Studios sitting nervously across the table from an icon in his own right, Mr. Flibble, the hologramatical hand puppet penguin who appeared in only one episode of Red Dwarf, “Quarantine”. That one episode performance was so strong that Mr. Flibble became the official interviewer on the Red Dwarf official website. Mr. Flibble was quite interested in Red Dwarf in the States, I think partly due to the fact that he was trying to calculate his residuals due for any past, present or future North American transmission.
Thankfully, Mr. Flibble was uncharacteristically kind that cold December day at Shepperton. It was only towards the end of the interview did I experience the full effect of his hex-vision powers as he became quite cross when our time was up. His final question cemented a bond between the two of us that would last a lifetime as he wanted to know my top-ten British pub names. Personally, I think he had been to most of them from the smile on his face as I began to list them. My full interview with Mr. Flibble is archived along with a number of far more amazing interviews on the series website.
So…happy 25th Red Dwarf. You don’t look a day over 21.