The quite brilliant two-hour documentary on the making of Red Dwarf X that comes as an extra with the DVD (opens in new tab) and Blu-ray (opens in new tab) (released on 19 November) is called “We’re Smegged” with very good reason. To call the production process fraught is a bit like calling the Berlin Wall “inconvenient”.
Red Dwarf X nearly didn’t make it to our screens on a number of occasions, for a variety of reasons. Even when they had the whole series in the can, there were still post-production problems that could have scuppered the whole project. The story of the making of Red Dwarf X is a compelling drama all in itself, and a testament to writer/director Doug Naylor’s single-mindedness and determination.
You may be thinking that in the year between Red Dwarf: Back To Earth and Red Dwarf X , Doug Naylor and his team had a leisurely long time to write and produce a mere three hours of TV comedy. Yeah, right. Owing to scheduling problems, budget problems, artist availability and other things you never think about when watching the show, the scripts couldn’t be finalised until very late in the day. And even when the series swung into production, while the first episodes were being filmed in front of live audiences, major – and we mean major – changes were being forced on later scripts.
We don’t want to give too much away here, because it almost feel like giving away spoilers. It's not all high tension and hair-pulling, though. The documentary is full of wonderful behind-the-scenes footage, candid interviews, fascinating trivia and what-might-have-been details. It’s an eye-opener to be sure, and besides revealing why Red Dwarf X may have had some creaky moments, the sheer camaraderie, professionalism and enthusiasm of the cast and crew proves why the spirit and the intrinsic fun of the show ultimately shone through. It will make you cherish the show even more.
So to whet your appetite here are a few random things we learned from “We’re Smegged”:
• A episode featuring a circus had to be dropped when two weeks of outside broadcast were cut from the budget at the last minute
• The transporters in "Trojan” were commercially available shower units
• The new interior sets for Red Dwarf used lots of Ikea cutlery trays for detailing
• The corridor sets were built on top of shopping trolleys so they could be moved easily
• Kryten still has the same boots Robert Llewellyn wore in his first episode
• Craig Charles had very bad flu during the recording of “Fathers And Suns”, which helped make the hangover scenes look realistic
• "Lemons” is Chris Barrie and Robert Llewellyn’s favourite episode of the series
• The lemon battery in “Lemons” actually worked – they got an 8v charge from it
• The octagonal dais on which the command chair stands in “Trojan” was reused as the centrepiece in the Indian marketplace set in “Lemons”m and as the fireplace in the BEGG set in “Entangled” (it was originally seen hanging from the ceiling of a Red Dwarf set in Back To Earth ).
• Part of the detailing on the Red Dwarf model is a tiny little Kryten hand