Red Dwarf Q&A: Series XI On The Cards
“I think it will happen, but it hasn’t been commissioned yet”, says Red Dwarf writer Doug Naylor when asked if there’s likely to be a Series XI following the successful debut of Series X’s first episode last night. Naylor and the cast seem more confident than these cautious words suggest, and it sounds like they’ve all but put pen to paper on the new contract.
Questions over whether or not Holly, Kochanski or any of the others might make a comeback next time round are left open by Naylor, who frankly admits that he doesn’t know: “with Series XI, because I haven’t written any shows, I can’t tell you”. He does seem fairly certain, however, that the skutters, the little maintenance robots that spent their time flipping off Rimmer and watching John Wayne films won’t be making a comeback. “They just used to bash into the walls,” says Chris Barrie.
Having dealt with the future, Naylor and the others clear up the past: namely, what happened to the film, and what was the deal with Back to Earth, the bizarre self-referential mini-series?
Back to Earth, according to Naylor, was originally just supposed to be “something to celebrate the 20th anniversary, with the guys in costume introducing clips” and consequently only had a tiny budget. What’s more, with no sets, not enough money for a live audience, and the original Red Dwarf models having had a “tragic accident” falling off the top of the shelf, the series was “just based on things we could get”. The guys admit that “it was not Red Dwarf in some senses, but it did the job”. That job, it seems, was securing the backing for Series X.
Series X also accounts for a lot of the film, with scenes from some of Naylor’s 35 drafts making it into episodes 3 and 6. On top of that, we can also apparently expect a heap of “great guest stars”, though none it seems that could beat Jenny Agguter’s Series VI guest spot, which still had the boys salivating 19 years on. At the time, the mild-mannered Robert Llewellyn, the man behind Kryten’s mask (when it hadn’t been stolen and “blacked up” by Danny John-Jules),allegedly ran into Charles dressing room exclaiming “Have you seen her legs!”
Asked whether they thought they could recreate the magic so long after they last played the characters, Craig Charles said he got back in character as soon as he pulled the boots on, and reckons that Chris Barrie, who plays Rimmer, can switch it on whenever he wants: “give him an H and he turns into an arsehole”. Barrie himself, however, attributes the continuing success to Rob Grant’s script which is “the only script consistently where you open the first page and you’re laughing”.