The fifth episode of the new series of Red Dwarf is on tonight. It’s been a long time coming, but, thankfully, it has been worth waiting for.
Red Dwarf VII was broadcast in 1999, ending on a cliffhanger, and until now that has been the last full series (the DVD set pictured above was released in 2005). The seventh and eighth series had received mixed reactions from fans and the BBC were no longer interested in any further series. Plans for a Red Dwarf film never really got anywhere, despite a script being written.
But all was not lost, and in 2009, three new episodes of Red Dwarf, called Back To Earth, were broadcast on the digital TV channel Dave, who had regularly shown repeats of older episodes. The new episodes weren’t great, in my opinion – it had a low budget and one of the best jokes (Carbug) was spoiled by a preview clip posted a few days earlier on Dave’s web site. But, it pulled in over four million viewers – a record for Dave, and a number that would be impressive even for some mainstream channels. This proved that there as a demand for a new series.
Incidentally, Dave is owned by UKTV, which is a joint venture between BBC Worldwide (the commercial subsidiary of the BBC which isn’t funded by the TV License fee) and Scripps, which owns various US TV channels such as Food Network; so the BBC is still involved with its production albeit at a distance.
Anyway, the new series was commissioned and recorded last year. Unlike Back To Earth, this was to be a regular, six episode series in the same style as before, with a live studio audience. The producers were at pains to remind the audience not to post plot spoilers on the internet; thankfully, this didn’t happen – probably because the audiences were mostly made up of Red Dwarf fans who wanted the new series to succeed.
The first episode of series ten, ‘Trojan’, was broadcast on the 4th October, and, when repeats and catch-up viewings were taken into account, over 3 million people watched it. I’ve really enjoyed the four episodes that have been shown so far; ‘Trojan’ and ‘Entangled’ have been my favourites with some genuine laugh-out moments. That being said, we saw the second episode ‘Fathers and Suns’ before a repeat of the series five episode ‘Holoship’, and, honestly, I felt that ‘Fathers and Suns’ was better. I’m really pleased that this new series holds up well, and hope that this is a good omen for the future – maybe we’ll see a series eleven in a year or so?
If you’ve not been able to watch the shows, then thankfully the DVD of series X is out in just over a couple of weeks, and episodes are also available at £2.49 each from iTunes, almost immediately after broadcast.