Tuesday, 15 November 2011

My life of love of Red Dwarf, and a week of sweating.

Okay, so I'm quite a big Doctor Who fan. But that's nothing compared to my love of Red Dwarf.

I've been a Red Dwarf fan for over 20 years. I first saw it at some point in 1988. I know this because I recognised the character of Kryten when he became a regular character in the third series because of his single appearance in an episode of series II. And I had memories of Norman Lovett's original Holly, as well.
It was one day in December 1989 that I can say I had my Dwarfian 'outing'. The 10-year-old me ran around the Intake First & Middle School playground, shouting, "What the Smeggin' Smeg's 'e Smeggin' done? He's Smeggin' killed me!" in a screechy Scouse accent, doing a very poor impersonation of Dave Lister, having seen the fourth episode of Series III, Bodyswap, the night before.

Red Dwarf III, Byte One: Backwards was the very first VHS videotape I ever bought. Red Dwarf I was the very first DVD I ever bought (I didn't even have a DVD Player at the time, I just needed to own it). The very first Blu-Ray I ever bought? Well, actually, It was a Back To The Future Trilogy Collector's Edition boxset. I don't have Back To Earth on Blu-Ray yet. I don't have a Blu-Ray Player - or a decent enough TV to warrant getting one - yet. My brother has the BtE Blu-Ray, though - I educate my siblings well.

Anyway, my point...do I have one? Probably, somewhere. I'll get to it sooner or later.
Oh yes - Red Dwarf is my favourite...thing...ever.

In March 1992, I was in a newsagent's with my Dad, when I saw a magazine, with Holly on the front. It was issue four of the Red Dwarf Smegazine. I had to have it. And I loved it. I've still got that magazine somewhere. Even the newsagents has long since disappeared - it's now a Chinese takeaway. I was a massive Red Dwarf fan. At school, everyone would ask me for the latest Red Dwarf news. This, of course, was before our lives were run by the internet. I read the Smegazine, so I knew. I was the biggest Red Dwarf fan I knew.

Yet, somehow, I managed to never attend a studio recording of the show. In 1993, when series VI was made, I was only 14, so I imagine I'd've been too young to attend a live recording. By the time Series VII was made, in 1996, it wasn't being made in front of a studio audience. But I'd written fan letters (from, ahem, "Simon '2X4B' Bromley") to Grant Naylor Productions, and got an invite to go to a special screening of a couple of episodes of Red Dwarf VII, and be part of the laugh-track recording! Alas, my mum wouldn't let me go down to London or wherever it was, so that was that.
1998 arrived, a new series was being made - in front of an audience - but I had absolutely no idea how to get tickets, so settled down to watch Series VIII on TV in February 1999, having now reached my twenties.

Then, all went quiet. Sure, the DVDs were released, and I finally managed to attend a couple of Dimension Jump conventions, meeting cast members, and others with the same affliction (stupidity) as myself.

Back To Earth was unleashed upon the public, thanks to digital channel Dave - BBC2 weren't interested in the kind of audience Red Dwarf used to attract - for Easter 2009 - a fair while since the previous series - but once again, there was no studio audience, not even a laugh track. It looked like that was it. I'd never see Red Dwarf live (Hey, I'm getting ahead of myself - at the time of writing, there's still a good chance that that might still be the case).

It was confirmed earlier this year (after a year of rumours, mostly started by Craig Charles not being able to keep his mouth shut) that a brand new, full, six part series would be recorded, for transmission in 2012.

Cue a few months of bombarding assorted sites - Red Dwarf, Dave, cast members - with ticket requests...

Then, on November 4th, the official Red Dwarf website announced that there would be an announcement about the new series the following week. Us loonies had a pretty fair idea (slash hope) what the anouncement would be. Then co-creator/writer/director Doug Naylor confirmed via Twitter on November 10th that, yes, the announcement would be about tickets, and even teased us with a few recording dates. That night, I was ridiculously excited about the coming events. I woke up during the night - 4:41am - checked the time, and Tweeted:
*yawn* What time is it? *checks* Oh. Less than seven hours til Red Dwarf fandom breaks the internet...

So. Friday 11th November. 11.30am, update time. The site wouldn't update. It seemed to take forever to appear(in fact, I think it was actually only about seven minutes late), but it was an announcement alright.

I drove my mum mad last friday. I booked my sister's laptop from around 11am. Opened several tabs - my email, the Red Dwarf site, Red Dwarf fansite Ganymede & Titan, my Twitter feed, Doug Naylor's Twitter feed...I was all over the place. I remember the phone rang at half past eleven exactly, and my mum asked me to pass it to her. I nearly exploded...

So, the announcement - a little after 11.30am -
We're very pleased to announce that in December 2011 and January 2012, all six episodes of Red Dwarf X will be filmed at Shepperton Studios in front of a live audience.

We were to register with Lost In TV Audience Services, and then, from 2pm, we could apply for free audience tickets for RED DWARF X.

So, after registering with the site (I think I was all done by twenty to twelve), spending a little while getting our breath back, and posting on Twitter and assorted internet forums about how excited we were, we could all dare to relax for a couple of hours.

So. Approximately 1:45pm. I've got the laptop again, and all the assorted tabs open. Red Dwarf, Lost In TV (homepage), Lost In TV (Red Dwarf page),email, G&T, my Twitter, Doug's Twitter, Robert Llewellyn's Twitter, Danny John Jules's Twitter, the RD Fan Club's Twitter, Lost In TV's Twitter, Lost In TV's Facebook page, my Facebook page... I was almost a gibbering wreck.

And we, the assembled hordes of Red Dwarf fans, broke the internet.

The Lost in TV site couldn't handle it. It crashed almost immediately. We refreshed and refreshed, it wasn't having any of it. We shared our woes with everyone else in the same boat over on the forums, then went back and refreshed the Lost In TV site. Then, some fifteen minutes since I'd pressed the refresh button for the first time,I noticed a Tweet from Lost In TV:
Red Dwarfers: you can book for tickets by sending an e-mail instead[...]

So that was it. My e-mail application for a pair of tickets to the 20th January 2012 recording of Red Dwarf X (it's my 33rd birthday on Jan 19th - I figured this would be a great gift to myself), enclosing my name and newly acquired Lost In TV membership number, was sent at eighteen minutes past two, last Friday afternoon.

Since then, not a great deal. I've had a couple of Tweets from Lost In TV (who've treated applicants brilliantly this week, from what I've seen), one replying to a Tweet of mine checking that I'd included enough info in my e-mail (I had), and another stating that they thought 2:18pm would be early enough to have bagged myself a couple of tickets. Here's hoping.

News has broken today that tomorrow will see the first batch of confirmation emails being sent from Lost In TV. Rather brilliantly, they will e-mail everyone who has applied over the course of the week, letting us poor saps know if we've been successful, or if, regretfully, we haven't.

I am, of course, going to go mad, whatever happens, tomorrow. Having signed up for Lost In TV's mailing list when I registered, I received an email from them today, and nearly wet myself, only to find that it was merely information about The Mad Bad Ad Show on Channel Four.

It's been a mad week to be a Red Dwarf fanatic. But it's been rather brilliant, in it's odd little way. Roll on that e-mail...

UPDATE: Wednesday, November 16th 2011, 11:36am.

The e-mail arrived this morning at 9:48am, a good couple of hours before I was expecting it. Ridiculously, it took me twenty minutes before I saw it.

Dear Simon,

Thank you for your application for 2 ticket(s) for the recording of RED DWARF

We're very pleased to let you know that you have been successful in getting tickets for Fri 20 January

So there. I do so love a happy ending.

EXTRA: You can read about my resulting Night At The Dwarf here.

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