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Published on January 14th, 2012 | by Ruth Wheeler


Filming of the Dwarf!

It’s cold outside Shepperton Studios, but there’s a great atmosphere despite the inhospitable conditions…

I have loved Red Dwarf since I was very little. It’s universe is a cosmos of infinite possibilities, humor and characters that you can really relate to and it holds so much appeal to me that the characters are definitely an influence on my own work as a comedy science fiction writer. So when I found out that I was one of the lucky few who’s application for audience tickets for the long-awaited new series, Red Dwarf X, was taken I was literally counting the days until my trip to Shepperton.

On arrival, my husband, two of our friends and I were issued with four consecutive numbers and were asked to wait in a large room in the huge studio complex, while we waited to be called. When the call came we excitedly transferred our bottled beverages into plastic cups and followed the guide to the studio across the way. I was delighted to find that our seats were on the second row and that the set nearest to ours was the bunk set. I am going to admit, fellow Dwarfers, that I was so overwhelmed that I actually started to cry! And I then spent the following thirty minutes positively freaking out at he fact that I was in the same room as the fictional ship I had loved my whole life.

The Red Dwarf logo was displayed proudly on an array of screens above our heads and in front of us, dozens of crew members were milling about getting everything ready and the atmosphere was buzzing. The set next to the bunk scene was the drive room and right at the far end I could make out some of the third set but I’m afraid that I can’t reveal anything about that one so you’ll have to wait and see! We were told by the warm-up announcer that the episode we were about to watch being filmed would be the longest shoot yet and that we would be there for around three hours with no interval and that if we needed the toilet we had to be escorted there and back, which was actually less disastrous than you would think.

We were also told that some of the footage, filmed on location and at an earlier date, would be shown via the VT screens so that we could follow the story.

The Waiting Area Before Taping

We could also watch the filming via the screen too, which was interesting as they filmed different angles of the same shot and we got to see how it was going to look, more or less. It was also very useful because, and this is something that I didn’t account for, once all of the necessary crew members are in place in front of the sets, you can see little other than the actors’ heads or them entering/leaving the room. But the magic was still there!

There were several takes of each scene and we laughed each time the cast performed them. Not just for the benefit of the laughter track, but because the dialogue so deserved it!

There were Smeg Ups aplenty, with Danny (John-Jules, Cat) making several in his opening speech in the very first scene, much to the amusement of both cast and audience. But they seemed to get fewer and farther between as the night went on.

The supporting cast were great as well and the Red Dwarf crew met someone quite significant during the episode but, again, I cannot say more than that. As the filming came to a close, we were shown the final couple of minutes on the screens and the theme music wrapped up the night.

The curtain call was met with cheers and applause from an appreciative audience, before we left our seats, called a taxi and grinned the entire journey home.


Ruth Wheeler is the author of such science fiction books as All Aliens Like Burgers, Do Aliens Read Sci-Fi and the Truxxe Trilo Trilogy for Hirst Books.

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