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The Red Dwarf Phenomenon
On British TV...
RED DWARF continues as BBC2's longest running and highest rating sitcom, with eight series - a total of 52 episodes - to its credit, plus a number of specials. It was BBC2's top rated show for 1997 and even third or fourth repeats consistently feature in the channel's top 20, with episodes of Series VIII attracting accumulative audiences in excess of 8 million on first transmission. The Star Wars spoof trailer for the series was broadcast in allocated time-slots on BBC2 to great anticipation and acclaim, and also received tens of thousands of hits on the RED DWARF website.
BBC2 screened the first six series over a twelve month period and every episode netted one of the top three positions on BBC2 in the weekly viewing figures charts (BARB). The first three seasons were also broadcast in their digitally remastered format, with brand new effects and enhanced quality sound and picture. UK Gold has repurchased all 52 shows.
The series has won numerous awards around the world for both TV and video, including an International EMMY Award in the Popular Arts category as well as a British Comedy Award for Best BBC Sitcom. RED DWARF has been voted by NME readers as their favourite TV series, and in the TGI Pilot Survey RED DWARF was 11-14 and 15-19 year olds' first choice. It also topped the poles in The Media Guardian's survey, appearing in the 12 year old and 15 year old charts, and taking first position in the 18 year old chart.
Recent audience composition figures show that RED DWARF appeals to all ages and the split between male and female fans to be 50/50. 40% of viewers are aged between 4-24, 40% are aged between 25-44, and the remaining 20% even include a number of people over 65 (Source: BARB).
Red Dwarf Night, a four hour special shown on BBC2, was broadcast to celebrate the show's 10th Anniversary on 14th February 1998. Amongst other things, the night - hosted by Star Trek's Patrick Stewart - included cookery show spoof Can't Smeg Won't Smeg, Universe Challenge pitting the cast against the fans and the A-Z of Red Dwarf featuring such celebrity fans as Stephen Hawking and Terry Pratchett.
The popularity of RED DWARF re-runs continues with showings on satellite and cable. BBC2 continue to place the shows within its evening line-up - early 2003 repeats are still outperforming expecting ratings for the time slot.
Grant Naylor Productions...
Grant Naylor's other productions include I-Camcorder for Channel 4, and two series of award-winning sitcom The10%ers for ITV. Currently piloting is a brand new animated series - Tales from the Weird City - written by Doug Naylor and Rob Grant.
On International TV...
RED DWARF has proven to be a massive international hit, not least in the USA where episodes have been broadcast in 48 states and it is currently available in 64% of US households. BBC America rounded off the year 2000 with a massive three day marathon of every RED DWARF episode and continued to show it weekly throughout 2001, while successful runs continue on PBS. Numerous TV promotions have been recorded for many of these PBS stations using the cast of RED DWARF, who have also appeared in many of their pledge drives. The filming of 3 pledge specials from the RED DWARF film set are currently planned for 2003.
BBC America recently ran promotions for the show on its website, www.bbcamerica.com. The number of players of a game to win a costume from the show hit an all time web-ratings high for the site and the votes in their RED DWARF poll more than doubled their average response.
After appearing in Australia on ABC, the show is now seen on UK-TV, where constant weekly screenings haven't changed the massive pull of their RED DWARF marathons. A non-stop run of all 52 episodes for New Year 2001 attracted more than double the normal figures for the station.
You might also have caught RED DWARF on TV in (in alphabetical order) Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Eire, France, Holland, Hong Kong, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Thailand and Yugoslavia. The show is currently being dubbed into Spanish and Portugese and has already been dubbed into Japanese.
BBC Worldwide began releasing every series individually from November 2002 across the UK, USA and Australia - starting with Series I and II in their hotly-demanded original, unremastered form. Each series comes as a two-disc set, with six episodes, plus commentaries, on disc one, and a bonus disc with over 90 minutes of extras - including deleted scenes, outtakes, documentaries and trailers.
Series I sold over 100,000 copies in its first three months in the UK alone, and sales for Series II out-performed even that, shifting 36,000 copies in its first week. In Australia, the launch was coupled with a cinema screenings in both Sydney and Melbourne, the first month's sales of Series I made RED DWARF ABC's top-seller for December 2002.
Japan will have released all 52 episodes on both 'vanilla' DVD and VHS by March 2003. Pre-sales of the Series I to IV boxed set exceeded the initial run of 3,500, immediately causing a second run to begin even before the release date. Within 10 days, over 5,000 boxed sets had been sold (approx. £85 per set). Versions of the extras-laden UK DVDs also have a planned Japan release.
Every series of RED DWARF has been available on video, with worldwide sales of over three and a half million units. The release of series VIII featured out-takes - for which the show has become infamous! - as well as the popular spoof Star Wars trailer. All titles feature in the Gallup Top 125 Best Sellers and the Series I tapes hold 3rd and 4th position in the BBC's own all time best selling title list, and all of the videos have featured in their top 100.
Smeg Outs, the out-takes sequel to the hugely successful Smeg Ups (which has sold over 300,000) was released in November 1995 selling 125,000 units within 6 weeks. The RED DWARF Videos have also won 8 Gold Awards from the British Video Association.
Christmas 1998 saw the release of RED DWARF Series I-III Remastered as a dedicated boxed set - with the box artwork created from original paintings - and also the release of a compilation box of the Smeg Ups and Smeg Outs tapes. Red Dwarf Xtended - a video of three episodes from Series VII with over 25 minutes of previously unseen material and over 50 new smeg-ups - was released for Christmas 1997.
This followed the compilation tape "Six of the Best" , which was released in the Spring of '97 and included the creators' six favourite episodes plus a free audio CD containing interviews with series creators and writers Doug Naylor & Rob Grant and director Ed Bye.
On the Internet...
www.reddwarf.co.uk & www.reddwarf.com
RED DWARF went interactive in November 2000 with a brand new website which includes: a constantly updated news section, the latest information on the RED DWARF movie, celebrity interviews from the world of TV and film science fiction (as well as those involved with RED DWARF itself), and a host of information about all the elements surrounding the show and its personalities.
Voted sixth in Practical Internet magazine's top ten comedy websites (July 2003), the site has already featured exclusive conceptual artwork by Gladiator storyboard artist Sylvain Despretz, as well as a sexy photo shoot featuring Kochanski actress Chloë Annett. Outside of the gallery, fans have the chance to play a Flash game based on the Polymorph episode from season III, plus merchandise offers, competitions and message boards. The site is updated weekly, which will increase to daily as the movie production schedule rolls out.
reddwarf.co.uk takes over a million page requests in a month, with monthly user hits topping 200,000. Every week, over 40,000 fans visit the site, and we have over 50,000 registered users, with more registering every day. The massively popular webboard and chatroom serves some 4,500 users, with around 200 messages posted daily. These numbers are set to increase as the movie goes into production, and we plan to post a virtual 'Making Of' on the site. Negotiations are currently underway for a Japanese online shop following the success of the UK, Australia and USA counterparts.
RED DWARF has spawned a huge range of merchandise, which is available from a variety of outlets, as well as the Red Dwarf online shops. A full range will also be available shortly from the RED DWARF online shop at reddwarf.co.uk. Details of shop updates will be posted on the site in the Hot News Section.
America's own shop can also be found via the official site. A wide range of products are available, many exclusive to the American market.
ABC Australia also produces a range of RED DWARF merchandise, which is proving enormously popular, and new items are constantly being developed to meet the ever-growing demand.
At The Movies...
For fifteen years, the award-winning crew of RED DWARF have been cruising the universe and creating a genuine sci-fi phenomenon. In 2004, they will finally be going where they have never been before. Featuring the original cast of the smash-hit series, RED DWARF - THE MOVIE will burst onto cinema screens worldwide with a brand new mix of comedy, science fiction and action from co-creator and writer-director Doug Naylor.
High-profile guest stars are already being mooted for the film, which turns cliché on its head - this is a chance to play Hollywood at its own game. A film that lets the British guys be the heroes, rather than the villains.
Autumn 2003 will see the commencement of pre-production, with location and studio shooting taking place in the autumn. The premiere is intended for the last quarter of 2004, with the film enjoying international distribution. Publicity and tie-in merchandise is already in development in all territories, including in-depth book and video versions of 'The Making of Red Dwarf - The Movie'.
RED DWARF has so to its credit four best-selling novels, selling over two million copies. Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers and Better Than Life - also published as an Omnibus (all by Penguin) - were written by Grant Naylor, the collective name for the creators of RED DWARF. The third novel, Last Human, was written by Doug Naylor and reached number two in the Sunday Times Best Sellers list. The fourth novel, Backwards, was written by Rob Grant.
Last Human has been released as an audio book (by Harper & Collins) with Craig "Lister" Charles as narrator and charting in both the UK pop charts as well as the Music Week Spoken Word Chart at No.2 with sales over 15,000. The audio books of Infinity and Better Than Life were read by Rimmer actor Chris Barrie. The former won a Gold Disc for Best Spoken Word Recording and has consistently appeared in the top ten of the Spoken Word charts since its release in Spring '93, with the latter charting at number 4. Both were also adapted for radio and re-released in an abridged form complete with special sound effects (by Laughing Stock). Backwards has also been released as an audio book read by its author, Rob Grant.
Four RED DWARF script books have been published, with November 1999 seeing the publication of the Red Dwarf VIII Script Book with over 200 full colour photographs and a foreword and episode introductions by Doug Naylor (Virgin). Primordial Soup and its sequel Son of Soup each contain six of the 'least worst' episode scripts from the first six seasons, while Scenes from the Dwarf features previously unpublished scenes, containing material that was never broadcast (all three by Penguin).
The TV series has also generated a number of spin-off books. Both The Man In the Rubber Mask (Penguin) - by Kryten actor Robert Llewellyn - and The Making of Red Dwarf have offered glimpses behind the scenes of the show. The Red Dwarf Diary 1996 sold over 120,000 copies, and was followed by The Red Dwarf Survival Guide (Heinemann) as well as two Red Dwarf Quiz Books. (Penguin)
The Red Dwarf Programme Guide (Virgin) has been consistently updated following each new series - and both it and The Official Red Dwarf Companion (Titan) have featured in their respective "best seller" charts.
The Official Red Dwarf Fan Club
The official fan club - owned and run by the fans - has thousands of members world-wide. Branches exist in the UK, America and Australia, providing members with four issues of 'BTL' magazine a year. The club also organises the RED DWARF weekend - 'Dimension Jump' - which regularly features guests from the show who get to meet the hundreds of attending fans. Details can be obtained from the Officers' Club deck on www.reddwarf.co.uk