With the return of Ed Bye, there was, perhaps for the first time, a clear sense of future direction for the Red Dwarf TV series - if two more seasons (both including eight episodes) were filmed, the magic number of 52 episodes would be reached. This would allow international sales to skyrocket - one episode a week for an entire year!
And with international recognition for the show would come the chance to do what had been suggested for so long: Red Dwarf - The Movie. Ever since turning down the chance in the beginning to do a movie with Film Four, the suggestion of a film had floated in the ether. With the American pilot gone the way of the crew of the Nova 5, there was a chance to do a British movie with the British cast!
The cinematic ambitions of the series became immediately evident when it was decided to remove the studio audience from the equation. The demands of the live performance had done little for the cast's nerves, and the effects that the show demanded were increasing every season to the point where almost half of series VI was pre-recorded.
Each week, an episode of Red Dwarf VII was recorded. Aside from inserts and location work, three studio days were set aside for each show, compared to the usual one day and one evening of previous years. The crew were able to rehearse-record as they went along, rather than planning out entire episodes of blocking (rehearsal of the scene's movements) in one go - a technique more akin to cinema than sit-com's theatrical origins.
While the multiple cameras remained for some sections - mostly those shot in the studio - a great deal of the series was filmed with a single camera. Demanding from a time point of view, it enabled lighting director Peter Morgan to set up each individual shot to look its best. Director Ed Bye had already shot shows such as The Detectives single camera, and on film.
A film effect was applied to Red Dwarf VII's footage (essentially removing half of the information, removing blur and enhancing colours at the cost of a slight pixelation of the image). The effect was so... well, effective, that a shot from Tikka to Ride that had been turned black and white was recoloured because it looked too much like genuine, pilfered footage.
Shooting on location for the Camelot scenes, the crew - including extras from a medieval recreation society - were drenched by the rotten English weather. While Ed Bye bravely soldiered on, the footage was unusable and eventually the entire shoot had to be remounted on another, sunnier day. Elsewhere on location, the production made use of the tank which had featured so heavily in GoldenEye for Beyond a Joke. (Though apparently 007 was not behind the wheel - the vehicle arrived late having been stuck in traffic!)
A sequence cut from the end of Epideme would have shown a very different ending from that which was eventually broadcast. Caroline Carmen's arm, used by Kochanski to trap the Epideme virus, was set to be incinerated, but instead was accidentally flushed out with the garbage. The final shot would have seen the dead arm being piloted through space by Epideme (who is still talking) and finally electing to head straight for the camera.
Less unhygienic than the parasitic virus - but still pretty unpleasant - was the culmination of three seasons-worth of on-set joking. With Chris getting the majority of the female action in series V, Craig's complaints for equality saw him getting snogs from a GELF and a psiren in VI. While the idea of a cyberspace couple kissing while inside Rimmer's and Lister's bodies had been previously considered, it had never been used. With a dream sequence from a Lister who was missing his hologram companion came the chance for the ultimate on-screen kiss. (Although the recorded version was considerably longer than that shown - a great disappointment for the two actors who had had to make out before a crew of friends and colleagues!)
The final edits of series VII heralded some interesting changes in other areas as well. Tikka and Stoke both featured teaser sequences (the former to show the crew alive and well following the previous season, the latter to play up the Bond spoof style, and also just to allow the audience to catch their breath following such an all-out action sequence.)
For the first time a series of Red Dwarf was shown with on-screen numerals, but even more surprising was the lack of opening titles for Ouroboros and Duct Soup. The length of the episodes had already forced both to be seriously cut down (footage which would be reinstated for the X-tended edition), and it was decided that it was easier to lose the opening montage rather than remove any more scenes.