It was the series the cast nicknamed Red Dwarf VII - The Search For Red Dwarf VI. It was also the series that gave Janet Street Porter something to think about. At the time still involved with the BBC, Janet took one look at the Gunmen script and said it was impossible to shoot... only for someone to inform her that they already shot it a week ago.
The speedy production for Red Dwarf VI made for hard times - not least for the actors who had to make use of cue cards and autocue because of the late arrival of scripts. At one point, the middle ten pages or so of a script arrived on-set without beginning or end!
New producer Justin Judd was brought on board following last season's difficulties, and Andy DeEmmony - who had worked on Spitting Image with Rob and Doug - was more prepared for the effects demands of the show. (Though not, perhaps, for the months of editing the series required!) Entertainer Andy Bull warmed the audience up with juggling and unicycling - his style was selected to deliberately differ from the show's own.
Of course, as the show was cut to fit the allocated time-slot, some sequences were consigned to the archives. The saddest losses this series came from Emohawk. Rimmer's opinion on hair-length and war-victors was severely truncated, but the best unseen moment showed Ace and Duane in the airlock. Ace is all set to break the hapless doofus' neck when he begins talking about chat-up technique (is it normal to impress women with your yo-yo skills?) and Ace is incapable of doing the job - it'd be like killing Bambi! The scene was found to be unusable in the edit, and then - too late to make the change - it was discovered that the very first take was usable after all!
Budgetary constraints meant that Rimmerworld was simplified. The episode was a direct sequel to Gunmen - although it was recorded before it. Simplicity also demanded that no additional cast were present for the Psirens live audience day - and note how, at the end of the episode, Lister covers his mug to hide the fact that it's empty, something that was too obvious on the first take and had to be reshot.
In fact, Rimmerworld itself was to lose a small portion of material to set up the season finalé. The final gag - where the future Rimmer teases the past Lister about what horrible thing has happened to him - was to be rounded off by the discovery that Lister has, in fact, simply been on the toilet. Instead, the episode order was shuffled and the last moments removed to lead into Lister's fate in Out of Time. (This was also helped by Lister's line where he says that they attacked the simulant ship "a couple of weeks back" - which simply implied that, for these episodes, it had been the same amount of time for the viewers as the characters.)
Psirens' studio recording ended with the cast miming to Bohemian Rhapsody for a Comic Relief special. Having extracted Kryten from his 'cube', the dreaded gaffer-tape struck and Robert lost his prosthetic nose! The gap was swiftly filled with red make-up in-keeping with the event.
Location shooting can be a risky business too, and - having fallen into a lake during the previous season's pre-recording sessions - lighting director John Pomphrey found that some wag had provided a life-jacket just for him this year! The recording in the Kinitawowi village was done - in a rare but necessary break from the norm - in between studio days; and it was very much Craig Charles' day, one way and another.
The actor lit the cigar before he gave it to the chief, only to lose it down his overalls and risk some serious singing. Later, he decided to discuss the coming wedding scene with his GELF bride only to discover he was talking to the wrong warty yeti look-alike. (The bouquet, incidentally, landed on Kryten's head on take one.) Still, Craig did have the odd moment of inspiration, and his improvised line of "cat, get the case man" stayed in - the idea of the Cat struggling with this massive case being too funny to abandon.
In fact, the climax to the series, had it all gone to plan, was to have been another improvised moment. The crew were to toast the future around the scanner table in triumph at having defeated their future selves, but the cast suggested that they'd like to finish on a joke. The idea that they were actually drinking urine re-cyc was mooted, and the make-up department hurriedly came up with four foam moustaches (a reference to an earlier joke). The shot scene was eventually excised in favour of the cliffhanger ending.
The script for Out of Time was completed barely in time for the studio recording. Because of this, it had to feature no location work and as uncomplicated special effects as possible - plus, if possible, no additional cast. Craig's increasing concern that his character might die led the writers to tease him with the script's title - RIP Dave Lister. The character's brain was originally written to be housed at the top of a 3-foot robot, but with no time to create the effect, the brain was eventually housed in a simple jar.
Warm up was provided by all round entertainer Andy Bull. The laughter so warmly cultivated actually managed to drown Lister's "without a bag?" line in the pre-recorded moments of Emohawk. Similar audience reaction - in this case a massive round of applause - had to be truncated for the reappearance of Duane Dibbley, and removed entirely for Ace Rimmer's return.