ARISE KING OF SMEG
Doug Naylor, co-creator, Executive Producer and King Smeghead of the hit BBC comedy series Red Dwarf, warped his way down to beeb on Monday, 16 February to answer questions about where to find a good vindaloo.
Doug Naylor is 50 per cent of the gestalt entity known as Grant Naylor which created and wrote the Emmy-award winning series Red Dwarf. Along with his former space cadet, Rob Grant, he was also head writer for the satirical puppet show Spitting Image in the mid-eighties, and much to his embarrassment co-wrote The Chicken Song which earned him and Rob a silver disc! After such auspicious success they went on to co-create Red Dwarf - they wrote the first six series comprising of 36 episodes together, produced the last four of those together and directed several episodes. British television has never been the same again!
Born in Manchester, Doug Naylor was educated at Chetham's Hospital School of Music, where he learnt to play Three Blind Mice on the recorder. Thrown out of Liverpool University in the mid-seventies for drinking too slowly, he became a prawn-and-cockle salesman for 12 months until he could afford to get a dead-end job and concentrate on writing. He openly acknowledges that the idea for Red Dwarf was in part inspired by John Carpenter's satiric, spaced-out comedy Dark Star, and an inability to say no to any offers of work in fear of never being asked to write something again. He has since learnt how to say no!
Since our inept crew first careered headlong into the cosmos in February 1988, the growing legion of Dwarfers, now celebrating the 10th anniversary of the series, have never had it so good. Recently an entire night was dedicated to Red Dwarf! Series VIII is scheduled to hit our screens in the autumn, and, most exciting of all, a big screen version is planned for next year. For a TV show derived from an idea for a radio sketch, Red Dwarf shows no sign of vanishing into the vortex for a long while yet.
Read on below for the inside story on ten years of Dwarfing across the universe ...
beeb: "Welcome to Oi! Live Chat! Our guest today is King Smeghead, Doug Naylor. He is sitting here just waiting to answer your questions. And the first one is coming through now..."
Craig asks: "Where did you get the idea of Red Dwarf from?"
Doug Naylor: "It came from a radio show called Son of Cliche in a sketch which was called Dave Hollins Space Cadet."
Ripley asks: "Would you describe Red Dwarf as a comedy sit-com, comedy SF series or SF parody?"
Doug Naylor: "It's elements of all three."
Andrew Guest asks: "Are there any other TV shows that influenced the way you wrote Red Dwarf?"
Doug Naylor: "Porridge, Steptoe and Son, The Likely Lads, Fawlty Towers, Woody Allen, Dark Star. There were lots of influences, not all from TV."
Andrew Guest asks: "Why did you decide to write a sci-fi comedy when this hadn't been done before and therefore had not been proven successful?"
Doug Naylor: "Because it hadn't been done before! And it hadn't been proven successful! So Rob and I thought it was a dead cert to be a hit, providing there was some SF in it or some real SF in it actually."
Neil Burton asks: "Do you consider Red Dwarf to be a competitor to Star Trek and Babylon-5 on the TV sci-fi platter, and are comparisons fair or productive?"
Doug Naylor: "Um, no I don't think we're competitors. In fact, I feel a great affinity with those shows because it's so hard to sell science fiction to network television. I feel we are all on the same side."
Miff asks: "Looking back at the ten year run of Red Dwarf is there anything you regret, whether it be story lines or cast/characters?"
Doug Naylor: "We haven't got time tonight to list all my regrets about Red Dwarf... Obviously if I could change anything it would be to persuade Rob to come back - but I've tried that several times involving reservoirs of lager and he's made it very clear he wants to do his own thing now which is a great shame."
Raz asks: "How easy was it to adjust to writing without Rob Grant?"
Doug Naylor: "It was hard. My entire writing career up to that point had been spent with Rob. All scripts had been talked through down to the smallest detail so being in a room on my own was a huge change from that. Also it was something I never believed was a good idea. Rob wanted to write on his own as early as 1987, in fact the first time he decided to split was after we had rehearsed the first series of Red Dwarf but the electricians' strike had made it impossible for us to shoot. I remember spending the best part of a whole summer saying he was totally insane wanting to leave the series at this point because it had every chance of being a big hit."
Miff asks: "Do you plan to write any more novels, and will Rob ever return to Red Dwarf... Man, two questions in one!! Can you handle it?!"
Doug Naylor: "It would be great to think that one day he would... But if you're asking me my opinion I would say that there is absolutely no chance at all. Which is very sad."
Laurie asks: "Were you surprised by the popularity of the series? Knowing that traditionally sci-fi sit-coms are a no-no."
Doug Naylor: "I always expected the series to be a huge hit and I told everyone who would listen how massive it was going to be. However, my idea of massive was maybe three series with decent viewing figures and a cult following - nothing like what the thing has turned into now."
Craig asks: "Are the characters in Red Dwarf linked to anyone in real life?"
Doug Naylor: "Lister and Rimmer were both different aspects of Rob and I. Lister was the slobbiest part of us and Rimmer the anal-retentive part. The Cat was loosely based on his brother. Holly was a parody of Hal except a Hal with no brains. I'm not sure what Kryten was based on, I'm not sure what the starting point was."
MrShearer asks: "How long does it take to write an episode?"
Doug Naylor: "Ah, the $64 000 question! There's no finite answer... Some episodes have taken six weeks and some have taken six days and some of the ones that have taken six days have been better than the ones that have taken six weeks."
Memox asks: "What is your favourite episode?"
Doug Naylor: "I don't have a single favourite episode. I like Back to Reality. But as a pure comedy episode I think the remastered version of Polymorph is very strong."
Dani asks: "Mr. Naylor, why did you choose to re-master the older series of Red Dwarf?"
Doug Naylor:(thinking...) "Because we can! If someone gave me the opportunity to remaster the remastered versions of Red Dwarf! I would if I believed I could make them significantly better... The remastered versions are better than the originals, they look better, they sound better, they're better. Of course some fans will think it's heresy or sacrilege to change anything. But hey, you have those original shows, you've seen them about a gazillion times! The remastered versions give us the opportunity to fix some of the things that we weren't able to fix because we ran out of time and money, or couldn't afford in the first place."
Rimmette asks: "Is the remastering really worth it? Aren't you messing up excellent episodes just to cater to a different audience?"
Doug Naylor: "Messing up? Mmmm... Compare the sound - one has movie special effects and the original sounds like it's been recorded on a wobbly wooden sound stage."
Pike asks: "Which was the original ending for Series VI?"
Doug Naylor: "It's on the Smegouts video, with them all drinking chilled urine re-cyc."
SarahBellum asks: "Why in the remastered The End did Rimmer crash into something after running through the Cat when he's a hologram?"
Doug Naylor: "I was waiting for that question! It is the sound that his light-b makes when it collides with a solid object and not some gratuitous sound effect added by Ed Bye when my back was turned to get a cheap laugh!"
Avrolanc asks: "What exactly does Smeg mean?"
Doug Naylor: "I think it's Latin for clean, also there's an Italian Washing Machine Company called Smeg. Also each of the letters S-M-E-G stand for smelting metal and something to do with the washing machine process."
Vicky asks: "Why does Kryten's head look like someone dropped an anvil on it?"
Doug Naylor: "(laughing) Ask Robert Llewellyn's parents, it's his head in there and the rubber is only a reflection of what's inside."
Twilight Zone asks: "What do you attribute to the failure of the American version of Red Dwarf? Would you be open to giving it another shot?"
Doug Naylor: "Sometimes whether a series is a success or not is down to luck. The American series had no luck. Also I think it should have been cast differently, especially the Lister and Rimmer parts. Although both were fine actors, they weren't right for our characters. As for making an American series in the future, why bother? There's a pretty good British one the Americans can watch. Gone are the days when they can't understand the English accent."
Ollie asks: "Is there going to be a film of Red Dwarf? If so will it have Rimmer?"
Doug Naylor: "Why wouldn't it have Rimmer? Rimmer is in Series VIII, all eight shows. Yes it will have Rimmer."
Kostas Spilotis asks: "Will you be using the same cast of actors from the TV series to play in the movie and what movie company is going to produce the movie with you?"
Doug Naylor: "We will have the British cast. The movie will be produced by the same company that makes the TV series."
Smegbrain asks: "What type of storyline do you intend the movie to follow?"
Doug Naylor: "You think I'd tell you?"
Polymorph asks: "Is there any chance I could be an extra in the film? If so, how do I go about it?"
Doug Naylor: "Write to the production company and ask, I guess."
Dani asks: "Do you have a planned release date for the film?"
Doug Naylor: "2001."
Paul Barrett asks: "Is the Red Dwarf movie going to be a remake of the first series or a continuation from series VIII?"
Doug Naylor: "I don't know."
Memox asks: "Do you fancy Chloe Annett?"
Doug Naylor: "Of course! I'm sane, I'm male, I'm alive..."
SeDi asks: "Any famous actors you'd like to see making guest appearances in future Dwarfs?"
Doug Naylor: "I'd love to get Patrick Stewart. And Professor Stephen Hawking has said he'd love to be a guest and apparently he's promised to think of some ideas for the new series."
Chief Jawa asks: "Bottom has been successful as a Live stage show, any plans for a Red Dwarf one?"
Doug Naylor: "The problem is who would write it and when. Rob, at one point said he would think about doing one, but so far nothing has happened. And I really feel the material should be mostly new, well at least 75 per cent, okay 50 per cent new - so that would be quite a lot of writing."
Shadow asks: "Will Rob Grant be working on the movie?"
Doug Naylor: "My opinion is he will not want to be involved, again it would be great if he was but I would almost guarantee that he won't want to be involved."
Sara asks: "Will any famous fans of the show have cameos in the movie?"
Doug Naylor: "Haven't really thought about it. It's quite possible."
Hello Doug asks: "Doug, when will Red Dwarf VIII come on telly?"
Doug Naylor: "We're desperately trying to get it ready for the end of this year."
Marty asks: "Will you be using CG for the ships in the new series or will you revert back to old-fashioned models?"
Doug Naylor: "A combination."
omlet asks: "Who's playing Holly in Series VIII? Norman Lovett, yeah?"
Doug Naylor: "Norman Lovett is back in Series VIII."
Stimp asks: "Are there going to be any new Red Dwarf books out soon?"
Doug Naylor: "Yes there is going to be a big, bumper, glossy, gorgeous sort of coffee-table book covering everything from everything to everything ... out in about 12 months."
TheAlmighty asks: "Is the next series of Red Dwarf going to be filmed in front of a studio audience?"
Doug Naylor: "Yes."
Russ asks: "What do you consider to be the best smeg-up in the seven series?"
Doug Naylor: "Oh yes, I love the one in the passageway when Lister knocks on the wooden set."
Judas asks: "Will we see a sequel to Gunmen of the Apocalypse?"
Doug Naylor: "It's possible, but there are no plans for it."
Ace Rimmer asks: "Will you be making a cameo in one of the series or the films?"
Doug Naylor: "No, too ugly!!"
CPWHJW asks: "How do we get tickets for the filming of Red Dwarf VIII?"
Doug Naylor: "You write to Grant Naylor Productions."
Miff asks: "Have you written any of Red Dwarf VIII yet?"
Doug Naylor: "Yes."
guest559 asks: "Is Kochanski going to leave in Series VIII?"
Doug Naylor: "No."
Matman asks: "Has a set ever fallen down and made you wish that you had rather written a programme about gardening?"
Doug Naylor: "If you mean that everything's gone wrong...mmm? Everything always goes wrong on Red Dwarf because we're trying to make a 30 minute feature film with a sitcom budget. Take for example the CGI shots of Starbug that we used in the last series, they were used because the model shots of Starbug hadn't come out as well as everyone had hoped. And unfortunately in many places didn't tell the story that they had to tell. So we used Chris Veal's version of Starbug. They were done at incredible speed, for £4000 for everything."
paulo asks: "Can you see Red Dwarf going for another 10 years? When would you give it up?"
Doug Naylor: "In terms of writing scripts this is going to be my last season. After that it will be the film and new projects. I'm trying to put together a team of writers who will then write future series of Red Dwarf. The BBC would like a series of eight delivered once every 18 months from now until 2020."
Rameses asks: "Have you ever considered doing another sit-com different
from Red Dwarf?"
Doug Naylor: "Ah, not recently, no. I don't want to do any more sit-coms. I
don't really consider Red Dwarf to be a sit-com."
Luke asks: "If you were the last human how would you keep yourself
Doug Naylor: "Playing golf."
acerimmer asks: "What will happen to Red Dwarf? Will it have the ending
from Last Human?"
Doug Naylor: "No."
Cactus asks: "What is the worst thing that
has ever gone wrong during filming?"
Doug Naylor: "There are so many
incidents... Lack of scripts is usually a
consistent problem and also machines
not doing what they're supposed to do.
There are lots of things."
Scutter asks: "Which character do you now have the most affinity with?"
Doug Naylor: "Hmm...I have an affinity with all the characters
because there's a part of all of them that is me, or a part of me."
Tinky Winky asks: "Any plans for Lister's appendix to come out a third
Doug Naylor: "(laughing) You never know. With the continuity
checkers on this show anything is possible!!"
flibble asks: "Are you going to be Online again?"
Doug Naylor: "I'd love to be if I'm invited
Mons asks: "Do you realise that you're
Doug Naylor: "I didn't, no."
Bulldog asks: "What's your favourite curry?"
Doug Naylor: "A Chicken Resala Special."
Mons asks: "Why did you choose Gazpacho Soup, is it a particular
favourite of yours ?"
Doug Naylor: "No it isn't something I personally like, I think it should
be hot. We just thought it was a faux pas that anyone who wasn't
familiar with that particular soup could make. That's why we used
beeb: "Sadly, we have run out of time! Sorry to all of you smegheads who
have posted brilliant Red Dwarf questions - we just didn't have time to get
round to all of them.
Doug Naylor: "Is that it? I can't believe
nobody has asked why the time drive was
able to move them in time and space in
Tikka to Ride. I've got the answer all
neatly typed out in front of me and
nobody wanted to know. It wasn't a
continuity error, it all made perfect
sense...Oh! We've run out of time. I
promise you it's written in front of me! Part of the sentence mentions
Louis XVI and Hitler, it's here!!! Something about its proper housing.
It's so frustrating! I really wanted to put that one to bed tonight. Oh
well, I've got to go... Goodnight!"
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