Red Dwarf: Series VII
Red Dwarf Series VI wrapped in March 1993.
Red Dwarf Series VII would not start shooting until May 1996.
During pre-production on the first series of ITV sitcom The 10%ers, writers Rob Grant and Doug Naylor came to a parting of the ways. Series VI's Out Of Time proved to be their Red Dwarf swansong.
At the same time, Chris Barrie had expressed serious concerns about reprising his Rimmer role. Production problems on the last two series, the technical difficulties inherent in shooting the show, plus his success with The Brittas Empire on BBC1, made returning to Red Dwarf less enticing than it had once been.
After much soul-searching, Doug Naylor - spurred on by the promise at the end of VI that the show was 'to be continued' - elected to push ahead with a seventh series.
Enticing original series director Ed Bye back was no problem. Ed had never wanted to leave - his lack of involvement for the last two series was down to nothing more than conflicting schedules. And, with a director so beloved by the cast back on board, Chris was persuaded to do a few week's filming to bid his character a proper farewell.
Ed also had fresh ideas about how the show should be filmed. With the effects as demanding as ever, it was decided to shoot without a studio audience. A handy by-product of this would be the opportunity to shoot scenes single camera, lighting each shot individually, as on a feature film.
(In the end, many scenes would be filmed multi-camera as before - but even these had their own, individual set-up periods, distinguishing their look from the 'all-in-one-night' traditions of sitcom filming.)
Things were slowly coming together, despite the body-blows the series had taken. But questions still remained. Who would fill the space left by Rimmer? And would other co-writers help ease the burden on Doug, who had to produce two more episodes than usual, on his own?
When the series began screening on BBC2 in January 1997, those questions would be answered.
Recorded between May and August, 1996, the taped episodes were shown to audiences in October, 1996.