The Usual Suspects

Cast and Crew Interviews - by Andrew Ellard

11 March, 2005

Directing cast and crew interviews has become one of my favourite parts of DVD production. It's the most fun - and most exhausting - part of the process. I get to play with cameras and booms (and a crew!), and it gives us a chance to touch base with everyone, find out what they're up to.

We returned once again to Waterfall Studios in White City, mere seconds from BBC TV Centre, for three days of shooting in front of bluescreen. A highly caffeinated, clock-watching three days where, I'm proud to say, we only ever ended a day half an hour behind schedule - about as un-Dwarf like an experience as one can have!

Chris Barrie

Tuesday, March 1st kicked off in good style with Ed Bye. Ed's boundless enthusiasm made the Series III and IV documentaries a joy to edit, and thankfully he was still on form this time. Never has a man been so happy with what was, essentially, a rubber crocodile. He was followed by the delightful - and fairly delectable - Chris Barrie. What a gent that man is.

David Gillespie

Next up Series VIII guest - and Series I original - David "Selby" Gillespie, who, frankly, expected his character to be brought back a lot sooner than he was. David was followed by another Series returnee, Mac McDonald, in an interview so downright hilarious that we all had to fight to keep from laughing within earshot of the mike. I still have the teeth marks in my hand...

Mac McDonald

The day was rounded off by Chris Veale. Aside from repeatedly (and accidentally) describing Starbug as appearing on greenscreen - which really wouldn't have worked! - Chris gave his own perspective on the controversial Series VII effects, a key aspect of the documentary.

Robert Llewellyn and Craig Charles

Wednesday began with Robert Llewellyn, his effusive, informative and entertaining presence marred only slightly by his turning up in a blue shirt, which would have made his body disappear in front of the bluescreen. Robert was eventually dressed in a spare shirt, thereby forcing him to be filmed sporting someone else's fashion choice for an hour and a half. He coped admirably.

(A brief note here to point out that I did not wear the so-called 'lucky shirt' this time around - see previous reports - despite having used it for every DVD shoot up to this point. This was a mistake. At the start of day one, before we had shot a frame, we had already been the victim of equipment that wouldn't function, a VHS machine that chewed up our very first backup tape and a redhead lamp that exploded in my face! The shirt, brought along in case of emergency, was subsequently retrieved and placed on the back of my interview seat. It was plain sailing from that point on. Go figure.)

Robert was followed by the verbose Craig Charles who, riding high on the news that he is to join the cast of Coronation Street, had enough hair product in his pockets to render the New Forest glossy and manageable. Plus he said that I resembled Rob Grant... which might even have been a compliment.

Amid the constant in-and-out activity (no, not that kind), the various cast members were asked to sign some items for a forthcoming charity auction. It wasn't until the end of the day that I discovered my own copy of the Programme Guide had become caught up in the conveyor-belt process and was now signed in silver pen by Robert, Craig and Danny. Erm, thanks guys - but I was actually trying to keep it mint!

Howard Burden

Graham McTavish popped in before lunch and took the expected ribbing about those car ads, followed by Danny John-Jules, a man so chilled he could go into the industrial freezer business. They were followed by model-and-prop-maker Mike Tucker, costume designer Howard Burden, and Jo Bennett, Dwarf's production manager and the one woman who knows where all the bodies are buried. We duly provided the shovel.

Danny John-Jules

(We were running a tad behind by the time Jo's interview was scheduled to begin, and the poor woman might have been waiting around for a while had the M25 not seriously delayed her arrival. Some say it was coincidence, some that it was just bad road design. Me, I'm going with the lucky shirt, which I'm quite sure really caused the jam.)

Day three got, if I may say so, a little childish. Partly due to us all asking Gary "Epideme" Martin to do voices for our general entertainment, and partly because Chloë Annett had her gorgeous new baby in tow - the one and only thing guaranteed to make producer Helen Norman forget all about the budget and the schedule in favour of doing a little babysitting. Slotted between Gary and Chloë's slices of bread was the very grown-up filling of Norman Lovett - tasty!

Gary Martin

Bill Pearson arrived next - early, if you can believe it - to talk Starbug explosions and escape pods, but shortly after I had the chance to stare deep into the blue eyes of Nicky Leatherbarrow, who, let me tell you, looks a hell of a lot better when not under her Caroline Carmen make-up.

Nicky Leatherbarrow

The post-lunch pair at the end of our final day were Paul Alexander - who may qualify for some kind of 'nicest man on the planet' award, as well as talking an excellent game when it comes to the writing of Series VII and VIII - and Peter Tyler. Many fans may be aware that Pete found himself at the centre of much of the Series VII effects controversy, and his contribution will prove invaluable in getting a balanced version of the story.

Graham McTavish

Three long days - made all the longer by the uncomfortable stools both interviewer and interviewee had to perch upon - finally over, we grabbed up our tapes and headed back to Shepperton to begin the edit. Tapes are being loaded as I type, and we eagerly await Doug Naylor's return for his own interview, which promises to be a treat indeed.

There are, obviously, more names involved with Red Dwarf production than could ever be interviewed, but we were especially disappointed to miss out on director of photography Peter Morgan, Brian Cox and Sarah Alexander (who had work commitments and sent apologies) and guest actors such as Paul Bradley, Jake Wood and Ken Morley (who were approached, but to no avail). But even at this early stage we have more interviewees than ever before, and certainly some of the best backstage anecdotes to date. I can't wait to start cutting them together!

More DVD Details will follow soon...

Series VII is due for release in the UK in November '05, VIII in February '06. Series I-VI are out now and available from the Red Dwarf Shop.

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