Rob and Doug's Lost Episode - by Andrew Ellard
23 February, 2007
Imagine, if you will, a scene not unlike something from Indiana Jones, as Grant Naylor personnel take their torches to the dark recesses of the store rooms and vaults. Cobwebs are swept aside as light finds a small pile of papers...
The pages in question turned out to be the lost and untitled 'second episode' of Red Dwarf. Around the office it became known as Bodysnatcher, for reasons that will become apparent, and the title just kinda stuck.
This is one of the scripts that was shown around during the lengthy commissioning and casting stages. It's the script that, allegedly, Alan Rickman and/or Alfred Molina really went for. It's the original source of Cat's line "I've eaten five times, I've slept six times and I've made a lot of things mine. Tomorrow I'm gonna see if I can't have sex with something." The very line that really grabbed Peter Ridsdale-Scott's series-commissioning imagination.
It's also the script Rob and Doug elected to drop. As the show found its feet in the writing, this potential second episode was replaced with series-closer Me2.
Reading through Bodysnatcher now, it's clear how the writers' perspective on their own series changed. Cat's dialogue is never directed to another character - he talks strictly to himself. Rimmer and Lister are the show's entire focus, and Holly is still (mostly) a straight role. There are also a lot of concepts and gags that would later be utilised elsewhere.
But here's the problem: Bodysnatcher was incomplete. The episode kicks off with a flash-forward - Lister is about to commit suicide. What's driven him to this? It seems to be his bunkmate - and with mere minutes to go, just as the story climaxes with the suicide scene... the pages run out.
Rob didn't have them. Doug didn't have them. Nobody had them.
One email to Rob Grant later and Red Dwarf history was being made. He and Doug Naylor have collaborated on the episode to recreate its conclusion. The pair's second Dwarf script ever was begun in 1983, and has become the last episode they've completed - in 2007.
This rewrite also took on board years of experience, allowing for a gentle dialogue and pacing polish that retains everything we found in that dog-eared pile of papers, but buffs it to a shine.
It is, to put it mildly, a hugely exciting project. As with Series VII's Identity Within, the script will be performed by Chris Barrie and storyboarded by Neil Maguire - more on that another time.
But where 'IDW' was commissioned from an outside writer, Bodysnatcher is all Rob Grant and Doug Naylor. 100% brought to you by the original writers and creators.
It's hysterically funny. It's incredibly rare. And it's only available on one DVD boxset this year.
More DVD Details will follow soon...
Red Dwarf: Remastered is currently in production aiming for an Autumn release in the UK.