Dimension Jump XIII

Saturday Afternoon

That Norman Lovett. What presence, what charisma. No two cast members have quite the same effect on an audience, and Norman's effect is born from years of in-close stand-up - you feel like it's just you guys, down the pub. Moaning.

"Nothing's important really," he begins. "We're just a little dot in life." And so the tone was set.

With no patience for yelling fans - "Last thing I need is a heckler in the middle of the bloody day" - he moved on. Vaguely. "Is this a question and answer session? I'll do the Shakira dance." Apparently Norm's hips don't lie.

An early question came with a reminder that the fan had met Mr Lovett before. Does he remember? "Sorry, I have a problem remembering everybody I've ever met." The explanation of when and where - something about a raffle Norman didn't do - lost just about everyone, including our star. "Oh - you're not talking about an episode of Red Dwarf!"

Covering the daft idea that Holly might have had an electronic, Dalek-sounding voice - and that crazy Davros internet rumour ("In my mind, I was going 'Perhaps I am [playing Davros]'... No, the BBC would have let me know.") - Norman moved onto some other roles, getting accidental laugh when he described a part in The Bill. "I played a fence." Oh, and he was apparently passed over for one reality TV gig in favour of Mike Reid.

Despite the laid-back persona, the Norman does, apparently, have a temper. Not that he's ashamed of it. "Letting it out is good... as long as you don't kill anybody." He's also got a bigger IQ than Holly. "I'm not totally dumb. I don't know the figure. 123, something like that."

He stated some admiration for comedian Rik Mayall, "I'm talking about him like he's dead. He's not dead - I saw him two weeks ago." Though apparently Mayall failed to recognise him. "He had had a serious accident, so I'm putting it down to that."

One questioner somehow got Norm into a discussion about coffee. Was it good? Where did she get it? "If it was just you and me... we could carry this on later. We could meet for a cappuccino." Mind you, the conversation did go on a bit, turning into a fan's life story, and pretty soon the man himself was feeling excluded. "That's enough. You're starting to make me feel insignificant."

There was a run-down of the music Norman has in his car, too - Kate Bush, Gwen Stefani, Sugarbabes... ("I like a lot of female vocalists. Not in a perv way.") Then it was on to new projects. "I've just done a 20 minute pilot with Bill Bailey and the BBC wouldn't take it because it was 'too wholesome'."

Making shadow puppets on the projection screen amused for a while, after which there were musings on his planned outfit for the evening. Maybe bootcut jeans... Oh, and, "I might do something with my hair." Ahem.

On the subject of being funny, Norman professed some admiration for Bill Bailey, Harry Hill and Dylan Moran, as well as Jimmy Carr, whom he has traded insults with on stage. "He can take a joke. Take it and dish it out. I like that." But admitted that his family weren't always that impressed with his own talents. "I have to be good at home, because they're sick of me."

Still, the misery is all part of the man. On the subject of TV show Grumpy Old Men, Norman was unimpressed at the casting choices. "If I'd had an agent I'd've been on that. There's a few people on it - they don't know what f*****g grumpy is."

And so, briefly signing the big DJ banner - "Danny's put 'Yo!'. I'll put 'Oh'." - the grumpiest man in Peterborough, at least that weekend, left the stage. Presumably to change into some tighter trousers.

Lock up your explosives, and your daughters, as the final guests of the day take to the floor. It's the FX Boyz - as they'd probably hate to be called - Alan Brannon, Peter Tyler and Alan "Rocky" Marshall.

After last year's Hawaiian-shirt-clad appearance, Alan and Peter had dragged Rocky along promising him fun and frolics, filling the gap left by previous attendees Mike Tucker and Nick Kool (who sent their apologies). But Squiffy the squirrel was back, and once again squeaked up a storm.

Letting very little slip about the new Doctor Who Christmas special - Pete would only say that it involves "spiders and flooding water" - and even less about work on the new James Bond film, Casino Royale, we had to content ourselves with... well, The Model Unit's kick-ass, bang-filled showreel.

Oh, and Pete's never-before-seen slides from the making of Series IV to VII. (Pete: "Never before seen -" Alan: "Seen it!") Did you know that they used Alka Seltzer (Rocky: "Which Pete is very familiar with... ") tablets to make the water bubble in Back to Reality? Or that Flymo put out a press release when they discovered that a leaf blower of theirs became the basis for the show's GELF ship?

It was a wander down memory lane, tales of bangs gone by. Rocky was startled by a very young-looking picture of himself: "Good God!" Pete: "No, it's you." It was even suggested that Rocky's head bore some similarity to the shape of a crashed Starbug. Surely not.

Alan, meanwhile, had a series of designs, illustrations and photos from the redesigning of Red Dwarf and Blue Midget, created from the Remastered episodes and also used in Series VIII. Of course the models have rarely been seen - for the most part, audience will be far more familiar with the CGI versions created from those models.

Taking us through mock-ups, tests and paint jobs - admitting along the way that the Midget's thrusters were something of a tribute to Thunderbird 2 - Alan also revealed that one person had come to him suggesting that the ship's design was 'a bit phallic'. "Now," Alan decried, "if that looks like something anyone has, see a doctor."

Peter soon returned with a home projector and some super-rare Super-8 film from behind the scenes, including some very cold, dry-suited FX boys freezing their widgets off in Pinewood's Paddock Tank, making waves by dunking barrels as Starbug came crashing in.

The physical nature of all of this is miles away from the antiseptic nature of CGI creation, and you couldn't blame the guys for lamenting the passing of a great deal of effects work into that medium, away from theirs. Still, they're not bitter. In fact, the hunt for model parts goes on...

Rocky: "My wife hates going around B&Q with me." Alan: "This is the man who went into Habitat with me and insisted on putting the woks on his head to see how it felt." Well, research is a vital part of the process. As, apparently, is not worrying too much about qualifications, as Pete confessed that he failed his A-levels because he was too busy making films with his college's facilities. So, there's hope for us all to become "Dustbin artists" (Rocky's phrase.)

And with the final squeak left to Squiffy, it was time to locate our funky stuff and prepare for Saturday night.