Dimension Jump XIV


How lovely to start the day with the golden hair and broad smile of Miss Hattie Hayridge. Taking her place before the fast-snapping throng, Hattie was clearly concerned about the effects of flash photography. "It's not see-through is it, this top?" Security was another concern: "I know it looks bad that I've brought my bag on. I do trust you really..."

Hattie Hayridge

Setting up a question that would play out throughout the weekend, one fan enquired about a potential spin-off series featuring Hattie's character. The actress's musings included Holly taking over the universe, or infecting the machines of Earth.

"The chance to mess up machinery, like barcodes at the till" was a favourite, making use of inside knowledge. "Her inside knowledge, not mine. I'm still on dial-up. It stops viruses ? they get half way along and it's so slow they can't be bothered."

Topics ranged from Hattie's stand-up gigs and appearance in Jonathan Creek (she once borrowed Alan Davies' office, but mostly just fell asleep in there) to an early infatuation with Guinness. "I used to drink it when I was about 3. This toddler with a white moustache... from the foam, I didn't have a hormone problem."

Hattie Hayridge

She doesn't have a career plan ? though has "a list of things I know I don't want to do" ? and still has favourite comedians of her own: "Russell Brand was my favourite last year for stand-up and aesthetic reasons."

After tales of celebrity parties, Harry Potter casting sessions (the teacher role she was up for was dropped from the script before a decision was taken) and reviews that blow all your gags, it was time for autographs.

Chris Barrie led the post-lunch charge, fielding Dwarf, Tomb Raider and Massive questions. On the subject of whether he would have liked to do more impressions in Red Dwarf, just as Danny got to dance several times, Chris was philosophical. "I think dancing is part of Cat's character. Rimmer was crap at everything ? why would he be good at impersonations... People who do impressions are clever dicks."

Chris Barrie

The subject of a Rimmer spin-off series, though, took us in a familiar direction: "It would need more characters. I can think of three of four... Ah, that's another series of Red Dwarf!" Still, he recalls his time on the show with a certain joy. "In bed with Jane Horrocks, that can't be bad. Snogged Craig..."

Asked about 'serious acting', it was interesting to hear how any attempts to make Tomb Raider funnier were knocked on the head. "'Chris, there's only one person in this movie ? you're just part of the background that moves occasionally.'"

Still, he has just filmed a Midsomer Murders episode ("I was a bent cop... in various ways") and a short film, The Optician. He's less fond of British movie Back in Business: "I always forget that I made that movie... and those who watched it will probably know why."

Conceding that he's not especially good with water ? or in the air ? Chris revealed that his dream series would be something he'd present, based on iconic cars, maybe called Massive Genius or Mechanical Greats. (Chris now thinks of himself as a presenter first and an actor second.) He spoke a lot about cars, including something about the difference between old and new Minis, but to be honest we lost track of most of it...

More interesting was the discussion about the mid-90s possibility of Chris being cast as Doctor Who, a role the actor would apparently have relished. He's still recognised on the street, of course, but now it's "Do you know, you look really like the bloke who was Rimmer in Red Dwarf?"

Still, we'd be lying if we didn't admit a certain fascination for a live audience presenting job he did for a company that had thrown a huge party... and populated it with FHM-style ladies. "Of course," smirked Chris, "I remained professional."

Robert Llewellyn and Chris Barrie

Then Robert Llewellyn took the stage, only slightly distracted by the video cameras and the monkey puppet in the front row.

Robert is currently nine months into his 'Making Do' project ? not buying anything new for a full year, starting at Christmas. Apparently one friend recommended a great book on the subject... which Robert had to get from a library because he wasn't allowed to buy anything!

He is allowed to buy food, medicine and cigarettes ("For the last 20 years I haven't smoked... except when I'm smoking"), but the project has led to a presenting job on "ethical consumerism", a column in The Ecologist and a book. "I don't quite know why I'm doing it now," he admits. But he has become "quite good at darning."

Robert Llewellyn

A dream storyline would involved Kryten having a baby, apparently. Although there's also the old 'everyone becomes a robot like Kryten' idea. So, what of a Kryten spin-off series? Robert suggests a cooking show, Kryten's Kitchen. And who would win a fight between him and Star Trek's Data? "If he had the right groinal attachment Data would be in trouble..."

Though at least Data doesn't have to deal with the heat of the Kryten costume. "I used to have two buckets of ice behind the set. I'd take my gloves off and put my hands in them." Cooling the hands and wrists would, eventually, cool the blood flowing through them and back to the rest of his body.

Robert has also started a production company, though it is delaying a novel he's "seven-eighths" of the way through. He also recently did some parody Mac/PC ads. "They're on YouTube now. Everything's on YouTube. I had a poo the other day, that's probably on YouTube..."

In truth, Robert describes himself as a "YouTube evangelist", though his self-imposed rules ? giving himself only one hour to shoot, edit and upload his films ? mean that there are several videos that won't ever appear online.

Back to Scrapheap, and someone wanted to know what Robert would like to build if he were a contestant on the show. "A digger" was the straightforward reply ? though he seemed more excited about it going wrong mid-competition than about performing accurate excavation. Still, worth it for the follow-up tales of Russian contestants ? with all the accents, fags, vodka and other clichés you'd expect. Hilarious.

Autograph Session

Finally Robert let slip about plans he and the rest of the cast, along with director Ed Bye, had been making for a SF comedy of their own. Funding, apparently, is not entirely forthcoming (we get that), but the aim was to do ten nine-minute episodes that could be downloaded separately, or bought on DVD at the end as a 90-minute movie.

All of which explains the 'secretly filmed' video which appeared on YouTube a while back...

And, with some final mugging to camera ? even without the mask the man is rubber-faced ? it was off for autographs and nibbles in preparation for Saturday night.