Dimension Jump XVI

by Rich Lawden

Saturday Night

If in your spare time, you enjoy dressing up in the kind of funky threads that would make The Inquisitor blush (and let's face it, who doesn't?), then the Costume Competition is definitely for you. It might be a clichéd thing to say, but everyone is a winner here - especially the Blackburn/Dibbley Family who came third, a rather enthusiastic Chris Beech as Duane Dibbley who came second (despite not a little controversy regarding his choice of make-up), and Ami Brear who took home a well-deserved first place for her wearable Leopard Lager can. A huge hand of thanks goes to everyone who entered this year - very well done, guys!

Now proud DJ veterans, the FX Boys require little introduction. Responsible for some of the most inspiring miniature/FX photography ever produced in this country - and not just on Red Dwarf, but also more recently on shows like Doctor Who and Primeval - their work quite frankly speaks for itself.

This year the guys - in the effervescent form of Mike Tucker and Alan 'Rocky' Marshall - present a stunning smorgasbord of rare concept art from the series that would put Rimmer's diesel deck slideshow to shame. They talk us through each meticulously crafted image with gusto - keen to share their experiences and techniques with the justifiably gawking crowd.

Before long, we're treated to some fascinating early designs for the self-loathing beast from Terrorform, an intriguing version of the Enlightenment from Holoship that was based on Rimmer's 'H' forehead piece, and a Thunderbird 4-inspired, 'Seabug' that was briefly considered to make an appearance in the fan-favourite episode Back to Reality.

GELFs. These manmade extra terrestrials were first introduced to help fill the void left by the unconventional 'no aliens' rule first established at Red Dwarf's conception by Doug and Rob Grant. In Series VI, we were introduced to quite possibly the most amorous Genetically Engineered Life Form seen to date: Lister's hairy GELF bride.

The brave soul responsible for bringing Lister's GELF bride to life was actor Stephen Wickham. No stranger to the world of science fiction, Stephen once took on the role of National Coordinator of the Doctor Who Appreciation Society, and played not just a soldier, but also a giant slug in the series, too. Who said showbiz wasn't glamorous, eh?

Stephen talks of the horrors of wearing freezing cold latex at a freezing cold location in the middle of a freezing cold night working on Red Dwarf, but despite all that, how he particularly enjoyed being part of the show - especially when he became one of the few guest artists to appear in the opening title sequence.

"I think it was one of the funniest episodes of the season. It really was one of the most fun things I've ever done. How long ago was it - eighty-something?" That would be 1993, sir.

"Was Craig Charles heavy when you had to lift him up?" an audience member curiously enquires. "He was not light" Stephen smiles. "Plus he had those heavy boots and the coat on, and the rest of it. The shot where I have to carry him off to my hut in hope of nuptial bliss, he weighed a tonne."

With time ticking away faster than a runaway star drive, Stephen graciously returns to his seat while last-minute preparations were made to welcome the evening's major entertainment...

Apparently, Hattie Hayridge can't do a straight twenty-four-hour stand-up set like we asked because she needs sleep or something. I think you'll agree, it's a pretty weak excuse. This year, she was back doing what she does best; owning the boards in a perfectly-crafted comedy set that was more grin-inducing than a pair of high-voltage, cheek-electrodes with a faulty 'off' switch.

And as an extra special treat, the voice (and accompanying body) of Red Dwarf's first Talkie Toaster, John Lenahan would bookend Hattie's set with a phenomenal comedy/magic act that damn near brought the house down. I won't make the mistake in attempting to describe both Hattie's and John's performances - you simply have to see them live in order to truly appreciate their work. So, please do, and have yourselves a fantastic night out.

During John's Q&A, he speaks of being hired as the original warm-up act for the first series, but after to the electrician's strike that almost brought the show to a grinding halt, he was brought back as the voice of Talkie Toaster instead, which led to Tony Hawks taking on his warm-up role.

A true gent and captivator of crowds in general, John leaves us with the heart-warming goodbye, "Honestly, there's something about a roomful of smeg-heads that's just the friendliest place on Earth."

It has been said that Dimension Jump lives for Saturday Night. The thing is... no-one can quite remember why. It all gets a bit blurry after 03:47am, but rest assured, you can rely on the slightly-frazzled Fan Club Team to be wide-awake, bright and early to help guide us through Sunday.

Midnight snack: Shami Kebab Diablo (seven-day stay in sickbay, pre-booked).