Holly Hopping

Back in Black - by Andrew Ellard

19 May, 2006

So, we have the concept, we have the format - now to the filming.

Holly Hopping

Following a lengthy script process where more than 200 alternatives for 'correct' had to be conjured (in that way this is more like working on a videogame than a DVD), Norman Lovett and Hattie Hayridge were called.

And boy did they ever pick up. Both were more than willing to reprise their character(s) from the TV series - bringing a peculiar mix of energy, enthusiasm... and deadpan delivery.

And so it was that we found ourselves running around three towns before locating any black polo-neck jumpers, the 'costume' which allows the actors to appear as floating heads. And which, apparently, is 'not really in this season'. Typical.

Holly Hopping

By dint of availability, Hattie's recording came first. On Thursday, March 16th we once again took to Waterfall Studios, just a stone's throw from BBC Broadcasting House in White City.

Make-up diva Andrea Finch was on-hand to bring Holly back to life under the watchful eye of producer Helen Norman and director Andrew Ellard... which is, um, me.

Hattie was incredibly relaxed as she worked through the hundreds of lines on autocue, recapturing her original performance effortlessly. (No doubt helped by the fact that this production was streets ahead of the 'find a spare room and shoot it from memory in ten minutes' style of the Series IV DVD's A Life in Lamé shoot!)

Holly Hopping

Norman Lovett arrived early on the morning of Friday, March 17th with an amazingly cool attitude... and a bad throat. We panicked - was he going to be able to record his lines clearly? Would we have to re-dub? Wouldn't it cost the same just to reshoot completely?

Well, one trip to the chemist later and all worries evaporated. The combination of hot drinks, throat spray and lozenges soon settled the growling - aside from the odd occasion where we had to do a retake. "Norman, can you do that one again, but with less mucus?"

It's interesting to note how differently these two very similar performers work as Holly. Hattie likes to have her neck in a black surgical collar. It keeps her in position and helps maintain her posture. Norman, on the other hand, prefers to be free to move a little more. Rather than use a high collar, his neck is painted with thick black make-up from the jaw line down.

Holly Hopping

All these Holly snippets, filmed direct to camera with no 'scene' to be played out with the other characters, felt like as much as anything like the Holly introductions that began Series I and II (and, as the Series III Deleted Scenes showed, didn't quite make the cut for the third season). It's all direct-to-audience, fuelled by a plethora of information and a smattering of one-liners.

Holly Hopping

Though the Hollys won't be asking questions within the quiz - there will be far too many to make that feasible - their presence will be felt throughout the game. They are the absolute hosts. Every level - whether Viewer, Geek or General Knowledge - begins with their introduction and welcome to a new locale, every correct or wrong answer will be confirmed by them (often in some very funny ways), and every round ends with their summing up.

So - you'll be seeing a lot of Holly. To keep things varied we had to collect a lot of material, and it's a testament to both performers that they never let their energy flag, even when recording the thrilling game instructions: "highlight the answer with your remote and hit 'select'".

Actually, there may be one other thing that helped keep the mood up-beat... but we'll save that for another report.

More DVD Details will follow soon...

The Red Dwarf Interactive Quiz DVD will be released in the Autumn/Winter of 2006.

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