You Must Be Joking - Again

Joking Apart series two, the little DVD that could.

14 March, 2008

Robert Bathurst was in exactly one episode of Red Dwarf - The End, the first show - but his character, Todhunter, is oft-mentioned. Still, does that justify our coverage of Joking Apart's DVD release?

Smeg it, yeah - why not? After all, the first series release - the story of a comedy writer going through a divorce, written by a comedy writer going through a divorce - it was not only a great, funny show (written by Steven Moffat, now famed for Coupling and Doctor Who award-winners Blink and The Girl in the Fireplace) seeing a much-deserved public outing, but it was a groundbreaking release.

You Must Be Joking - Again

The sheer willpower of über-fan Craig Robins is the reason series one - and, on March 17th, series two - is out there. When nobody else would put the show out on disc, he did it himself. On his own.

Replay is a stand-alone company, with releases only available via their website, making it all the more remarkable that there are some fantastic extras on the discs. Series two features cast and crew commentary across all episodes (and Moffat rocks at this kind of thing), as well as the original pilot, not to mention DVD-ROM scripts for all the episodes and a collector's booklet. caught up with Craig as he braced himself for the demand of orders, asking if he was always confident of getting series two out there: I was hopeful but never completely confident. I'd been warned it wasn't guaranteed and would depend on healthy sales, but quite what was meant by 'healthy' was never revealed! Plus I had to get the money back from series one. So when I made my approach for series two, I was as nervous awaiting the decision as I was the first time. It was a fantastic relief when it was confirmed. I would have been mortified on behalf of all the fans if I'd failed.

So what are the highlights of the second series and its DVD? There are too many highlights in the show to mention them all, but the last ten minutes of the first episode has to be as funny as anything ever made. As far as my input is concerned, removing the horrible green colour cast that affected every location sequence was the most rewarding. It made so much difference. And pulling off an ambitious commentary session that involved linking studios in London and Brisbane was a real buzz, particularly as a very long and ill-timed fire alarm came within a whisker of condemning the commentary to the dustbin.

You can see before and after shots, not to mention a wealth of DVD production details, here.

So as a fan of Joking Apart, Craig must have won the admiration of his heroes?

Actually I reckon they probably think I'm barking mad, but humoured me as they were thrilled by the long-overdue DVD release. Even I questioned my own sanity at times, such was the workload. But how much better does it get for a fan than reuniting all the main cast, the writer and the producer and having the chance to work with them? They were all so delightful.

What's up next for Replay? I'm trying to secure the rights for our next three releases, researching and planning the first featurette and hopefully even producing a half-hour TV documentary based on the second of those series. I really wish I could tell you more but it has to stay hush-hush for the moment. All being well, the next release will be out in November.

Joking Apart series two is available from the Replay DVD website.

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