A high-definition start to the new Dwarf production.

13 February, 2009

Back on January 23rd the key figures in making Red Dwarf: Back to Earth a reality gathered at Pinewood Studios to run camera tests and perform a readthrough of the two-part script.


The morning saw the four cast reunited not only with each other - where much cackling could be heard emanating from the make-up room - but also the remaining fragments of their old costumes.

Plus there was the welcome - in some cases, anyway - return to the make-up chair. Not too bad for Chris Barrie, whose 'H' is a familiar and comfortable addition; less fun for Robert Llewellyn, who, after his recent face casting, was encased in rubber all over again to play Kryten.

Danny John-Jules may mourn the facial hair he's worn since he last played Cat ten years ago, and Craig Charles may continue to regret his bright idea to add sewn-in dreadlocks to Lister's head, but their upset will likely fall on deaf ears when Spongebobby Squarehead is sat at the next mirror.

With make-up applied, they ventured out in front of a greenscreen for the first camera tests.

These are vital, because, for the first time, Red Dwarf is being shot at 4k resolution using the revolutionary Red camera system, as made famous recently by the likes of Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson and Che's Steven Soderberg. As high-quality as celluloid, it'll convert beautifully to high-definition, but even as regular broadcast TV, the show is going to look gorgeous.

And it's the first ever British comedy show to be shot on the format.


Much time was spent testing costumes under the lights to see how they looked on-screen. In many cases it was as much a case of testing fabrics to see how shades and reflections looked - the difference between what the human eye sees and what the camera picks up is massive. Though knowing that still might not prepare you for the sight of Rimmer in a sleeveless jerkin and Kryten, in full mechanoid make-up, wandering around in a T-shirt before various sheets of reflective fabrics are pulled across his body to find out which looks the most robot-y.

The afternoon, meanwhile, was given over to a script readthrough. With the four key cast - Craig Charles, flying down especially from Manchester, Chris Barrie, Danny John-Jules and Robert Llewellyn - speaking the lines aloud for the very first time. After which Doug Naylor began workshopping the Coronation Street scene with the lads, finding the movements, beats and rhythms that would bring it off the page.


Quite late into the Back to Earth pre-production schedule it was decided not to shoot the new specials with a studio audience. The decision was made for a number of reasons - technical, scheduling, appropriateness of tone, not to mention the way the storyline would leak onto the internet in about three seconds flat - and has led to the surprising decision that Back to Earth will be the first broadcast episode of Red Dwarf to be presented with no laugh track.

It really has been nothing but surprises so far.

It's the start of a journey that will conclude on the Easter weekend as Red Dwarf: Back to Earth crash-lands on Dave on April 10th, 11th, 12th and 13th.

Keep watching and Dave's own coverage for more exclusive news!

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