Paul Montague

14 January, 2011

With sadness, word has reached us - via Danny John-Jules - that original Red Dwarf production designer Paul Montague has passed away.

Not a great deal has been written about Paul's career. A Manchester in-houser first apparently credited on game show What's My Line, like so many during the 80s Paul would be moved from one allotted production to the next at the BBC's local facility. Who knows how much work went uncredited?

The IMDb lists credits for drama serial Flesh and Blood about the changes which come about in family after the mother dies, an adaptation of Elizabeth Gaskell's novel Cousin Phillis, and 1983 thriller The Consultant starring Hywel Bennett.

And, of course, there was Red Dwarf.

Interviewed in 2007 for The Bodysnatcher Collection, Paul told us about designing the sets for the original series. Taking influence from Dark Star after being given a copy of the film on video by director Ed Bye, Paul also embraced the writers' aim for the ship to appear submarine-like. But there's also a touchingly personal aspect to his approach.

"I always remember when I was a small boy - this was during the war - everything was dark," Paul told us. "The towns were dark, the roads were dark, especially in the country. And all you'd hear is sort of a ‘hiss' from a gaslight. And somehow I remembered that. I just wanted this feeling of isolation, of dark, of grades of grey."

Whenever a talent is lost, sometimes their stories go with them - and it's hard not to regret not asking Paul about his work on Aliens in the Family. A 1987 novel adaptation, Aliens was a six-part children's serial about a girl's relationship with her new step-family - and how this is affected by the arrival of a young alien.

From description alone, the fusion of science-fiction and dramatic convention seems indicative of what Paul would work on next. (Despite the Red Dwarf pilot having been written years earlier.) You can find a little more about the show here; it's a shame we can no longer ask the designer about any creative or practical connections - stills from the show suggest some definite parallels.

Paul Montague passed away on Monday 10th January, 2011.

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