Happy Birthday To Us

reddwarf.co.uk turns 20 today.

20 November, 2020

There aren't many shows that can boast the longevity of Red Dwarf, and there are even fewer that can claim a dedicated website that is too old to be entitled to free full time education. But that's exactly where we are now, because reddwarf.co.uk turns 20 today.

Back in 2015, Seb Patrick wrote about our first 15 years, so for our 20th Anniversary we thought we'd bring this work up-to-date and take a look at what has happened since.

Sitting comfortably? Good, because it turns out that it was quite a lot.

Happy Birthday To Us

Series XI and XII

2015 had a lot to live up to. The post-series VIII, pre-Back To Earth wilderness years had ended and 2012 had even given us six new episodes with Series X. There really had to be something special to come next, and something special did indeed come with the announcement of two brand new series, followed by two and a half years of teasers, photos, live studio audience recordings, trailers, reports and DVD releases with the wrong episode titles.

This truly was an exciting time with the unusual production meaning that for the first time in the show's history, once 2016's Series XI had been broadcast, we already knew we would be getting six brand-new episodes the following year, as Series XII was already shot, cut and ready to go.

It's difficult to overstate the excitement that was felt during this time; it was one of the most prolific periods in the show's history and one that brought us twelve brand-new instalments of Red Dwarf.

Catch up here:

Red Dwarf Turned 30

And then on the 15th February 2018, Red Dwarf turned 30. A significant milestone for any show, let alone one that was consistently rejected by TV commissioners for years due to its unusual premise. But the fact remained, Red Dwarf had hit maturity and could proudly claim it was older than many of its legions of fans. It was a time for celebration, and as can be seen in this article, the show's creators and appreciators came out in force.

Catch up here:

Happy Birthday To Us

The Quanderhorn Xperimentations

2018 also saw the release of The Quanderhorn Xperimentations; first as a six-part series for Radio 4, and later as a standalone novel. With both iterations written by Rob Grant and Andrew Marshall, the show was so successful, it returned for a second series in April 2020. While we're still waiting to hear whether a second novel is on the horizon, we really hope this isn't the last we've seen (or indeed heard) of this surreal and unusual comedy.

Catch up here:

Happy Birthday To Us

Comprehensive Blu-ray Release

It's hard to believe that it took so long for the BBC-era to receive the Blu-ray treatment. Released in January 2019, this definitive edition contained all 52 episodes of the series' initial run, with each episode painstakingly restored and upscaled to high definition. The 19-disc set contained every extra from the DVDs and also included the Bodysnatcher bonus disc; an essential addition to every Red Dwarf fan's already overstocked shelving unit.

Catch up here:

Happy Birthday To Us

Quarantine Commentaries

This really did come out of left-field and was one of the most welcome surprises of 2020. Back at Dimension Jump XX, several guest bookings were kept secret and held back for a special announcement to attendees. Amongst others, they included Rob Grant, Paul Jackson and Ed Bye. If that wasn't enough in and of itself, the trio closed the convention with a live commentary of The End, moderated by Dave-era warm-up man, Ian Boldsworth. The event was a staggering success and brought to a conclusion one of the most successful Dimension Jump conventions to date.

Cut to several months later and the world had shut down. After weeks of lockdown we were treated to the news that Rob, Paul and Ed were planning on mounting a follow up event for Future Echoes, only this time, it was to take place on a little software package that people were just starting to hear about called Zoom. And this was only the beginning.

The gang now have three series under their belts with a run of commentaries covering eighteen episodes, one music special, and guests including Chris Barrie, Hattie Hayridge, Norman Lovett and Howard Goodall. While there is currently no word on whether Series IV and beyond will receive the same treatment, the entire run is available to watch on our YouTube channel.

Catch Up Here:

Happy Birthday To Us

Red Dwarf: The Promised Land

This really was the big one. It's easy to sit here now and forget just how exciting this update was. With reddwarf.co.uk launching 20 years ago, brimming with news that Red Dwarf: The Movie was imminent, this really did feel like we had come full circle. And while this very much wasn't the movie we were promised all those years ago, it is perhaps the most cinematic the show has ever been.

Released to almost unanimous positive reviews, Red Dwarf: The Promised Land remains one of the highest rated, most successful shows ever broadcast on Dave. With the praise coming not only from the critics, but the fans as well, and with rumours at the time suggesting that feature-length specials would be a likely way forward for Red Dwarf, we're yet to hear anything concrete regarding a return to this format. We continue to live in hope...

Catch up here:

Happy Birthday To Us

Lockdown Theatre

In arguably one of the most innovative moves to emerge out of the pandemic, Rob, Paul and Ed decided to use the confines imposed by a national lockdown to build on the success of Quarantine Commentaries and experiment with alternate forms of entertainment. From this simple idea, Lockdown Theatre was born. Early incarnations included James Hendrie's original comedy Events and Moments and Rob's own Cruel Aliens. Both featured all-star casts including Chris Barrie, Hattie Hayridge, Robert Lindsay and Iwan Rheon, but this was only the beginning.

With three all-star shows under their belt, featuring the likes of Sanjeev Bhaskar, Emilia Clarke, Jennifer Saunders and Derek Jacobi, Lockdown Theatre is moving into its 4th charity fundraiser, with tickets available here. So far, Lockdown Theatre has raised over £112,000 for the arts, and with more events planned, you can expect big, big things to come.

Catch up here:

Happy Birthday To Us

Red Dwarf: The First Three Million Years

If a show is old enough to have a 20-year-old website, then surely its old enough for a dedicated, comprehensive three-part retrospective documentary. Well, that's exactly what happened in August this year when the series landed on Dave.

Narrated by David Tennant, and made up of brand new interview footage mixed with the exhaustive special features from the DVD releases, this nostalgia-fest impressed us so much, we added it to our complete guide; the first non-canonical episodes to ever make it in there. It was the first time a retrospective documentary was made about Red Dwarf for television since the BBC's Comedy Connections episode in 2004; and before that, the Red Dwarf Night documentaries of 1998.

Catch up here:

We'd also like to mark our 20th year by paying tribute to the friends we have lost since our last milestone: Bill Pearson, Charles Armitage and Seb Patrick. Each and every one of these people were powerhouses in the world of Red Dwarf, with each shaping the show in their own way through their unique expertise, commitment and passion. We salute you all, and you will always be Boys from the Dwarf.

An extra special thank you to everyone who has supported, worked on, contributed or even slagged off the site since back in 2000. Throughout this entire period, reddwarf.co.uk has been presided over by self-described code-monkey Andy Neale, who, for 20 years, has worked behind the scenes to keep the site maintained and up-and-date. Excellent work Andy, and extra-special commendation for your remarkable patience with the constant barrage of embarrassingly uninformed questioning from the current writer. It's truly appreciated.

And while that may bring us up to date, don't for a moment think that the story is over. As we woke up today, desperately excited to open the birthday presents literally none of you have sent us, we did so with a spring in our step and a song in our hearts. There is still plenty more news to come, and many more adventures lined up.

And the moral of the story?

Appreciate what you've got, because basically, we're fantastic.

Thanks to each and every one of you that has visited reddwarf.co.uk over the years. Our community is nothing without you, and we are deeply grateful for your continued support.

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