2020 - The Year in Dwarf

A look back over a strange year.

1 January, 2021

A very happy New Year to each and every one of you. It's an understatement to say that 2020 was a strange and difficult year for many reasons, but it was, however, undoubtedly a very strong one for the small rouge one. A year characterised by social distancing and over-indulgent toilet roll purchases; it was also the year that gave us a brand-new feature-length special as well as our first retrospective TV documentary series. Join us as we take a look back over 2020 in the world of Red Dwarf.


It's rare for a year to start out quite as strongly as January did, but with the news already out there that the as yet unnamed Red Dwarf Special was in production, we began the year with the studio audience recording for the special's concluding segment. This was such an amazing experience for those of us who were there, but even those who weren't didn't have to wait very long to share in the fun, with January being the month when the first look at the special was revealed in the following photos.

2020 - The Year in Dwarf

2020 - The Year in Dwarf

The images caused quite the stir online, and the reality of the situation finally started to set in. Brand new Red Dwarf was imminent in 2020.


February gave us the reveal of the synopsis that surprisingly went all the way back to the show's roots, even referencing Waiting for God. It became clear at this time that the longer running time meant something far more epic was in store, and that a story with this depth and scope had only previously been attempted in the novels. It would be a further two months before we got to see the actual special, but the following month would bring its own surprises...


March not only brought the release of the gorgeous Promised Land poster, full trailer and news that the show would receive a set of commemorative SFX covers, but it also gave us the surprise launch of the latest Red Dwarf AA advert. Featuring all four of the main cast, this served as an impromptu teaser for what was to come and allowed those of us who enjoy such things to ponder whether the advert would be scheduled to take place during the broadcast of The Promised Land.

2020 - The Year in Dwarf

Elsewhere in March, Rob Grant, Paul Jackson and Ed Bye kicked off something that would become a 2020 staple - The Quarantine Commentaries. The first series covered every episode from Series I and II, together with a music special. With guests including Chris Barrie, Hattie Hayridge, Lee Cornes and Howard Goodall, the show kept many of us sane during the initial lockdown and made Sunday afternoons something to look forward to.

March was also the month we sadly lost model maker supremo Bill Pearson. You can read his obituary here.


April was, of course, the month we'd all been waiting for. After months of teasers, trailers, and speculation, The Promised Land finally arrived on Dave on the 9th April 2020. Raking in a massive 1.67 million viewers in the first week, it would be the most watched show on Dave for almost four years, and as this article proves, it went over pretty well with the fans.

And with an event this momentous happening as early as April, you'd be forgiven for thinking that we'd already peaked. Fortunately, the rest of the year had plenty more excitement to come.


May got pretty experimental with Rob, Paul and Ed choosing to explore the newly embraced Zoom format with the staging of two live table reads. The first was James Hendrie's Events and Moments, and the second was Rob's Cruel Aliens. Both featuring all-star casts including Chris Barrie, Hattie Hayridge, Lee Cornes and Iwan Rheon, it's safe to say that this all got Rob and Paul thinking. Maybe there was something in this Zoom format that was worth developing, and with that thought Lockdown Theatre's first major theatrical production was conceived. A Bit of Waiting For Godot would star Robert Lindsay, Michael Palin and Joanna Lumley. In just a few months it would raise £35,000 for the arts and set the standard for many more productions to come.

2020 - The Year in Dwarf


June was the month of merchandise. It saw the UK release of The Promised Land on DVD and Blu-ray, The Quanderhorn Xperimentations in paperback, and a rather fetching translation of the Red Dwarf Omnibus from the Czech Republic. And just when we all thought we had had all we were going to get from Red Dwarf for the year, another surprise dropped with the news that Red Dwarf: The First Three Million Years was set to hit our screens later in the year.

2020 - The Year in Dwarf


Perhaps unsurprisingly after all this activity, July was a fairly quiet month. Broadcast dates for The First Three Million Years were announced and we paid one of our semi-regular visits to the world of fandom in Web Dwarf, but it would be one more month before things got really exciting again...


And exciting it was, because for three consecutive weeks in August, we were treated to a nostalgic trip through Red Dwarf-past with the broadcast of our very first comprehensive retrospective documentary. Made up of brand-new interviews, smeg ups and archive footage, the show was a huge hit for Dave, and was the second highest rated show all year, with the only thing to beat it being The Promised Land. The internet positively lit up following the broadcast of each episode as we were treated to a complete overview of the show, beginning with its early scripting and development, right through to the recent feature length special. The complete series is still available to stream for UK viewers on UKTV Play.

2020 - The Year in Dwarf

August was also the month we tragically lost reddwarf.co.uk's editor and writer, Seb Patrick. You can read his obituary here.


Both September and October proved to be important months for Lockdown Theatre. Firstly, we had the return of Quarantine Commentaries. Joining Rob, Paul and Ed to discuss Series III were guests including Arthur Smith, Lee Cornes and Gordon Kennedy. This short run proved a welcome hit for fans who are still waiting on news on whether or not the format will return for Series IV and beyond. We live in hope.

2020 - The Year in Dwarf

September also brought the follow up to Lockdown Theatre's A Bit of Waiting for Godot with Noël Coward's Private Lives. Starring Robert Lindsay, Emma Thompson, Sanjeev Bhaskar and Emilia Clarke, the show raised over £44,000 for the Royal Theatrical Fund, the most successfully production the team had yet staged.


October once again proved to be another great month for Lockdown Theatre, with Tom Stoppard's The Real Inspector Hound bringing the combined total raised for the RTF to £112,000. The show was a positive smorgasbord of acting talent, featuring the likes of Derek Jacobi, Simon Callow, Jennifer Saunders, Freddie Fox, Emilia Clarke, Samantha Bond, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Gary Wilmot and Robert Lyndsay, the show was a huge hit, and further cemented Rob and Paul's theatrical initiative in the hearts and minds of theatre lovers the world over.

2020 - The Year in Dwarf

October also saw the broadcast of the excellent Craig & Danny: Funny, Black and on TV, in which Craig Charles and Danny John-Jules celebrated 50 years of black, British comedy legends. It was also around this time that we decided to check how well you were paying attention during the Quarantine Commentaries with our behind-the-scenes quiz. The best high score we got from Twitter was 19/20, so there's still time to claim that top spot...


2020 - The Year in Dwarf

November saw the site's 20th anniversary, and what better way to celebrate than with the announcement of a brand new digital Red Dwarf convention? Established by the Official Red Dwarf Fan Club following the postponement of Dimension Jump XXI, the news surprised fans even more when the team let us know that the event would feature an original Red Dwarf table read from a script written by Rob Grant, directed by Ed Bye and performed by a cast of lucky fans. We can't wait to see this exclusive performance later in the year, nor can we wait to see the results of Twonkmaster, the club's answer to the BAFTA Award-winning Taskmaster which is now well underway.

November also saw Craig Charles battling the perils of the British coast in Don't Rock the Boat, ITV's new reality show format that saw Craig undergo a series of land and sea-based challenges. Craig was a true legend, and it was a real treat to see him on our screens, night after night, for a whole week in November.

2020 - The Year in Dwarf


And finally, we come to December. This month Lockdown Theatre truly exceeded everyone's expectations. For One Knight Only, an informal chat featuring Sir Kenneth Branagh, Dame Judi Dench, Sir Derek Jacobi, Dame Maggie Smith and Sir Ian McKellen raised a staggering £320,000 for Acting For Others. The event sold out twice, leading to the establishment of an overspill audience that alone broke all the box-office records set by all previous shows.

What a way to end the year.

2020 - The Year in Dwarf

So, what's next?

It might be difficult to top this year, full as it was with brand new Red Dwarf, retrospective documentaries and star-studded chats, but we're certainly going to try. With Holly Hop 2021 just around the corner, and the imminent announcement of Lockdown Theatre's bold new direction, we can't wait to let you know about the treats we have in store.

From all of us here at Grant Naylor Productions, we wish you a happy New Year.

Make sure you visit reddwarf.co.uk throughout 2021 for all the upcoming Red Dwarf news.

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