This whole line learning thing really takes me back. For the past 12 years I have been learning a speech as I stand around in front of a camera, delivering it, then forgetting it instantly. This is for programs like Scrapheap Challenge, Hollywood Science, How Do They Do It, Top Trumps etc.
Red Dwarf is very different, for a start, even seasoned actors like Tim Spall found the Red Dwarf scripts fiendishly hard to learn, the language used in the scripts is what makes them so special. It’s very unique and unusual, which is a good thing. It’s what, I believe, made the shows stand the test of time but it makes them a bugger to learn.
However, I just want to say in my defence that I can learn lines and have performed many stage plays and one man shows which required me to contain vast reams of text and deliver them night after night.
This was of course with my brain at normal temperature, with my faculties fully engaged with the world and all my senses functioning perfectly.
This is not the case with old Kryters, for a start, I can’t hear much, my vision and balance are impaired and my core body temperature is close to that of Fukushima number 3 reactor on a summers day.
So the bits of paper stuck to the back of Craig’s head so popular in the Smeg Outs are part of a larger problem.
I’m not trying to make excuses, it’s my job to know my lines and I work very hard to do so, but I do have to deliver them under rubber based duress, and I’m a bit thick. Chris works very methodically to learn his lines, I envy his clarity of mind and focus. Danny, well, no one knows how Danny does anything, it seems like he hasn’t got a clue of anything until we actually record the show, and then he’s fantastic.
Craig has an uncanny ability to read a script once or twice and know all his lines word perfect from that point on. The only other person I have ever met with a similar ability is the wonderful Mel Smith, he of Not the 9 O’clock News, Alas Smith and Jones and many other fine TV shows.
So, I am slaving away, walking up and down my kitchen, repeating the lines again and again, and then letting my daughter test me. She’s tough, I have to be word perfect and she pulls me up all the time.
‘Wrong! God you’re rubbish dad.’
So far, I’ve got three whole scenes ‘off the book.’ Three whole scenes in a script with 25 scenes.
Craig has a huge amount to learn, far more than me in this episode but he’ll already have done it and he’ll be down the pub. As I said in my tweet, ‘it’s just not fair!’