10th Anniversary
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In 1998 I was chosen as a contestant on the Fans Vs Cast Universe Challenge as part of the Red Dwarf

10th Anniversary celebrations. This page has my original report on the days recording and some exclusive pics:

Universe Challenge Teams



Those of you at Dimension Jump '97 will remember a BBC Crew filming events for Grant/Naylor productions.Part of the aim of this was to pick a team for a 10th Anniv. Fans V's Cast Quiz. Well a couple of weeks later I received a call from BTL's Bev to tell me i'd been picked for the team. I couldn't believe it. I was going to spend a full day in thecompany of the Red Dwarf cast and better still appear on T.V. with them!

When time came to go over I was accompanied by fellow Dwarfer Julie Marr. By now my excitement was equally matched by nervousness! We had a car sent to collect us from the airport. Unfortunately by this time i'd discovered my luggage had been left behind in Belfast. Staff promised they'd do their best to trace it (not very reassuring), and with that we headed to our hotel. It was a beautiful place and made all the more attractive as it was all expenses paid for the next two nights. Most of the evening was spent in the bar, gradually getting drunk, chatting about what the next day might have in store and lamenting the loss of my luggage.

Again on Saturday morning a car was sent to take us to the Studios. The first people we saw were Doug Naylor and Helen Norman who gave us a very cheery hello. Then it was into the greenroom where Sean and Bev introduced me to the others who'd been chosen.                     The final team consisted of myself, Steev Rogers, Sharon Burnett, Pip Swallow and             Kaylee Nicholas. As we wouldn't be doing our recording until about 8pm we had a great chance to see what else was happening. The cast arrived one by one.                                Danny was the first one I spoke with. The others arrived at intervals soon afterwards.              They spent much of the morning recording interviews. Meanwhile in the Studio we watched Chris Barrie do his Jeremy Paxman impression for the intro part of the Quiz. It took a couple of takes but worked well.

Next we were introduced to Bamber Gascoigne who was to be our Universe Challenge Quiz master. Over the course of the day he turned out to be an incredibly friendly and funny man, really helping to put us at ease. We watched them set up and Record Bambers intro section which was hilarious! Then it was time for lunch.

Assistant Producer Cliff Pinnock talked us over what format the quiz would take. It all sounded straight forward enough but it still didn't cure my nerves. After lunch I took the chance to explore the very impressive sets and take a couple of pics. I was most impressed with the segment from Starbug they would be using for the cookery sendup Can't Smeg, Won't Smeg.

Danny and Chris in full costume, rehearsed and recorded their insert along with T.V. Chef Ainsley Harriet. This took quite a few takes but was fun to watch. Thankfully by now my luggage had been found and sent to me at the Teddington Studio. Spending the day together was a good way of getting to know those team members, that I didn't know, a little better. They're all a really nice bunch, (Hi Guys!) We were all given Red Dwarf jackets and T-Shirtsto wear for the recording which we were allowed to keep.

Next we watched the full cast rehearse Can't Smeg Won't Smeg. This was incredibly funny. Danny was brilliant as Duane. The whole thing was chaos, they ended up with food all over them and the kitchen was a disaster! An interesting part is where Chloe hits Craig with the frying pan. In rehearsals they forgot to switch the real pan with the rubber prop!Thankfully Chloe realised the mistake a split second before making contact.Ouch!

There was a bit of waiting about after this while the studio audience was let in. By this stage I was chain smoking due to the strange mix of terror and excitement! We'd had a rehearsalon set earlier where the cast thrashed us! I just hoped we'd be alright on the night. We also had the opportunity to see the Remastered The End which looked brilliant. As the cast recorded their Can't Smeg Won't Smeg in front of the studio audience our team watched on a monitor in the Green room. It was fun but it wouldn't be long 'til we were out there. The final dishes servedup by the cast looked less than appetising! Poor Chloe had to actually eat the stuff!! Even Craig was actually physically sick due to the mixture of ingredients he'd been eating raw as theywent along. The audience loved it. There were a couple of retakes to add to or improve a couple of segments, then they were finished.

It was time now for us to take our places out front. I think there were about 500 people on the audience. The crew wired us up, did a final check and we were ready to go. They ran the V.T. intro. Bamber introduced the cast who then individually introduced themselves. Now the fans. This was the bit we'd all dreaded, introducing ourselves. I managed to say my name, I glanced around, no strange looks, Good, I'd spoken English!...there'd be no stopping me now! On with the Quiz.

 I don't actually rememberthat many details. My nerves did disappear though. We took the lead for a while. We were doing much better than in rehearsals. The cast pulled back though and started to take a considerable lead. We were all enjoying the competition but we had to start and score some points if we were to retain any credibility. At last we were closing the gap. There was only 5 points in it with one question left. A starter question for 10.

The atmosphere was electric. It was almost without realising that I hit my buzzer. I'd done it!! I'd just correctly answered the winning question. I was amazed , surprised, jubilant, bewildered...What a team! Another bonus was that we were allowed to keep the Red Dwarf pens we'd been given and even keep our name plates off the front panels.

We all gathered in a back room to celebrate. Our team was in very high spirits, we could relax now. The cast, crew, family and friends mingled making the most of the food and drink that had been laid on. I spent some time chatting with Danny and Robert and gave them a couple of issues of The Inquisitor. It was the perfect end to a great day. We made our way back to the Hotel, to late to catch the bar so we sat chatting for a while before it was finally time for bed.

Next morning the car returned us to the Airport and in no time we were home. For weeks i've been telling anyone who'll listen about my weekend. At the time of writing this the 10th Anniversary night hasn't been on yet so I really can't wait. Videos ready, Fame At Last!!

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The 10th Anniversary Fans team

L-R: Sharon Burnett, Kaylee Nicholas, Daryl Ball, Pip Swallow& Steve Rogers.

Ainsley Harriet

Ainsley proudly displaying the Red Dwarf 10th Anniversary cake!!

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