It's three o'clock Monday morning, but let's be clear here - for me it's still Sunday night. I'm about to climb into the back of a beaten up Citroen Xsara to be driven over two hundred miles to Shepperton Studios to begin filming a new Red Dwarf three parter. The journey is going to cost me two hundred and fifty pounds of my own money, because no money is available for transport or hotels.
The Cheshire countryside is icy and dark and a mist hangs over the valley. I'm due on set in four hours and I'm not in the best of moods because my wife's family are visiting from Galway, Donegal and Glasgow and the party is in full swing as the wheels crunch across the gravel on the drive taking me away from them.
In the preceding weeks I have spoken to my fellow cast members, three broken-down TV stars who were famous sometime last century about the wisdom of such a venture. I wonder if we're too fat and old and grey and past it. Can we recapture the magic? Was there ever really any magic in the first place?
Can I feign interest as Chris talks me through the orgasmic delight of stripping down the engine of 1963 Bentley and putting it back together. Then there's Robert with his production company and his fingers in pies and his endless enthusiasm for new technology and his overbearing decency and puppydog niceness which makes you want to stroke him with a mallet. And then there's Danny. I decide that if he mentions any court cases, his or mine, the mallet’s coming out.
I arrive in Shepperton, bleary eyed and just in time for a six hour wait before we attempt to do our first scene. The scene is instantly cancelled because the set's not right. When I meet Robert, he almost licks my face with dog-like enthusiasm. Chris has got a car mag and a folder full of spanners. I hear a voice from down the corridor: “And another thing the judge said, guy.”
I go off in search of some coffee and a hammer thinking to myself ‘I'm paying for this.’