The Man in the Rubber Mask


Powell’s Bookstore in downtown Portland. Bookstore mecca. Billed as the largest new, used and out-of-print bookstore on the planet, it occupies a full city block with over 3500 sections and over 68,000 square feet of nothing but books. Ok, there’s a not to be missed coffee shop too, but, essentially, it’s books, books and more books. Why mention this, you’re asking, at this point? Well, I picked a book up there recently that is worth mentioning if you haven’t read as Powell’s is also a goldmine to find rare and out-of-print books.

With word continuing to slowly filter in about the upcoming 10th season of Red Dwarf with production scheduled to begin in November, conclude in February 2012 and broadcast later in 2012, I thought it was time to revisit some of the classic early years of RD. What better way than to grab a copy of The Man in the Rubber Mask by Robert Llewellyn, a.k.a. the man in the rubber mask. Chronicling the years from when Kryten, the neurotic Series 4000 robotic mechanoid, joined the Red Dwarf III cast in 1989 through 1992 when Llewellyn went to Hollywood to shoot the ill-fated pilot for Red Dwarf USA, this is a time capsule read through the heyday of British comedy with the likes of Red Dwarf in one BBC rehearsal room, Blackadder in another, You Rang M’Lord in another and Alexei Sayle down the hall.

Summer is almost over, but this would be a great last-minute add to your summer reading list as The Man in the Rubber Mask has lots of cool behind the scenes stuff including the first meeting of Llewellyn, Craig Charles, Chris Barrie and Danny John-Jules. Also, some great early discussions between the future Kryten and series creators, Rob Grant and Doug Naylor about developing Kryten’s distinctive walk and the voice, which became a somewhat ‘distorted Canadian accent’ to avoid any comparisons to C3PO. Also, the unbearable fact that to playing Kryten and don the prosthetic rubber mask had Llewellyn in the make-up chair for six hours at a time. On that note, happy reading.