Tongue Tied

Red Dwarf executive producer Paul Jackson in the Series I making-of documentary

Publicity shot

Kevin Paul Jackson, usually credited as Paul Jackson, is a prolific television director, producer and executive producer. He was the first executive producer of Red Dwarf.


Graduating from Exeter university in 1970, Jackson joined the BBC in 1971 as an assistant floor manager. He worked there for 11 years, becoming a director, producer and executive producer. During these years he worked on some of the best known shows of the era, including Steptoe and Son, The Two Ronnies and The Young Ones.

In 1982 he left the BBC to work freelance and eighteen months later set up Paul Jackson Productions. PJP made several entertainment shows, before being taken over by Noel Gay Television. Jackson oversaw the creation of hit shows like Bottom, Saturday Live and Happy Families (the latter of which had a brief appearance by Chris Barrie, who would later star in Red Dwarf).

The budget for another series of Happy Families was allocated, but Ben Elton had no intention of writing any more episodes, so Jackson was able to give the budget to Red Dwarf, a script by Rob Grant and Doug Naylor that he had enjoyed and shown to BBC executive Peter Ridsdale-Scott. Jackson fought for the casting of Craig Charles and brought in Ed Bye, who had been his production assistant at the BBC, to direct.

Jackson had a reputation for getting angry with the cast when they misbehaved, getting very close to their faces, which Craig Charles referred to as "the hairdryer", but they all loved working for him because he was a good man to have on their side. He would sit in the gallery and storm down whenever he saw something amiss, so he was encouraged to take off his shoes, so that his bare feet would slow him down enough to calm himself. When Series I was being planned in 1987, Craig Charles was late one day and Paul grabbed him, ripping off his T shirt in the process. Another time when "Me2" was being filmed, the cast were not very good with their lines. Jackson's eyes widened and his veins looked like they were about to come out as he very seriously told the cast they needed to know their lines.

When Kryten was being filmed, the drape went up when the cast weren't ready. Paul saw the whole thing and stormed down and berated production manager Mike Agnew loudly in front of the audience. When Stasis Leak was about to be recorded, Chris Barrie went asking Paul questions and Paul's eyes widened again and the veins in his body did their usual stuff as he told Chris: "Don't ask questions, now. It's too late to ask questions now." By Series III, Paul's role as executive producer was becoming less and less and soon writers Rob Grant and Doug Naylor took over as the new producers. Jackson was known as a stickler for time and hated the cast being late. If the cast weren't being funny enough, he would shout at them and scare them into being funny.

When Series IV was being filmed in 1990, Ed Bye had to take a day off as he was sick with food poisoning during the filming of "White Hole", and Jackson took over as director. Chris Barrie stated that the crew seemed to double in number when they heard that "Jacko" was directing for the first time in years. Danny John-Jules was late for work that day, which apparently made the crew go silent when he came in. Jackson was not impressed, stating "You really find out who your friends are. Eh? What was it? Dead cow in the road?" He did not take an on-screen credit for his directing role.

After Grant Naylor Productions took over the making of Red Dwarf, Jackson went on to take several jobs in television management, including Controller of BBC Entertainment and Director of Comedy and Entertainment for the ITV network. In 1992, he recommended Juliet May, who had done a sitcom for him (and also work for BSkyB,) to Rob and Doug to see if she could direct Series V of Red Dwarf as Ed Bye wasn't available. He currently works as CEO of Eyeworks UK, an independent TV company.

Jackson was also the founding chairman of the charity Comic Relief, which he ran for 12 years. Comic Relief also produced a number of Red Dwarf specials in 1999, which can be seen on the Series VIII DVD.