1 9 8 8 – 1 9 9 9 (UK)
2 0 0 9, 2 0 1 2 (UK)
61 x 30 minute episodes
“This is an SOS distress call from the mining ship Red Dwarf. The crew are dead, killed by a radiation leak, the only survivors were Dave Lister who was in suspended animation during the disaster and his pregnant cat who was safely sealed in the hold”.
Revived from ‘stasis’ three million years later, Dave Lister is the last human being in existence and his only companions are a James Brown-like lifeform which evolved from his cat (simply called Cat) and a pompous hologram simulation of one of the lower achievers from the dead crew, Arnold Rimmer.
There was enough food to last 30,000 years but only one After Eight mint and everyone was too polite to take it.
Dave Lister is a curry-eating 23rd century Scouser with a vocabulary based around the expletive “smeg”. He is also the last human alive, being the sole survivor of a radiation leak aboard the space mining vessel Red Dwarf. He is brought out of his sleep in stasis by the ship’s computer, Holly.
Most of the humour of the show (particularly in the first season) derives from the schoolboy antics and meanderings of Lister and Rimmer.
Red Dwarf originated as a Radio 4 Son of Cliche sketch as a sort of ‘Young Ones in space’ although as the TV seasons progressed it became more serious, and a new character was added in the shape of the android, Kryten. A new female Holly was also added.
The seventh series followed a gap of three years and Chris Barrie announced that he had taken Rimmer as far as he wanted and amicably left the show, bowing out in the episode aired on 14 February 1997.
This event led to the reappearance of Christine/Kristine Kochanski, Rimmer’s ex-girlfriend, originally played by ex-Altered Images singer Clare Grogan but now by Chloe Annett.
But Barrie was back for the eighth and final series, in which our heroes were held prisoner on board a reconstructed version of the original Red Dwarf, in which the original long-dead crew had also been resurrected. Otherwise, the exploits continued much as before with perhaps an even greater freedom to explore extreme plot ideas and uncharted territories.
Over time, the budget and production values of Red Dwarf were elevated and the special effects were at times quite splendid. In later episodes, the action is set on the space hopper Star Bug instead of the mining ship Red Dwarf – quite likely a budgetary decision.
Production of the series stopped for a while during the late nineties while Craig Charles spent some time as a guest of Her Majesty in England, as a result of some alleged illegal sexual activity.
The series was revived after a ten-year break when British digital channel Dave screened a three-episode production titled Red Dwarf: Back to Earth in April 2009 during the Easter weekend.
This was followed by a further six episodes in October/November 2012.
Mercifully, a proposed US version of the show to star Craig Bierko and Chris Eigeman did not make it to air, although an (unaired) pilot was made in 1992.
Arnold Judas Rimmer
Norman Lovett (1)
Hattie Hayridge (2)
David Ross (1)
Robert Llewellyn (2)
Christine (Kristine) Kochanski
Clare Grogan (1)
Chloe Annett (2)