‘Hardly worth bothering’? Red Dwarf has been subject to more than its fair share of edits, censorships and scheduling problems over the years. This is a fairly comprehensive list of these sorts of things, starting with broadcast-related items.
1. In the Series II episode Kryten (TX: 06/09/1988), one of Rimmer’s lines goes mysteriously quiet in the middle. The audio is dropped for one syllable of the following sentence:
RIMMER: You’ve only got to look at them; they’ve got less meat on them than a Chicken McNugget!
No prizes for guessing which syllable was censored – McDonalds are notoriously litigious. It is unknown whether the cut was imposed by McDonalds themselves, or removed by Paul Jackson Productions or the BBC for fear of legal action. It is interesting to note that the line was let through unedited in the Re-Mastered version of the episode.
2. Parallel Universe (11/10/1988) was the first episode to omit the title sequence, and goes straight into Tongue Tied. As such, the title of the episode was not used on-screen. However, for the 1992 video release, the name was superimposed over the opening shot of Red Dwarf in big red letters, as per the other episodes in the series.
3. Viewers were shocked when they sat down to watch Polymorph (28/11/1989) and were greeted with the following warning:
This week’s Red Dwarf contains scenes which are unsuitable for younger viewers and people of a nervous disposition. You have been warned.
As it turns out, the warning was a publicity stunt. After all, there’s nothing that shocking about the boxer shorts scene, to the extent that it requires a caution ten minutes beforehand. Interestingly, the video release of the series (1991) omits the word “week’s”, seeing as people don’t tend to watch videos at a rate of half an hour every week. However, this word was reinstated for the DVD release, which also included the plinky-plonky sound effects on the ‘PJP’ logo at the end of Backwards, which were omitted from the video. No such cut was made to Kryten’s re-cap at the start of Nanarchy, which starts “Last week on Red Dwarf…”
4. The outbreak of the first Gulf War (16/01/1991-28/02/1991) played merry havoc with the scheduling of Series IV (14/02/1991-21/03/1991). The series was originally due to start with Meltdown, but the BBC weren’t keen to show an episode about war, which is fair enough. However, the second episode was supposed to be Dimension Jump, but that too was held back. Apparently, Ace Rimmer is a war-hero-type character, and so the entire episode was deemed unsuitable. In the same episode, the BBC refused to allow the alternate version of The Cat to be a grubby cleaner, as you can’t have a black actor playing a character with a ‘negative image’. This whole situation is ludicrous, but thankfully the war finished in time for the episodes to be finally broadcast, with Dimension Jump on 14/03/1991, and Meltdown on 21/03/1991. As it happened, Series IV opened with a topical episode – Camille was first broadcast on Valentine’s Day.
5. Cowardly self-censorship within the BBC has knackered up repeat schedules of Red Dwarf on three occasions. On June 8th 1994, Craig Charles was arrested on suspicion of rape. At the time, BBC TWO were in the middle of a repeat run of the entire six series, and they decided to stick with the show, despite the (utterly false) allegations made against one of its stars. However, they weren’t too keen to show Craig Charles, or rather his character, engaged in anything nearing sexual activity, so Psirens, in which Lister kisses Pete Tranter’s Sister/a Psiren, was dropped from the run, but has been repeated since Craig was acquitted. Also to suffer was Gunmen of the Apocalypse. The scene in which Rimmer repremands Lister for using the AR machine for sex was cut short, just before Lister goes on to talk about jail-bait ball girls. The full exchange follows, with the censored lines bracketted [thusly].
LISTER: That is an outrageous scandalous piece of libel. I don’t just play the role playing games. What about the sporting simulations? Like zero-gee kick boxing [and Wimbledon.
RIMMER: You only play Wimbledon 'cause you're having it off with that jail-bait ball girl.
LISTER: Is another total lie. She's not jail bait, she's seventeen.
RIMMER: Lister, she's a computer sprite, and surely that's the point; she's just a load of pixels.
LISTER: Yeah, but what pixels!]
After the word ‘kick-boxing’, the scene suddenly switches to the subsequent cockpit scene. This edited version was also used on the Six of the Best videos, in order to keep the certificate down to a PG, as opposed to a 12. There was a similar small removal from the 1994 repeat of Demons and Angels. The line:
LOW LISTER: The part of you that lusts after meaningless sex.
was removed, for obvious reasons. Note we say obvious, rather than reasonable.
6. The next instance of censorship came in 1996, and was in light of the Dunblane Massacre (13/03/1996). The entire nation were shocked and appalled by the tragedy, and mass edits were made to many TV programmes. This affected Red Dwarf, and Rimmerworld, due to be shown on 15/03/1996, was pulled, amid fears that references to “psychotic deranged ruthless killer” and “when you’ve killed them, burn the bodies”, as well as the gun-toting simulant, could be deemed offensive. Out of Time was shown in its place, and the time slot left by the missing episode was filled by Dimension Jump. Rimmerworld was eventually shown on 19/04/1996, a suitably long time after the massacre.
7. More recently, two repeats were cancelled on the same day (09/11/2003), causing worried cries of an anti-Dwarf conspiracy. However, G&T regular Cpt-D pointed out that this was Rememberance Sunday, and both scheduled episodes (Timeslides on BBC TWO and Out of Time on UK Gold) have explicit references to Hitler, and his various misdemeanours. This theory was confirmed by the BBC, who provided a detailed response to our query within days. UK Gold were less helpful, simply stating “editorial reasons”. Useless twats.
8. Speaking of UK Gold, editing and twats, they’ve instigated their own censorships to Red Dwarf, completely removing any mild swear words. For example, in their edit of Polymorph:
RIMMER: What are we going to do?
LISTER: Well, I say let’s get out there.
RIMMER: Lister, you’re ill. Just relax and leave this to us.
Cue a huge laugh, for no reason. Similarly, in Timeslides:
HOLLY: Rescue him?
RIMMER: It’s my duty.
Cut to the next scene, again with a disproportionate laugh. Other instances of this word occur in Waiting For God, Backwards and Ouroboros. Can anyone remember if they cut these too? Let’s face it, this censorship is ridiculous. Especially considering that Red Dwarf is always shown way after 9pm. Interestingly, newer shows don’t often suffer these edits. It seems that UK Gold are (perhaps mistakenly) still using their edits, rather than the original BBC ones, despite their policy on swearing being changed since the first repeats.
9. In Series VII, for the first time since Parallel Universe in Series II, they started pissing about with the opening titles. Both Tikka to Ride (17/01/1997) and Stoke Me A Clipper (24/01/1997) featured pre-credit sequences – in Tikka this was to seperate the Series VI resolution and the main episode, and in Stoke it was to seperate events in the Nazi dimension and ours. The next episode, Ouroboros (31/01/1997) completely omits a title sequence, and starts with Lister being dumped in the Aigburth Arms. However, sharp-eared viewers will be able to make out the final riff of the theme tune being played right at the start, which suggests that the titles were pulled fairly late on in the editing process. No such problems for Duct Soup (07/02/1997), which starts with a simple Red Dwarf VII ident, with a sound effect of Starbug whooshing past in place of the theme tune. The next three episodes have ‘normal’ title sequences, and only Nanarchy (07/03/1997) had an altered opening – the re-cap from Epideme was played before the credits. Interstingly, the original shooting script for The Inquisitor reveals that the Thomas Allman sequence was originally going to be played before the credits.
10. To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the first episode being aired, BBC TWO broadcast Red Dwarf Night (14/02/1998). However, certain shows within the theme night were butchered beyond belief from how they were filmed, most notably Universe Challenge. See Rick Mason’s excellent review for more details. Sadly, it is unlikely that Universe Challenge, full-length or not, will be released as a DVD extra, as there are unresolved copyright issues regarding the University Challenge format. Another edit on Red Dwarf Night was in the Smeg Ups section. On the clip of Chris Barrie falling off his chair in Back to Reality, Danny John-Jules’s quip “Noel Edmonds; it’s got to be” was over-dubbed by someone saying “Smeg Ups! That’s gotta be Smeg Ups!”. This is stupid, no other word for it.
11. It has been well-documented that Pete (Part Two) (01/04/1999) was originally going to end with Archie, Kryten’s penis, entering Hollister in a place where “only customs men dare probe”. This is much funnier than the ending we got, and makes much more sense, so we can only assume this edit was made for reasons of taste, and the fear of upsetting an alleged group of old women who watch the show regularly. These suspicions are backed up by the complete lack of reference to the ending in the Series VIII Scriptbook, where the sequence is not included in the script, or in Doug’s introduction to the episode.