The Penguin TV Companion

Cover: Paperback
Pages: 704 pages
ISBN: 0140514678
Release Date: 2 August, 2001

RED DWARF
UK (Paul Jackson/Grant Naylor/BBC) Situation Comedy. BBC 2 1988-93; 1997-

Arnold J. Rimmer, BSc SSC............Chris Barrie
Dave Lister.........................Craig Charles
Cat..............................Danny John-Jules
Holly...............................Norman Lovett
                                  Hattie Hayridge
Kryten.................................David Ross
                                 Robert Llewellyn
Christine/Kristine Kochanski....Clare/C.P. Grogan
                                     Chloë Annett
Capt. Hollister......................Mac McDonald

Creators: Rob Grant, Doug Naylor
Executive Producers: Paul Jackson, Rob Grant, Doug Naylor
Producers: Ed Bye, Hilary Bevan Jones, Justin Judd

Space-age sitcom featuring the last survivor on a spaceship and his annoying non-human companions.

When Technician Third-Class Dave Lister was sentenced to a period in suspended animation (or ‘stasis’), some time in the 24th century, for smuggling a pregnant cat aboard his spaceship, little did he know that he would wake up three million years later and be the sole survivor of a radiation leak. Resigned to roaming the cosmos in the five-mile-long, three-mile-wide mining ship, Red Dwarf, Lister discovered that all 168 other crew members had died and his only companions were Holly, the ship’s computer, Cat, a hybrid life-form evolved from his pet, and a hologram of his obnoxious former roommate and supervisor, Arnold J. (Judas) Rimmer.

While the deadpan Holly (seen only as a face on a TV screen) was a bit of a practical joker (for a computer), the overzealous Rimmer was devoid of humour and was the exact opposite of Lister in every way. Their incompatibility was central to the series. Desperately ambitious, Rimmer, sadly, was also a coward and unfailingly inept (it had been his error that led to the fatal radiation leak). Being a hologram, he couldn’t touch anything and relied on Holly for his existance and wellbeing. Lister, on the other hand, whiled away his time eating curry, watching videos, slagging off ‘smegging’ Rimmer and lounging on his bunk, perhaps dreaming of Christine Kochanski, another dead crewmate (played initially in flashbacks by one-time Altered Images singer Clare Grogan but then made flesh by Chloë Annett). However, it was Cat who proved to be the most intriguing character. Portrayed as a narcissistic, black dude in snappy dress, Cat looked human (except for his fangs and six nipples) but possessed feline instincts. Lining his stomach and looking good were paramount. He toyed with a roast chicken as a cat would a bird, took ‘cat naps’, licked his laundry clean and sprayed perfume from an aerosol to mark out his territory.

In later seasons, a new Holly was introduced, with comedian Hattie Hayridge replacing Norman Lovett as the dry, lugubrious computer (Lovett returned in the seventh series). and an android, Kryten, was added to the cast. Discovered working as a manservant to three human girls (who had long since perished), the angular robot temporarily joined Red Dwarf in the second series; but, with a new actor in the role, he took up permanent residence the following year. The only other regular characters were a couple of silent robot helpers called skutters and a few talking appliances, like an outspoken toaster. However, by dipping into parallel universes, or whizzing forward to the future or back to the past, there was no shortage of new situations for the mismatched crew to encouter. When the mining ship was somehow stolen, the team were stranded for a while in space in the pokey Starbug shuttle.

More than three years seperated series six and seven and Chris Barrie committed to only part of that seventh series but, contary to fans’ fears, Red Dwarf did return in 1997, with an eighth series following in 1999. In the latter, the original Red Dwarf had been re-created by nanobots, complete with real human crew.

Red Dwarf, though slow to pick up audiences, rapidly gained cult status. Each series’ title included a number, with the second series called Red Dwarf II, etc. Its creators, Rob Grant and Doug Naylor, had previously worked with Chris Barrie on SPITTING IMAGE. Grant, however, was not involved after Red Dwarf VI.

Capsule Errors:

  • This is a bit unfair to pick up on, since Grant Naylor don’t seem to care either, but in the first series, Lister and Rimmer hail from the 21st century. A 23th century setting is referred to by Red Dwarf IV. A 24th century setting is never mentioned, to our knowledge.
  • It says that Kochanski was “played initially in flashbacks by one-time Altered Images singer Clare Grogan but then made flesh by Chloë Annett”. Whilst she was in a flashback in Balance of Power, and possibly Stasis Leak (depending on your definition of a flashback), she appeared as normal in The End, as a hologram (sort of) in Balance of Power again, and as an illusion in Psirens.
  • Technically, the second series of Red Dwarf was not called Red Dwarf II – that practice only started with the third series, and was retrospectively applied to the first two series on the video and DVD releases.

NOTE: New version released 4th September 2003.

Tags:

Leave a Reply