The Silver Survey Results

Ladies and gentlemen, on the occasion of Red Dwarf‘s twenty-fifth anniversary, we invite you to join us, if you dare, in a journey through the Top 61 episodes of all time, as voted for by YOU. So if you disagree with anything you read here, you’ve only got yourself to blame. This article was an epic undertaking for us, and it will be for you, the reader, as it’s 10,000 words long and jam-packed with more statistics than you can shake a stick at. The words are by Ian Symes, the graphics are by Danny Stephenson, and the massive database that ran the survey was by Jonathan Capps, who also made it all look very pretty with his CSS shenanigans.

Grab yourself a coffee or a beer – whatever’s your poison – and brace yourself. Good luck everybody – here it comes!

Before we get started, let’s talk a little about demographics. 228 people took the time to complete our massive survey – a huge thank you to each and every one of you. Of those, 64% are male, 22% are female, 2% identified as ‘other’ and 12% declined to answer. We were also interested to know how people found the survey – 56% of participants were G&T regulars, 20% found us through Twitter, 4% came from the forum, 9% found us through ‘other’ means and 11% didn’t answer.

So, we asked you all to rank all sixty-one episodes in order. The scoring used for the Silver Survey is adapted from the system Seb Patrick devised for our 2008 poll, before he fucked off to GNP. It’s designed to give a points bonus to any episode placed in the top 10, obviously weighted to benefit episodes at the very top. So, the first placed episode will receive 80 points, second receives 74, third 70, all the way down to tenth being awarded 52 and eleventh 50. The points reduction then levels out at 1 per place culminating in the last placed episode receiving no points at all, as is right and proper. All these points are then added together to give us the final rankings.

Here’s an example of how information is presented:

XX. Episode Title

Up/Down X. XXXX points. Top: X. Bottom: X.

Up against the coloured banner, you’ve got the position and the episode title. On the line underneath, the first piece of information tells you how the placing compares to our 2008 twentieth-anniversary poll. Two things to bear in mind here: firstly, the 2008 poll was compiled just from the opinions of the G&T writers, so it’s nowhere near as representative of the overall fandom consensus as this is. Also, there’s nine extra episodes in this poll, so towards the bottom end of the list, a lot of episodes will have moved down by around nine places, but in essence, their relative position has remained similar. So basically, we’ve only included these comparisons as a bit of fun, so don’t pay them too much heed.

Next up, you’ve got the total number of points accrued by each episode, using the aforementioned scoring method. Then, you’ve got the number of people who placed the episode in their number one slot, followed by the number of people who placed it right at the bottom of the pile. Additionally, some episodes will have additional footnotes, usually if they’re the highest or lowest placed episode of their series. And yes, the colour of the banner will correspond to the colour of each series’ DVD cover.

For the write-up, we’ve gone for a heavily stats-based analysis this time. Our 2008 round up gives you more of our opinions, so rather than repeating itself we’ve set our focus on interesting factoids, spreadsheet-based geekery and fandom as a whole. Put simply, we’re looking at why people have put each given episode into this particular order, rather than analysing the episodes themselves.

Quite frankly, there’s already been far too much ado. So without any more of that, let’s get started with what is now officially the worst episode of Red Dwarf ever made…

61. Pete (Part Two)

Down 9. 1183 points. Bottom: 67. Worst Series VIII episode.

What more can be said about this shambles? It is categorically and undeniably the worst episode of Red Dwarf – rooted to the bottom of the list, and miles away from its nearest rival. If Derby County’s 2007-08 Premier League campaign was an episode of a science-fiction sit-com, this would be it. In a year where we’re supposed to be celebrating everything good about Red Dwarf, let’s just be thankful that when there’s an episode as bad as this, it sticks out so much that the decision to put it in last place was shared by sixty-seven people – by far the highest amount, by a factor of 39.

60. Pete (Part One)

Down 11. 1554 points. Bottom: 4.

Oh look, and here’s its slightly less shit brother. In real terms, it’s moved down two places since last time, and I think it’s suffering from its association with the concluding part – if you view it as a standalone half-hour, there are worse episodes in Series VIII. Just about.

59. Back In The Red (Part Three)

Down 8. 2090 points. Bottom: 10.

It’s three for three from Series VIII at the very bottom of the list, and also the third multi-part component in a row. This episode in particular suffered badly from VIII’s production problems; vast chunks were inserted to bulk it out when Back In The Red expanded from 1x60m to 3x30m. The result is a nonsensical mess, with little to no consistency in terms of pace, plot or character. Oh yeah, and there’s the Blue Midget dance.

58. Only The Good…

Down 13. 2583 points. Top: 1. Bottom: 12.

Make that four out of four. Half of Series VIII is considered to be the very worst that the show has to offer. That said, this is the lowest-placed episode that was selected as somebody’s all-time favourite, although that one person’s opinion is emphatically outweighed by the twelve people who think it’s the worst ever. Dodgy sexual politics aside, there are some laughs in this episode, but it concludes with a cliffhanger ending so bad that the prospect of returning to it after thirteen years is so ridiculous that Series X makes jokes about it. That it spent so long with the ‘last ever episode’ tag throws into sharp focus how much an improvement has been made in the latest series, which I think is another reason for Only The Good… being so very low down in the list.

57. Back in the Red (Part Two)

Down 11. 2591 points. Bottom: 1.

Okay, now it’s five-eighths of Series VIII that has the ignominy of propping up all others. It only polled eight more points than Only The Good…, and it’s just about equally tedious to sit through. It’s never as offensively bad as some of its VIII counterparts, but things like the Data Doctor and the Dibbley Family drag it down to the depths of despair.

56. Nanarchy

Down 14. 2780 points. Bottom: 5. Worst Series VII episode.

Well, some series or other had to break VIII’s stranglehold on shitness at some point, and it’s no surprise that it’s VII. Norman Lovett pops up, and isn’t half bad, but the interminably slow-moving stuff with Lister’s missing arm that dominates the episode weighs it down heavily. It’s the biggest drop from the 2008 G&T-only poll so far – we actually picked it as the fourth best episode of VII. But with a further five years’ distance, I guess there just aren’t many laughs to be had from a re-watch.

55. Beyond a Joke

Down 5. 2909 points. Bottom: 11.

Barely a joke, more like, ahaha. Bearing in mind there’s nine extra episodes this time round, it’s actually fared far better than it did five years ago, when we said it was the third worst ever, and the worst of its series. I put its relative success down to an unwillingness to criticise its co-writer, as it is truly woeful.

54. Krytie TV

Down 6. 2999 points. Top: 1. Bottom: 20.

Controversially high in the list, this piece of inconsequential, sexist tedium has been given the dubious honour of being the third best episode from its series, although it’s still behind three quarters of Series VII and all of absolutely everything else. During the month in which voting was open, it spent a hell of a lot of time higher in the list than most of Back To Earth, but thankfully common sense prevailed. We can only assume that the person who put this in first place was joking.

53. Back To Earth (Part One)

New entry. 3110 points. Worst Back To Earth episode. Lowest new entry.

Ah, speaking of which – here’s the first new entry on our list, a fairly respectable ninth-bottom. Nothing split opinion like Back To Earth, but I’d say the fact that, at its worst, it’s been placed better than exactly half of VII and VIII is about fair enough. That this is the lowest of the three is probably down to the slow, ponderous stuff set on board the ship – the big laughs and the interesting plot stuff don’t really come until they go though the portal at the start of Part Two. Despite being bottom of Back To Earth‘s particular pile, it’s the first episode on this list that absolutely nobody put in last place. Indeed, it’s one of only five episodes of the whole lot that wasn’t picked as either best or worst.

52. Back To Earth (Part Two)

New entry. 3135 points. Bottom: 10.

Only twenty-five points separated the first two parts of the trilogy – an indication perhaps that people have trained themselves to consider the Directors Cut as the definitive version, and find it difficult to separate it into its component original-broadcast parts. The mini-series undoubtedly gets funnier with its second installment, but the development of the plot splits fans right down the middle in terms of positive or negative reaction, and this difference of opinion keeps its position firmly in the ‘mediocre’ category.

51. Back In The Red (Part One)

Down 10. 3158 points.

Up pops the second best episode of VIII to interrupt this Back To Earth party. It’s the first of the series, and the first ever (arguably) installment of a multi-parter, and it suffers the least from Back In The Red‘s unpleasant stretching. That’ll be why it’s been placed six places and nearly five hundred points higher than the closest other part of this terrible story. “The world loves a bastard” is undoubtedly as good as this three-parter got, and according to you lot, it’s almost as good as the entire series got.

50. Duct Soup

Down 3. 3190 points. Bottom: 15.

We’re out of the bottom ten, but we’re still not really into the good stuff yet. In real terms, this episode is up six places from the 2008 poll, but it’s still very much in the bottom half of Series VII. The bulk of the jokes come from bog standard “men and women are different” observations, and it’s just not very funny. Although, with only five points between this and the 49th placed episode, it can count itself unlucky.

49. Back To Earth (Part Three)

Average points for multi-part stories

  • 1. Back To Earth – 3146.67
  • 2. Back In The Red – 2613
  • 3. Pete – 1368.5

New entry. 3195 points. Bottom: 28. Best Back To Earth episode.

It’s official – Part Three is the best bit of Back To Earth, with two places and 60 points’ worth of breathing space between it and the first two parts. The Corrie bits are the funniest in the trilogy, and the Kochanski bits the most dramatic. Not a surprise that it’s the highest of its mini-series, but it’s safely the worst ‘best episode’ of the lot. With there only being three episodes, the net result is that Part Three is better than five-eighths of VII and VIII, rather than half, but the whole thing is worse than all of I-VI and indeed X. I’d say that’s just about right. Strangely, this was placed bottom of the list more often than anything other than Pete (Part Two) – we put this down to a lot of people not being able to separate the three parts, and leaving them in one block. Anyone who did this and also thought that Back To Earth was utter rubbish would have put Part Three in bottom place by default.

48. Epideme

Average points for Series VII episodes…

  • With Chris Barrie – 5265.75
  • Without Chris Barrie – 3064.5

Down 4. 3379 points. Bottom: 3.

Another one that’s up a few places if you take the nine new entries into account, and the fifth best of its series. Gary Martin gives a memorable guest performance, which overpowers the episode to the extent that your enjoyment of the whole thing depends on whether or not you’re on board with his work. As with almost every other episode from this run, it’s full of good ideas, but it’s just not that funny.

47. Ouroboros

Down 4. 3667 points. Bottom: 1.

Nearly 300 points above Epideme, but nearly 500 below the next place, Ouroboros is one of the most “locked-in” episodes in this part of the list. Indeed, it was one place ahead of Epideme back in 2008, and as we said then: there are some comedic high points, but it’s not as clever as it thinks it is. The “obscene phone call” line is a big plus point, but “you’re lying” counts for about three thousand minutes points, plus Kochanski’s arrival heralds a huge and unpopular shift in the character dynamic that the show has only just recovered from.

46. Dear Dave

New entry. 4143 points. Bottom: 4. Worst Series X episode.

The lowest-placed episode of Series X, and unsurprisingly it’s the one that was written in a week and then hastily cobbled together with green-screen bits shot weeks later. The worst episode of Red Dwarf‘s newest series sits comfortably above fifteen older episodes, which means that there’s only four episodes from outside of the I-VI bubble that are deemed better. It would perhaps be higher in the list if there was any sort of tangible plot.

45. Blue

Down 6. 4656 points. Top: 1. Bottom: 1.

It’s another big leap between Dear Dave and Blue, which is now officially the third best of Series VII. And hey, here’s a coincidence – the four VII episodes with Chris Barrie/Rimmer in them are all above the four without him/him. No doubt the slash community will have given this two thumbs up (one for each of Rimmer and Lister’s bumholes), but there’s a lot to like elsewhere, particularly the Rimmer Experience and affiliated Munchkin Song.

44. Entangled

New entry. 4809 points. Bottom: 1.

And the fifth-best – or second-worst – episode of Series X is another that was beset with production problems. I wonder whether the fact that we know the behind-the-scenes stories has contributed to the prevailing opinion, or whether we’d have come to these conclusions regardless. Either way, it’s evident that this episode starts well, with a gag-packed first half, which makes way to a rushed and unsatisfying conclusion.

43. Cassandra

Down 7. 4938 points. Bottom: 2. Best Series VIII episode.

Unsurprisingly the best of its series, given that it contains an actual sci-fi plot, some decent gags that derive from said plot, and on top of that, it’s a self-contained thirty minute story. However, back in 2008 we ranked it as the best episode of VII and VIII, and even put it above one from the I-VI bubble. This time round, there are two VII episodes above it, along with the entirety of the bubble, and indeed two thirds of Series X.

42. Stoke Me A Clipper

Down 2. 5831 points. Top: 1. Bottom: 1.

It may be the lowest placed Ace Rimmer episode, but it’s leapfrogged Blue and Cassandra since 2008. In fact, it’s now a whopping 900-odd points ahead of Cassandra, and is breathing down the neck of the worst member of the bubble. I think it gets better with age, especially now that Arnie’s departure seems even less final these days than it did in 1997 – Series X has given us a version of Rimmer that we actually care about, for the first time since this one blasted off in Ace’s ship.

41. Waiting For God

Down 4. 5850 points. Top: 2. Bottom: 6. Worst Series I episode.

And here we have it – the worst episode of the original 36. It was the case back in 2008, and the only thing that’s changed is that it used to only have one post-1993 episode ahead of it – now it’s got five. Personally, I think it’s a bit harsh – received opinion has always pegged it down the bottom, but there’s plenty of great things to enjoy here, not least the whole Quagaars sub-plot. We’re definitely in the part of the poll where we’re dealing with “which really good episode is better than the other really good episodes”, rather than sifting through the handful of rubbish ones.

40. Fathers & Suns

New entry. 6357 points. Bottom: 1.

I said it at the time, and I’ll say it now – Fathers & Suns could have been a fantastic episode, but it’s a bit of a wasted opportunity. Still, it’s been deemed to be better than an episode from the first 36 episodes, so just think how much higher it would have been if Rebecca Blackstone’s performance and the fantastic double Lister scene hadn’t been dragged down by the Medi-Bot and Taiwan Tony? This is already a strong showing from Series X – the fourth best episode is better than a whopping twenty of its predecessors, and exactly half of the series is yet to come.

39. Emohawk – Polymorph II

Down 5. 6458 points. Bottom: 2. Worst Series VI episode.

Three sequels in one was always going to be tricky, and the ravages of time have placed this way below all three of its prequels – Polymorph, Dimension Jump and Back To Reality. It’s taken a bashing in recent times, so it’s no real surprise to see it placed as the second worst of the bubble, despite the Kinitowawi stuff being very funny indeed.

38. Lemons

New entry. 6576 points. Bottom: 3.

It’s proven to be the third best episode of Series X, and comes within just two places of breaking into the top 36. It’s unique amongst its contemporaries in terms of how close it is to the ‘classic’ format, with the location work and impressive India set lending it a far greater scale than you’d expect from a sitcom of this budget. It’s my personal favourite from the latest series, and as such I think it’s a bit of a shame that it hasn’t climbed further up the table, but let’s face it – no episode from Series X was ever going to stand up to the very best episodes of the old series, so just getting into the 30-somethings is an achievement. The relative freshness will always give the newest episodes a boost in polls such as this, so we’ll just have to wait until the 30th anniversary to see how much it stands up to increased familiarity.

37. Confidence & Paranoia

Down 4. 6803 points. Top: 1. Bottom: 4.

Another classic episode falls out of the bubble – the third and final episode to suffer this blow. It’s a comfortable 250 points ahead of the episode below, so it’s still most definitely seen as a goodun. The guest performances from Craig Ferguson and Lee Cornes are very strong, and unique amongst the low-key first series. It’s by no means a dud, it’s just that it was eclipsed so spectacularly by what was to come.

With twenty-five episodes now slotted nicely into place, let’s take a short break for a graph. We’re about to head into the Top 36, ie. the number of episodes in Series I-VI. The overwhelmingly popular opinion is that nothing from 1997 onwards is as good as anything from 1988-1993. So, if you were to group the Top 36 into series and plot that on a pie chart, you’d expect it to comprise of six equal slices. Not so.

VII and X have managed to squeeze in there, with episodes from I and VI losing out. But just how high up can that renegade Series VII refugee climb? Let’s resume the countdown to find out…

36. Tikka To Ride

Up 2. 6909 points. Top: 4. Bottom: 1. Best Series VII episode.

Oh. But hey, look – it’s the first episode to have risen in position since 2008! An impressive feat, given that there’s been an extra nine episodes thrown in the mix – it’s beaten all but two of them. It’s always stood out as a strong point of the post-1993 years, and now it’s cemented its position as the best the show would get between the Grant Naylor era and the Dave era. It’s very close to the classic formula, but the various differences seemed to be a great new direction for the show. Sadly, it’s let down by containing an appalling conclusion to a brilliant cliffhanger, along with the bizarre viciously-beating-a-crewmember ending. The good stuff lifts it far and away above the rest of the series though, and it’s no surprise that it’s been voted as the best of sixteen VII and VIII episodes.

35. Balance of Power

Down 7. 6953 points. Top: 1. Bottom: 2.

Three of the four worst I-VI episodes are from the very first series – no real surprise considering the huge step up in gear that came with Series II. It’s fallen a fair way from its top 30 position back in 2008, but it’s still done better than it has done in previous large-scale polls. There’s a lot of interesting character stuff going on, but it is a bit light on laugh-out-loud moments, and of course it contains gratuitous scenes of Clare Grogan. Three of its fellow Series I episodes are better, along with the entirety of Series II-V.

34. Parallel Universe

Average points for episodes containing each Holly actor

  • Norman Lovett – 6218.81
  • Hattie Hayridge – 9409.89

Up 1. 7316 points. Top: 2. Bottom: 1. Worst Series II episode.

Possibly the earliest example of Red Dwarf‘s sometimes troubling sexual politics, but at least it’s done in a funny way. That said, it’s not enough to avoid being bottom of the Series II pile – below the entirety of Series III-V, but above exactly half of Series I. Doug is on the record as saying he doesn’t much rate it, and I think that’s trickled down a bit – any episode that contains Tongue Tied, baby skutters and Hilly can’t be that bad. There’s a point – this is the worst episode to feature Hattie Hayridge; all 19 of her episodes are better than 12 of Norman’s 21.

33. Rimmerworld

Down 3. 7357 points.

Narrowly beating Parallel Universe comes the second Series VI episode we’ve encountered so far, which means that if you were to jettison one series’ worth of episodes from the classic era, one third of them would be from Series VI. Quite why you’d do that, I’m not sure, but VI is faring pretty badly at this point. A small minority of wrong-headed Dwarf fans thought the change in setting and style was a mis-step, but it’s worth repeating that as we approach the halfway mark, it’s fair to say that all these episodes are well-loved, it’s just that some are slightly more well-loved than others. This episode features the brilliant teleporter gag, the Chinese Worry Balls and Chris Barrie’s bare buttocks – we’re definitely firmly into the awesome territory.

32. Camille

Down 2. 7517 points. Top: 1. Worst Series IV episode.

This and Rimmerworld were neck-and-neck in 30th position in 2008, and they’re neighbours once more here, although with a healthy points portion separating them. When an episode of this undoubted quality is ranked just below the halfway point, you know you’re dealing with a very special programme. It’s the lowest of Series IV, which means that III and V are the only series yet to feature. It seems bizarre that an episode containing the lying scene, Cat high-fiving himself and an early virtuoso performance from Robert Llewellyn can be picked as the ‘worst’ of its run, but again, that just goes to show how fantastic Series IV is.

31. Meltdown

Down 16. 7652 points. Top: 3. Bottom: 2.

That said, here’s another Series IV episode, which finds itself exactly in the middle of the results – there are 30 better episodes and 30 worse episodes. That’s according to you lot, anyway – this is the first time that the popular opinion from 200-odd Red Dwarf fans has differed greatly from that of Team G&T. We placed this at joint-15th with Dimension Jump in 2008, citing the huge number of guest actors, the brilliant Tony Hawks and Craig’s excellent and sensitive delivery of Lister’s anti-war message as huge plus points. But we’re aware that it’s always been a divisive episode, and it would seem that its format-breaking nature has alienated just as many people as it’s enthralled.

30. Trojan

New entry. 7758 points. Top: 1.

Just sneaking in to the top thirty is the second best episode of Red Dwarf X. Episodes from this batch thus far have generally been better than VII and VIII but not quite as good as I-VI, but then Trojan comes along and establishes itself as better than nearly a quarter of the bubble. An undoubtedly strong season opener, Trojan blazed a trail for Red Dwarf‘s return with a great guest performance, an intriguing storyline that toys with aspects of Rimmer’s mythology, and Kryten in a silly hat. Only the observational call centre stuff lets down an exciting and promising return to form.

29. DNA

Non-mover. 7820 points. Bottom: 1.

Ooh, a non-mover! A rare occurrence of G&T being right about something for a change. In fact, this episode is categorically the 29th best ever – it’s 29th here, it was 29th in 2008 and if you collate the results from just the five current G&T members, it’s 29th there as well. Well done, DNA! Anyway, that’s half of the Series IV episodes placed already, before we’ve seen any from III or V. At this point, it’s on a par with Series I, but is doing worse than II or VI, although obviously much better than anything from 1997 onwards. While Meltdown is divisive, DNA can be lumped in with Camille in the category of “episodes which are clearly brilliant, it’s just that there are ones that are even more brilliant”. It gave us Spare Head Three and the double polaroid – what’s not to love?

28. Terrorform

Down 2. 7951 points. Top: 2. Worst Series V episode.

Ah, there’s Series V. We were wondering where you’d got to. 28th place ain’t bad at all for the least good episode of a series, but it does mean that Series III takes the title of Series Where All The Episodes Are Better Than At Least One Episode From Each Of The Other Series. There was a time when the sight of Chris Barrie’s oiled nipples would elevate this to the top of any poll, but not even the taranshula scene, the group hug and the dark exploration of Rimmer’s psyche can push it very far above the halfway mark.

27. Demons & Angels

Down 3. 8013 points. Top: 2.

Series V episodes are just like buses, or black holes. It’s done well to not slip further down the rankings, as it’s another of those episodes that’s been reappraised a little unfavourably in recent times – everyone loves an alternative-versions-of-the-main-characters episode, but cramming ten alternate versions into one episode made them very broad caricatures with very little in common with the main crew. But, crucially – it’s still really, really funny, so that doesn’t matter too much.

26. The Beginning

New entry. 8057 points. Top: 1. Bottom: 3. Best Series X episode. Highest new entry.

It’s the moment that up to seven of you have been waiting for – this is how the very best of Series X stacks up against the rest. Better than the entirety of VII, VIII and BTE, better than half of Series I and IV, a third of II and VI and a sixth of II. Alternatively: not as good as the entirety of Series III, half of Series I and IV, two thirds of II and VI and five sixths of II. But realistically, this is the best we could have expected from a brand new series, broadcast 13 years after the last one and 19 years after the last really good one. It was never going to be quite the same as the golden era, but The Beginning‘s high placing proves that with the right combination of ingredients (those being funny jokes, intriguing character development, genuine peril, great guest performances and cracking model shots), there’s no reason why new Red Dwarf can’t hold its own against the glory days. And it can count itself very unlucky to have finished a mere FOUR POINTS behind the first entry of the Top 25.

25. The Last Day

Down 2. 8061 points. Worst Series III episode.

And that big green banner indicates that all ten series have now been accounted for, and that Series III comprises a whopping 24% of the Top 25. The Last Day is judged to be the least good of an exceptionally good bunch, despite featuring Robert’s best performance of the series, Lemming Sunday, the brilliant melancholy drunken scene and a robot that can break bricks in half with its willy.

24. Bodyswap

Down 6. 8093 points. Top: 1.

And just 32 points ahead of the worst Series III episode comes the second-worst Series III episode. It’s a great piece of character comedy, with some outstanding gags and a spectacular visual effects sequence – it’s just that other episodes do those three things that little bit better. Of the Series I-VI episodes we’ve seen thus far, four have been from the first half of each series, and nine from the second half. Conclusion? Nothing. But it’s a laugh, innit?

23. Timeslides

Down 5. 8498 points. Top: 1.

Woah there, Series III! We hadn’t seen you for all this time, and then you go an splurge your entire Byte 2 VHS all over our astonished faces. This means that although Series III was the final series to show up when you’re counting from the bottom, there are only three episodes left at this stage – the same number as I and IV, and less than II, V and VI. Back in 2008, Bodyswap and Timeslides were tied in eighteenth place, and once more they’re next to each other here, although with a 400-odd point gap between them. This would probably have been higher if Graham Chapman hadn’t have selfishly died to leave us with Ruby Wax in his part.

22. The End

Up 10. 8531 points. Top: 2.

It’s a big, big climber – by far the highest so far. It means that, according to you lot, when Red Dwarf started twenty-five years ago, that initial broadcast was only bettered 21 times. Less than once a year, on average. My personal view is that it’s a fantastic “first ever episode” of something (technically it’s not a pilot), which does a great job of creating a rich universe and leaves you eagerly anticipating further adventures… but it’s not necessarily a great episode of Red Dwarf in itself, given that it’s not particularly funny and that the performances (Craig’s in particular) are way off at times. But the highlights, which include the iconic “everybody’s dead” scene, and the huge sentimental value have elevated the first episode firmly into the awesome category of this poll.

21. Psirens

Up 1. 8622 points. Top: 2.

Another climber, albeit by the narrowest of narrow margins – we’ll start to see a lot more of these at this stage in proceedings, to make up for all the early fallers that these episodes have displaced. Psirens heralded a new direction for the show, which wasn’t popular with all fans, although the same can be said of Kryten, Backwards, Tikka To Ride, Back In The Red, Back To Earth and Trojan. This one beats two thirds of those, which is unsurprising given that Series VI is now well-loved by the vast majority of fans, and that the show has got an awful lot going for it in its own right. Anything that involves a phallic object, dripping in KY Jelly, being forcibly inserted into Craig Charles’s mouth is always going to prove popular.

And speaking of things being forcibly inserted, here’s another graph, this time plotting the make-up of our Top 20. Because hey, it’s Top 20 time!

20. Kryten

Episodes that nobody picked as the best or worst:

  • Kryten
  • The Last Day
  • Rimmerworld
  • Back In The Red (Part One)
  • Back To Earth (Part One)

Up 1. 8955 points.

And that top twenty kicks off with what is only the fifth-best episode from the excellent Series II – it makes up a quarter of the twenty best episodes. It is, however, the lowest-placed episode to feature David Ross, who does an excellent job as the eponymous droid – how different the show would have been had he been available for Series III. The reveal of the Nova 5 skellingtons is often cited as the moment that the audience finally clicked with what the show was doing, and it’s one of several classic moments in this episode, which also features dogs milk, Lister’s getting-ready routine and Kryten’s rebellion. It’s the highest-placed episode that nobody picked as their absolute favourite, and also the highest-placed of the five episodes to be picked neither top nor bottom.

19. Stasis Leak

Down 5. 9056 points. Top: 5.

Another Series II episode out of the way, and it’s one of a number of early timey-wimey episodes, although it’s placed lower than both Thanks For The Memory and Future Echoes. It is, however, the highest-placed episode to feature footage of a fully-crewed Dwarf, beating The End, Balance of Power, Ouroboros and, unsurprisingly, the whole of Series VIII. It’s also the best episode to feature Clare Grogan. It drops a handful of places from the G&T-only poll of 2008, despite all the brilliant split-screen shenanigans, culminating in the brilliant triple-Lister/triple-Rimmer finale.

18. Backwards

Up 7. 9238 points. Top: 3. Bottom: 1.

Another big climber from last time around, with the voting public evidently deciding that the excellent comedy is far more important than the ropey logic. The episode makes no sense whatsoever when you’ve spent twenty-odd years analysing its plot, but there’s no denying that scenes such as the bar-room tidy are so funny that the nonsensical backwards plot progression doesn’t detract from the joy of watching the episode at all,

17. The Inquisitor

Down 4. 9282 points. Top: 1.

Narrowly pipping Backwards to the coveted Number 17 spot is one of the most out-and-out sci-fi actiony episodes that Red Dwarf has ever done. It’s all about Jack Docherty’s eponymous villain, but there’s still room for excellent character comedy, notably Lister proving that he knows Rimmer and the amazing self-judgement scenes. It’s the latter that cements its place as a classic episode, giving us lots of laughs along with insights into Rimmer’s self-delusions, Cat’s shallowness, Lister’s attitude to authority and Kryten’s moral philosophies.

16. Justice

Up 1. 9310 points. Top: 3.

It’s another episode with strong themes of self-judgement – the third-best episode of Series IV. With fifteen still to go, we’ve got two from I, three from II, two from III, two from IV, three from V and three from VI still to go. Lister and Rimmer both get their histories and morality held up to the spotlight in this episode, but Kryten steals the show with his insult-laden defence of Rimmer in the courtroom scene. Add a big old slapsticky scrap with simulant into the mix – not to mention Lister’s space mumps and Rimmer’s holiday on the diesel decks – and you’ve got a damn fine episode.

15. Holoship

Down 5. 9781 points. Top: 10. Bottom: 1.

We put this in tenth place back in 2008, and it’s the first of four from that Top 10 to have dropped out in the intervening five years. In points terms, it’s still closer to the current Top 10 than it is to the episode below it, so the numbers suggest that it’s from this point that the quality really steps up an extra gear. And it’s hard to argue that point when confronted with an episode so well-crafted, touching and satisfying as this – Rimmer finally falling in love and eventually choosing to sacrifice a huge career advancement for the woman of his dreams, whilst delivering comedic gems such as the the Japanese meal line along the way. Unbelievably, readers of the Smegazine voted this as the second-worst episode thus far in 1992, the early nineties idiots.

14. Better Than Life

Highest climbers since 2008

  • 1. Better Than Life – Up 13
  • 2. Polymorph – Up 12
  • 3. The End – Up 10
  • 4. Gunmen of the Apocalypse – Up 9
  • 5= Backwards – Up 7
  • 5= Quarantine – Up 7

Up 13. 9859 points. Top: 3.

It’s the highest climber of the entire poll, and it’s perhaps surprising to see this one placed so highly, but then you remember that before they enter the game – which is all rather lightweight and inconsequential compared to the version we saw in the novels – it contains all the fantastic stuff around the death of Rimmer’s dad. It’s amongst the most emotional material that the show ever touched upon, and is one of the chief reasons behind Rimmer’s character developing from an unfeeling bastard, to a flawed but lovable full-rounded human being.

13. Me²

Down 4. 10081 points. Top: 3.

And here’s another of those reasons; another brilliant early showcase for Chris Barrie and his character. It’s down as the second best episode of Series I, but it really belongs as the sole occupant of a metaphorical mezzanine level between the first two series – written far later than the other five, with the specific cast members’ strengths in mind, and being far more indicative of the format that would define the show for the majority of its lifespan: character comedy lead by interesting sci-fi concepts. Unlucky to have fallen out of the top ten, but it can take comfort in the fact that it’s the first episode to break into a five-digit points total.

12. Out of Time

Down 10. 10175 points. Top: 15.

Oooh, and that’s a shock. In the 2008 G&T vote, we put it in second place, but it’s dropped ten whole places to fall out of the Top 10 completely. It’s now only the third best episode of Series VI, but that’s no mean feat in itself considering the nightmare they had trying to get the thing made – scripts being written directly onto the autocue while the cast were on set, and a cliffhanger ending that was largely improvised in the edit suite. Despite these problems, it contains some of the funniest scenes in Red Dwarf‘s history – particularly those concerning unreality bubbles – and definitely the most shocking moment of all, as the crew are picked off one by one, leaving only a ‘to be continued’ caption that would eventually hang in the air for three-and-a-half years. Frankly, I’m baffled as to why this one has dropped down so badly. I hate you all.

11. White Hole

Down 4. 10228 points. Top: 8. Bottom: 1.

Just missing out on a place in the Top 10 by a measly couple of hundred points is the second best episode of Series IV. If you’re keeping score, that means that the best ten episodes comprise one from Series I, 2 from II, 2 from III, 1 from IV, 2 from V and 2 from VI. A fairly even spread, if you ignore the 25 episodes that aren’t from between 1988 and 1993. White Hole was our seventh placed episode last time round, and it contains a multitude of iconic aspects – the super-intelligent Holly, the most memorable incarnation of Talkie Toaster and of course the fantastically constructed ‘what is it?’ scene.

We’re now approaching the part of the list that would warrant its own cheaply-produced clips show, with the likes of Patrick Stewart and Iain Lee popping up to tell us why Red Dwarf is brilliant. So let’s lower the lights, play a bed of tension music and prepare to delve in to the absolute creme de la creme of Red Dwarf excellence.

Let’s start with one more series-by-series pie chart graph. EXCITING.

10. Legion

Down 4. 10449 points. Top: 3. Bottom: 1.

Slipping down the exact same number of places as its neighbour White Hole, but still desperately clinging on to the Top 10, it’s the episode that gave us what’s likely to be Red Dwarf‘s most quoted line – “don’t tell him your name, Mr. Rimmer, I need to change the light bulb before I fall through the bar”. The first ten minutes or so are the most solid gag-packed moments of Series VI’s high-energy one-liners formula, and both writers and actors are firing on all cylinders. Then there’s the brilliant guest performance, the joke about the light switch and the fantastic slapstick denouement; no wonder it’s been voted as the second best episode from the excellent sixth series.

9. Dimension Jump

Up 6. 10556 points. Top: 2. Best Series IV episode.

Series IV has the lowest placed ‘best episode’ of any of the first six series, although it’s still seventeen places ahead any ‘best episode’ from 1997 onwards. Dimension Jump marks the first and (now officially) best appearance of Ace Rimmer, and as such it’s one of many Rimmer-centric episodes at the top end of the list. It’s a wonderful character study, which launched a thousand catchphrases, Smegazine comics, t-shirts and works of fan fiction. But beyond all that, it teaches us so much about our Rimmer, and how his past has shaped his present, as well as giving us tantalising glimpses of the rest of the crew’s parallel versions, Holly fainting and the whole opening fishing section. Marvellous stuff.

8. Polymorph

Up 12. 10557 points. Top: 4.

Look at that – just one point more than Dimension Jump. Easily the narrowest margin of the entire poll, and the closest we’ve got to a tie. Like Dimension Jump, it’s packed full of iconic moments, not least the shrinking boxers scene, and of-course the anger-free Rimmer. It’s also a huge climber from its 20th-place finish in the G&T poll of 2008, and it’s one of those that seems like it was simply way too low last time around. A solid fan-favourite, and always destined to be towards the top of the poll, although there is one more episode from Series III still to go.

7. Future Echoes

Down 3. 10782 points. Top: 3. Best Series I episode.

The seventh best episode ever is the second ever episode. And with six episodes still to go, that’s the last we’ll see of Series I – it fared better than everything other than two from II, two from V and one each from III and VI. It’s the earliest example of the show latching on to a sci-fi concept for both its humour and its plot, and perhaps does even better than The End in terms of hooking in future audiences, what with the foreshadowing of an ancient one-armed Lister and the show’s first cliffhanger, of sorts, in the form of the twin babies echo. It also contains the classic ‘double Rimmer’ scene, which stands out as being by far the best moment of that first series. Despite not being as polished and nuanced as the show would become, it more than holds its own, and has taken its rightful place in the Top 10.

6. Queeg

Up 3. 10927 points. Top: 11.

Norman Lovett’s finest half hour is in sixth place. And as it’s higher than any episode that features something he choreographed, it’s Charles Augins’s finest Dwarf moments too – a guest performance that stands up as one of the best one-off Dwarf characters ever. All the comedy is inherently tied in to the characters, which is the case for almost everything at the top end of this list, and not so much for the episodes at the other end. As we enter the top five, there’s one more episode to go from Series II, along with one each from III and VI, and an entire third of Series V. And the episode keeping Queeg as only the second best from Series II is…

5. Thanks For The Memory

Down 2. 11624 points. Top: 20. Bottom: 1. Best Series II episode.

Yes, Thanks For The Memory, with wibbley-wobbley timey-wimey stuff that Steven Moffatt would be proud of, and more Rimmer character development than you can shake a stick at. Back in 2008, us G&Ters raised a few eyebrows by placing it at number three. It was consistently in the bottom half of previous wide-scale polls (Smegazine ’92, BTL ’94, ’97 and ’99), but I’d like to think that our enthusiasm has helped to improve this episode’s reputation. Only two episodes can top it in terms of the number of people who placed it at number one, and it’s comfortably both the best Series II episode and a Top 5 finisher, by a margin of nearly 700 points.

4. Quarantine

Up 7. 11999 points. Top: 14.

This one’s jumped up a fair few places since 2008, and – as with Polymorph – I can’t put my finger on why we didn’t place it higher last time. That said, on the G&T-writers-only list, it’s still down at number ten, just one place higher than last time. I blame everyone who isn’t me, because Quarantine is objectively an absolute classic. There’s Dr. Lanstrom, the luck virus, and some penguin glove puppet thing which, in conjunction with Rimmer dressed in gingham, happens to be one of the most iconic images in the show’s history. After all, there’s not many episodes which have had a soft toy made of one of its props.

3. Gunmen of the Apocalypse

Up 9. 12225 points. Top: 15. Best Series VI episode.

Another huge climber – unbelievably, we didn’t have the Red Dwarf‘s Emmy Award winning episode in Top 10. Unlike Quarantine, we rectified that by placing it at number five in our own list this time, so I blame Seb for the previous oversight. You lot have gone two steps further though, giving Gunmen a bronze medal to go alongside its Emmy. The Better Than Life polls from 1994 and 1997 put it in first place, but popular opinion has always fluctuated a little – as it’s such an unusual (or gimmicky, if you’re being less kind) episode, people can get sick of it after a while, especially if it’s constantly heralded as being above and beyond the rest. But things seem to have settled down now, and we can all enjoy Gunmen for what it is – a work of hilariously funny, beautifully shot and superbly performed genius.

2. Marooned

Up 3. 12957 points. Top: 32. Best Series III episode.

It’s far from alone in allowing the sci-fi action to take a backseat in favour of extended dialogue scenes, but there are four main reasons for Marooned being so far ahead of the likes of Balance of Power, Duct Soup and Dear Dave – Chris Barrie, Craig Charles, Rob Grant and Doug Naylor. All of them are on almost unparalleled form, providing such unforgettable gems as Alexander The Great’s chief eunuch, the virginity discussions and the dog food. It’s a solid half an hour of joy – better than every episode that went before, and all but one episode that came afterwards.

I’m sure you’ve all figured out what the winning episode is by now. Here’s a clue: it’s the only episode that hasn’t featured in this list yet. There’s no point pretending that the reveal is going to be a huge dramatic surprise, so let’s take the winner as read, and pause briefly for a massive stat attack.

Firstly, let’s take a look at the charts for how many times each episode was chosen as the all-time number one and the all-time number sixty-one.

Top 10 First Placed Episodes

  • 1. Back to Reality – 43
  • 2. Marooned – 32
  • 3. Thanks for the Memory – 20
  • 4= Gunmen of the Apocalypse – 15
  • 4= Out of Time – 15
  • 6. Quarantine – 14
  • 7. Queeg – 11
  • 8. Holoship – 10
  • 9. White Hole – 8
  • 10.Stasis Leak – 5

Top 10 Bottom Placed Episodes

  • 1. Pete (Part Two) – 67
  • 2. Back to Earth (Part 3) – 28
  • 3. Krytie TV – 20
  • 4. Duct Soup – 15
  • 5. Only the Good… – 12
  • 6. Beyond a Joke – 11
  • 7= Back to Earth (Part Two) – 10
  • 7= Back in the Red (Part Three) – 10
  • 9. Waiting for God – 6
  • 10. Nanarchy – 5

As you can see, much of the Top 5 matches up to the main survey, although both Out of Time and Holoship make big leaps using this criterion. The people who like these episodes really love them, but they’re not higher in the list because is that they’re not necessarily many people’s second, third or fourth favourites. Down at the bottom end, it’s no surprise that nine of the most frequently cited “worst episode ever”s are from 1997 onwards. Back To Earth takes a battering with this criteria, and very few episodes correlate to their place in the overall standings. I guess that’s because the episodes that stand out as being the worst are also (aside from Pete (Part Two)) the most divisive – for example, a lot of people really fucking hate Krytie TV, but there was also one guy willing to put it in the number one slot.

Moving on, let’s have a look at the differences in the results between men and women. We’ve omitted those who didn’t provide an answer to the gender question, and those who listed themselves as ‘other’.

Male Top 10

  • 1. Back to Reality
  • 2. Marooned
  • 3. Gunmen of the Apocalypse
  • 4. Quarantine
  • 5. Thanks for the Memory
  • 6. Queeg
  • 7. Out of Time
  • 8. Future Echoes
  • 9. Legion
  • 10. Polymorph

Female Top 10

  • 1. Back to Reality
  • 2. Quarantine
  • 3. Marooned
  • 4. Gunmen of the Apocalypse
  • 5. Thanks for the Memory
  • 6. Me²
  • 7. Dimension Jump
  • 8. Better Than Life
  • 9. The End
  • 10. Polymorph

So, the Top 5 remains the same for both sets of genders, although the orders move around a little. What’s interesting is that the men picked Out of Time to join the Top 10 in place of Dimension Jump, whereas the women opted for Me², Better Than Life and The End ahead of Queeg, Future Echoes and Legion. Conclusion? More Chris Barrie = more women.

Male Bottom 10

  • 52. Duct Soup
  • 53. Back in the Red (Part One)
  • 54. Beyond a Joke
  • 55. Nanarchy
  • 56. Krytie TV
  • 57. Only the Good…
  • 58. Back in the Red (Part Two)
  • 59. Back in the Red (Part Three)
  • 60. Pete (Part One)
  • 61. Pete (Part Two)

Female Bottom 10

  • 52. Only the Good…
  • 53. Back to Earth (Part Two)
  • 54. Back in the Red (Part Two)
  • 55. Duct Soup
  • 56. Epideme
  • 57. Beyond a Joke
  • 58. Back in the Red (Part Three)
  • 59. Nanarchy
  • 60. Pete (Part One)
  • 61. Pete (Part Two)

Down at the bottom, I found it most surprising to note that men hate Krytie TV more than women do. On the other hand, men seem better disposed to Back To Earth than women do, and in general men marginally prefer Series VII, while women marginally prefer VIII. It’s like that old book – Men Marginally Prefer Series VII, Women Marginally Prefer Series VIII.

And finally, for now, let’s take a look at how each of the ten individual series compare to each other, using the average number of points per episode.

Top 10 series by average points

  • 1. Series V – 10162.5
  • 2. Series II – 9622.83
  • 3. Series III – 9567.33
  • 4. Series VI – 9214.33
  • 5. Series IV – 8847.17
  • 6. Series I – 8163.67
  • 7. Series X – 6283.33
  • 8. Series VII – 4165.13
  • 9. Back To Earth – 3146.67
  • 10. Series VIII – 2637

Well, the composition of this list isn’t much of a surprise – the top six series are the first six, although not necessarily in the same order. Back To Earth comes out on top of VIII but below VII, and then there’s Series X – better than all of VII, VIII and X but below all the classic series. But here’s what’s interesting – the top six are separated by around 2000 points, and the bottom three are separated by around 2000 points. Series X is around 2000 points below Series I, and around 2000 points ahead of Series VII. It’s official – the quality of Series X is exactly slap bang in the middle of the best stuff and the worst stuff. A pretty fair assessment, and a very decent return considering the circumstances.

Within the old bubble, Series II has done very well indeed, and Series IV is surprisingly low. But no series can hold a candle to Series V. Despite losing a hugely talented director, gaining a rubbish one, then losing her, the most popular series of Red Dwarf is one that expertly juggles dollops of comedy, sci-fi and adventure like no other. The characters are about as well defined as they ever were, the plots are hugely inventive and memorable, and the jokes are sharp. It’s no surprise, then, that the very best episode of Red Dwarf comes from the very best series. And it’s certainly no surprise at all that the episode in question is…

1. Back To Reality

Non-mover. 13949 points. Top: 43. Bottom: 1. Best Series V episode.

It’s just shy of 1,000 points ahead of its nearest rival – by far the biggest margin – and it’s the favourite episode of 18% of Red Dwarf fans. It won the Smegazine poll in 1992, the Better Than Life poll in 1999, the G&T poll in 2008, and it’s our second non-mover. Back To Reality is quite simply a remarkable piece of television – breaking the fourth wall way before Back To Earth to create an incredibly textured and believable alternative universe in a staggeringly short amount of screen-time. It then rebuilds the fourth wall to provide us with the unforgettable physical comedy of the car chase and to create genuine peril for the crew. It’s got a fantastic guest performance from the brilliant Timothy Spall, and, most importantly, with the possible exception of Ace Rimmer, the most three-dimensional alternative versions of our crew that we’ve ever seen. Duane Dibbley was of course the stand-out, but the genius of Jake, Billy and Sebastian can’t be overlooked – all four characters are as fully-rounded as the screen-time allows, and they work so well because of how well the audience know and love the main characters.

Character comedy is at the very heart of Red Dwarf, and it’s the reason that we’ve all remained fans of this twenty-five year old show for so long. The very best episodes are the ones that teach us something new about Rimmer, Lister, Cat and Kryten, and they always serve to make us love them more. Rob Grant and Doug Naylor created something very special indeed, and it’s a testament to the quality of their craft that so many friendships and relationships have been forged and cemented by a shared love of their masterwork. All of us involved in this site owe a huge debt of gratitude to a show that has improved all of our lives. On the occasion of its twenty-fifth anniversary, this is its legacy – the community that the show has created, evidenced by its online presence, the regular fan club conventions, the high DVD sales and record-breaking audience figures, lifts it above and beyond the vast majority of science-fiction and just about every other sit-com.

Its best is so good that we all forgive its flaws and the occasional duff episode/series. The fact that it’s still going strong twenty-five years on, with Dave providing a new lease of life after years of dormancy, is a huge unexpected bonus. We hope this poll and associated article has provided an ample celebration of the highs and lows, the peaks and troughs, the red alert bulbs, the evil penguins, the shrinking underwear, the elusive lemons, the spaceship graveyards, the backwards bar fights, the irradiated haggis, the assassinated presidents, the small off-duty Czechoslovakian traffic wardens, the talking toasters, the post pods, the telegraph poles, the dogs milk and the shitting dinosaurs that make up this incredible show.

And we haven’t even covered the novels, the tie-in books, the spin-off videos, the TV specials, the American remake, the DVD extras, the magazines, the fan club, the official site, the fansites, the podcasts and the merchandise that bulk out the rich tapestry that makes Red Dwarf so much more important and immersive than a mere television programme has any right to be. We’d like to close by paraphrasing the immortal words of Eternal: “Hi, we’re Eternal, and we’d like to wish a happy twenty-fifth anniversary to Red Da Warf”.

But before we allow you to return to your normal lives, let’s take a quick look at how all the major polls of this ilk have shaped up throughout Dwarf history. Admittedly, our 2008 poll wasn’t a massive sample, but we’ve added it in for completeism.


  • 1. Back To Reality
  • 2. Polymorph
  • 3. Dimension Jump
  • 4. Backwards
  • 5. Quarantine
  • 6. Parallel Universe
  • 7. White Hole
  • 8. DNA
  • 9. Queeg
  • 10. Bodyswap
  • 11. Better Than Life
  • 12. Stasis Leak
  • 13. Justice
  • 14. Camille
  • 15. Marooned
  • 16. The End
  • 17. Timeslides
  • 18. The Last Day
  • 19. Thanks For The Memory
  • 20. The Inquisitor
  • 21. Demons and Angels
  • 22. Kryten
  • 23. Meltdown
  • 24. Future Echoes
  • 25. Me²
  • 26. Terrorform
  • 27. Waiting For God
  • 28. Confidence and Paranoia
  • 29. Holoship
  • 30. Balance of Power


  • 1. Gunmen of the Apocalypse
  • 2. Back To Reality
  • 3. Polymorph
  • 4. Dimension Jump
  • 5. Quarantine
  • 6. Legion
  • 7. Parallel Universe
  • 8. Out of Time
  • 9. Backwards
  • 10. White Hole
  • 11. DNA
  • 12. Better Than Life
  • 13. Future Echoes
  • 14. Justice
  • 15. Queeg
  • 16. Stasis Leak
  • 17. The Inquisitor
  • 18. Bodyswap
  • 19. Marooned
  • 20. Emohawk – Polymorph II
  • 21. Me²
  • 22. Demons and Angels
  • 23. Timeslides
  • 24. Psirens
  • 25. Terrorform
  • 26. Rimmerworld
  • 27. The Last Day
  • 28. Balance of Power
  • 29. The End
  • 30. Confidence and Paranoia
  • 31. Thanks For The Memory
  • 32. Holoship
  • 33. Kryten
  • 34. Camille
  • 35. Waiting for God
  • 36. Meltdown


  • 1. Gunmen of the Apocalypse
  • 2. Back to Reality
  • 3. Quarantine
  • 4. Polymorph
  • 5. Dimension Jump
  • 6. Blue
  • 7. Stoke Me A Clipper
  • 8. Backwards
  • 9. Queeg
  • 10. Marooned
  • 11. White Hole
  • 12. Legion
  • 13. Parallel Universe
  • 14. Emohawk – Polymorph II
  • 15. The End
  • 16. Demons and Angels
  • 17. Future Echoes
  • 18. Epideme
  • 19. Kryten
  • 20. Better Than Life
  • 21. Beyond a Joke
  • 22. Justice
  • 23. Out of Time
  • 24. Timeslides
  • 25. DNA
  • 26. Terrorform
  • 27. Stasis Leak
  • 28. Holoship
  • 29. Ouroboros
  • 30. Psirens
  • 31. Thanks For The Memory
  • 32. Tikka To Ride
  • 33. Bodyswap
  • 34. The Inquisitor
  • 35. Me²
  • 36. Nanarchy
  • 37. Rimmerworld
  • 38. Camille
  • 39. The Last Day
  • 40. Duct Soup
  • 41. Meltdown
  • 42. Confidence and Paranoia
  • 43. Balance of Power
  • 44. Waiting For God


  • 1. Back To Reality
  • 2. Gunmen of the Apocalypse
  • 3. Quarantine
  • 4. Polymorph
  • 5. Stoke Me A Clipper
  • 6. Blue
  • 7. Cassandra
  • 8. Only The Good…
  • 9. Backwards
  • 10. Dimension Jump
  • 11. Back In The Red
  • 12. Demons and Angels
  • 13. Marooned
  • 14. Krytie TV
  • 15. White Hole
  • 16. Queeg
  • 17. Pete
  • 18. Legion
  • 19. Timeslides
  • 20. The End
  • 21. Tikka to Ride
  • 22. Epideme
  • 23. Holoship
  • 24. Parallel Universe
  • 25. Out of Time
  • 26. The Inquisitor
  • 27. Me²
  • 28. Justice
  • 29. Future Echoes
  • 30. Bodyswap
  • 31. Better Than Life
  • 32. Emohawk – Polymorph II
  • 33. Beyond a Joke
  • 34. The Last Day
  • 35. Meltdown
  • 36. Thanks For The Memory
  • 37. Stasis Leak
  • 38. DNA
  • 39. Duct Soup
  • 40. Ouroboros
  • 41. Rimmerworld
  • 42. Kryten
  • 43. Terrorform
  • 44. Psirens
  • 45. Balance of Power
  • 46. Camille
  • 47. Nanarchy
  • 48= Confidence and Paranoia
  • 48= Waiting for God

NB. This poll groups all multi-part stories as one mega-episode.


  • 1. Back to Reality
  • 2. Out of Time
  • 3. Thanks for the Memory
  • 4. Future Echoes
  • 5. Marooned
  • 6. Legion
  • 7. White Hole
  • 8. Queeg
  • 9. Me²
  • 10. Holoship
  • 11. Quarantine
  • 12. Gunmen of the Apocalypse
  • 13. The Inquisitor
  • 14. Stasis Leak
  • 15= Dimension Jump
  • 15= Meltdown
  • 17. Justice
  • 18= Bodyswap
  • 18= Timeslides
  • 20. Polymorph
  • 21. Kryten
  • 22. Psirens
  • 23. The Last Day
  • 24. Demons & Angels
  • 25. Backwards
  • 26. Terrorform
  • 27. Better Than Life
  • 28. Balance of Power
  • 29. DNA
  • 30= Camille
  • 30= Rimmerworld
  • 32. The End
  • 33. Confidence & Paranoia
  • 34. Emohawk – Polymorph II
  • 35. Parallel Universe
  • 36. Cassandra
  • 37. Waiting for God
  • 38. Tikka to Ride
  • 39. Blue
  • 40. Stoke Me a Clipper
  • 41. Back in the Red (Part 1)
  • 42. Nanarchy
  • 43. Ouroboros
  • 44. Epideme
  • 45. Only the Good…
  • 46. Back in the Red (Part 2)
  • 47. Duct Soup
  • 48. Krytie TV
  • 49. Pete (Part 1)
  • 50. Beyond a Joke
  • 51. Back in the Red (Part 3)
  • 52. Pete (Part 2)



  • 1. Back to Reality
  • 2. Marooned
  • 3. Gunmen of the Apocalypse
  • 4. Quarantine
  • 5. Thanks for the Memory
  • 6. Queeg
  • 7. Future Echoes
  • 8. Polymorph
  • 9. Dimension Jump
  • 10. Legion
  • 11. White Hole
  • 12. Out of Time
  • 13. Me²
  • 14. Better Than Life
  • 15. Holoship
  • 16. Justice
  • 17. The Inquisitor
  • 18. Backwards
  • 19. Stasis Leak
  • 20. Kryten
  • 21. Psirens
  • 22. The End
  • 23. Timeslides
  • 24. Bodyswap
  • 25. The Last Day
  • 26. The Beginning
  • 27. Demons & Angels
  • 28. Terrorform
  • 29. DNA
  • 30. Trojan
  • 31. Meltdown
  • 32. Camille
  • 33. Rimmerworld
  • 34. Parallel Universe
  • 35. Balance of Power
  • 36. Tikka to Ride
  • 37. Confidence & Paranoia
  • 38. Lemons
  • 39. Emohawk – Polymorph II
  • 40. Fathers & Suns
  • 41. Waiting for God
  • 42. Stoke me a Clipper
  • 43. Cassandra
  • 44. Entangled
  • 45. Blue
  • 46. Dear Dave
  • 47. Ouroboros
  • 48. Epideme
  • 49. Back to Earth (Part 3)
  • 50. Duct Soup
  • 51. Back in the Red (Part 1)
  • 52. Back to Earth (Part 2)
  • 53. Back to Earth (Part 1)
  • 54. Krytie TV
  • 55. Beyond a Joke
  • 56. Nanarchy
  • 57. Back in the Red (Part 2)
  • 58. Only the Good…
  • 59. Back in the Red (Part 3)
  • 60. Pete (Part 1)
  • 61. Pete (Part 2)

The main thing to take from seeing it laid out like this is that the most recent contemporary episodes always score pretty well – it’s most noticeable with Series VII and VIII’s strong performance in 1997 and 1999 respectively. So, the final talking point of this adventure – will Series X do so well if we were to do this poll in five years’ time? And will it still be a list of exactly sixty-one episodes? Join us back here for the thirtieth anniversary in 2018 to find out.

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65 Responses to The Silver Survey Results

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  1. so I blame Seb for the previous oversight.

    In 2008 I ranked Gunmen higher than anyone else bar Ian. SO THERE.

  2. Otherwise, this is all quite good, I suppose.

  3. Do you like that one? Gunmen? I like Back To Reality. I thought that was really good. Where’s Dave Lister?

  4. That banner with Holly one side and Pete the other is gonna keep me laffing all through the winter.

  5. G&T Admin

    When I went to bed last night I believe it was Queeg on the right hand side. This version is better.

  6. Pfft.

    Is that it?

    No, seriously, great stuff, well done team.

  7. Great article, and the top three the same as my choices so I’m happy with that

  8. Fascinating stuff! Although, the ‘analysing why each episode appears where’ seems to drift into ‘what I like about each episode’ at times…

    I’m glad I wasn’t the only one to list Tikka as my top episode. Interesting comparing my list with how it came out in the end – there are some quite substantial single episode differences (Balance of Power, for example, comes 30 places lower in the survey results; Justice comes 27 places higher); I seem to be harsher on X, and more lenient on BTE and 1; Gunmen, Entangled, and BITR1 appear in precisely the same places.

    My only regret is rating Bodyswap as low as I did – I watched it since I submitted, and enjoyed it far more than I remembered. Still, that’s how these things go.

  9. Wow, now that was a journey. The only question appropriate at the end of this trek is, well, do you have any lemons?

    I enjoyed reading this, I really did. I tend to agree with most of it too. Maybe Lemons could have been a few places higher, but beyond that it’s pretty watertight.

  10. I disagree. =P

    Seriously, though, well done, it’s interesting to see how my opinion differs from pretty much everyone else’s, but hey, that’s why we all have them, right? Thanks for taking on this huge undertaking.

  11. Whoa, an X episode cracked the top 30. Heady stuff, there.

    ETA: Sorry, TWO. ERMIGERD.

  12. Great list, not too much I disagree with.

    I have a soft spot for Nanarchy though and I’m surprised it’s below Beyond a Joke. Bobby and Craig would really have milked the ‘Pick up the ball’ scene in front of an audience.

  13. I appreciate all the random statistics. Here are some comparing my survey with the overall results.

    My top 3 was identical (Polymorph was the only other episode with no change), and 7 of the top 10 were in mine. On the other end of the scale, episodes I overrated the most were Balance of Power (20 spots higher in mine), Back to Earth Part 2 (16) and Camille (15), and underrated were Better Than Life (19 lower in mine), Out of Time (14), and Demons and Angels and Epideme (both 13). I’m almost annoyed that Epideme places higher than all of Back to Earth and wish to join in solidarity with the two other people who rightly placed it bottom. One thing I noticed: every single episode of IV placed lower overall than in my list (it came out to actually be my favourite series), whereas my opinions of III and X tally very closely with the consensus.

    Basically, if you swapped Balance of Power and Better Than Life in the list, raised Camille a bit and pushed Epideme down further, I’d be more or less completely happy with this order.

  14. G&T Admin

    Fascinating stuff! Although, the ‘analysing why each episode appears where’ seems to drift into ‘what I like about each episode’ at times…

    You try writing sixty-one individual statistical analyses without going off topic! I’ve tried to keep the appraisals of each episode objective in the vast, vast majority of cases, but every now and then I came across an episode whose placing differed so much from what I was expecting that rationalising the public’s decision could only come from the perspective of how it compared to my personal opinion.

  15. “Hi, we’re Eternal, and we’d like to wish a happy twenty-fifth anniversary to Red Da Warf”.

    I gone done a lol.

    Great stuff though. I was one of the 3 that put Justice at number 1. My top 10 is spread out across the top 20 which to me says that, once you get to that point, there really isn’t much that separates the episodes in terms of quality. The difference in quality between Back to Reality and Kryten doesn’t seem that huge to me personally. Everything in the top 20 is pretty damn special.

  16. Looking forward to speaking with you Rapscallions tonight! Since I only have IPads and I’m just too lazy to type out my selections I didn’t provide one! I must of been watching a different show! I only agree with the bottom of the lists!

    Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

  17. I’ve posted the rankings I submitted on my blog, if anyone’s at all bothered.

  18. You try writing sixty-one individual statistical analyses without going off topic! I’ve tried to keep the appraisals of each episode objective in the vast, vast majority of cases, but every now and then I came across an episode whose placing differed so much from what I was expecting that rationalising the public’s decision could only come from the perspective of how it compared to my personal opinion.

    Whoa there, pickle. Wasn’t intended to be a slam in any way, shape or form. Just a remark in passing.

  19. It is interesting to think if any episodes would change places if I discount my vote. ‘Back in the Red’ Part 2 would be one place further down, ranking as worse than ‘Only the Good…’. ‘Back to Earth’ Part 2 would be under ‘Back to Earth’ Part 1. ‘Cassandra’ would drop to below ‘Entangled’.

    ‘Out of Time’ at 12th is a travesty. I always thought it was seen as up there with ‘Back to Reality’. I know ‘Backwards’ (the episode I voted as #1) isn’t always seen as an out-and-out classic but I always thought ‘Out of Time’ was.

    Surprised to see ‘Dear Dave’ do relatively well.

    I was also thinking “I don’t understand why people don’t rate ‘Demons & Angels’ higher” only to find, on checking, I had placed it in the exact same place as the overall poll.

  20. “both Out of Time and Holoship make big leaps using this criterion. The people who like these episodes really love them, but they’re not higher in the list because is that they’re not necessarily many people’s second, third or fourth favourites.”

    I’ll allow it.

    Great work…this made for some excellent reading.

  21. Excellent stuff, guys. A very thorough article and lots of pretty graphs. I think most people will generally agree with the rankings in the main, with a few “WTF” placings. For example; The Beginning is better than Camille?! WTF?! White Hole better than Timeslides WTF?! Psirens better than Timeslides! WTF?! etc etc )

    >Surprised to see ‘Dear Dave’ do relatively well.

    Amen. Come on, people. I saw this being filmed and I still think it’s shit.

  22. ‘Out of Time’ at 12th is a travesty. I always thought it was seen as up there with ‘Back to Reality’. I know ‘Backwards’ (the episode I voted as #1) isn’t always seen as an out-and-out classic but I always thought ‘Out of Time’ was.

    As someone who put Out of Time down in 26th place, I can say I’ve never seen the love for it. I mean, it’s good, but only in the sense that, say, Bodyswap or Terrorform are good, not a classic. The only two episodes on the list whose placings really surprised me were Better Than Life (for being so high) and Camille (for being so low). Everything else seemed more or less to fit what I expected.

  23. As the huge Confidence & Paranoia lover, I was initially disappointed with its placing. However, looking at it’s previous placings in some of the older polls, I quite happy at it’s mid table position.

    As for the rest of the article…great work guys. Thank you to each and everyone of you who was involved in this poll and for putting all the work into this article. I could only be happier if you were doing a podcast on the results too…

    ….You are?! Well consider me very happy then.

  24. In the 1999 poll it actually has series 8 episodes in the top 10… infact only the good has dropped an incredible amount since.

    I think its interesting to see what episodes pass the test of time, esp series X

  25. think its interesting to see what episodes pass the test of time, esp series X

    Absolutely. Back to Earth would surely have ranked a lot higher if this poll had been done a couple of years ago…

  26. Which episodes had the highest standard deviation?

  27. If this poll had been in 2009, I think BTE would definitely have fared better than the majority of VII and VIII. With the novelty factor long evaporated, I’d say it’s kind of more or less settled at the right spot here.

    I’m fairly disappointed with the low ranking of Entangled, which was my favourite of series X and ranked 12th overall by me personally. Maybe it will do a Holoship and rise in people’s estimations over the years.

  28. Great job and interesting reading, no major surprises in how it panned out, although I was expecting the freshness of X to push it even higher up.

    I knew a couple of my top ten would be way off the mark compared to the survey though I did share 6 in my top ten with it.

    Looking again at my list, my No 8 (Lemons) was probably that high for reasons of freshness as mentioned by others, although I was determined to avoid ‘newness’ when compiling my list.

    Much of my reasoning was based on the impact each episode had on me when I first viewed them (mind you, it did start 25 years ago) as well as how they’ve made me laugh since. Given that I’ve seen all the episodes numerous times since, the fact that my top ten, for me, spring so readily to mind with fondness, suggests I’m happy with my list. For me, the middle section is a huge chunk of goodness that’s very difficult to call one way or the other. My bottom 10 actually contains episodes that had elements which made me cringe although it’s only my last 5 that I wouldn’t go out of my way to watch again..

    Should I defend my No 5 being 50 places higher than the survey, no, it’s my list so sod off…

  29. I was disappointed by the ranking of “Fathers & Suns” which I put in the top 20. It may seem ridiculous, but the bad bits don’t grate on me like they did on the first few viewings and the bits that are good I find to be very good. There’s also an actual sense of peril when Lister’s being chased by the machines.

    “Thank you for breathing JMC oxygen…”

  30. > We hope this poll and associated article has provided an ample celebration of the highs and lows, the peaks and troughs, the red alert bulbs, the evil penguins, the shrinking underwear, the elusive lemons, the spaceship graveyards, the backwards bar fights, the irradiated haggis, the assassinated presidents, the small off-duty Czechoslovakian traffic wardens, the talking toasters, the post pods, the telegraph poles, the dogs milk and the shitting dinosaurs that make up this incredible show.

    I’ll drink to that!

  31. Amazing article, well done guys! Truly fitting of the 25th anniversary. Not surprised by most of the list, though it does differ from mine quite drastically in some places. So in fitting with the article I’ll provide some stats comparing the final rankings to my own.

    Four placings on the list match the positions that I ranked them in – Krytie TV, Back to Earth Part 3, Holoship and Marooned.
    The ‘best episodes’ of II, V, VII and X are the only ‘best episodes’ I agreed with.
    Only four of my top ten featured in the final top ten – Marooned, Thanks For the Memory, Queeg and Future Echoes.
    As I expected, The Inquisitor is placed much higher on the final list and proves to be the biggest discrepancy between the two; a difference of 33 places. I’ve never been particularly engaged by that episode, despite knowing how popular it is.
    As for episodes placing LOWER than I placed them, Rimmerworld, Tikka to Ride and Stoke Me A Clipper all tie on being 19 places worse off than they are on my list.
    And of the new series, I was glad to see that the good episodes of X had an impressive showing. Both lists agree that The Beginning is the best of X but the final list places it 6 positions higher. I’m pleasantly surprised by this.

    And a final BONUS stat; 4 of my top 5 episodes match Si’s top 5 episodes, albeit jiggled around slightly. So that’s quite nice.

    Happy 25th Red Dwarf :-)

  32. Great article, lots of lovely stats! The rankings don’t differ much to my list and I’m very happy that series 5 has come out so well. I expected series 6 to dominate the top 10 but that is far from the case. Looking back at my list i realised that Queeg, an episode i really love was out of my top 10. It just goes to show how hard it is to rank them and how close they are in terms of quality. My top 20 could easily switch places on a daily basis.


  34. The picture of Pete, Nicholas Ball and Holly is even funnier than the banner for this article. I Lovett.

  35. Wow. What a top poll. It’s so long I’ve not been able to read it all yet, while skiving on my phone at work.

  36. Great survey, a few of my more questionalble descisions seem to have been somewhat vindicated!

    I am not alone!

  37. Incidentally, I put ‘Krytie TV’ fourth and even I am surprised that somebody put it top.

  38. Great article! I agree with the majority of the rankings, although I think “Parallel Universe” is too low. But then I’ve always had a soft spot for it.

    Regarding the ranking of “Out Of Time”, I’m another who put it relatively low. The ending is great, but I’ve just never liked the whole “Lister is a droid” section. The idea that Kryten’s respect and friendship for Lister is entirely based on him being human just jars with me after what we’ve seen in episodes like “DNA” where Lister treats him exactly the same whether he’s human or mechanical.

    You asked for opinions; you got ’em. ;)

  39. I wonder of there is a really strange alternate universe where Pete Part Two is actually really, really good?

    A great survey, thanks guys!!

    I’m now tempted to watch all episodes in order from worst to best.

  40. >I’m now tempted to watch all episodes in order from worst to best.

    But then the multi-parters won’t make as much sense.

    lol jk

  41. I love the picture next to Dear Dave – I can imagine some viewers making the same face. Which I suppose is the point.

    All the photos are very well chosen – this is the first time I’ve seen them on a big screen.

  42. >The idea that Kryten’s respect and friendship for Lister is entirely based on him being human just jars with me after what we’ve seen in episodes like “DNA” where Lister treats him exactly the same whether he’s human or mechanical.

    Really good point. Kryten comes across like a prejudiced fuck.


  44. Kryten thought he had been deceived for the last 4 years of his life. He thought his idol was no more than he was, if not worse. His whole world collapsed on him. Give him a break.

  45. Kryten thought he had been deceived for the last 4 years of his life. He thought his idol was no more than he was, if not worse. His whole world collapsed on him. Give him a break.

    Lister’s whole world collapsed on him too and no-one gave him a break. I’ve just never liked that aspect.

    I’m not trying to ruin the ep for anyone, just explaining why I ranked it relatively low. Apart from that, I like it a lot.

  46. I don’t quite understand the point system, but that’s probably me being thick.

    Overall, an intriguing list. Agree with most placings. Reckon that Quarantine and Back to Reality are a bit overrated, but that’s probably just cos they’re so ubiquitous.

  47. Kryten thought he had been deceived for 204 years hactually.

  48. That scene would’ve been better if Rimmer or Cat had reminded Kryten that robots don’t catch space mumps or give birth to twins. It would’ve been better if they’d drawn the conclusion that the real Lister had been kidnapped and replaced with a robotic double programmed to believe his own cover story (like Auton-Rory in ‘Pandorica’), so they tie him to a chair, point a gun to his head and interrogate him.

    Then they leave the unreality bubble and feel like twats afterwards.

  49. That scene would’ve been better if Rimmer or Cat had reminded Kryten that robots don’t catch space mumps or give birth to twins. It would’ve been better if they’d drawn the conclusion that the real Lister had been kidnapped and replaced with a robotic double programmed to believe his own cover story (like Auton-Rory in ‘Pandorica’), so they tie him to a chair, point a gun to his head and interrogate him.

    Then they leave the unreality bubble and feel like twats afterwards.

    I think you win this discussion. *Lol*

  50. I think you win this discussion. *Lol*

    I can’t create reality, so I just rewrite other people’s. It’s a sickness called “Savage Syndrome,” wherein the afflicted rejects another’s reality and substitutes their own.

  51. >Kryten thought he had been deceived for the last 4 years of his life. He thought his idol was no more than he was, if not worse. His whole world collapsed on him.

    And Lister’s didn’t? He had no idea “he was a droid”. You’d think Kryten would have a bit more initial sympathy for him.

  52. tikka was also my favourite episode bascially because i like history and messing about with it -bac to reality i voted second

    Fascinating stuff! Although, the ‘analysing why each episode appears where’ seems to drift into ‘what I like about each episode’ at times…

    I’m glad I wasn’t the only one to list Tikka as my top episode. Interesting comparing my list with how it came out in the end – there are some quite substantial single episode differences (Balance of Power, for example, comes 30 places lower in the survey results; Justice comes 27 places higher); I seem to be harsher on X, and more lenient on BTE and 1; Gunmen, Entangled, and BITR1 appear in precisely the same places.
    My only regret is rating Bodyswap as low as I did – I watched it since I submitted, and enjoyed it far more than I remembered. Still, that’s how these things go.

  53. forgot to say thanks guys for the results great work

  54. It’s official: Series VIII is crap! *waves celebratory banners*

    I’ve actually started thinking of it as Doug’s unsuccessful attempt at a solo sitcom project, which was actually called “The Tank”, had completely different characters to Red Dwarf (who were mis-named, like the show, due to an administrative cockup), and ran for one series before being axed. It makes me feel better about the whole affair.

    It’s a little bit like how, around the same time, Rob did an unsuccessful solo project called “Red Dwarf AD1000”, about the adventures of Thane Rimmer and Lister the Churl following an unfortunate mishap with the time drive. A lot of sitcoms were plagued by administrative cockups in 1999, actually. Must have been the millennium bug.

  55. A pie chart of all series with episodes would be informative!

  56. G&T Admin

    OK. Imagine a pie chart where seven of the ten sections are exactly the same size, two are slightly bigger and one is much smaller.

  57. I would love to have access to the data to make some more pretty charts and graphs, but I have almost no free time right now. Maybe during the summer….

  58. Just rewatched Entangled and, despite linking the two plot threads of coincidence and groinal exploder together, the climax doesn’t work because it doesn’t feature any jokes and there’s no tension because you know Lister is going to be alright. Makes me think, maybe they should have blown his cock off.

  59. Makes me think, maybe they should have blown his cock off.

    Archie, pick up the ball.

  60. Archie, pick up the ball.

    And of course the inevitable rebuilding:

    Lister: “Did it work?”
    Kryten: “It’s… been a one hundred percent success, sir. In fact, it’s been a five hundred per cent success! In fact, they’ve… Well, if that’s all, sir, I think I’ll retire for the evening, good night!”
    Lister: “Release me, Cat, I’ve got to see it.”
    Rimmer: “They probably didn’t mean any harm… I think they were trying to make up for before…”

  61. And Series VII is redeemed.

    Says the guy who actually likes Series VII.

  62. Great article, well done. Apart from the bit about male and female bottoms, totally lowers the tone :-)

  63. I Think Pete is more a case of most hated rarther than least loved. Its easy to remember and be anoyed at the appearence of a dino, I loved it, I remember the feeling when it became the cliffhanger, dino loose in the cargo decks!

  64. > I loved it, I remember the feeling when it became the cliffhanger, dino loose in the cargo decks!

    I was happy when that episode ended too.

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