Red Dwarf VII: The Early Drafts

Twenty years ago today, Red Dwarf VII debuted on BBC Two. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.

Red Dwarf had been away for over three years, having previously managed to average out as an annual event for six series. The delay was mainly caused by three monumental behind-the-scenes events: Chris Barrie deciding to leave the show; Craig Charles being held on remand on a charge from which he was ultimately cleared; and Grant Naylor splitting as a gestalt writing entity, leaving Doug in sole command of the show. Big changes were also afoot on-screen, with the change to single-camera, audience-free shooting, the addition of a film effect, a move to a comedy-drama format, and Rimmer’s place on Starbug being taken by Chloe Annett as a version of Kochanski from an alternate universe.

In many ways, it was twenty years ago today that Red Dwarf changed from what it was then to what it is now. The reason those first six series still exist in a bubble is that they were all made in broadly the same circumstances. The cast and crew may have altered over the years, and the production may have moved from Manchester to Shepperton, but these changes took place slowly and naturally; to paraphrase another comedy that debuted in 1997, it was evolution, not revolution. With Series VII, that changed – a conscious effort was made to make things different from the previous series, and it was against a backdrop of production problems and uneasy compromises. Red Dwarf lost its momentum, and it’s been fighting to get it back ever since. It’s only now that it’s starting to feel more smooth and assured; Series XII will be the first time in years that there hasn’t been a raft of changes since the previous series, and that’s only because they were shot back-to-back.

Opinion remains mixed on the merits of Series VII. The G&T staff are pretty unanimous in our disapproval, but elsewhere there are plenty of fans who enjoy it for what it is, regardless of how different it is from what came before, and even some who hold it in the same regard as the first six series. Regardless of your position, what’s interesting is how it came together, and the developments that took place prior to the episodes reaching the screen. To help with the extra workload caused by Rob’s departure, and the series containing two more episodes than usual, Doug brought additional writers on board for six of the eight initially-planned episodes. How this process worked has always been a great source of speculation, and to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the show’s first big comeback, that’s what we’re investigating today.

Many years ago, we obtained copies of the original scripts for Series VII, as distributed to the crew during pre-production in 1996. In many cases, these are very early drafts of what eventually made it to screen, and for several guest-written episodes they pre-date the extensive re-writing and re-structuring undertaken by Doug. With over twenty years’ worth of water under the bridge, we feel like now is a good time to look back on these drafts as historical documents from the show’s past, examine exactly how they differ from the final episodes, and explore just how different Red Dwarf‘s difficult seventh series could have been.

We present the Series VII that never was…

Tikka To Ride

by Doug Naylor. Fourth Draft. 15 May 1996.

A hand-written note next to the title on our copy reads “probably”, indicating that the name was not quite confirmed by the time the episode went before the cameras. Recording for the series took place between May and August of 1996, and as such this draft is pretty close to what was shot, but it’s not without some key differences.

The opening page describes the elaborate effects sequence that graced the Xtended version, except that prior to “some kind of liquid waste” being expelled from the ship, Starbug was also going to shower the “camera” in garbage from the waste disposal, sending it tumbling “head over heels down a crater before hitting the bottom and smashing”. Lister’s cliffhanger-resolving piece to camera follows, intended to take place in a dedicated “log booth”, rather than with a roaming hand-held camera, and with this extra detail during the “we were no match, they killed us” speech:

A FLASHING ‘IMPACT MINUS 10 SECONDS IS SUPERIMPOSED BACKWARDS OVER LISTER’S FACE REFLECTED FROM THE CONTROL PANELS. THE 10 GOES THROUGH THE NUMBERS DOWN TO 1 AND STARBUG EXPLODES OVER HIS FACE AS HE REMEMBERS IT.

After the titles, the script specifies that when the Tikka To Ride caption appears, “after a beat, the ‘T’ of Tikka is circled to make it look like a gunsight, and we hear three gunshots”. The following scenes are pretty much as they appear in the episode, or at least the Xtended episode, with the “yard of vindaloo sauce” story intact. During the scene where Lister swaps Kryten’s heads, he was originally going to discover “an off-lining Kryten… singing a Bay City Rollers hit with full backing”. Following the head-swap, the script usually refers to “Kryten 2” for the remainder of the episode (although they sometimes forget), and when he serves breakfast the next morning, we’re told:

KRYTEN IS NAKED EXCEPT FOR A PAIR OF BERMUDIAN SHORTS. IN OTHER WORDS HE IS WEARING A NUDE SUIT AND OVER THAT A PAIR OF SHORTS. HE IS IN BUILDERS BOTTOM MODE.

Doug’s dream of seeing Kryten nude would have to wait until Series VIII. The episode progresses to the jump back to Dallas, 1963. The montage of Oswald and the assassination attempt is scripted pretty much as it appears in the episode, except for this addition at the very start:

EXT. STREET. DAY

WE HEAR INDIAN SITAR MUSIC. AN INDIAN GUY IS LISTENING TO THE RADIO. SOMEONE NUDGES HIM AND HE TURNS IT OFF AND LOOKS LEFT. HE IS A MEMBER OF A GROUP OF PEOPLE STANDING ON STREET WAITING FOR A VIP TO ARRIVE. A BAND PLAYS OFF.

Alarmingly, the montage ends with Lister “bumming the gunman and his gun out of the window”. I do not think it means what you think it means. Another amusing direction comes later, with Doug seemingly unsure as to whether there’s a shot of the real J. Edgar Hoover at a transvestite orgy, or whether they’d have to mock one up. In the later campfire scene, Doug specifies that “the lighting at the beginning of the scene when they are talking about the duality of man splits all four of them down the middle in their singles” – an early example of his ambitions as a director?

The most notable difference in this stage of the episode is that the script doesn’t contain the line about the tennis girl scratching her butt. Kennedy’s line about assassinating himself is similarly missing from the scene in the police van, but the script is otherwise virtually identical to the episode until almost the very end. Following Lister’s line about neglecting to ask if there are any curry houses in Dallas, the script goes to “titles”, or more accurately credits. There’s nothing at all in the script about the crew viciously beating Lister with sticks, and so the script is therefore significantly better.

Following this, there’s a “post titles”, which is similar to the Xtended ending but not quite the same. We start in the sleeping quarters:

ALL WE CAN SEE IS WHITE. IT’S SHAVING FOAM COVERING LISTER’S FACE. KRYTEN IS PREPARING TO SHAVE HIM. HIS EYES ARE CLOSED. SUDDENLY, HE OPENS THEM WIDE-EYED.

This is Lister realising what really happened to the curry supplies; there’s no mention of Rimmer using Kryten as a circuit-breaker. Rimmer and Cat are there in the sleeping quarters, but Lister and Kryten then go off to B-Deck without them to retrieve the curry. It is Lister himself who spots the lever and wonders what it’s for, and therefore he only has himself to blame when he pulls it and “the first two bubbles of Starbug jetison the third”.

We know that the scene that appears on Xtended was shot specially for the video release, but we now know that a version of it was originally considered for the episode as written. It always struck me as odd that they bothered to make such a decent effects shot for a VHS release, but this might clear it up – it could be one of the many shots that the effects team completed upon receipt of the early drafts, which were then rendered useless by rewrites.

Identity Within

by John McKay. First Draft. 11/03/96.

Ah, Identity Within. Back in the early 21st century, when we originally obtained this set of scripts, this was the holy grail; the fabled episode in which the Cat had to have sex or die, dropped from Series VII at script stage and eventually replaced by Duct Soup. Since then, it’s become significantly less fabled, and if we’d have known at the time that GNP were planning to recreate the episode in storyboard-and-Chris-Barrie-narration form for the Series VII DVD, we wouldn’t have published the whole thing online, for which we were rightly admonished.

The version on the DVD is identical to our copy, so there’s no need to reproduce any of it here, but here’s our original analysis of the script from the time, first published (and not revised since) 15th March 2004:

Well, that was fairly exciting, wasn’t it? Don’t forget that this is a first draft, with only one name on the cover. The plot is promising, and with a bit of tinkering from Doug, it could have been a top-notch episode. One thing the script needs is more, and better, jokes. We could have done without all those elaborate similes and contemporary references, but more stuff like the frying pan/tosser joke. But yes, good story, shit jokes. A bit like Beyond A Joke.

Incidentally, according to TOS, a later draft of the script featured Duane Dibbley! Hard to see how he’d fit in this story, so it must have changed severely. Also, the impending danger to Cat’s health was exploding testicles, instead of a sac of poison. Not sure which is ruder: the idea of the antidote being up someone’s fanny, or the idea of someone’s balls being so full of spunk that they blow up.

Things that work well in this draft include Kryten-Vision, with its Robocop-esque effects, as well as the rest of that pontoon scene. Lister cocking things up by getting drunk is perhaps a tad predictable, but Zural sneaking in on the winning hand was unexpected. Incidentally, that domino scene at the beginning seemed awfully pointless on first reading; we’d learned that Cat was ill, and this just seemed to hold the plot up. However, we later learn that the things revealed in this scene turn out to be vital plot points. Excellent.

Also, full marks for giving Cat his own episode. As well as developing the character well, McKay also acknowledges the changes that have already taken place; Cat has lost many of his feline traits, and generally acts much more like a human. Ironically, without this episode, Cat returned to his roots in Series VII, undoing all the development that comes from spending years in the company of humans. Oh, and that scene where Cat confronts Lister is grand.

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However, there are times where the script doesn’t feel at all like Dwarf; perhaps a symptom of the problems of bringing “outsiders” in. The “Commando Cat” scene is funny, but the slapstick style doesn’t suit the show. There are lapses in character; with the exception of the sleeping quarters pedantry at the end, Rimmer just doesn’t do anything Rimmer-like. Also, despite the overall glory of the fight scene, with Cat’s instinct coming back to him, I’m not entirely comfortable with him killing Zural on a whim.

That said, John McKay evidently did his homework. Towards the beginning, Lister refers to his friend Duncan, who was previously mentioned in Stasis Leak. The Kinitowowi tribe, as introduced in Emohawk: Polymorph II, feature throughout, and the GELF marketplace is reminiscent of the one described in Last Human. Later, Lister describes Starbug as a “Class Two, ship-to-service shuttle”, which is how Binks describes it in Holoship. Kryten engages “Blunt Mode”, continuing a running joke from Series VI, and the idea of Cat relationships lasting for a very short time is dealt with in Me² and Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers. Oh, and McKay uses the word “pished” in the stage directions. Excellent!

Intriguingly, there are aspects in this script that appear elsewhere in latter-day Dwarf. Kryten’s nanosensors are remarkably similar to his nanobots in Nanarchy, though the former are much further evolved. The joke whereby a crew member tells everyone to stick together, only for them to dissipate, is used in Pete (Part One), with hilarious consequences. And the camera movement described for Kryten-Vision (“in, in, in on Kryten’s darting eyes”) was used for his dream sequence in Duct Soup, the episode which ultimately replaced Identity Within.

Incidentally, we don’t know for sure that Identity Within was planned to be the second episode. It’s such an early draft that it’s possible it would have been rewritten to replace Rimmer with Kochanski, but in terms of the eight scripts we’ve got before us, this is the only place it fits in this hypothetical alternative version of Series VII, which omits Duct Soup.

Natural Born Rimmers

by Paul Alexander. Shooting Script. 04.06.96

Despite the presence of only one name on the cover, this is the most up-to-date of any of the scripts we’re looking at. It’s labelled “shooting script”, dated to the second month of the production period, with a hand-written note even specifying “(up-dated late afternoon)”. Furthermore, the pre-recorded/location sequences are omitted; the opening page starts with “101-117 – SHOT”. Unlike the remainder of the batch, this is clearly the script that was taken into studio, and as such it contains far fewer interesting changes.

There are a few sections of dialogue that aren’t present in the final episode, but they’re all included in the deleted scenes on the DVD. For the most part, the most interesting thing about this script is that following the wig being handed over to our Rimmer, the script refers to him as “RIMMER/ACE” throughout, with further directions denoting “ACE VOICE” or “RIMMER VOICE” depending on the line. Intriguingly, some sections of the script are marked out with asterisks in the margin; these seem to be the most recent changes, presumably undertaken by Doug, and they include large chunks of the scene where Ace recruits Rimmer, and the vast majority of the funeral scene.

Right towards the end, we find two small moments that don’t appear to have made it before the cameras. As Rimmer prepares to leave, this happens between Kryten’s “au revoir” and the eventually-eponymous “stoke me a clipper” line:

ENGINES GO ON. WINDSCREEN WIPERS START ACCIDENTALLY. RIMMER/ACE GRAPPLES AROUND LOOKING FOR THE RIGHT SWITCH. TURNS THEM OFF.

Finally, after one last goodbye, the episode ends on a model shot, which plays out thusly:

ACE’S CRAFT SPEEDS THROUGH SPACE.

RIMMER/ACE VOICE OVER
Now where are those CDs? Bit of driving music – here we go.

HAMMOND ORGAN MUSIC ARRANGEMENT OF TOP GUN.

HIS SHIP POWERS TOWARDS A DISTANT SUN.

ENDS

Such an arrangement doesn’t feature on Howard Goodall’s soundtrack release of Series VII cues, so we can’t be sure whether such a piece was ever intended to be recorded, or whether Paul Alexander is merely conflating two separate cues from Dimension Jump. Either way, the callback to the similarly Hammond-flavoured ending of Ace’s debut story was dropped, and the final episode ended with no further dialogue over the effects shot, and a reprise of the main Ace theme from the pre-titles sequence.

Ouroboros

by Doug Naylor. Third Draft (Revised). May 7 1996

This is the last of the Doug-only scripts that we’re looking at, and the cover informs us that in addition to being the third draft, this is specifically the “readthrough script”, which promises to provide an insight into what Doug decided to change between the cast’s first play with the script and the version that later made it to production. For starters, the man in the opening Aigburth Arms sequence, which was originally meant to play out in sepia, is called “Eric” instead of “Frank”, and this draft doesn’t include the line about being thicker than a ticket tout’s wad.

After mixing from baby to adult Lister – and from sepia to colour – there’s an extra bit of business following Lister sneezing out his cap, before Kryten enters:

STILL GROPING AROUND HE PICKS SOMETHING UP AND PUTS IT INTO HIS MOUTH AND EXAMINES IT IN THE MIRROR. IT’S A SMALL CAP FROM A MINI SIZED TUBE OF TOOTHPASTE.

A little later, there’s quite a significant chunk of dialogue that appears neither in the Xtended episode or the deleted scenes – and so presumably it was never shot – after Kryten uses the Psi-Scan on the wormhole:

CAT
That’s a hell of a clever machine. I bet it can even tell you what colour boxer shorts I’m wearing?

KRYTEN POINTS IT AT THE CAT.

KRYTEN
White silk with black fur trim and a gold cod piece.

CAT
That’s uncanny.

KRYTEN
Any theories?

LISTER
Maybe we weakened the dimensional membrane when we created the new timeline for President Kennedy.

LISTER PEERS IN.

LISTER
Lend me your torch.

No such theorising takes place in the final episode, and so we lose the callback to earlier in the series. Interesting that it’s Kryten asking Lister if he has any theories, when in the intervening years the opposite has become such a trope that it’s referenced by Rimmer in Twentica. The crew continue into the linkway, with the script noting that the “NEW GREENWICH TUBE LINE – IT OPENS IN 2 YEARS – MIGHT BE A PERFECT LOCATION”. This would be the Jubilee Line Extension, which suffered minor delays before opening in 1999, and the Dwarfers would eventually be seen at Canary Wharf, one of the new stations, in Back To Earth a decade later.

In this draft, Kryten’s metaphorical Italian taxi driver was stuck behind “a haycart in the middle of Rome”, rather than “two old priests in a Skoda”. When the other crew appear, it’s our Lister who asks “how’s it going”, and the alternate Cat replies: “How’s it going yourself, buds?” In the subsequent flashback, we get more between pre-accident Lister and Rimmer, with a line that anticipates Pete (Part One) two years early:

RIMMER
You have to apply to a superior officer before you get Shore Leave, Lister.

LISTER
I did mention it. I think you may have been asleep.

RIMMER
You’ll find 3,000 thousand potatoes waiting for you in the gym.

HANDS HIM A POTATO PEELER

RIMMER
See you in the Spring.

Yes, the script does say “3,000 thousand”. I make that three million potatoes – what is it about that number? The scene continues as recorded as Lister tells Rimmer about him and Kochanski splitting up, although instead of stating that Rimmer has had less sex than a lettuce, he instead says he’s “had his leg over less times than Douglas Bader”. Yes, that’s a joke at the expense of an amputee, but I think Doug has those privileges. Another seemingly unrecorded section comes in the scene between Lister and Kochanski:

KOCHANSKI
I just wanted to see if we could be friends. You haven’t answered any of my e mail and I just hate not being liked. I’m a ‘like’ junkee.

LISTER
A what?

KOCHANSKI
In Cadet College I got hit by a truck and ruptured my spleen. The driver was over the limit and wound up getting banned. I felt so bad I spent the next twelve months giving him lifts everywhere.

LISTER
Why?

KOCHANSKI
I couldn’t stand the thought he’d have to take the bus and he’d be out there somewhere hating me.
I know it sounds crazy but we’re great friends now, and if I can be friends with someone who’s squidged one of my body parts then why not us.

LISTER
You mean give it another go?

KOCHANSKI
No, be friends. I’m back, I’m back with Tim now.

The scene continues as per Xtended, ending with Kochanski taking the cat and saying “you’re about as responsible as a stuffed chipmunk, aren’t you?” – a line that doesn’t make it into Xtended, but can be heard during a smeg up in which the cat struggles free. Following Kochanski changing her mind about disintegrating the cat, the flashback continues with two whole extra scenes in this draft, including a return for another pre-accident character:

INT. CAPTAIN’S OFFICE. DAY.

KOCHANSKI
Navigation Officer, Kochanski reporting as ordered, Chief.

CAPTAIN
Kochanski, take a seat. You been in the Corps how long?

KOCHANSKI
Three years, Chief.

CAPTAIN
SS Watson/Crick then here, right?

HE STARTS READING HER FILE.

CAPTAIN
Born in Perth. But brought up in a pretty swanky part of London.

KOCHANSKI
Yeah, Peckham, Chief. My parents were fairly well-to-do.

CAPTAIN
You went to a Cyberschool. How come?

KOCHANSKI
My mother was chief honcho for the software company. She thought if she sent her own daughter into AR it’d squash the rumours that prolonged periods in cyberspace screwed you up.

KOCHANSKI FACE CONTORTS INTO A MAD TIC.

KOCHANSKI
Still I got through it ok. Except I hate people who wear shoes.

SHE GRINS WINNINGLY. THE CAPTAIN JUST LOOKS AT HER THEN HANDS HER A SECURITY PHOTO.

CAPTAIN
Holly picked it up on one of his security scans. It is yours, right?

KOCHANSKI
The cat’s clean, sir.

CAPTAIN
Where is it?

NO REPLY

CAPTAIN
You want to spend the next six months in the freezer?

NO REPLY

CAPTAIN
Are you protecting someone, Kochanski?

KOCHANSKI
(PAUSE) No, Chief.

CAPTAIN
Walk or talk. The choice is yours.

INT. CORRIDOR DAY.

GUARD SLAMS MASSIVE S/A DOOR IN HER FACE.

KOCHANSKI
What choice did I have? Lister would’ve hated me?

FINGERS TYPE ACROSS A KEYBOARD AND FILL IN QUESTIONNAIRE.

CRYOGENIC IMMERSION – TYPE: STASIS.

STATUS: PENAL.

SENTENCE: 6 MONTHS.

OCCUPANT: N/O: KRISTINE KOCHANSKI

Hollister would eventually return a series later, but we’re still yet to see an appearance of any character development for Kochanski. Some of the biographical information turns up with slight modifications in Duct Soup, but there’s no hint of the post-Cyberschool instabilities, and beyond the scene with Kryten later in this episode, she’s far from eager to be likeable for the rest of the finished series. Back in the linkway, we learn a little more when Kochanski explains that she and Holo-Lister got together after she realised she’d been “a little uptight” in the past. The GELF attack and dental floss rescue unfold, and this dialogue appears between the snog and subsequent, second GELF attack:

LISTER
Look will you stop treating us like we’re a bunch of useless, no hopers who don’t know what the hell they’re doing.

KOCHANSKI
And why are you on Starbug? Where’s Red Dwarf?

LISTER
Oh, you know, uh – long story.

KRYTEN
He lost it.

LISTER SHOOTS KRYTEN A LOOK.

LISTER
I parked it somewhere ok and when we returned it wasn’t there. Probably Gelfs.

KOCHANSKI
Maybe you just forgot to put the handbrake on and it rolled away.

KRYTEN LAUGHS. LISTER STOPS HIM WITH A LOOK.

A version of this gag turns up in the deleted scenes, trimmed from a later cockpit scene, but without Lister’s explanation, Kochanski’s gag or Kryten’s sniggering. The next few scenes are pretty much as they ended up in the final show – obviously the whole “you’re lying” thing was deemed perfect right from the readthrough – and the next major deviation from the recorded material comes as Kochanski is preparing to leave. The scene where Kryten cracks open the champagne continues into the sequence between Lister and Kochanski – Cat and Kryten leave the mid-section, rather than cutting to a separate scene on a gantry. Much of this conversation remains unaltered, except that in this draft, it’s Kochanski that brings up the names “Rob or Ross”. And then, rather than having Kryten dust between them as they’re about to kiss, the scene continues for much longer:

LISTER
I know.

THEY EMBRACE. KRYTEN RETURNS. DOESN’T LOOK PLEASED.

LISTER
Look, why, you know, why, don’t you stay?

KRYTEN DROPS HIS EMPTY CHAMPAGNE TRAY IN SHOCK.

KOCHANSKI
I can’t, I can’t leave Dave, Dave

LISTER
He’s me.

KOCHANSKI
He started out as you but now he’s someone else. On my last birthday he used the Lunar excavator and dug a love message right the way across the surface of a small planetoid.

LISTER
Amazing what some guy’ll do to cover it up forgetting a birthday card.

THEY WALK TOWARDS THE EXIT.

The scene then flows straight in to Kochanski’s goodbye, after which Kryten has an additional none-too-subtle line:

KRYTEN
Sir, can you help to transport this case of mountaineering equipment across to Red Dwarf – you never use it and from all accounts the alternative Mr Lister is quite an expert.

In other example of the episode having been subsequently restructured, this now lengthy scene cuts to the linkway, where Lister spots the ‘Ouroboros’ crate, as opposed to making the discovery whilst still on Starbug. Rather than chasing after Kochanski to get the in-vitro tube back, Lister instead somehow predicts that GELFs are about to attack the linkway, and that the two crews would end up swapping dimensions, with the alternative crew being the ones to take the baby back in time to the Aigburth Arms.

Sure enough, the GELFs attack, the linkway begins to rotate and Kochanski ends up sliding towards our crew. As per the episode, a further explosion severs the linkway, leaving her stranded. Lister throws the test tube over to the alternative crew, shouting instructions to use the Time Drive and leave the baby under a pool table, but then the whole thing about the crews swapping sides seems to be forgotten about, as Kochanski takes the jump and is rescued by Lister using the aforementioned mountaineering equipment.

After the obscene phone call, a brief unused scene:

INT. LISTER’S SLEEPING QUARTER’S DAY.

WE COME OFF A PHOTOGRAPH OF LISTER STARING AT A PICTURE OF HIMSELF. HE STARES AT IT IN SILENCE FOR A WHILE AND THEN …

LISTER
(DISBELIEF) Dad?

We then cut to the scene of Kryten bringing Kochanski a drink, except instead of the punchline being her knickers on display, it’s her walking off with “a Ribena coloured moustache over her mouth” from said drink. The episode ends here, without the coda of Lister abandoning himself. In this version of the script, it’s the other crew who have the IV tube, but as the crew end up going back to “our” Starbug instead of “their” Red Dwarf, the whole dimension-swapping thing is deeply confusing in this draft. Doug evidently realised this at the readthrough, restructured the final few scenes and removed this element from the final script, replacing it with an emotionally-satisfying bookend instead. Regardless of how the rest of the episode turned out, it’s a big improvement, although I wish that just some of the dialogue that builds Kochanski’s character had been kept, just so there was something more to her than the archetypal nagging woman role she eventually inhabited.

Heartache

by Kim Fuller. Third Draft. 23 April 1996

There are actually two dates on the front page of this script; the April date above is presumably when this draft was finished, but it also bears the same 7th May date as Ouroboros, alongside the same “readthrough script” label. The big difference is that this is not Doug’s script – only Kim Fuller’s name appears on the front, although it does appear to have already gone through the production office prior to the readthrough. Unlike the final three episodes, which we’ll come to later, the layout and format match the previous scripts, and the scene structure isn’t radically different to the finished product. Overall, it seems to be lacking a final comedic polish, but we can’t rule out the possibility that Doug had already had a pass by this stage, especially considering his name didn’t appear on the Natural Born Rimmers shooting script either.

The most interesting thing about this draft is all the little dialogue changes that took place prior to shooting. The very first scenes initially featured Kryten suggesting “toasted bacon and massala sandwich au vin” and “a soft-boiled egg with curried anchovy soldiers” for Lister’s breakfast, and then speculating that Lister’s abstention from spicy food was “in memory of some religious leader – I note that today is the anniversary of the death of the 21st century mystic Dennis Patrakravarian who asphyxiated while giving simultaneous oral absolution to fifteen village milkmaids”. Rather than old women on park benches, he compares the phenomenon to “hedgehog skin knickers not being itchy”.

The dialogue is densely packed with these simile jokes; Kryten compares Lister’s breath to “the carpet of a Tandoori restaurant on a Saturday night”, and later tells him that “your powers of observation would actually be increased by being thrown down a coal mine in a velvet-lined trunk with two black cats strapped to your eyes”. Together with Lister threatening to plug Kryten “into the re-entry overdrive circuit to remind you what intense pain feels like”, it feels like the usual character dynamics are not quite there. Kryten explains that part of his problem with Kochanski is that she’s competent, complaining about her being able to “identify the silhouettes of every Mark 2 Gavrillion express transport ship in the fleet”.

It was originally ketchup, and not salad cream, that was the major bugbear, and this draft omits Kochanski moving a bottle to the cupboard and Kryten’s “hold me back”. There’s no jokes about monkeys being stretched across tennis courts either; instead there’s an extra scene between Cat and Kochanski in the cockpit, placed between the coward/hypocrite lines and the bit about Kochanski drying her tights on the radiator:

INT. COCKPIT (CONTINUOUS)

CAT NONCHALANTLY AT THE CONTROLS. LIGHTS FLASHING. KOCHANSKI ENTERS.

KOCHANSKI
Cat.

CAT JUMPS AND SCREAMS.

CAT
Don’t do that- (turns round) Oh, it’s you Miss Kochanski. That’s fine- do it when you like.

KOCHANSKI
You realise the Approach Hazard light’s flashing.

CAT
Which one’s that?

KOCHANSKI
You don’t know what the Approach Hazard light is?

CAT
Give me a colour- I’m better on colours.

KOCHANSKI
The green one.

CAT
Oh, it’s broken. It always flashes like that.

KOCHANSKI
Oh. So how about the other sixteen flashing underneath it- what does that mean?

CAT
I don’t know but that’s a neat pattern they’re making.

KOCHANSKI
(switching switches despairingly)
I don’t know what’s happened to this Starbug – it’s like someone’s taken the most sophisticated car ever made and given it to a ten year old child who’s fitted it with a bicycle chain and pedals and glues a pair of handlebars onto the bonnet.

CAT
(proudly)
Yeah, she’s a great ship.

KOCHANSKI
Look there’s obviously something dangerous around- can’t you smell anything?

CAT
(sniffing)
Yes- don’t tell me- Eau Rivage- my favourite cologne- you got any I could borrow?

KOCHANSKI
I’m talking about your danger assessment instinct, Cat.

CAT
Oh, right.
(sniffing)
Seems fine to me.

KOCHANSKI
My Cat can smell the fear on a mosquito trapped in a cobweb from a distance of six light years.

CAT
Yeah well round here any sense of smell tends to be a disadvantage.

KOCHANSKI
(sharply)
Just keep you eyes on the screen.

CAT
Yes, ma’am.

SHE EXITS.

After the baked potato gag, she then complains to Lister that Cat has “less natural instinct than my great aunt Molly”, despite her being “dead for a thousand years”. Still, she lived to the ripe old age of 2.999 million. The comet scene is pretty close to the final version, save for a lack of condiment call-backs, the omission of Cat’s potato salad inquiry, and the Vidal Beast of Sharmutt II originally coming from plain old Sharmutt. Other missing jokes include Kryten trying to mime “ice” to Lister, the Cat’s mix-up with the baked potato timer, and all the follow-up gags to his “wrestling with treacle” remark.

Instead, during the scenes where Starbug is inside the vapour trail, Kochanski starts sarcastically offering to make herself useful:

KOCHANSKI
Anyone want a lager? Or a gin and tonic?

SUDDEN DRUMMING OF ICE CUBES ON THE OUTSIDE OF THE SHIP.

KOCHANSKI
I’ll just nip out and get some ice.

A HUGE CRASH.

KOCHANSKI
Maybe I’ll just wait for it to come through the roof.

After she later offers to make everyone tea, more is made of her issuing the instruction to turn around – Lister asks her what they should do, and she’s shocked by this, sarcastically suggesting an arm-wrestling competition. When the danger is over, Kryten gives a run-down of the damage, before Kochanski admonishes Lister for having nearly killed everyone, which then flows into the “my Dave would never have done that” material from the final episode, but without Lister goading her into saying it. There’s an extra couple of lines between Kryten asking Lister if he deliberately damaged the ship, and Lister calling Cat ‘Rimmer’:

LISTER
Kryten, nothing would make me happier than to see Kochanski back where she belongs.

KRYTEN
(pleased)
What a generous sentiment, sir. If I engrave it on her bedroom wall, would you sign it?

The following scene between Kryten and Kochanski in her quarters hits all the same marks as the final version, but with much of the dialogue vastly different, as well as unused intro, all of which takes place before Kryten’s first line of the scene as broadcast:

KOCHANSKI
Kryten.

KRYTEN
Miss Kochanski, I need to talk to you.

KOCHANSKI
What’s the matter?

KRYTEN
Nothing’s the matter. That is to say, no thing is the matter, but some one is the matter.

KOCHANSKI
I suppose you mean me?

KRYTEN
Exactly.

KOCHANSKI
Would you like to sit down?

KRYTEN
I would be glad to.

KOCHANSKI
Well don’t.

KRYTEN
Of course. (clears his throat) As it seems you may be with us for some time, I wonder if I might go through a few rules of the ship.

His first two rules are the same as the finished version – with the obvious exception of ketchup in place of salad cream – but there’s a different rule three in place of “the toilet seat fiasco”, and Kochanski’s retort is much more substantial:

KRYTEN
And three- if you insist on making your own bed, will you put the open end of the pillowcase against the wall- there’s something unseemly about seeing the pillow inside- much like seeing an expanse of white skin between the top of a man’s sock and the bottom of his trousers.

KOCHANSKI
Have you finished?

KRYTEN
I think so – for the moment.

KOCHANSKI
Well let me tell you something. Ever since I arrived in here I’ve made compromises. It’s not been easy to cope with the fact that the ship is like a flying scrapyard, the crew looks the same as my crew but they’re different in the most perverse and disturbing ways and in general, I couldn’t be surrounded by a more violent clash of smells if someone had emptied the contents of a Malaysian spice emporium into the slop drains of a pig farm. And to cap it all, I’m faced with some stupid droid who’s worried about my pants drawer.

We don’t get the gag with Kryten thinking she’s talking about another droid, but otherwise there are very few changes for the next dozen or so pages. The golf flashback and bookending Lister/Cat scenes are more or less verbatim compared to the episode, with the exception of Cat’s line about visible panty lines being missing, and him calling Rimmer a “dickhead” rather than a “smeghead”. Ahead of the locker room game flashback, there’s even more extra dialogue than the bits in the deleted scenes, which includes material that would make the slash community very happy and the apostrophe-pedantry community very unhappy:

LISTER
That was banter- it was part of bonding. Underneath all that hate, there was-

CAT
More hate.

LISTER
Yes, but it was sort of love hate relationship- I loved hating him. And now he’s gone and there’s a hole where he used to be- we had fun.

KRYTEN
I think you’re mind is playing tricks on you, sir, I can’t recall any fun surrounding Mr Rimmer.

LISTER
You don’t know, Kryten, you don’t know what we used to do on Red Dwarf. Like when we played the locker room game.

The only changes to said flashback are cosmetic – the lockers chosen are numbers 58 and 148, rather than 68 and 58; Rimmer uses the word “crap” rather than “useless”, and the video that Lister finds is “Electric Blue 35 thousand 7 hundred”. Rimmer and the fireball is much more horrific in the draft, which states that he “crashes back against the wall, burning and screaming”. When we rejoin the present after this flashback, the scripted scene is much longer:

INT. CARGO BAY – PRESENT

LISTER
You see what I mean? We had great fun.

CAT
Yeah, but if you were Rimmer it wasn’t so great.

KRYTEN
Cat’s right, sir, I think your sense of perception has been affected by the rose tinted spectacles of time. Perhaps you might benefit from a session with my psychiatric programme.

LISTER
What are you trying to say- I’m losing my marbles or something?

KRYTEN
No, sir, but-

LISTER
Let me tell you this- I am as sane as sausage egg, chips and a friend slice. The only problem with me is I’m surrounded by idiots.

HE WALKS OUT.

CAT
Hey, he’s really getting uptight. Do you think he’s going off his trolley?

KRYTEN
Not only going off his trolley, but also nuts, Doolallie, round the bend, down to the funny farm and into the stark raving padded cell of Barking.

The subsequent dream sequence is also virtually as it appears on screen – it seems that Doug was largely happy with the big set pieces from this draft, but subsequently made the bulk of his tweaks to the everyday Starbug scenes. There’s a bit of extra detail in Rimmer’s story about his exploits – that he “lived with a woman called Mariana for five years before she left me to become an exotic dancer on Argon 5” – and Lister states that since Rimmer’s been gone, he’s cultivated nearly enough navel fluff to fill another pillow.

The subsequent scene in the medi-bay shares the same structure as the finished episode, but with a few extra bits of dialogue, such as Lister saying he feels like he’s had a “dozen brandy and scrumpi slammers on top of a chicken balti”. After Kryten leaves, the conversation between Lister and Kochanski is a lot longer, including this nice moment just as she arrives:

KOCHANSKI
Are you alright?

LISTER
Yes I’m fine.

KOCHANSKI
So what are you doing in the medibay, then?

LISTER
Oh, I’m just…uh…

KOCHANSKI
Testing how comfortable the chairs are?

LISTER
That’s it, yes. They’re a bit on the lumpy side. What are you doing here?

KOCHANSKI
Just looking for something to erase the memory of everything I’ve ever experienced.

LISTER
Everything? Not that night back at the space corps behind the filing cabinet?

KOCHANSKI
Especially that.

Their chat is much more in-depth in the draft; Lister describes his and Rimmer’s relationship as “uncomplicated- I hated him and he hated me”, and Kochanski states that she had psychiatric training back on her Starbug, while our crew were busy “training to identify every crew member’s farts while blindfolded”. Rather than being riled by Rimmer’s toilet roll consumption, it was “the way he ironed the crease out of tissues before he blew his nose on them” and him working out that “the minimum number of crumbs you could leave when slicing a piece of bread” was forty-nine.

Kochanski “curing” Lister works in much the same way, but just with a few extra words here and there, the only major change being a line about “the sort of Rimmer who would put a bowtie on the Christmas turkey and stuff it with firecrackers just for a laugh” instead of the one about cataloguing his cheese collection. When Kryten re-enters, he seems much more angry about having been rendered redundant, rather than him being upset in the final version. Once again, there’s no condiment callback, and it doesn’t end with Kryten blowing his nose. Instead, it cuts to a scene in the cargo hold, in place of the games night scene from the episode:

INT. CARGO HOLD

CAT IS DRESSED IN AFGHAN COAT, LOON PANTS, STACK HEELED BOOTS, ETC. LISTER ENTERS.

LISTER
What are you doing?

CAT
I found them on a rail.

LISTER
It looks disgusting.

CAT
(proudly)
Thanks.

LISTER
Now come one, let’s throw this stuff out.

CAT
What everything?

LISTER
(dumping things in the garbage disposal)
Yes- everything.

CAT
How come Rimmer had so many shaving mirrors when he didn’t need to shave?

HE HOLDS UP A LARGE PILE OF MIRRORS.

LISTER
He was trying to find one that reflected more than a two dimensional personality.

THEY THROW THEM OUT

Somewhat confusingly, we then cut straight to a different scene, in “another part of the ship”, where “Lister, Cat, Kochanski sit in a fairground trolley thing on rails”. It’s easy to see why Doug restructured this, incorporating a scene between Lister, Cat and Kochanski so that Kryten could interrupt and set up the finale. He also changed the nature of the Rimmer Experience – in the script, it’s implied that Kryten has built an actual, physical fairground ride and that the crew are only wearing “virtual reality helmets” in order to see the exhibits. The name was also changed; it’s “Rimmerworld” in the script, suggesting that Kim Fuller wasn’t familiar with the Series VI episode of the same name. Furthermore, Kryten originally specifies that Rimmer’s diaries spanned “the last few thousand years”; it’s like a slightly off-brand version of Red Dwarf.

Despite this, once we’re into the ride, it’s not much different to the scenes that ended up being filmed. There’s all sorts of extra dialogue in the script, but it all appears as part of the deleted scenes on the Series VII DVD. It’s virtually all there – the only dialogue changes I can spot are Cat initially saying “it’s at times like this I wish I had airbags built into my eyes” instead of “…I get really scared”, and Lister’s “save us” plea finishing short of “before I wet me kecks”.

Then we come to the song, which is not radically different from the final version. The script specifies that the repetitions of “Arnold” should be a “crescendo to chorus”, which sounds like Fuller had more of a show tune in mind than Howard Goodall ended up delivering. The lyrics omit the second variant on the chorus (strimmer/Brynner/glimmer) and the fourth (quimmer/shimmer/blimmer), which was recorded but deleted from the final episode. The stage directions are fun:

THE CART IS MOVING LIKE A ROLLER COASTER. LONG SHOT OF THE CART ROLLING OUT OF A HUGE REPLICA OF RIMMER’S HEAD. IT FLIES OUT OF HIS EAR AND GOES BACK IN UP HIS NOSE. THE SONG CONTINUES AND WE SEE FLASHES OF THE MUNCHKINS AS THE CART FLASHES BY AND THE CREW HANG ON FOR DEAR LIFE.

An aborted attempt at such an effect can also be glimpsed on the Series VII DVD. The song finishes, and the episode ends with Lister calling Rimmer a “bastard” instead of a “smeghead”, before throwing up.

Beyond A Joke (Nega-Drive)

by Robert Llewellyn. 2nd Draft.

No date on the front page of this draft, but there are two titles. Beyond A Joke is the main one, with Nega-Drive in brackets underneath, indicating that this was a previous working title. Just one writer’s name on the front too, and it would appear to be at a much earlier stage of development than the scripts labelled “readthrough” – the format doesn’t match the others, and right from the very start, the structure of the episode is vastly different.

We start off with Lister, Cat and Kochanski already in Pride & Prejudice World, flirting with the Bennett sisters and complaining about tackle-tight strides. Kryten turns up “in tattered butler garb”, to inform them that supper is ready. Lister wants to keep playing, so Kryten claps his hands and disappears in a huff. There’s an extra character introduced – a “devilishly handsome young lieutenant” so that Kochanski can also have a flirt – before Kryten turns up in the tank to blow the fuck out of the gazebo.

Things proceed as per the final episode from here, but as with Heartache, you can sense an absence of Doug’s voice in the dialogue – there’s no “are we eating the same stuff” or “hey, no I don’t” jokes. Interestingly there’s no mention in this draft of it being Kryten’s anniversary, and therefore less justification for his extreme reactions, especially as in this version it’s Lister asking for salt that causes his head to explode, not even ketchup. After this point, the stage directions indicate that the headless Kryten is walking around in the background, trying to help out by flailing around with a tray of drinks.

Instead of the SS Centauri, the crew head to a nearby moon, which contains a simulant-run authorised Divadroid dealership. Lister is too scared, which Kochanski puts down to simu-phobia, so he stays behind on Starbug while the others seek help. They head to the dealership and a sim leads them into a scrapyard, where he insists on serving drinks before negotiating a price to fix Kryten. Still headless, Kryten shows Kochanski the psi-scan, which indicates that the drinks are spiked with the “PF 93 dash C15 morality and ethics removal agent”. Kochanski and Cat insist that they don’t care, and then laugh as the simulant kicks Kryten up the arse.

The pair head back to Starbug without Kryten, having traded him for a trouser press and a solar powered hair roller set. Cat flies off before the simulant changes his mind about the brilliant deal, and we cut to a cell containing “a red suited mechanoid identical to Kryten”. This is of course Able (or Abel, as he’s referred to in this draft), and the eventual palette swap meant that we’d have to wait another 19 years to see Robert Llewellyn in a red suit. Abel is instructed to fix Kryten, while back on the Bug the effects of the drug are wearing off, but Kochanski still insists that it’s not worth rescuing Kryten because “he’s a mechanoid” and not “one of us”. The daft racist. Nevertheless, Lister steers the ship around.

We return to Abel in the middle of draining fourteen billion gigabytes of negativity from Kryten’s system, stopping occasionally to inject a needle into his own temple. Kryten is brought back online and the two compare specs, and in this version of the script there’s even more confusion about the specific numbers than there is in the finished episode. Apparently they’re both Series 5000s, as well as sharing the middle name 2X4C. Abel immediately tells Kryten everything about the Nega Drive and Professor Mamet – a moment that comes much much later in the final episode. John Warbuton is not named at this stage, and in this version it’s more that she designed these mechs to resemble a stereotypical emotionally-repressed Englishman, just for a laugh. Abel knows the truth because he used to serve Mamet herself; she turned him on to the outrozone as a means of reducing his negativity.

Starbug lands, and the Cat and Kochanski are suffering from a “guilt hangover”, begging Lister for forgiveness. They all head to the dealership, and give the sim a gullibility-virus-spiked drink to thank him for the great deal. They pretend to have discovered that the trouserpress can turn trousers in to gold, and the Cat fakes a shopping channel-esque presentation. The sim offers two mechs in exchange, so they rush off to rescue Kryten and Abel. They do so, and Kryten sets out just one ground rule for their new crew member – no more outrozone.

Abel serves a feast of fish, curry and Pride & Prejudice inspired “boiled pigs trotters and mashed turnips” to the crew, but keeps stumbling around and knocking things over. Kryten comes in and there’s a big group chat about how he and Able are sort of brothers, with Mamet as the mum, as well as the whole Nega Drive thing. It’s at this point that Mamet’s ex is named – Dale Warbuton – and it’s revealed that Kryten used to serve him:

KRYTEN
He was a duuh brain. A balding prat. A wobble headed geek with all the grace and poise of a pack of cheese slices. He was as funny as salt, as smooth as rubble and as interesting as chalk. I ran away sir, I was a stow-away on the Nova 5, anything to get away from that dreadful man.

KOCHANSKI
Well, your mum went out with him.

KRYTEN
Precisely. She was that desperate she dated a dork. I just cannot imagine how she could, well, do what you’ve explained humans do with each other, with him!. It’s all too, too yukky.

Meanwhile, the simulant wakes up, inspects his magic trouser press, and discovers gold paint smeared on the inside. He summons his brothers in arms, and blasts off in a battle cruiser. There’s quite a charming scene where Abel and Kryten argue over the best cleaning methods, but conclude that the “hint of individuality” that results from their disagreement is “charming” and “almost wicked”. An alarm sounds – the simulants are attacking.

They head into an asteroid belt and hide, during which point Abel gets covered in curry sauce for some reason. Then it’s almost as per the final episode from here, except that instead of Abel sneaking off from a game of cards to take his hit, he does so while he’s supposed to be on watch duty, which means that there is actually a reason for him to be in the cockpit, with all the vital controls that he slumps over. Kryten locks Abel in the escape pod bay to keep him out of trouble, and he subsequently saves the day.

Following the pop ballad reference, the coda is not a return to Pride & Prejudice World, but a scene between Kryten and Kochanski where they agree to make a fresh start and become friends. He does this by transferring all his negative feelings towards her onto the Nega Drive, but this makes it so full that when Lister comes in demanding more sugar on his rolly polly pudding, his head explodes. Roll credits.

So yeah, it’s recognisably the same episode, but not necessarily in the same order. There’s no dressing up as GELFs, no ploy about pretending to have planted a bomb, and no big moment of existential crisis when Kryten learns the truth about his creator. Nevertheless, after a vastly different pace towards the start, once Kryten’s head blows up, the draft hits all the same beats as the final episode, and at roughly the same times. Other than the changing locations and methods, the main difference is that this draft spends much more time fleshing out Kryten and Abel’s relationship. Doug’s rewrite made the plot tighter and more interesting, but at the expense of some of this character development.

Epideme

by Paul Alexander. Third Draft. May 1996.

Next up, a draft that’s at a slightly later stage of its development than the previous one, but still with just the one name on the cover, and nowhere near as close to the final version as the first Paul Alexander script we looked at. And it’s another one where the gist of the finished episode is there, but with several bits missing and a few of the key details changed. For example, the opening scene serves the function of having the crew discover a starship buried in an astro-glacier, but instead of discussing Toilet University and the oil-rich coastal lowlands of Venezuela, we have Lister and Kochanski bickering about how close they can get to the glacier without it being too dangerous, and the Cat having to change out of his Hawaiian shirt and linen shorts because of the inclement weather.

The bickering continues into the following scene, which starts with Lister comparing the Leviathan to “a Berni Inn on Valentine’s Day”, rather than an airline chicken kiev. The exploration of the Leviathan plays out as per the episode, but with different gags in a lot of places. There’s a line where Lister is excited because the ship will be carrying “3000 litres of my favourite imported Austrian lager – Das Bootiful”, and The Cat declaring that “this ice stuff is slicker than the inside of Elvis Presley’s shower cap”. Later, it’s Rimmer’s birthday party that Lister compares the scene to, not his own. Kryten discovers that the crew deliberately froze themselves as a rudimentary form of cryogenics, and that the temperature of the ship has been rising since they arrived, which are details that don’t make it to screen.

When the frozen Carmen is discovered, the dialogue once again differs vastly:

LISTER AND KOCHANSKI MOVE TO ANOTHER BLOCK OF ICE. THIS ONE’S MELTING – THE SURFACE IS THIN, TRANSLUCENT. UNDER IT – A SHAPE.

THE SHAPE OF A WOMAN.

LISTER
(INCREDULOUS)
I don’t believe it! I don’t smegging believe it!
(POINTING AT SHAPE IN ICE)
Look!

CAT
Yeah! Frozen babe! Quick, convenient and if you’ve got a microwave, hot in just 3 minutes!

KOCHANSKI
Cat!

CAT
(BACKPEDALLING FURIOUSLY)
Er…I meant that in a caring…nurturing way.

LISTER
I mean – I know her! Look at her the name tag. She was Caroline Carmen. She was a supply officer on Titan. She had a great…
(SEES KOCHANSKI WAITING FOR HIM TO BE OFFENSIVE)
…office.

KOCHANSKI
And I bet you couldn’t wait to get in there and have your requisitions processed.

LISTER
Maybe. Not all women have the same lamentable lack of taste as you, Kristine. There are some who’d reckon I was quite a catch.

KOCHANSKI
Yes, but Space Corps has a sight requirement.

LISTER
For your information, Caroline and me did have a bit of a thing going on. In fact, you could say she was the woman who taught me the meaning of the word love. And lust. And sex. And then…it was over.

KOCHANSKI
Before you got to the two syllable words?

LISTER
Beautiful. Intimate. Sensual. Innocent and yet…knowing. Karen was brilliant.

KOCHANSKI
Caroline.

LISTER
Her, yeah. Karen was my pet name for her. She was lovely. We were soulmates. Two spirits as one.

KRYTEN
(OVERCOME)
Sir, that was beautiful…

LISTER
Thank you Kryten.

KRYTEN
Why have you never once mentioned this relationship in the four years I have known you?

LISTER
Shut up Kryten.

It’s at this point that Kryten reveals where the life signs were coming from, and we get the amnesia joke. But then the first major departure – the ice cracks, and Lister starts clawing away at it to get her out, but she “dies” there and then. She doesn’t make it back to the Bug, and therefore there’s no tongue-hockeying whatsoever. Instead, a brief scene where Lister appears to be very glum and upset about Carmen’s death, before we cut to the next morning and Kryten discovers a very ill Lister in his bunk.

Having obviously skipped all the stuff with Kryten searching the quarters for Kochanski, and her punching Lister in the face, the draft re-aligns with the finished episode for the start of the scene where Lister is diagnosed. Except that in the draft, it’s Kochanski who gives the example of the pain that women go through, and it’s a slightly more graphic analogy:

KOCHANSKI
We just have a different perspective on pain. As would you if once a month your uterus turned to jam and tried to hibernate in your underwear.

While the finished episode has Kryten set up the concept of Epideme straight away at this point, it’s an unknown virus in the draft. Therefore, Kryten has to conduct some tests; he shows everyone a live scan of Lister’s body (which Lister compares to a route map of Network South East, complete with an amusing but geographically inaccurate joke about Cockfosters), and deduces that the virus must be intelligent because it darts to the opposite end of the body whenever Kryten injects an anti-viral agent. He gives the prognosis of Lister having 48 hours to live, but doesn’t yet come up with the plan of reasoning with it.

Instead, we get the scene of Kryten and Kochanski arguing over how to make Lister’s bed, which comes much later in the final episode. Cat wheels Lister in, and it’s here that Kryten plugs Lister in to a translator. The stage directions give no indication of how Epideme was intended to be played – it’s hard not to read the lines in Gary Martin’s voice, but the dialogue is played straighter here than in the finished episode, with none of the disc jockey mannerisms. To me, it reads more sarcastic and condescending than eccentric and wacky. For example:

VOICE (V.O)
…ah. That’s better. This is… interesting. Who has given me this gift of speech?

KRYTEN
That would be me, Mr..?

VOICE (V.O)
I am Epideme. The Survivor. Does this genius who gave me voice have a name?

KRYTEN
Kryten, sir. And please – I am hardly a genius..!

EPIDEME (V.O)
Very well. You’re a moron. Is that better?

Virtually none of Epideme’s dialogue is the same. In this version of the scene, he and Lister immediately get into an argument when Epideme complains about the amount of curry in Lister’s intestines. This culminates in our hero punching himself repeatedly in whatever part of his body the virus is situated, so they quickly abandon the plan to reason with it. A new scene establishes the next plan – to starve the virus out, as it’s currently using up energy “faster than a professional sperm donor’s elbow”. Kryten reckons that if Lister goes without food for fifteen hours, that should do it, provided that Epideme is kept distracted so that it doesn’t notice.

The distraction consists of a series of conversations that ended up dotted around the version that was filmed. It starts with the Cat giving Epideme a spelling test, which eventually found its way into the deleted scenes, followed by the virus insisting he and Lister can be friends, followed by the conversation about the biryanied chicken. Then an additional conversation, leading to a breakdown in communications:

EPIDEME (V.O)
Be reasonable, Dave. What gives you more right to exist than I?

LISTER
I…I know all the words to ‘MacArthur Park’. And I can name every one of the Six Wives of Macauley Culkin. And er… gimme a minute…

EPIDEME (V.O)
I have claimed thousands of lives, Dave. Millions. Just before Leviathan, I infected the October Colony on Io.

LISTER
(APPALLED)
I had friends on Io..!

EPIDEME (V.O)
Two million colonists. An entire world, Dave. So have no fear – you are not alone

LISTER
GET OUT!!! Get OUT of my body!!!

EPIDEME (V.O)
Dave, this isn’t funny and it isn’t clever.!

LISTER
SMEG OFF!

AND HE TEARS OFF THE BIOFEEDBACK RIG AND HURLS IT AGAINST THE WALL.

After a passage-of-time model shot, there then features a scene between Lister and Kochanski, with ten minutes of Lister’s fast remaining. They talk about how Lister reminds Kochanski of her Dave, but that being a hologram really changed him. Suddenly, icicles start forming on Lister’s eyebrows – Epideme is freezing his body to preserve itself. The only solution is to put Lister on a glucose drip, thus feeding the virus. It seems all hope is lost, and Kryten has a minor breakdown, ranting about how poorly designed humans are, and how they always die just to spite him.

Next, Lister is alone in the medibay, while the others discuss the phrase “even the word hopeless has hope in it”. He tries to persuade Epideme that it would be foolish to kill him, as it would quickly run out of hosts. It considers it, but decides that it can’t go against its nature. Kochanski then rushes in with the plan to cut off Lister’s arm, which very quickly proceeds. It plays out pretty much exactly as it does on TV, except that there’s only one slice in the script, rather than the multiple attempts that Kryten needs in the episode.

There are only minor changes in the scene when Lister wakes up – he comes up with the “half a juggling lesson” line himself, as the Cat is absent. He’s outside, talking about death being “like a bad hairdo. You know it’s hanging over you, but the last thing you wanna do is draw attention to it!” Things soon take another departure when Kryten points out that whenever Lister lost his temper with Epideme, the spread of the virus was inhibited, and so improving his mental attitude could buy them some time.

So instead of Lister’s plan to blow himself up and the subsequent wild goose chase for a cure, the next few scenes concern Kryten’s attempts to cheer him up. We get Lister’s last will and testament speech, but it ends with Kryten taking him into AR. At first he thinks he’s dead and in Heaven, but instead it’s a program entitled “Humanity – 40 Golden Greats”. Kryten attempts to inspire Lister by introducing him to Beethoven and Einstein, who boasts that as well as his accomplishments in relativity and quantum mechanics, “I schtupped Marilyn Monroe!”.

Meanwhile in the Medi Bay, Epideme is boasting to Kochanski about how he’s going to kill Lister. She gets angry, but is then struck by an idea, and runs off purposefully. Back in AR, Lister asks King Solomon for advice about whether to keep on fighting, but he can only conclude that “that’s a bastard, that one”. Cut back to Kochanski, dashing around in a hurry and telling Cat to put Lister’s coathangers back. Cut to AR, where Lister is introduced to Herbert J Spilliker, inventor of those washroom sinks that spray water all over your crotch. He did so to undermine the good-looking, confident men who always got the girl, and Lister admires this dedication so much that he vows to keep fighting for the survival of his species… and promptly collapses in a heap.

Kryten exits AR, and concludes that Lister is close to death, but then Kochanski rushes in with her big plan. The scene is more or less the same, but with a couple of dialogue changes; instead of talking about being renewed for another season, Epideme’s quip is to ask for his mail to be forwarded to his new body. Once the Cat has fainted and Kochanski has explained all, they start reviving Lister straight away, without first absentmindedly walking off. There’s a brief delay because Cat has unplugged the defibrillator in favour of his hairdryer, and then instead of Kryten wiping germs off Lister’s head, we end with a necrophiliac wanking joke:

SHE KISSES LISTER ON THE FOREHEAD.

LISTER
What was that for?

KOCHANSKI
For not making me the last human in this godforsaken universe.

LISTER
Hey – this could be the start of a beautiful friendship.

KOCHANSKI
Dream on, Lister. But tell you what. If you get lonely, in the small hours…and you ever get the feeling you need, you know, relief?

LISTER
Yes?

KOCHANSKI
I’ll be happy to give you a hand.

AND SHE SCOOPS THE CHARRED SKELETON OF CARMEN’S HAND OFF THE FLOOR – AND TOSSES IT TO LISTER.

Nanarchy

by James Hendrie. 1st Draft.

This is the motherload. An episode that in its finished form has a record-breaking three credited writers, but with only one name on the front, no date, and the words “1st draft” handwritten in biro beneath the title. It’s a good ten pages lighter than any of the other scripts, and even the most cursory of flick-throughs reveals that this draft bears very little resemblance to the broadcast episode. The only thing it has in common is the idea of Kryten’s nanobots, but that’s about it. There’s no fake hand picking up a ball, no two hundred year journeys, no Red Dwarf, no Holly, no cliffhanger ending. Instead, the nanobots are injected by the end of the first act, and then a completely different story takes place.

Curiously, it’s a story that bears more resemblance to Bill Pearson’s proposed Christmas special than it does the episode that emerged after James Hendrie’s effort was taken on by Paul Alexander and Doug. It’s almost as much of a lost episode as Identity Within. Let’s break it down, scene by scene.

INT. STARBUG – MEDILAB
Cat, Kryten and Kochanski are gathered around a one-armed Lister, struggling to spit out some bad news. He’s got a clean bill of health, but they need to cut off his other arm. He asks why, and Kryten replies that it was so much fun the first time, as he brandishes a bloody buzz saw and advances with an evil grin.

INT. THE SLEEPING QUARTERS
Lister wakes up. In doing so, he also wakes up the Cat, who’s curled up in a basket in the corner of the room. Lister gets up and tries to open a can of lager, only to spill it everywhere. On his way back to bed, he looks down and notices that both his arms are now missing. He screams.

INT. SLEEPING QUARTERS
Lister wakes up. The others come running in to check he’s OK, to which he replies that he’s never been better.

INT. THE LIVING QUARTERS
Cat and Kochanski are playing Blackjack. She’s dealing; he twists ten times before sticking. She sticks on nineteen, and he declares that he’s won because he has 257. Lister comes in, and they ask him to play, but he says that he can’t play cards with only one arm. Kochanski attempts to cheer him up by reeling off a list of successful one-armed people from history (Nelson, the Venus de Milo, etc). Lister goes to skulk off, but Kryten appears with a potential solution – his nanobots. He explains what they are, and Lister is at first reluctant to introduce another foreign substance into his body, but he eventually agrees.

INT. STARBUG MEDILAB
Kryten is nervously preparing for the procedure. He explains that he has fourteen million nanobots on the tip of his finger, and Lister “eyes the finger suspiciously” when Kryten says he’s going to insert them into his body. But before this, he needs to talk to them, so he places them into “the two-way audio-microscanner”:

KRYTEN’S POV: THE CAMERA FLIES OVER RANK UPON RANK OF NANOBOTS, COMING IN CLOSER UNTIL WE CAN MAKE OUT THEIR INDIVIDUAL FEATURES.

THE CAMERA SETTLES IN ON A GROUP OF FOUR OR FIVE (PLAYED BY ACTORS) STANDING ON A HILLOCK.

THE NANOBOTS ARE CHUNKY LITTLE CRITTERS A BIT LIKE “LEMMINGS” IN THE COMPUTER GAME. THEY CONSIST OF A HUGE HEAD WITH TWO LEGS AND SEVERAL PINCER-LIKE ARMS. THEIR FACES HAVE TWO BIG EYES AND A MOUTH. THEY ARE VERY GUNG-HO, EAGER TO PLEASE AND RATHER APPEALING.

Kryten has a chat with the nanobots, and Lister becomes impatient when he starts asking how they all are. Tiny is fine, but Titch has a headache, and there’s a long story about Pee-Wee communicated entirely in the high-pitched electronic bleeps that comprise the nanobots’ speech. Eventually, Lister grabs the microphone and bluntly commands the bots to build him a new arm. The nanobots confer, and they’re not keen, as his body is not exactly appealing. Lister nearly gives up, but Kryten gives a rousing speech about the challenge that lies ahead, which seems to do the trick. Four million nanobots file into the hypodermic (ten million of them still didn’t fancy it), which Kryten injects into Lister’s stump.

INT. LIVING QUARTERS
Kochanski has salvaged a grand piano from a “derelict concert ship”, and is proudly showing it off to an unimpressed Cat. Kryten comes in to serve lunch, but they’re interrupted by a blood-curdling scream. Lister comes in and reveals that the nanobots are building his arm from the inside out.

HE LAYS HIS NEW ARM ON THE TABLE. IT’S A DISGUSTING SIGHT. A SKELETON ARM WITH EXPOSED BLOOD VESSELS, TENDONS AND MEATY TISSUE, AND PATCHES OF SKIN. THEY ALL RECOIL.

Kryten serves the food, and the Cat and Kochanski happily munch away until the sight of Lister shovelling down  curry with the new arm makes them lose their appetite.

EXT. SPACE
“The Starbug soars through the void. Some time has passed.”

INT. THE LIVING QUARTERS
Cat is playing “Star-Chart Darts”, ie. throwing darts at a star chart, while Kryten moans to Kochanski about her having brought the heavy and bulky piano on board. Lister comes in, with the work on his arm complete. It looks normal, but slightly shiny, and with steel bands at the joints and steel fingernails. He picks up a can of lager, and it bursts in his hand.

INT. LIVING QUARTERS – MOMENTS LATER
Kryten and Lister are poised for an arm wrestle, in order to test the strength of the new arm. As soon as they start, he sends Kryten flying across the room. The Cat steps up, with similar results. Lister starts seeing what else he can do, so he lifts up the table, and then the grand piano above his head. Kryten points out that while the arm has super-strength, his legs do not, and they subsequently buckle under the weight. He dusts himself off and tries throwing a dart, which goes through the wall.

EXT. SPACE
The dart goes straight through the hull, sending Starbug spinning around like a deflating balloon. An off-screen Kryten urges Lister to be more careful in future.

INT. THE MEDILAB – NEXT DAY
Lister tells Kryten that he’s worried. Overnight, his chipped tooth has been repaired, as have his tastebuds, which has the side-effect of rendering chicken vindaloo disgusting. It’s the nanobots looking for extra work to do, and they’ve also made him completely bald and removed his nipples. Kryten fires up the scanner to talk to them; they removed the hair and nipples because they had no function, and they’re re-using the atoms elsewhere. They offer to remove his “wang-dang-doodle”, which turns out to be a stomach ulcer called Jimmy. It emerges that they’ve also wiped out his immune system because it kept attacking them, meaning he’d be defenceless if the nanobots ever left. The only solution Kryten can find involves the “hair of the dog” – a second dose of nanobots.

INT. THE MEDILAB
Kryten has conscripted a further eighteen million nanobots, which he’s preparing to inject. This time, he says, nothing can go wrong as they’ll be commanded by a loyal and dependable General – himself, in the form of his consciousness transferred into a nano body. Lister comments that Kryten is a real pal, and in the Nano-Kryten goes, communicating with the crew all the way.

They all watch on the screen as a series of nanobot vs nanobot battles ensue, with Nano-Kryten in the thick of it. He sends a squadron of troops to Lister’s hairline, and it promptly starts growing back, followed by his eyebrows. Next, Nano-Kryten takes possession of the arm, and it starts to disassemble. Nano-Kryten scalds the nanobots for getting carried away, and they put it all back to normal. It’s reported that Lister’s thyroid has been reactivated, and thus his natural immune system will soon be restored. Finally, Lister rips open his shirt just in time to see his nipples pop back one by one, and “he tweaks them just to make sure”.

Nano-Kryten comes back on the screen, bruised and battered. Lister’s antibodies have destroyed the rebels, but they can’t distinguish between nanobots, so the good guys are getting wiped out too. The screen goes black, and the real Kryten suddenly bursts back into life. He’s fine, but he’s devastated because his comrades were not so lucky. Lister happily notes that he’s back to normal, and has even got a zit, which he goes to squeeze. Kryten angrily insists that he keeps the zit for as long as he lives, in memory of the fallen.

INT. THE SLEEPING QUARTERS
While Lister sleeps soundly, The Last Post starts playing, and Kryten solemnly lays a tiny object on the zit.

KRYTEN SALUTES AND STEPS BACK.

THE CAMERA MOVES IN ON LISTER’S FACE.

AS MAGNIFICATION INCREASES, THE SURFACE OF LISTER’S FACE BEGINS TO RESEMBLE A BARREN LANDSCAPE. THE PIMPLE STANDS OUT LIKE A MONUMENT. ON IT ARE INSCRIBED THOUSANDS OF NAMES. AT THE BASE OF IT IS A WREATH OF RED POPPIES WITH AN INSCRIPTION: “LEST WE FORGET”.

THE END

(N.B. THE ZIT REMAINS ON LISTER’S FACE FOR THE REST OF THE SERIES AND BEYOND)

MUSIC AND CREDITS.

You’ve got to admire the brass balls of that stage direction. There’s then a post-credits sequence:

EXT. SPACE – LATER
As Starbug flies through space, we hear beautiful piano music, and Lister calling Kochanski.

INT. THE CARGO BAY
Lister’s new hand has gained the ability to play the piano expertly, and Kochanski is enchanted. She sits next to him, looks into his eyes, and they lean closer and closer together. Then Lister gets cocky, and attempts to play with his old hand, and it’s a cacophony. The spell is broken, and she suggests he should practice on his own some more. He says that’s the story of his life.

EXT. SPACE
“The Starbug sails into the distance to the halting strains of “Chopsticks”.”

And so the most surreal episode this side of Krysis brings to an end this alternate universe version of Series VII; one that’s similar to our own in places, but remarkably different in others. We present this analysis not with the intent of criticising the faults of the early drafts, but in an attempt to learn more about how this difficult time in the show’s history played out. Each writer had their own unique take on how Red Dwarf should be written, and it’s clear that Doug added a great deal of consistency when he made his contributions to the scripts, making the most of his familiarity with the characters and the show’s tone of voice.

Perhaps understandably, given that there were no previous examples to draw from, the biggest different from script to script is in the portrayal of Kochanski. She’s a different character from one week to the next, none of whom are quite the same as she appeared in the series. It was Doug himself who wrote the boldest version, in this draft of Ouroboros, but the more extreme aspects were eventually removed entirely, and a lot of her humour from the other scripts was toned down. The alternative Kochanskis presented here are perhaps more interesting than what we ended up with, but they were a necessary casualty of the need for consistency.

In the end, Series VII remains the first and only time that Doug has assembled anything approaching a team of writers; Paul Alexander was retained as script editor for Series VIII, and his name appears on two of the eight episodes, but since the show’s return, Doug has been flying solo, and this seems unlikely to change in the foreseeable future. It’s a state of affairs that seems to feel right; unlike most other sci-fi behemoths, you can’t imagine it spinning off into a series of fan-written audio adventures, or resurrected in decades to come with an all new cast and writing team. That’s because there’s always been a strong, identifiable voice behind it. At first, it was two voices working in tandem, but for two decades now, there’s just been one.

Red Dwarf is Doug Naylor’s magnum opus. He could have left it unfinished, but Series VII was the first step towards making it his own. For all its faults, of which there are many, on the occasion of its 20th anniversary, we should be grateful for its place in the show’s history. It proved that Red Dwarf could come back, beat the odds and reinvent itself, which is something it’s needed to do several times since. If it had ended in 1993, on a cliffhanger after 36 episodes, would we all be here today?

No – we needed Series VII to give us something to argue about while we waited for the Dave era to start. Now that it’s happened, we can all argue about the relative merits of an extra three-and-a-bit series, and the simple fact that VII and VIII are no longer the most recent episodes makes their shortcomings a lot easier to take. They’re still there, they just seem less important now; no longer something to get upset or angry about. While the information gleaned from these scripts opens up some tantalising thoughts about what could have been, it also helps us to appreciate the circumstances that lead to what we got. It’s taken twenty years, but I’ve finally come to terms with Series VII now. It’s the zit that’s remained on Red Dwarf‘s face, for the rest of the series and beyond.

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91 Responses to Red Dwarf VII: The Early Drafts

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  1. Oh, this is a fantastic article. Well done.

    Interesting to consider the planned return of Captain Hollister with Doug getting the idea to resurrect the entire crew late in the day during VII production (as per the VIII scriptbook). I wonder if Mac was unavailable and that’s the only reason the sequence was dropped (if you look at IMDb it does seem he was very busy around this time).

    Anyone have any idea how much, if any, of the rewriting James Hendrie was involved in (we know it’s at least “not much”)? Is it possible his writing credit on the final episode is more or less in name only?

    Also: The DVD menu for “Identity Within” states that rewrites had been performed by Kim Fuller, which seems like it’s worth noting somewhere here as that version is presumably the one you have and which was used for the DVD’s reconstruction.

  2. Beautiful. There’d better be a second book now. This deserves ink.

    It rather trumps the microblog FB post I was going to fart out later. This is actually the 20th anniversary of me being a fan.

  3. …And because I am so very stupid, I’ve just remembered that the DVD menu also states that it goes back to McKay’s pre-Fuller draft. It would be interesting to see what the rewritten version looks like, though.

  4. Awesome article that!

  5. Fantastic, great stuff. Not just the information, but the whole article – a great example of why this place is such a tremendous resource.
    Probably a combination of my very low opinion of VII (even by G&T standards) and the freshness of it, but at the moment I prefer most of these ideas to the final ones.

  6. The alternate ‘Tikka to Ride’ caption is interesting, too. It probably wouldn’t work with the credits VII ultimately uses – did Doug have something different in mind?

  7. Great article. Very interesting to see these ideas in their prototype form.

  8. Well done; a very nice bit of writing, is that.
    That original Nanarchy script is quite something, isn’t it?

    I’ve finally come to terms with Series VII now

    Indeed. I remember being extremely excited when VII rolled around. I’d had to miss out on the laugh track recording I’d been invited to a few months previous, so I had very high expectations. And I so wanted to like it. It was Red Dwarf, how could I not? And though I did like it, I liked it in that way that… You know when you get the new album by your favourite band, their first in a decade? And the first time you listen, you only think that it’s not bad, but you tell yourself that you’ll have to listen to it a few times til it grows on you. But it never quite does, and is ultimately disappointing. And the more you remind yourself how disappointing you found it, the more you dislike it… Anyway that’s series VII. Not bad, but a long way from great.

    Not quite sure where I went with that, but try to suss it out, and we’ll be cool.

    Actually, there’s no real need for that album analogy is there? I found VII disappointing, but don’t hate it as much as I think I do.
    I think.

    Oh, you figure it out.

  9. Wow. Exactly 20 years ago, I’m rewinding a VHS to watch Tikka again and work out what the hell I just watched. I think my critical faculties shifted that day.

  10. this is really nice work – thanks a bunch. my take is vii has aged really well, it actually put me off rd in the first place (i got into it again when i chanced upon bte – which was like it was co-written by charlie kauffman, i loved it). no rimmer means rimmer is huge. i like the fanficyness of it (it’s been pointed out, i think on tvtropes, that rd is weird for fanfic because the alternative universes and slash is built in). when it came out i didn’t like it and thought it was like a smegazine comic strip. now i think it’s a cool excursion, detour, it’s more participatory somehow. i’ve been having a blast writing rd vii fanfic, i’ve done 5 now. there’s no sex it’s too sandy. http://archiveofourown.org/users/dollarpound/works

  11. Wow. Exactly 20 years ago, I’m rewinding a VHS to watch Tikka again and work out what the hell I just watched. I think my critical faculties shifted that day.

    I vividly remember sitting down to watch Tikka on the day of transmission and immediately feeling like something wasn’t right about it. I really wanted to like it, but I didn’t, and my friends and I spent a lot of time trying to dissect why it didn’t work for us in the days after.

    I think time has been relatively kind to it though. I think a lot of the superficial changes that came in with VII were quite a shock to fans at the time, but these days I find it easier to look past that and see the parts that still feel like Dwarf underneath.

  12. The idea of Chris Barrie flailing around and screaming as a tonally inappropriate reaction to locker fire burns made me do a lol.

  13. I like VII a lot. That version of Nanarchy? That feels very good. I’d have liked that.

  14. A version of VII, without Duct Soup, (sobbing somewhat touched) Thank you!!!, Its what I’ve always wanted.

  15. I like VII, you could say there’s plenty wrong with it, but that’s always the case really with Red Dwarf, especially VII-XI but personally feel that VII was the last time Red Dwarf was a proper science fiction program first, some really interesting concepts, and a bit of drama and some beefy character moments which was a great potential direction for Red Dwarf and something that I feel is sorely missing now.

    Obviously there are elements of scifi before any character even says anything, they’re on a space ship, one of the characters is a mechanoid, one is a hologram and one is evolved from cats, but I feel now it’s sitcom and jokes first, I mean, it’s a sitcom and that’s fine, but I do miss when it had some proper hard scifi and it didn’t always have to make a joke about it.

  16. Nanarchy

    A pretty good episode in concept and structure and central ideas based on that draft. Then they presumably couldn’t afford the piano at the end of the series point (they could afford a tank earlier, but how would you get super arm Lister lifting this up with 2p left in the kitty?). Then they deemed the nanobots too tricky to animate visually presumably which reduces this episode now to Kryten tapping a Jar with a pencil, and later the Lister bodybuilder gag. When what was really on paper is a more central focus for the episode around the nanobots internal civil war, like the class rebellion of officer Rimmer played out with multiple little bobbys in a numbskull like quantum world, something like the mighty boosh did with journey to the center of jazz.

  17. I’d be more intrigued if some scripts where Rimmer is still present came to light. I’ve been intrigued how the Rimmer-version of “Epideme” would play out, with him defeating the virus. And weren’t there versions of even “Nanarchy” with Rimmer in them?

  18. Great work. Some of this stuff is genuinely gobsmacking.

    > Lister’s cliffhanger-resolving piece to camera follows, intended to take place in a dedicated “log booth”

    The alternate version with Lister in the booth is in the deleted scenes, and we see Lister finally record the log in the booth in the finished episode, after Kryten suggests he not bother explaining about the future selves.

  19. Finally finished reading this on my eleventh try. I might actually be able to enjoy VII after reading this. That’s witchcraft. I vote we burn Ian for this stupendous feat. Wait, no, that doesn’t make sense.

    It was good to see some good basic roasts. The Rimmer mirror one and the whole Kochanski-Lister scene about Caroline Carmen were the types of things I’d always imagined happened often off camera.

  20. VII is the Saturday morning cartoon version of Dwarf and sometimes that’s exactly what you want. I love it.

  21. I’d be more intrigued if some scripts where Rimmer is still present came to light. I’ve been intrigued how the Rimmer-version of “Epideme” would play out, with him defeating the virus. And weren’t there versions of even “Nanarchy” with Rimmer in them?

    I wondered about when the order of the episodes would be set in stone. In that early Nanarchy draft, the direction about the zit remaining “for the rest of the series” suggests that it wasn’t necessarily going to be the final episode.

  22. One great thing this article has taught me – just how much Doug grafted on VII to make it work. I heard him on a recent interview disparaging the process and thought it made him sound slightly petulant and controlling, but no, it was clearly a hideous job wrangling those guest scripts. I am especially shocked at how amateurish that Kim Fuller draft is, that would *never* happen now (and I like Blue and rate Fuller). Sort of shows how flawed the then-popular British model of sitcom guest writing was and why stuff like Brittas and the Marks & Gran stuff of the same vintage was so schitzophrenically awful at times.

    It hurts my head then to imagine the rewriting process for the 1990s Star Treks, where about half the episodes were unsolicited submissions from newcomers and amateurs, or all those 80s sketch shows which were about three-quarters open door. Good results though.

  23. there seems to be consensus about it. maybe the moral is doug should ignore us! fans didn’t like vii when it came out but now can see it was heading if not in the right direction, then a good, interesting direction. with viii they gave us exactly what we asked for (norman lovett, rimmer, studio audience, bunk scenes, captain hollister, broad comedy, not so much guest writers) and it was… series viii. so doug should stick to his bazookoids and not listen to anything we have to say! or who knows maybe viii will mature like wine (it’s always wine isn’t it?). who wants the show to be perfect anyway, it’s those cute little flaws that keep a guy interested

  24. I’d take VII over VIII, BTE and most of X. It kind of pains me that I had a pretty uneasy reaction to Tikka to Ride, and yet that’s probably as good as it got for me and Red Dwarf over the next two decades. Fortunately, then Give & Take arrived and cheered me the fuck up.

    > they gave us exactly what we asked for (norman lovett, rimmer, studio audience, bunk scenes, captain hollister, broad comedy, not so much guest writers) and it was… series viii.

    I didn’t ask for broad comedy.. ViiI is a reaction to VII, for sure, but every other element you’ve listed was screwed up, whereas previously it worked fine.

    > who knows maybe viii will mature like wine
    Or like a can of beer that was opened in 1999.

  25. I think XI and, most likely XII, will only lead to an even lower opinion of VIII in hindsight.

  26. what i mean is on paper it’s what we asked for even if it was screwed up, a screwed up piece of paper. fair play about viii

  27. the letter of the law not the spirit of the law

  28. G&T Admin

    What letter is it? What single letter? The letter of the law?

  29. The letter of the law is I.
    I am the law.

  30. Neither i nor jay are in the phrase ‘the law’.

  31. It’s interesting how VII and VIII fail for largely completely different reasons. Usually when a show goes ‘off’ it’s consistent in how it does it.

  32. turns out the letter of the law is actually b. i know, i was surprised myself, but what can you do it’s the law innit?

  33. RE: Beyond a Joke

    “Apparently they’re both Series 5000s, as well as sharing the middle name 2X4C. ”

    Apparently that wasn’t completely cleared up in the episode, as it ended up being the two mechs’ serial numbers instead.

  34. I loved this article, and I never get tired of references to Douglas Adams or Morecambe and Wise. Thanks for the read!

  35. Nothing will ever redeem this season for me. Tikka is the show that always sends me to sleep, Ouroboros is like a visit to the dentist and Duct Soup is the worst episode of anything ever.

    If there’s one golden rule of TV series it is this: never, never change a successful format. Bringing in Kochanski was always a bad idea, but Kochanski after an unsuccessful head transplant op? They may as well have recast Rimmer.

    If the secret of good comedy is timing then the decision not to have a studio audience wrecked the timing of any good gags that may have been in there. Think of all those “movie” versions of popular TV comedies; they must ‘ve used cattle prods on the canned laughter recording.

    On the whole VII is like watching a beloved elderly relative succumbing to dementia; the shell that remains is the same, but the soul has already passed on.

  36. I’ve been intrigued how the Rimmer-version of “Epideme” would play out, with him defeating the virus.

    I couldn’t remember if I’d just imagined that until you said it.

    It’s interesting how VII and VIII fail for largely completely different reasons. Usually when a show goes ‘off’ it’s consistent in how it does it.

    Most shows don’t attempt to follow up the previous season by doing exactly the opposite in almost every way. VIII went as far as to ditch coherent storytelling, which seems a bizarre move considering good stories were an extremely vital aspect of the show it was trying to recapture.

  37. Seriously though, in the last 12 months we’ve had this and John’s Hancock article. Garbage Pod Volume 2. Do it.

  38. G&T Admin

    Thank you, Darrell, and everyone else who’s said such lovely things about this piece. We have been pondering the possibility of a second book. Maybe in time for DJ2019.

  39. If there’s one golden rule of TV series it is this: never, never change a successful format.

    Except Red Dwarf has done this successfully several times during its run – the shift from II to III, from V to VI, and arguably from BTE to X and from X to XI. Shows change format all the time. Doctor Who’s format has shifted frequently over the last 53 years.

    So… yeah, not so much a Golden Rule as it is a Rule You’ve Just Made Up.

  40. A successful format isn’t successful forever. That’s why shows change.

  41. So… yeah, not so much a Golden Rule as it is a Rule You’ve Just Made Up.

    Alternative rules.

  42. The ‘format’ isn’t necessarily the issue with VII. Obviously Rimmer leaving was a problem, but that was out of Doug’s control. Poor writing in places, and some misguided characterisations choices are a big part of it, but any ‘format’ issues were more how they were handled rather than simply change = bad. On paper, a lot of it is great: moving away from a monster of the week format to have plots based around the characters again, a sense of being lost and roaming around space without much home, a generally more dramatic approach, leading up to a climax of the return of Holly and Red Dwarf: all good. It’s arguable they were too far with the single-camera, field removed approach, which is often said to put a barrier between the audience and the characters: this, combined with the change of characters and writing team was potentially a change too far.

    BtE and XI, for me, show some of these ideas can be done much more successfully without losing the show’s magic. And that’s the problem with VII for me: it just doesn’t ‘feel’ right. Something was very obviously lost, and it took Doug a long time to recover it (or at least a semblance of it). So yes: well handled format change: fine. Badly handled format change: bad.

  43. At the time I found VII refreshing specifically because the formulas of VI had been abandoned and it appeared we were going deeper into the characters. It’s a mixed bag, but I am fond of most of it. Some of my favourite Cat stuff is in Epideme – yoyo tournament/I need some hangers. Also a friend of mine recently quoted ‘I look worse than the grim reaper’s passport photo.

  44. A successful format isn’t successful forever. That’s why shows change.

    But if you change too much at once it stops being the same show, which is what many of us felt watching this run for the first time.

    Losing a lead writer and cast member was plenty of change for one series to handle. Shows can survive these things. But the “filmic” look and lack of an audience is what makes it not “feel” right. It doesn’t feel like Red Dwarf at all.

    Maybe Emohawk should have warned us that the show was declining into self parody, but that was one poor show in a fairly solid season. A bit like of the “cheap ones” the Goodies used to do to make up a series. But after that, we get one good episode and a load of self parodies in every series.

  45. But if you change too much at once it stops being the same show, which is what many of us felt watching this run for the first time.

    True, but I was responding to “never change a successful format” which implied a show should stay exactly the same forever.

  46. But the “filmic” look and lack of an audience is what makes it not “feel” right. It doesn’t feel like Red Dwarf at all.

    I maintain that the filmic look would never have been as controversial as it was had the quality of the jokes been on par with previous series. Series VII does a lot of stuff I really like (strong stories, shift towards dram-com), and a lot of stuff I really don’t (bad characterization, botching that dram-com shift), but the film effect was never part of the problem for me.

  47. For me, the combination of filmic look plus the single-handed shooting definitely makes it feel a tad more distant – you don’t feel quite like you’re there with them as you do with the the other series. So it definitely affects the ‘feel’ of the show, even when it’s being funny. That said, if it was the only problem then I’d not dislike it anywhere near as much as I do. As Ben says, for all the superficial problems, the heart of the show – the characters and jokes – just isn’t beating properly.

  48. The lighting and colour design of VII is actually *less* filmic than that of VI. Harsh golden spots, rainbow costumes, a mid-section set designed to be as reflective as possible and a high saturation grade mean it’s going for something much more interesting than ‘drama/film’. I often think of VII as Red Dwarf: The Animated Series as that’s the aesthetic they push at. The Smegazine could even have been an active influence here.

    VI by comparison has a very muted, selective palette in its design, largely based around grey and orange, and characters are often in dimmed or half-light. It’s the video-look that tells you it’s sitcom. VIII does something similar, and X does what VII does in having bright, summery lighting but being shot progressive, a bit like, say The Big Bang Theory. XI is the first studio Dwarf where both the lighting *and* the temporal resolution are pushing at a drama/film feel, and this is why I don’t think the look of the new block works.

    Look at that very brief shot in Tikka Xtended where the film effect is missing though – it actually looks more “sitcommy” than VI does.

  49. I find it interesting how much that Series VII ending with the piano matches up to the ending of the original Futurama series finale.

  50. Epideme needed Rimmer. I’ve been attempting to do a rewrite of the script with him in place of Kochanski, and even though it’s probably rubbish I just feel like his presence brings the whole thing up. He’s inherently so much more amusing than Kochanski both in of himself and the interpersonal dynamics with the other characters. I personally like Epideme, but it’s weaker in the comedy than it should be and just having Rimmer there would improve it immensely in that regard. For example, in my rewrite when the ice water falls down Lister’s back and he starts yelling I have Rimmer go into panic-mode and begin frantically aiming his bazookoid around scanning for a threat. Just the simple addition of the character without changing anything about the scenario else creates a very amusing moment, and I think that’s a great illustration of what would happen if you introduce him back into the episodes he’s missing from.

    Kochanski never had a chance of being developed into something interesting unless Doug had been writing everything himself. The idea from that early Ouroboros draft of her being kind of fucked up in the head from cyberschool, that really could’ve given her a lot more personality. But handing an undeveloped character off to other writers to work with would’ve made it impossible or very difficult to give her a unique three-dimensional personality, so we just ended up with somebody who felt far too bland to be a main Red Dwarf cast member.

  51. Terrific article.

    The most extraordinary thing has happened – I watched the back half of VII the other day and enjoyed it for the first time in 20 years. Maybe it’s time, maybe because the series is stronger now and VII and VIII weren’t the end (as you say in your article) I can appreciate them for trying to do something different. It’s similar to how some Doctor Who fans feel about the McCoy era or the TV Movie.

    However, I still need some time for VIII. Not feeling quite re-energised enough for that. Maybe in 2019?

  52. I always maintain that VII holds up as its own thing even if it doesn’t always work as Red Dwarf. VIII doesn’t remotely work as Red Dwarf, but look at as its own entity and it still doesn’t work.

  53. I always describe VII as the final series of Red Dwarf that was made before Dave revived it.

  54. It’s been particularly interesting watching Kochanski’s role in the series, particularly in the Rimmer-less episodes. Chloe Annett works hard and it’s a (potentially) refreshing dynamic. But Kochanski isn’t especially funny, and the dynamic damaged Kryten’s character in VII. His ‘Miss Piggy’ moments are a low point for the character.

    But I found that in most episodes there are bright spots, although Duct Soup stretches it a bit.

  55. I think quite a lot of VII works, even is enough of it doesn’t to make the series a disappointment.

  56. so, VIII: The Early Drafts for 2019?

  57. G&T Admin

    If someone wants to send me copies of all the early drafts by then, yes.

  58. Are there even early drafts of some of these episodes? Surely that’s like an early draft of Dear Dave?

  59. Surely that’s like an early draft of Dear Dave?

    There is. They filmed it.

    Early Series X drafts would actually be quite interesting, going back to the much more expansive location-dependent versions of episodes. Then of course you got the two lost scripts, which I’d love to read but would kill to see made into Bodysnatcher-style storyboard episodes.

  60. didn’t an early draft of Lemons have them go to Italy or something? or maybe I’m misremembering

  61. It seems really odd that there were two fully scripted episodes for X that got thrown out at the last minute, and we’ve not heard anything about them since. I presume Doug has cannibalised some of the jokes from them since… but there’d definitely be scope for a Bodysnatcher or Revisitations style redo of the Dave-era stuff at some point.

  62. Actually, given that Doug had to write twice as many scripts as usual, I’d be surprised if a lot of them wasn’t cannibalised.

  63. I wouldn’t blame him for cannibalising old ideas if he had to write 12 shows in one go, that IS a lot

  64. I imagine we might never have heard about them because they were just re-used for XI or XII. I mean to just sit on some near complete script and never use it or refer to it again would be madness.

    Although, maybe they were part of the abandoned Kochanski ark, and are therefore now unusable.

  65. We know they both featured Kochanski.

    Curious to consider how finding Kochanski was meant to be the whole point of Dave Dwarf until Doug had to abandon the X scripts with her in and now she’s disappeared entirely.

  66. I heard a theory that Kochanski was supposed to be what they find in Entangled but it’s been ages since I heard it or watched the episode so idk how that would work.

    Speaking of early drafts, do we know anything about earlier drafts of I-Vi eps, for example didn’t Out of Time go through heavy rewrites, right up until DURING the recording?

  67. >maybe they were part of the abandoned Kochanski ark

    Didn’t that crash into an asteroid?

  68. >maybe they were part of the abandoned Kochanski ark

    Didn’t that crash into an asteroid?

    The other Kochanski ark went on, knowing they were right.

  69. Hang on, why are we so hung up on finding Kochanski when we’ve still got an ENTIRE GODDAMN HALF OF THE CAT PEOPLE to find?

  70. That’s Series XIII, Episode 2 : Catatonia.

    The crew find the ark, and Lister, Kryten and Rimmer are turned into cats. At the end of the episode, they reach Fuchal because fuck it.

  71. That’s Series XIII, Episode 2 : Catatonia.

    The crew find the ark, and Lister, Kryten and Rimmer are turned into cats. At the end of the episode, they reach Fuchal because fuck it.

    After the initial shock wears off, Rimmer finds he enjoys the experience as he is now able to live up to his family name and lick his own arsehole.

  72. I would like the last two posts printed out and framed.

  73. That’s Series XIII, Episode 2 : Catatonia.

    The crew find the ark, and Lister, Kryten and Rimmer are turned into cats. At the end of the episode, they reach Fuchal because fuck it.

    There’s also a satire about democracy in there but it’s executed by having the Dwarfers storming polling stations screaming that the reign of spayed falls mainly on the clitoris.

  74. I heard a theory that Kochanski was supposed to be what they find in Entangled but it’s been ages since I heard it or watched the episode so idk how that would work.

    During the build up to that I was sat there going “don’t be Kochanski don’t be Kochanski don’t be Kochanski”
    I’ve never been so happy to see a comedy chimp.

  75. I heard a theory that Kochanski was supposed to be what they find in Entangled but it’s been ages since I heard it or watched the episode so idk how that would work.

    Doug seems like a smart guy but i can never understood mistakes like saying Kochanski is 31 in that episode.

    Even if you look at it like Lister is just an idiot and doesn’t know her age it doesn’t translate that way on the character but more in the writing.

  76. Probably would have been best to not acknowledge her age.

  77. It might be worth considering that the person in question had been in stasis for an unknown period of time.

  78. Doug seems like a smart guy but i can never understood mistakes like saying Kochanski is 31 in that episode.
    Even if you look at it like Lister is just an idiot and doesn’t know her age it doesn’t translate that way on the character but more in the writing.

    It’s not a mistake, Ellard specifically said it was being nice to Chloe Annett.

  79. By insinuating she was 16 when she first played Lister’s love-interest.

  80. Ellard specifically said it was being nice to Chloe Annett.

    “Nice”? Now I’m even angrier about it. -_-

  81. > By insinuating she was 16 when she first played Lister’s love-interest.

    To be fair, being a navigation officer at 16 is pretty impressive.

  82. Or, also, perhaps she spent more time in stasis after initially coming out in her universe, so that she started around the same age but managed to pass a lot less time?

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