Initial announcement? Check. Behind the scenes pictures? Check. First proper publicity stills? Check. The journey towards the broadcast of brand new Red Dwarf is progressing nicely, and it was about time for us to hit another milestone. While we’re still waiting for an episode title, today TOS has furnished us with not only an official synopsis but also a list of guest cast. Hurrah! Let’s go through it bit by bit, as is the tradition.
The new 90-minute special is the thirteenth outing of the legendary sci-fi comedy.
Ha, I like “thirteenth outing”, in the context of the neverending series numbering debate. There’s your solution, let’s stop referring to things as Series Something; Back To Earth was Outing IX, and this is Outing XIII.
It reunites the original cast of Chris Barrie (Rimmer), Craig Charles (Lister), Danny John-Jules (Cat) Robert Llewellyn (Kryten) and sees the return of Holly (Norman Lovett) the much loved ship’s computer.
Ah, there we go – the first actual official confirmation that Norman is in it, as opposed to him just being featured but unmentioned in social media photos. The commentary in the TOS article about this return coming “after his one-off guest spot” implies that this isn’t a temporary return for the character, and that he’s back to being a fully fledged regular crew member. But then again, we have no idea whether or not there’ll be an Outing XIV after this, so this may be a moot point.
Written and directed by Doug Naylor, it was recorded in front of a live studio audience over two nights at the world famous Pinewood Studios.
Three million years ago… David Lister, a vending machine repairman, was sentenced to eighteen months in suspended animation for smuggling his pregnant cat aboard the mining ship Red Dwarf. While Lister remained in stasis, a radiation leak killed the rest of the crew. Safely sealed in the hold, the cats evolved into humanoid form.
Yes, we all remember this bit, spin on, spin on.
The cats now roam deep space in a fleet of their own…
There you go! This is the crux of the matter, and I like the way the inclusion of that lengthy recap places this turn of events into the context of the show’s history; this special is dealing with subject material that’s seeded right at the very beginning. It’s playing with a cornerstone of the entire premise. This will be interesting to say the least.
The special will see the posse meet three cat clerics (Tom Bennett, Mandeep Dhillon, Lucy Pearman) who worship Lister as their God. Lister vows to help them as they’re being hunted by Rodon, the ruthless feral cat leader (Ray Fearon) who has vowed to wipe out all cats who worship anyone but him.
They’re just using religion as an excuse to be extremely crappy to each other. In terms of the guest cast, we already knew about Ray Fearon, and the details of his character here provide confirmation, if the big old claws weren’t enough, that Rodon is the baddie of the piece. Welcome aboard also to: Tom Bennett, who’s been in proper films like Rocketman as well as cult comedies such as Love Soup, PhoneShop and Murder in Successville; Mandeep Dhillon, who’s an alumnus of Star Wars, Doctor Who and 24; and comedian Lucy Pearman, known for her sketch and stage shows along with appearances in the likes of The Mind of Herbert Clunkerdunk and Tim Key’s Late Night Poetry Programme.
They’re all playing cat clerics, but we don’t know know who the other actor mentioned later in the TOS article, Al Roberts from off of Stath Lets Flats and King Gary, is playing. Unless he is a cleric, and his omission from the main synopsis is some sort of Cleric Al error. Thanks. So there’s still lots to find out before the Special arrives, whenever that may be. Appetite most certainly whetted.