It is I, Le Cleric

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.

And you can read about that here and here, if you like.

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.

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34 Responses to It is I, Le Cleric

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  1. Looking forward to seeing the tense scene where Lister must turn a bowl of cereal into a woman, else he be executed for heresy.

  2. So an actual cat episode, with the promise of more plot to come too

    Sounds like there’ll be a lot of cats too, not just 1 ship with only 2 or 3 shown
    Hopefully they manage the make up for them better than all the Kryten costumes

    “The new 90-minute special is the thirteenth outing of the legendary sci-fi comedy”
    This will definitely be considered the 13th series

  3. Yes I imagined, there will be a conflict between religious cats and heretic cats, just not “atheist” cats as I assumed.

    This Rodon guy is shaping up to be a good, threatening villain. Hopefully he’ll prove a real threat with the comedy coming from the three cat clerics.

  4. Give me something with the pathos of Waiting For God and I will be happy. Make it funny and I will be overjoyed. Make it a complete self contained story and I will be ecstatic.

  5. Applauding that clerical error joke.

    This sounds great. Cast looks good. Also hoping that Rodon is played relatively straight and the gags come from elsewhere.

  6. Excellent potential for a good, classic Red Dwarf story in all of this. The idea of Lister as the god of the Cat race was one of the best parts of the early episodes, and while it wasn’t always handled brilliantly (although I like Waiting For God more than its reputation suggests it deserves) there’s certainly more to be mined there. Sad middle-aged slob Lister might be even more of a fun disappointment to the Cats than sad mid-twenties slob Lister.

  7. I second that, Adam Bailey.
    And I also like Waiting For God. A lot.
    Can Lister still be considered a slob? At what age does a person stop being a slob and become ‘a wreck’? Also, I’d say Lister’s cleaned himself up a bit since the early days. Or it isn’t mentioned as much.
    Cleric Al error. Marvellous. Just takes the sting out of the article’s title. (Winking emoji or whatever.)

  8. I think he’s more of a slob than a wreck. If he was a wreck he’d be in a much darker place I think. But his eating and hygiene habits suggest he’s still a slob, albeit a happy and well-adjusted one. He can laugh slobbily, is what I’m saying.

    I don’t think age really matters to his slobbiness either. You can do slobbing in your twenties and slobbing in your thirties and then have a break from TV before your main middle-aged slob.

  9. The idea of Lister as the god of the Cat race was one of the best parts of the early episodes,

    To be fair. Lister being the cat god really was only really acknowledged for one episode. if you don’t count a brief mention in the first episode. it hasn’t been mentioned since.

    Although i imagine Doug can’t do the leading to Fushal, the promised land thing, because Doug did that similar thing with his the crew meet other Krytens episode last series

  10. Point taken. I hadn’t fully considered the darkness implicit in the term “wreck.” Onslo was a happy slob, wasn’t he. It does have a certain cheeriness to it.
    Lister doesn’t slob when the chips are down, though, does he.
    I think this probably isn’t the direction this BTL comment section should take. Apologies all!

  11. This feels like its been long awaited. This feels like a hanging thread of back story not completed by series one. Though it might have only taken a line back then. Like “they all died” etc. This feels fitting as if cat’s should have always been mentioned in a universe context like the gelfs often have been. And simulants. Like a lot is known about simulants hating humans etc. There should have been maybe some information of how gelfs and cats ever got along or didnt etc. And there never has been. So this is a very interesting area to explore, should be good for danny, and yes some cat humour like series 1 and 2 should be returned here somewhere. Really nice synopsis.

    Over all as a concept though I’m slightly dissapointed, but reversing any true judgement cus it’s stupid to pre guess with such a long running time that there isnt some more stuff to this that will totally quell my feeling that it sounds too simplistic, and a sequel to an episode few really rate. I guess waiting for god is being appraised now on it’s place in cannon, when any other time it’s judge on rewatch value which is fairly low compared to a lot of better episode. Still excited to get new dwarf and this has nicely shaped that it’s coming soon this year.

  12. Sad middle-aged slob Lister might be even more of a fun disappointment to the Cats than sad mid-twenties slob Lister.

    Didn’t the Cat religion preach the Path of Slobbiness though? He might be a delight to the self-repressingly devout cats.

  13. This feels like its been long awaited. This feels like a hanging thread of back story not completed by series one. Though it might have only taken a line back then. Like “they all died” etc. This feels fitting as if cat’s should have always been mentioned in a universe context like the gelfs often have been. And simulants. Like a lot is known about simulants hating humans etc. There should have been maybe some information of how gelfs and cats ever got along or didnt etc. And there never has been. So this is a very interesting area to explore, should be good for danny, and yes some cat humour like series 1 and 2 should be returned here somewhere. Really nice synopsis.
    .

    It probably would have been a bad idea to have the cat race populate the universe. if anything it takes away some mystery and makes Cat less special.

    As for series 1 and 2 humor. i kinda don’t want more cat caricatures. they did it with can of worms where the first meeting of a said new Cat had them referencing the “thats mine” thing.

  14. > Didn’t the Cat religion preach the Path of Slobbiness though? He might be a delight to the self-repressingly devout cats.

    Good point. Cat might well be the one they take a dim view of. “It is a sin to be cool” and all that.

    Liking the sound of this. Al Roberts is very good in Stath Lets Flats.

  15. Having them be the opposite of Cat might be fun. They can invert all the usual Cat tropes like they inverted Everybody’s Dead Dave in Skipper. “That’s yours, this is yours, all of this and that are yours…”

  16. Isn’t it sort of implied Cat is quite different to most other cats anyway? “It is a sin to be cool” struck me as suggesting Cat being quite opposite to most cat culture. He never really buys into any of the religion stuff, shows zero interest in the priest other than he’s just another cat.

    We only see the cat in Can it Worms acting similarly to Cat because it’s a polymorph Reading his mind.

  17. I think the idea is that the cat people were required by religious dogma to sublimate their innate catty instincts, but Cat was one of the last few, born after the war had ended and the arks left, leaving only “the sick and the lame”. I guess with the fanatical religious leaders gone it might have become a much more secular society. Then again, there’s the priest, and Cat says he was taught about Cloister in kitty school. Really we know virtually nothing about Cat’s life before The End.

  18. Just noticed Tom Bennett post photos of himself and the crew on the set of the special on Twitter. Revealing his cleric costume as well, it looks roughly similar to Rodon’s which makes sense, realistically, since they’re seemingly refugees of his regime.

    https://twitter.com/newmanstings/status/1228657383406219269

  19. Is he wearing one of Lister’s old deerstalkers? Religious garment, perhaps?

  20. G&T Admin

    Good job security were so zealous with the audience members’ phones, wouldn’t want details like that to be revealed willy nilly on social media.

  21. He seems to have the dreads too.

  22. For a short time I was expecting them to wear the white robes as the Highs in Demons & Angels, but that would’ve been too derivative in hindsight.

    Just some speculation, do you guys think Cat is going to have a romantic interest in the special? I have the suspicion he might, specifically with Mandeep Dhillon’s character, since she has a more varied acting backlog than Lucy Pearman.

  23. Given how long the special is. i imagine you need to fill the screentime with as much stuff as possible.

  24. I’m with a few others here in that I thought “Waiting for God” was a much better episode than most seem to. In fact, if I remember correctly I had it in my top 10 , certainly in my top 20, in the Pearl Poll. So needless to say I await this with baited breath. As I’m old as fuck and in poor health I sure hope the post production doesn’t take forever lol. Also, being across the pond I’ll have to wait for the DVD to come out so…… c’mon y’all get on it! Let this old fart see it before its too late.

    Man, a Cat race centric episode ….. more on the Cat religion….. strife…… redemption (I’m assuming this part I must admit) …. Holly back …..a full 90 minutes …..sounds like Doug has read my mind lol. I have no idea who the guest stars are but by the reactions from other posters they must be good. I’ve really liked the other guest stars that have appeared over the years so am looking forward to seeing these too. But…… but……. no Patrick Stewart? ;D

  25. Also, being across the pond I’ll have to wait for the DVD to come out so…… c’mon y’all get on it! Let this old fart see it before its too late.

    I assume Britbox will carry the special alongside its broadcast date as it did with XII, least I think it did

  26. I can’t believe anyone would dislike Waiting For God, it’s up there with Queeg for me.

    How long have the cats been gone from Red Dwarf now? It seemed like they didn’t leave too long before Lister came out of Stasis (I always assumed than in the previous decades Holly had been gradually opening the ship up to test the radiation levels were ok and that gave the Cats access to the docking bays). 30 years since The End perceived by Lister and Cat, 200 years from V to VI, a couple of smaller jumps here and there. I guess that at most their post-Dwarf civilisation is 250-300 years old.

  27. It’s almost to the day since the Cats left Red Dwarf.

  28. This just reminds me what a fantastic coincidence it was that Lister was brought out of stasis when there were exactly 2 cats on the ship. He was in there for 3 million years. 100 years earlier and Red Dwarf would have been full of cats; 100 years later and they would all be either gone or dead.

    Anyway, I’m crossing my fingers that RealBigOleDummy makes it through 2020! And if you’re on your deathbed when the special comes out in the UK but it hasn’t officially made it to your country of residence, then I think you’re morally OK to pirate it. Cloister will forgive you, and the Blu rays in Fuchal all run at the correct frame rate.

  29. This just reminds me what a fantastic coincidence it was that Lister was brought out of stasis when there were exactly 2 cats on the ship

    Why does Holly let him out at all? Everyone else is dead. They’re 3million years from home. Lister is as good as dead, really. Holly sets himself the goal of keeping Lister sane, but it’s only by letting him out that Lister’s sanity becomes a problem. It could be argued that the most compassionate thing to do would have been to let the last of the cats die out and then just tank Red Dwarf into a sun, destroying the ship and killing Lister for good along with it.

    Or at least only let him out once there is a civilisation for him to integrate with. Holly could have turned the ship around and headed back to Earth and let Lister out then.

    And why is it, only the hold and stasis booths are sheilded from radition and not the whole rest of the ship? It’s a bloody great big space ship powered by a nuclear reactor. Shield the whole ship from that stuff.

  30. They would have been shielded if Rimmer had repaired the drive plate properly.

  31. And Holly isn’t really programmed to be compassionate, is he? He’s just following his protocols. Which presumably include preserving human life as far as possible.

  32. Murder is pretty not on, even if you think it’s for the best. The moral thing to do would be to give Lister a choice in the matter, and with two companions, the Cat and Rimmer, I doubt he would choose the “yes, fucking kill me now” option. He’s established as being quite optimistic, with his Fiji plan and all that. Holly doesn’t have the right to kill him without giving him the choice.

  33. >And why is it… [the] stasis booths are sheilded from radition
    Stasis booths are shielded from everything, including time itself

  34. He’s just following his protocols. Which presumably include preserving human life as far as possible.

    Holly basically ditches all protocols doesn’t he? Given what we see in Queeg and Fathers and Sons he seems to be acting independantly of any rules and regs etc.

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