Red Dwarf
Overview
 
Red Dwarf is a British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 comedy
Comedy
Comedy , as a popular meaning, is any humorous discourse or work generally intended to amuse by creating laughter, especially in television, film, and stand-up comedy. This must be carefully distinguished from its academic definition, namely the comic theatre, whose Western origins are found in...

 franchise
Media franchise
A media franchise is an intellectual property involving the characters, setting and trademarks of an original work of media , such as a film, a work of literature, a television program or a video game. Generally, a whole series is made in a particular medium, along with merchandising and endorsements...

 which primarily comprises eight series of a television science fiction
Science fiction
Science fiction is a genre of fiction dealing with imaginary but more or less plausible content such as future settings, futuristic science and technology, space travel, aliens, and paranormal abilities...

 sitcom that aired on BBC Two
BBC Two
BBC Two is the second television channel operated by the British Broadcasting Corporation in the United Kingdom. It covers a wide range of subject matter, but tending towards more 'highbrow' programmes than the more mainstream and popular BBC One. Like the BBC's other domestic TV and radio...

 between 1988 and 1999 and Dave from 2009–present. It gained cult following
Cult following
A cult following is a group of fans who are highly dedicated to a specific area of pop culture. A film, book, band, or video game, among other things, will be said to have a cult following when it has a small but very passionate fan base...

. It was created by Rob Grant
Rob Grant
Robert Grant is a British comedy writer and television producer, who was born in Salford and studied Psychology at Liverpool University for two years....

 and Doug Naylor
Doug Naylor
Douglas R. Naylor is a British comedy writer, science fiction writer, director and television producer.Naylor was born in Manchester, England and studied at the University of Liverpool. In the mid-1980s, Naylor wrote two regular comedy sketch shows for BBC Radio 4 entitled Cliché and Son of Cliché...

, who also wrote the first six series. The show originated from a recurring sketch, Dave Hollins: Space Cadet
Dave Hollins: Space Cadet
Dave Hollins: Space Cadet was a series of sketches on the BBC Radio 4 series Son of Cliché, produced by Rob Grant and Doug Naylor. The main characters were Dave Hollins and the computer Hab...

part of the mid-1980s BBC Radio 4
BBC Radio 4
BBC Radio 4 is a British domestic radio station, operated and owned by the BBC, that broadcasts a wide variety of spoken-word programmes, including news, drama, comedy, science and history. It replaced the BBC Home Service in 1967. The station controller is currently Gwyneth Williams, and the...

 comedy show Son of Cliché
Son of Cliché
Son Of Cliché was a comedy sketch show that ran for two series on BBC Radio 4 between 23 August 1983 and 29 December 1984.The sketches were written by Rob Grant and Doug Naylor, and were performed by Chris Barrie, Nick Maloney and Nick Wilton....

, also scripted by Grant and Naylor.
Encyclopedia
Red Dwarf is a British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 comedy
Comedy
Comedy , as a popular meaning, is any humorous discourse or work generally intended to amuse by creating laughter, especially in television, film, and stand-up comedy. This must be carefully distinguished from its academic definition, namely the comic theatre, whose Western origins are found in...

 franchise
Media franchise
A media franchise is an intellectual property involving the characters, setting and trademarks of an original work of media , such as a film, a work of literature, a television program or a video game. Generally, a whole series is made in a particular medium, along with merchandising and endorsements...

 which primarily comprises eight series of a television science fiction
Science fiction
Science fiction is a genre of fiction dealing with imaginary but more or less plausible content such as future settings, futuristic science and technology, space travel, aliens, and paranormal abilities...

 sitcom that aired on BBC Two
BBC Two
BBC Two is the second television channel operated by the British Broadcasting Corporation in the United Kingdom. It covers a wide range of subject matter, but tending towards more 'highbrow' programmes than the more mainstream and popular BBC One. Like the BBC's other domestic TV and radio...

 between 1988 and 1999 and Dave from 2009–present. It gained cult following
Cult following
A cult following is a group of fans who are highly dedicated to a specific area of pop culture. A film, book, band, or video game, among other things, will be said to have a cult following when it has a small but very passionate fan base...

. It was created by Rob Grant
Rob Grant
Robert Grant is a British comedy writer and television producer, who was born in Salford and studied Psychology at Liverpool University for two years....

 and Doug Naylor
Doug Naylor
Douglas R. Naylor is a British comedy writer, science fiction writer, director and television producer.Naylor was born in Manchester, England and studied at the University of Liverpool. In the mid-1980s, Naylor wrote two regular comedy sketch shows for BBC Radio 4 entitled Cliché and Son of Cliché...

, who also wrote the first six series. The show originated from a recurring sketch, Dave Hollins: Space Cadet
Dave Hollins: Space Cadet
Dave Hollins: Space Cadet was a series of sketches on the BBC Radio 4 series Son of Cliché, produced by Rob Grant and Doug Naylor. The main characters were Dave Hollins and the computer Hab...

part of the mid-1980s BBC Radio 4
BBC Radio 4
BBC Radio 4 is a British domestic radio station, operated and owned by the BBC, that broadcasts a wide variety of spoken-word programmes, including news, drama, comedy, science and history. It replaced the BBC Home Service in 1967. The station controller is currently Gwyneth Williams, and the...

 comedy show Son of Cliché
Son of Cliché
Son Of Cliché was a comedy sketch show that ran for two series on BBC Radio 4 between 23 August 1983 and 29 December 1984.The sketches were written by Rob Grant and Doug Naylor, and were performed by Chris Barrie, Nick Maloney and Nick Wilton....

, also scripted by Grant and Naylor. In addition to the television episodes, there are four bestselling novels, two pilot episodes for an American version of the show, a radio version produced for BBC radio 7, tie-in books, magazines and other merchandise.

In 2008, a three-episode production was commissioned by the digital channel Dave. These episodes were screened in April 2009 during the Easter weekend and comprised a three-part story titled Red Dwarf: Back to Earth
Red Dwarf: Back to Earth
Red Dwarf: Back to Earth is a three part TV miniseries continuation of the science fiction sitcom Red Dwarf, broadcast on the British television channel Dave between 10 April and 12 April 2009 and subsequently released on DVD on 15 June 2009 & on Blu-ray on 31 August 2009. It was the first...

. Unlike the majority of the original BBC episodes, this mini-series
Miniseries
A miniseries , in a serial storytelling medium, is a television show production which tells a story in a limited number of episodes. The exact number is open to interpretation; however, they are usually limited to fewer than a whole season. The term "miniseries" is generally a North American term...

 was a comedy drama
Comedy-drama
Comedy-drama is a genre of theatre, film and television programs which combines humorous and serious content.-Theatre:Traditional western theatre, beginning with the ancient Greeks, was divided into comedy and tragedy...

 filmed without a studio audience
Studio audience
A studio audience is an audience present for the taping of all or part of a television program. The primary purpose of the studio audience is to provide applause and/or laughter to the program's soundtrack . A studio audience can also provide volunteers, a visual backdrop and discussion participants...

 or an added laugh track
Laugh track
A laugh track is a separate soundtrack invented by Charles "Charley" Douglass, with the artificial sound of audience laughter, made to be inserted into television programming of comedy shows and sitcoms.The term "laugh track" does not apply to the genuine audience laughter on shows that shoot in...

.

Despite the pastiche
Pastiche
A pastiche is a literary or other artistic genre or technique that is a "hodge-podge" or imitation. The word is also a linguistic term used to describe an early stage in the development of a pidgin language.-Hodge-podge:...

 of science fiction used as a backdrop, Red Dwarf is primarily a character-driven comedy, with off-the-wall, often scatological science fiction elements used as complementary plot device
Plot device
A plot device is an object or character in a story whose sole purpose is to advance the plot of the story, or alternatively to overcome some difficulty in the plot....

s. In the early episodes, a recurring source of comedy was the "Odd Couple
The Odd Couple (film)
The Odd Couple is a 1968 comedy film written by Neil Simon, based on his play The Odd Couple, directed by Gene Saks, and starring Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau...

"-style relationship between the two central characters of the show, who have an intense dislike for each other and are trapped together deep in space. The main characters are Dave Lister
Dave Lister
David "Dave" Lister, commonly referred to simply as Lister, is a fictional character from the British science fiction situation comedy Red Dwarf, portrayed by Craig Charles...

, the last known human alive, and Arnold Rimmer
Arnold Rimmer
Arnold Judas Rimmer is a fictional character in the science fiction situation comedy Red Dwarf, played by Chris Barrie. He is unpopular with his crew mates, and is often the target of insults or pranks...

, a hologram of Lister's dead bunkmate. The other regular characters are Cat
Cat (Red Dwarf)
The Cat is a character in the British science fiction sitcom Red Dwarf. He is played by Danny John-Jules.-Character development:According to Danny John-Jules, the character of Cat is based on a combination of Little Richard's look, James Brown's moves and Richard Pryor's facial...

, a lifeform that evolved from the descendants of Lister's pregnant pet cat, Frankenstein; Holly
Holly (Red Dwarf)
Holly is the ship's computer on the science fiction situation comedy Red Dwarf.The character is played by Norman Lovett in Series I and II and, following a "head sex change" to look like his parallel universe alter ego "Hilly", played by Hattie Hayridge in the series 3 episode Backwards, is female...

, Red Dwarf's computer; as of Series III, Kryten
Kryten
Kryten is a fictional character in the British science fiction situation comedy Red Dwarf. Kryten's registration code on Red Dwarf is "Kryten additional 001". The name Kryten is a reference to the head butler in the J.M...

, a service mechanoid; and, as of Series VII, Kristine Kochanski
Kristine Kochanski
Kristine Z. Kochanski is a fictional character from the British science fiction situation comedy Red Dwarf. Kochanski was the first console officer in the navigation chamber on board the spaceship Red Dwarf...

, an alternative-reality version of Lister's long-lost love.

One of the series' highest accolades came in 1994, when an episode from the sixth series, "Gunmen of the Apocalypse
Gunmen of the Apocalypse
"Gunmen of the Apocalypse" is the third episode of series VI of the science fiction sit-com Red Dwarf. It was first broadcast on 21 October 1993, on BBC2, and went on to win an International Emmy Award. The episode was written by Rob Grant & Doug Naylor, and directed by Andy de Emmony...

", won an International Emmy Award in the Popular Arts category, and in the same year the series was also awarded "Best BBC Comedy Series" at the British Comedy Awards
British Comedy Awards
The British Comedy Awards is an annual awards ceremony in the United Kingdom celebrating notable comedians and entertainment performances of the previous year.-History:...

. The series attracted its highest ratings, of over eight million viewers, during the eighth series in 1999.

Series X will consist of six episodes, recorded in front of a studio audience in December 2011-January 2012 and aired sometime in 2012 on Dave and also on Dave HD. Tickets for these recordings were announced first to members of "favoured" websites, and sold out within 30 minutes of being released.

Setting and plot

The main setting of the series is the eponymous mining spaceship Red Dwarf, which is 6 miles (9.7 km) long, 5 miles (8 km) tall, and 4 miles (6.4 km) wide and is operated by the Jupiter Mining Corporation. In the first episode set sometime in the late 22nd century, an on-board radiation leak of cadmium II
Cadmium
Cadmium is a chemical element with the symbol Cd and atomic number 48. This soft, bluish-white metal is chemically similar to the two other stable metals in group 12, zinc and mercury. Similar to zinc, it prefers oxidation state +2 in most of its compounds and similar to mercury it shows a low...

 kills everyone except for low-ranking technician Dave Lister, who is in suspended animation
Suspended animation
Suspended animation is the slowing of life processes by external means without termination. Breathing, heartbeat, and other involuntary functions may still occur, but they can only be detected by artificial means. Extreme cold can be used to precipitate the slowing of an individual's functions; use...

 at the time, and his pregnant cat, Frankenstein, who is safely sealed in the cargo hold. Following the accident, the ship's computer Holly
Holly (Red Dwarf)
Holly is the ship's computer on the science fiction situation comedy Red Dwarf.The character is played by Norman Lovett in Series I and II and, following a "head sex change" to look like his parallel universe alter ego "Hilly", played by Hattie Hayridge in the series 3 episode Backwards, is female...

 keeps Lister in stasis until the background radiation dies down – a process that takes three million years. Lister therefore emerges as the last human being in the universe – but not alone on-board the ship. His former bunkmate and immediate superior Arnold Judas Rimmer is resurrected by Holly as a hologram
Volumetric display
A volumetric display device is a graphical display device that forms a visual representation of an object in three physical dimensions, as opposed to the planar image of traditional screens that simulate depth through a number of different visual effects...

 to keep Lister sane. At the same time, a creature known only as Cat
Cat (Red Dwarf)
The Cat is a character in the British science fiction sitcom Red Dwarf. He is played by Danny John-Jules.-Character development:According to Danny John-Jules, the character of Cat is based on a combination of Little Richard's look, James Brown's moves and Richard Pryor's facial...

 is the last member on board of Felis sapiens, a race of humanoid felines
Felidae
Felidae is the biological family of the cats; a member of this family is called a felid. Felids are the strictest carnivores of the thirteen terrestrial families in the order Carnivora, although the three families of marine mammals comprising the superfamily pinnipedia are as carnivorous as the...

 that evolved in the ship's hold from Lister's cat, Frankenstein, and her kittens during the 3 million years that Lister was in stasis.

The main dramatic thrust of the early series is Lister's desire to return home to Earth. As their journey begins, the not-so-intrepid crew encounters such phenomena as time distortions, faster-than-light travel, mutant diseases and strange lifeforms that had developed in the intervening millions of years. During the second series, the group encounter the service mechanoid Kryten
Kryten
Kryten is a fictional character in the British science fiction situation comedy Red Dwarf. Kryten's registration code on Red Dwarf is "Kryten additional 001". The name Kryten is a reference to the head butler in the J.M...

, rescuing him from a long-since crashed vessel. Initially, Kryten only appeared in one episode
Kryten (Red Dwarf episode)
"Kryten" is the seventh episode from science fiction sit-com Red Dwarf, the first from series two, and was first broadcast on BBC2 on 6 September 1988. Written by Rob Grant and Doug Naylor, and directed by Ed Bye, this episode introduced the mechanoid character Kryten...

 of series two, but by the beginning of series three he had become a regular character. At the end of series five, Red Dwarf itself is stolen by persons unknown, forcing them to travel in the smaller Starbug craft for two series, with the side-effect that they lose contact with Holly. In series seven, Rimmer departs the crew to take up the role of his alter ego from a parallel universe, Ace Rimmer, whose name has become a long-standing legend and a legacy passed down from dimension to dimension. Shortly afterwards, the crew found a parallel version of themselves from a universe
in which Kristine Kochanski
Kristine Kochanski
Kristine Z. Kochanski is a fictional character from the British science fiction situation comedy Red Dwarf. Kochanski was the first console officer in the navigation chamber on board the spaceship Red Dwarf...

, Lister's long-term love interest, had been put into stasis at the time of the leak and so became the last remaining human. A complicated series of events leaves Kochanski stranded in "our" universe, where she is forced to join the crew. At the end of series seven, we learn that Red Dwarf had been stolen by Kryten's service nanobots, who had abandoned him years earlier.

At the beginning of the eighth series, Red Dwarf is reconstructed by Kryten's nanobots, who had broken it down into its constituent atoms. In the process, the entire crew of the ship – including a pre-accident Rimmer – are resurrected, but the Starbug crew find themselves sentenced to two years in the ship's brig
Brig
A brig is a sailing vessel with two square-rigged masts. During the Age of Sail, brigs were seen as fast and manoeuvrable and were used as both naval warships and merchant vessels. They were especially popular in the 18th and early 19th centuries...

 (at first, for crashing a Starbug and bringing onboard Kryten and Cat as stowaways, but later for using information from the confidential files). The series ends with a metal-eating virus loose on Red Dwarf. The entire resurrected crew evacuates save the original dwarfers. In the cliffhanger ending, Rimmer is left stranded alone to face Death (and promptly knees him in the groin and flees).

Nine years later, the four "Boys from the Dwarf" are once more the only beings on the ship. Rimmer is again a hologram, Holly is offline, and Lister is mourning Kochanski, lost to him out of an airlock
Airlock
An airlock is a device which permits the passage of people and objects between a pressure vessel and its surroundings while minimizing the change of pressure in the vessel and loss of air from it...

 some time previously. A chance to get back to Earth through a dimension warp presents itself, but though it is not quite what it first appears to be, it results in giving Lister new hope when he learns that Kochanski is still alive after all.

Characters and actors

  • Dave Lister
    Dave Lister
    David "Dave" Lister, commonly referred to simply as Lister, is a fictional character from the British science fiction situation comedy Red Dwarf, portrayed by Craig Charles...

    , played by Craig Charles
    Craig Charles
    Craig Joseph Charles is an English actor, stand-up comedian, author, poet, radio and television presenter, best known for playing Dave Lister in the British cult-favourite science fiction sitcom Red Dwarf...

    , is a genial Liverpudlian and self-described bum. He was the lowest-ranking crew member on the ship before the accident and has a long-standing desire to return to Earth and start a farm on Fiji
    Fiji
    Fiji , officially the Republic of Fiji , is an island nation in Melanesia in the South Pacific Ocean about northeast of New Zealand's North Island...

     (which is under three feet of water following a volcanic eruption), but is left impossibly far away by the accident that renders him the last (known) surviving member of the human race. He deeply enjoys Indian food, especially chicken vindaloo
    Vindaloo
    Vindaloo is an Indian curry dish from the region of Goa. It is popular globally in its Anglo-Indian form as a staple of curry house menus, often renowned as a particularly spicy dish, though it is not necessarily always the hottest available. The name Vindaloo is derived from the Portuguese dish...

    , which is a recurring theme in the series.

  • His bunk mate Arnold Judas Rimmer
    Arnold Rimmer
    Arnold Judas Rimmer is a fictional character in the science fiction situation comedy Red Dwarf, played by Chris Barrie. He is unpopular with his crew mates, and is often the target of insults or pranks...

     Bsc Ssc
    ("Bronze swimming certificate" and "Silver swimming certificate"), played by Chris Barrie
    Chris Barrie
    Chris Barrie is a British actor. He first achieved success as a vocal impressionist, notably in the ITV sketch show Spitting Image...

    , was the second-lowest ranking member of the crew while they were all alive. He is a fussy, bureaucratic, neurotic coward who, by failing to replace a drive plate properly, is responsible for the Red Dwarf cadmium II accident that would kill the entire crew (along with himself). Nevertheless, he was chosen by Holly to be the ship's one available hologram, because he was considered the person most likely to keep Lister sane. From the Series III episode Timeslides
    Timeslides
    "Timeslides" is the fifth episode of science fiction sit-com Red Dwarf Series III, and the seventeenth in the series run. It premiered on the British television channel BBC2 on 12 December 1989. Written by Rob Grant and Doug Naylor, and directed by Ed Bye, the plot deals with Lister's desire to...

     onwards, the timeline of the crew is adjusted and Rimmer's death is newly attributed to a moment in which he hits a cardboard box filled with explosives. During Series VII, Rimmer leaves the dimension shared by his crewmates to become the new Ace Rimmer. Along with the Red Dwarf ship and its crew, Rimmer is resurrected at the start of Series VIII by nanobots. He comes face to face with Death at the end of the series, whom he kicks in the groin. In the Back to Earth specials, he is once again a hologram.


  • The Cat
    Cat (Red Dwarf)
    The Cat is a character in the British science fiction sitcom Red Dwarf. He is played by Danny John-Jules.-Character development:According to Danny John-Jules, the character of Cat is based on a combination of Little Richard's look, James Brown's moves and Richard Pryor's facial...

    , played by Danny John-Jules
    Danny John-Jules
    Daniel "Danny" John-Jules is a British actor, singer and dancer. John-Jules attended Rutherford Comprehensive School, Penfold Street, Marylebone, from 1972 to 1977. He is best known for portraying Cat in the television programme Red Dwarf.-Dance and song:John-Jules is a baritone...

    , is a humanoid creature who evolved from the offspring of Lister's smuggled pet cat Frankenstein. Cat is concerned with little other than sleeping, eating and fawning over his appearance, and tends not to socialise with other members of the crew. As time goes by, however, he becomes more influenced by his human companions, and so begins to resemble a stylish, self-centred human. We later learn that, unlike his human companions, he has a "cool" sounding pulse and heart beat, six nipples and colour-coordinated internal organs.

  • The ship's computer, Holly
    Holly (Red Dwarf)
    Holly is the ship's computer on the science fiction situation comedy Red Dwarf.The character is played by Norman Lovett in Series I and II and, following a "head sex change" to look like his parallel universe alter ego "Hilly", played by Hattie Hayridge in the series 3 episode Backwards, is female...

    (played by Norman Lovett
    Norman Lovett
    Norman Lovett is an English stand-up comedian and actor, best known for the role of Holly in Red Dwarf during the first, second, seventh and eighth series. His comedy has a quiet, dead-pan surrealism, and in 2000 he made a successful stand up tour, co-headlining with Chris Barrie, who played...

    during series I, II, VII and VIII and Hattie Hayridge
    Hattie Hayridge
    Hattie Hayridge is a British stand-up comedienne and actress, best known for the role of the female version of Holly in Red Dwarf during the third, fourth and fifth series, along with the role of Hilly in Parallel Universe, the final episode of the second series.After graduating from the...

    in series III to V), has an IQ of 6,000, although this is severely depleted by the three million years it is left alone after the accident, having developed "computer senility". The change in appearance for series III is explained by Holly having changed his face to resemble that of a computer from a parallel universe "with whom he'd once fallen madly in love".

  • Kryten
    Kryten
    Kryten is a fictional character in the British science fiction situation comedy Red Dwarf. Kryten's registration code on Red Dwarf is "Kryten additional 001". The name Kryten is a reference to the head butler in the J.M...

    , full name Kryten 2X4B-523P (played by Robert Llewellyn
    Robert Llewellyn
    Robert Llewellyn is an English actor, presenter, and writer. He is best known as the mechanoid Kryten in the hit sitcom Red Dwarf, and for his role as presenter of Scrapheap Challenge.-Early career:...

    from series III onwards, and as a one-off appearance in series II by David Ross
    David Ross (actor)
    David Ross is an English actor who has worked in theatre, cinema, and television.His best-known roles include playing the first appearance of Kryten and the voice of the Talkie Toaster on the science fiction comedy series Red Dwarf, Elgin on the BBC sitcom The Green Green Grass, and as Mr...

    ), was rescued by the crew from the crashed spaceship Nova 5 in series II, upon which he had continued to serve the ship's crew despite their having been dead for thousands or even millions of years. Kryten is a service mechanoid and when first encountered by the crew, he was bound by his "behavioural protocols", but Lister gradually encouraged him to break his programming and think for himself. His change in appearance between the two actors is explained-away by an accident involving Lister's spacebike and Lister having to repair him.

  • Kristine Kochanski
    Kristine Kochanski
    Kristine Z. Kochanski is a fictional character from the British science fiction situation comedy Red Dwarf. Kochanski was the first console officer in the navigation chamber on board the spaceship Red Dwarf...

    (originally portrayed by Clare Grogan
    Clare Grogan
    Clare Grogan is a Scottish actress and singer. She is sometimes credited as C. P. Grogan.-Early life:...

    before Chloë Annett
    Chloë Annett
    Chloë Victoria Annett is an English actress, best known for her role in series 7 and 8 of the British sitcom Red Dwarf.-Early life and family:...

    took on the role from series VII) was initially a Red Dwarf navigation officer whom Lister had a crush on (later retroactively altered to be his ex-girlfriend) and whose memory he had cherished ever since. In one episode, the crew happen upon an alternative dimension, where Kochanski had survived the Red Dwarf cadmium II accident. She joined Lister and the crew after the link to her own dimension collapsed. By the first episode of the Red Dwarf: Back to Earth
    Red Dwarf: Back to Earth
    Red Dwarf: Back to Earth is a three part TV miniseries continuation of the science fiction sitcom Red Dwarf, broadcast on the British television channel Dave between 10 April and 12 April 2009 and subsequently released on DVD on 15 June 2009 & on Blu-ray on 31 August 2009. It was the first...

     specials, Lister believes her dead, but it is later revealed that Kryten (the sole witness to her "death") had lied to Lister. Kochanski had instead fled the ship in a Blue Midget when it became clear Lister's complete lack of self-respect and indulgence on excesses was slowly killing him, which greatly depressed her. Lister is advised by fans of the television series to find her in "the next series" and to make amends.

Production

The first series aired on BBC2
BBC Two
BBC Two is the second television channel operated by the British Broadcasting Corporation in the United Kingdom. It covers a wide range of subject matter, but tending towards more 'highbrow' programmes than the more mainstream and popular BBC One. Like the BBC's other domestic TV and radio...

 in 1988
1988 in television
The year 1988 in television involved some significant events.Below is a list of television-related events in 1988.For the American TV schedule, see: 1988-89 United States network television schedule.-Events:-Debuts:...

. Seven further series have so far been produced, and a film
Film
A film, also called a movie or motion picture, is a series of still or moving images. It is produced by recording photographic images with cameras, or by creating images using animation techniques or visual effects...

 has been in development almost continually since before the last series in 1999.

Concept and commission

The concept for the show was originally developed from the sketch-series Dave Hollins: Space Cadet
Dave Hollins: Space Cadet
Dave Hollins: Space Cadet was a series of sketches on the BBC Radio 4 series Son of Cliché, produced by Rob Grant and Doug Naylor. The main characters were Dave Hollins and the computer Hab...

on the BBC Radio 4 show Son of Cliché
Son of Cliché
Son Of Cliché was a comedy sketch show that ran for two series on BBC Radio 4 between 23 August 1983 and 29 December 1984.The sketches were written by Rob Grant and Doug Naylor, and were performed by Chris Barrie, Nick Maloney and Nick Wilton....

in the mid-1980s, written by Rob Grant and Doug Naylor. Their influences came from films and television programmes such as Silent Running
Silent Running
Silent Running is a 1972 environmentally themed science fiction film starring Bruce Dern and directed by Douglas Trumbull, who had previously worked as a special effects supervisor on such science fiction films as 2001: A Space Odyssey and The Andromeda Strain.-Plot summary:Silent Running depicts a...

(1972), Alien
Alien (film)
Alien is a 1979 science fiction horror film directed by Ridley Scott and starring Tom Skerritt, Sigourney Weaver, Veronica Cartwright, Harry Dean Stanton, John Hurt, Ian Holm and Yaphet Kotto. The film's title refers to its primary antagonist: a highly aggressive extraterrestrial creature which...

(1979), Dark Star
Dark Star (film)
Dark Star is a 1974 American comedic science fiction motion picture directed by John Carpenter and co-written with Dan O'Bannon.-Backstory and plot:...

(1974) and The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a science fiction comedy series created by Douglas Adams. Originally a radio comedy broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 1978, it was later adapted to other formats, and over several years it gradually became an international multi-media phenomenon...

(1981), but also had a large element of British-style comedy and satire thrown into the mix, ultimately moulded into the form of a sitcom. Having first written the pilot script in 1983, the former Spitting Image
Spitting Image
Spitting Image is a British satirical puppet show that aired on the ITV network from 1984 to 1996. It was produced by Spitting Image Productions for Central Television. The series was nominated for 10 BAFTA Awards, winning one for editing in 1989....

writers had hawked their unusual and original script around but it was rejected by everyone at the BBC, as it was believed a sitcom based around science fiction would not be popular.

It was finally accepted by BBC North
BBC North
BBC North is a brand used by the BBC to mean any of the following.*The large BBC North region, centred on Manchester, that was active from the late 1920s until 1968....

 in 1986, a result of a spare budget being assigned for a second series of Happy Families
Happy Families (TV series)
Happy Families was a rural comedy drama written by Ben Elton which appeared on the BBC in 1985 and told the story of the dysfunctional Fuddle family....

that would never arise, and producer Paul Jackson
Paul Jackson (producer)
Kevin Paul Jackson , credited as Paul Jackson; sometimes as K. Paul Jackson, is a British television director, producer and executive.-Career in television:...

's insistence that Red Dwarf should be filmed instead. The show was lucky to be remounted after an electrician
Electrician
An electrician is a tradesman specializing in electrical wiring of buildings, stationary machines and related equipment. Electricians may be employed in the installation of new electrical components or the maintenance and repair of existing electrical infrastructure. Electricians may also...

's strike
Strike action
Strike action, also called labour strike, on strike, greve , or simply strike, is a work stoppage caused by the mass refusal of employees to work. A strike usually takes place in response to employee grievances. Strikes became important during the industrial revolution, when mass labour became...

 partway through rehearsals in early 1987 shut the entire production down (The title sequence was filmed in January 1987). The filming was rescheduled for September, and the pilot episode finally made it onto television screens on 15 February 1988.

Casting

Alan Rickman
Alan Rickman
Alan Sidney Patrick Rickman is an English actor and theatre director. He is a renowned stage actor in modern and classical productions and a former member of the Royal Shakespeare Company...

 and Alfred Molina
Alfred Molina
Alfred Molina is a British-born American actor. He first came to public attention in the UK for his supporting role in the 1987 film Prick Up Your Ears...

 auditioned for roles in the series, with Molina being cast as Rimmer. However, after Molina had difficulties with the concept of the series, and of his role in particular, the role was recast and filled by Chris Barrie
Chris Barrie
Chris Barrie is a British actor. He first achieved success as a vocal impressionist, notably in the ITV sketch show Spitting Image...

. Barrie was a professional voice-actor and impressionist who had previously worked with both the writers on Spitting Image
Spitting Image
Spitting Image is a British satirical puppet show that aired on the ITV network from 1984 to 1996. It was produced by Spitting Image Productions for Central Television. The series was nominated for 10 BAFTA Awards, winning one for editing in 1989....

, and with the producers on Happy Families and Jasper Carrott
Jasper Carrott
Jasper Carrott OBE is a British comedian, actor, television presenter and personality.-Early life:...

 productions. Craig Charles
Craig Charles
Craig Joseph Charles is an English actor, stand-up comedian, author, poet, radio and television presenter, best known for playing Dave Lister in the British cult-favourite science fiction sitcom Red Dwarf...

, a Liverpudlian "punk poet", was given the role of Dave Lister. He was approached by the production team for his opinion about the "Cat" character, as they were concerned it may be considered by people as racist. Charles described the character as 'pretty cool' and after reading the script he decided he wanted to audition for the part of Dave Lister. Laconic stand up comedian Norman Lovett
Norman Lovett
Norman Lovett is an English stand-up comedian and actor, best known for the role of Holly in Red Dwarf during the first, second, seventh and eighth series. His comedy has a quiet, dead-pan surrealism, and in 2000 he made a successful stand up tour, co-headlining with Chris Barrie, who played...

, who had originally tried out for the role of Rimmer, was kept in the show as Holly, the senile computer of the titular ship. A professional dancer and singer, Danny John-Jules
Danny John-Jules
Daniel "Danny" John-Jules is a British actor, singer and dancer. John-Jules attended Rutherford Comprehensive School, Penfold Street, Marylebone, from 1972 to 1977. He is best known for portraying Cat in the television programme Red Dwarf.-Dance and song:John-Jules is a baritone...

, arriving half an hour late for his appointment, stood out as the Cat immediately. This was partly due to his "cool" exterior, dedicated research (reading Desmond Morris
Desmond Morris
Desmond John Morris, born 24 January 1928 in Purton, north Wiltshire, is a British zoologist and ethologist, as well as a popular anthropologist. He is also known as a painter, television presenter and popular author.-Life:...

's book Catwatching), and his showing up in character, wearing his father's 1950s-style suit.

Writing, producing, and directing

Grant and Naylor wrote the first six series together (using the pseudonym Grant Naylor on the first two novels and later as the name of their production company, although never on the episodes themselves). Grant left in 1995, to pursue other projects, leaving Naylor to write the final two series with a group of new writers, including Paul Alexander and actor Robert Llewellyn who portrayed the character Kryten.

For the most part, Ed Bye
Ed Bye
Edward Richard Morrison Bye is a British film and TV producer and director. He is best known for his work with Grant Naylor, Harry Enfield and Jasper Carrott, and has worked with many of British TV's best known comedians and comedy actors...

 produced and directed the series. He left before series V due to a scheduling clash (he ended up directing a show starring his wife, Ruby Wax
Ruby Wax
Ruby Wax is a BAFTA nominated American comedian who made a career in the United Kingdom as part of the alternative comedy scene in the 1980s.-Early life:...

) so Juliet May
Juliet May
Juliet May is a British television director. She has directed a variety of television shows, including Challenge Anneka, Dalziel and Pascoe, Hope and Glory New Tricks and the award-winning Miranda....

 took over as director. May parted ways with the show halfway through the series for personal and professional reasons and Grant and Naylor took over direction of the series, in addition to writing and producing. Series VI was directed by Andy de Emmony, and Ed Bye returned to direct series VII and VIII. Series I, II and III were made by Paul Jackson Productions, with subsequent series produced by the writers' own company Grant Naylor Productions for BBC North
BBC North
BBC North is a brand used by the BBC to mean any of the following.*The large BBC North region, centred on Manchester, that was active from the late 1920s until 1968....

. All eight series were broadcast on BBC2. At the beginning of series IV, production moved from the BBC's Manchester
Manchester
Manchester is a city and metropolitan borough in Greater Manchester, England. According to the Office for National Statistics, the 2010 mid-year population estimate for Manchester was 498,800. Manchester lies within one of the UK's largest metropolitan areas, the metropolitan county of Greater...

 studios to Shepperton
Shepperton Studios
Shepperton Studios is a film studio in Shepperton, Surrey, England with a history dating back to 1931 since when many notable films have been made there...

.

Theme song & music

The theme tune and incidental music were written and performed by Howard Goodall
Howard Goodall
210px|thumb|Howard Goodall at St. John the Baptist Church in Devon, United Kingdom, May 2009Howard Lindsay Goodall CBE is a British composer of musicals, choral music and music for television...

, with the distinctive vocals on the closing theme tune courtesy of Jenna Russell
Jenna Russell
Jenna Russell is an English actress and singer. She has appeared on the stage in London in both musicals and dramas, as well as appearing with the Royal Shakespeare Company...

. The first two series used a relatively sombre theme tune for the opening titles; from series III onwards this switched to an instrumental version of the closing theme. Goodall also wrote music for the show's various songs, including "Tongue Tied", with lyrics written by Grant and Naylor. Danny John-Jules (credited as "Cat") re-orchestrated and released "Tongue Tied" in October 1993; it reached #17 on the UK charts. Goodall himself sang "The Rimmer Song" heard during the series VII episode "Blue", to which Chris Barrie mimed.

Remastered

In 1998, on the tenth anniversary of the show's first airing (and between the broadcast of series VII and VIII), the first three series of Red Dwarf were remastered
Red Dwarf Remastered
Red Dwarf Remastered was an attempt in the mid-1990s to bring the first three series of the BBC's cult sci-fi sitcom Red Dwarf up to date. A collaborative effort between BBC Worldwide and Grant Naylor Productions, it was hoped that remastered versions of the episodes would prove more appealing to...

 and released on VHS
VHS
The Video Home System is a consumer-level analog recording videocassette standard developed by Victor Company of Japan ....

. The remastering included replacing model shots with computer graphics, cutting certain dialogue and scenes, re-filming Norman Lovett's Holly footage, creating a consistent set of opening titles, replacing music and creating ambient sound effects with a digital master. The remastered series were released in a 4 disc DVD boxset "The Bodysnatcher Collection" in 2007.

Hiatus

Three years elapsed between series VI and VII, partly due to the dissolving of the Grant and Naylor
Grant Naylor
Grant Naylor was the collective name used by writers Rob Grant and Doug Naylor for their collaborative work, particularly the television series Red Dwarf. Grant and Naylor themselves called this pseudonym a "gestalt entity" Grant Naylor was the collective name used by writers Rob Grant and Doug...

 partnership, but also due to cast and crew working on other projects. When the series eventually returned, it was filmised
Filmizing
Filmizing is a process that makes video productions seem to have been shot on film. The term is generic and informal. The process is usually electronic, although filmizing can sometimes occur as an un-intentional by-product of some optical techniques, such as telerecording.-Differences between...

 and no longer shot in front of a live audience, allowing for greater use of four-walled sets, location shooting and single camera techniques. When the show returned for its eighth series two years later, it had dropped use of the filmising process and returned to using a live audience.

The show received a setback when the BBC rejected proposals for a series IX. Doug Naylor confirmed that the BBC decided not to renew the series as they preferred to work on other projects. A short animated Christmas special was, however, made available to mobile phone subscribers.

Red Dwarf: Back to Earth

Red Dwarf: Back to Earth was broadcast over the Easter weekend of 2009, along with a "making of" documentary. A further special title Unplugged had been planned and was described by Craig Charles as "just the four of us - and some chairs – trying to improvise, or rather trying to remember, classic scenes", but this special was cancelled.

The episode is set nine years after the events of "Only the Good...
Only The Good...
Only the Good... is the final episode in the eighth series and the original run of the British science fiction series Red Dwarf. It was first shown in the UK on 5 April 1999 in the 9:00pm BBC2 time slot, and was written by Doug Naylor and directed by Ed Bye...

", Kochanski is dead and Holly is offline due to water damage caused by Lister leaving a tap running. Actress Sophie Winkleman
Sophie Winkleman
Sophie Lara Winkleman is an English actress who has worked extensively in television, film and stage. On 14 February 2009, she became engaged to Lord Frederick Windsor, the son of Prince Michael and Princess Michael of Kent. They married in Hampton Court on 12 September 2009...

 plays a character called Katerina, a resurrected hologram of a Red Dwarf science officer intent on replacing Rimmer.

To achieve a more cinematic atmosphere, Back to Earth was not filmed in front of a studio audience. Although this was not the first time this had happened (i.e., Series VII), it was the first time a laughter track was not added for broadcast. It was also the first episode of Red Dwarf to be filmed in High Definition
High-definition television
High-definition television is video that has resolution substantially higher than that of traditional television systems . HDTV has one or two million pixels per frame, roughly five times that of SD...

.

The specials were televised over three nights starting on Friday, 10 April 2009 to a mixed audience response. Back to Earth received record ratings for freeview channel Dave. Back to Earth was released on DVD on 15 June 2009. The DVD includes both the individual episodes and a newly edited "Director's Cut" combining the three episodes into a single feature film.

Series X – Present

Doug Naylor stated in an interview with Dave before the broadcast of Back to Earth that he would like to make another full-length series, but added that "we would have to wait and see" how good or bad the reaction to the new specials would be. He also stated that he would not want to make a series nine but that he might make a series ten, and explained that this would "make a lot more sense in future". The specials establish that two series focusing on the events leading up to Back to Earth occurred after series eight; during the fictional ninth series (described within the episode by one fan as "the best series yet"), Kryten informed Lister that Kochanski had died, but within Back to Earth Lister learned that Kochanski hadn't died at all, leaving open the possibility of Lister's pursuit of Kochanski in future episodes.

Speaking on BBC Radio 2
BBC Radio 2
BBC Radio 2 is one of the BBC's national radio stations and the most popular station in the United Kingdom. Much of its daytime playlist-based programming is best described as Adult Contemporary or AOR, although the station is also noted for its specialist broadcasting of other musical genres...

, Craig Charles stated that two new series were being produced, and that filming begins in November 2011. Chris Barrie then revealed that the new series will be counted as series X. However, a post on the official Red Dwarf website on 11 June 2010 stated that nothing had yet been confirmed. On 21 January 2011 it was confirmed that a new series will be filmed in late 2011 to be broadcast in 2012 on the digital channel Dave. However, UKTV
UKTV
UKTV is a digital cable and satellite television network, formed through a joint venture between BBC Worldwide, a commercial subsidiary of the British Broadcasting Corporation, and Scripps Networks Interactive, spun off from The E.W Scripps Company in 2008...

, owners of Dave, had initially refused to comment, suggesting that it a new series had not been officially greenlit, but on 10 April 2011, UKTV confirmed that a new series of Red Dwarf will be produced and again air exclusively on Dave.While attending Dimension Jump XVI, Red Dwarf's co-creator, writer, director and executive producer Doug Naylor also confirmed to fans that a new series of Red Dwarf would be aired on Dave in 2012, with filming taking place in late 2011 and early 2012. Filming on the tenth series is due to begin at the the end of November. On 8 September 2011, UKTV again confirmed, via the Dave website, that Red Dwarf would be back for a full length series in 2012 exclusively on Dave, also stating that they would keep fans up to date with production via the Dave website.

The series will consist of six episodes, and will return to being recorded in front of a studio audience.

Confirmation and dates of taping for filming of series ten was announced on 11 November 2011. The series will consist of 6 episodes and be filmed in front of a live studio audience. Filming is set to begin 16 December 2011 and run through the end of January of 2012.

Themes

Red Dwarf was founded on a standard sitcom trope
Trope (literature)
A literary trope is the usage of figurative language in literature, or a figure of speech in which words are used in a sense different from their literal meaning...

: namely, a disparate and frequently dysfunctional group of individuals living together in a restricted setting. With the main characters routinely displaying their cowardice, incompetence and laziness, while exchanging insulting and sarcastic dialogue, the series provided a humorous antidote to the fearless and morally upright space explorers typically found in science fiction shows with the main characters acting bravely only when there was no other possible alternative. The increasing science fiction elements of the series were treated seriously by Grant and Naylor. Satire, parody and drama were alternately woven into the episodes, referencing other — not always science fiction — television shows, films and books. These have included references to the likes of 2001: A Space Odyssey
2001: A Space Odyssey (film)
2001: A Space Odyssey is a 1968 epic science fiction film produced and directed by Stanley Kubrick, and co-written by Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke, partially inspired by Clarke's short story The Sentinel...

(1968), Top Gun
Top Gun
Top Gun may refer to:* Top Gun is a 1986 film starring Tom Cruise.**Top Gun , soundtrack to the movie**Top Gun , a number of games based on the movie...

(1986), RoboCop
RoboCop
RoboCop is a 1987 American science fiction-action film directed by Paul Verhoeven. Set in a crime-ridden Detroit, Michigan in the near future, RoboCop centers on a police officer who is brutally murdered and subsequently re-created as a super-human cyborg known as "RoboCop"...

(1987), Star Wars
Star Wars
Star Wars is an American epic space opera film series created by George Lucas. The first film in the series was originally released on May 25, 1977, under the title Star Wars, by 20th Century Fox, and became a worldwide pop culture phenomenon, followed by two sequels, released at three-year...

(1977), Citizen Kane
Citizen Kane
Citizen Kane is a 1941 American drama film, directed by and starring Orson Welles. Many critics consider it the greatest American film of all time, especially for its innovative cinematography, music and narrative structure. Citizen Kane was Welles' first feature film...

(1942), The Wild One
The Wild One
The Wild One is a 1953 outlaw biker film directed by László Benedek and produced by Stanley Kramer. It is famed for Marlon Brando's iconic portrayal of the gang leader Johnny Strabler.-Basis:...

(1953), High Noon
High Noon
High Noon is a 1952 American Western film directed by Fred Zinnemann and starring Gary Cooper and Grace Kelly. The film tells in real time the story of a town marshal forced to face a gang of killers by himself...

(1952), Rebel Without a Cause
Rebel Without a Cause
Rebel Without a Cause is a 1955 American drama film about emotionally confused suburban, middle-class teenagers. Directed by Nicholas Ray, it offered both social commentary and an alternative to previous films depicting delinquents in urban slum environments...

(1955), Easy Rider
Easy Rider
Easy Rider is a 1969 American road movie written by Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, and Terry Southern, produced by Fonda and directed by Hopper. It tells the story of two bikers who travel through the American Southwest and South with the aim of achieving freedom...

(1969), The Terminator
The Terminator
The Terminator is a 1984 science fiction action film directed by James Cameron, co-written by Cameron and William Wisher Jr., and starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Michael Biehn, and Linda Hamilton. The film was produced by Hemdale Film Corporation and distributed by Orion Pictures, and filmed in Los...

(1984) and Pride and Prejudice
Pride and Prejudice
Pride and Prejudice is a novel by Jane Austen, first published in 1813. The story follows the main character Elizabeth Bennet as she deals with issues of manners, upbringing, morality, education and marriage in the society of the landed gentry of early 19th-century England...

(1813).

The writers would even base the whole theme of an episode on a film's plot. The series III episode "Polymorph" references and parodies key moments from Alien
Alien (film)
Alien is a 1979 science fiction horror film directed by Ridley Scott and starring Tom Skerritt, Sigourney Weaver, Veronica Cartwright, Harry Dean Stanton, John Hurt, Ian Holm and Yaphet Kotto. The film's title refers to its primary antagonist: a highly aggressive extraterrestrial creature which...

(1979), series IV's "Camille" echoes key scenes from Casablanca
Casablanca (film)
Casablanca is a 1942 American romantic drama film directed by Michael Curtiz, starring Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman and Paul Henreid, and featuring Claude Rains, Conrad Veidt, Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre and Dooley Wilson. Set during World War II, it focuses on a man torn between, in...

(1942), "Meltdown" borrows the main plot from Westworld
Westworld
Westworld is a 1973 science fiction-thriller film written and directed by novelist Michael Crichton and produced by Paul Lazarus III. It stars Yul Brynner as a lifelike robot in a futuristic Western-themed amusement park, and Richard Benjamin and James Brolin as guests of the park.Westworld was the...

, (1973) and "Back to Earth
Red Dwarf: Back to Earth
Red Dwarf: Back to Earth is a three part TV miniseries continuation of the science fiction sitcom Red Dwarf, broadcast on the British television channel Dave between 10 April and 12 April 2009 and subsequently released on DVD on 15 June 2009 & on Blu-ray on 31 August 2009. It was the first...

" is greatly inspired by Blade Runner
Blade Runner
Blade Runner is a 1982 American science fiction film directed by Ridley Scott and starring Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, and Sean Young. The screenplay, written by Hampton Fancher and David Peoples, is loosely based on the novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K...

(1982). But the series does not limit its themes to films or television; historical events and figures have also been referenced and even integrated as part of an episode. Religion also plays a part in the series, as a significant factor in the ultimate fate of the Cat race, and the perception of Lister as their "God". Religion is turned on its head as mundane things are shown to acquire deep religious significance. The dispute over the colour of cardboard hats in Lister's fantasy doughnut diner (which has become the Cat version of Paradise) sparks the holy war that almost annihilates the species. The series also makes a literary reference to the Samuel Beckett
Samuel Beckett
Samuel Barclay Beckett was an Irish avant-garde novelist, playwright, theatre director, and poet. He wrote both in English and French. His work offers a bleak, tragicomic outlook on human nature, often coupled with black comedy and gallows humour.Beckett is widely regarded as among the most...

 play Waiting for Godot
Waiting for Godot
Waiting for Godot is an absurdist play by Samuel Beckett, in which two characters, Vladimir and Estragon, wait endlessly and in vain for someone named Godot to arrive. Godot's absence, as well as numerous other aspects of the play, have led to many different interpretations since the play's...

in the title for the episode Waiting for God. The episode titled Ouroboros derives its name and theme from the ancient mythological snake by the same name
Ouroboros
The Ouroboros is an ancient symbol depicting a serpent or dragon eating its own tail. The name originates from within Greek language; οὐρά meaning "tail" and βόρος meaning "eating", thus "he who eats the tail"....

.

The series also explores many sci-fi staples such as time-travel paradoxes (grandfather paradox
Grandfather paradox
The grandfather paradox is a proposed paradox of time travel first described by the science fiction writer René Barjavel in his 1943 book Le Voyageur Imprudent . The paradox is this: suppose a man traveled back in time and killed his biological grandfather before the latter met the traveler's...

), the question of determinism
Determinism
Determinism is the general philosophical thesis that states that for everything that happens there are conditions such that, given them, nothing else could happen. There are many versions of this thesis. Each of them rests upon various alleged connections, and interdependencies of things and...

 and free will
Free will
"To make my own decisions whether I am successful or not due to uncontrollable forces" -Troy MorrisonA pragmatic definition of free willFree will is the ability of agents to make choices free from certain kinds of constraints. The existence of free will and its exact nature and definition have long...

 (on several episodes), the pursuit of happiness in virtual reality and crucially to the show's premise of Lister being the last human, the near certainty of the human species' extinction
Extinction
In biology and ecology, extinction is the end of an organism or of a group of organisms , normally a species. The moment of extinction is generally considered to be the death of the last individual of the species, although the capacity to breed and recover may have been lost before this point...

 some time in the far future.

Aliens do not feature in the series as Rob Grant and Doug Naylor decided very early in the process that they did not want aliens in the show. However, there are non-human life forms such as evolutions of Earth species (e.g. the Cat race), robotic or holo-life forms created by humans, or a Genetically Engineered Life Form (GELF
GELF
G.E.L.F. or simply GELF is an acronym for Genetically Engineered LifeForm. It was used in two science fiction television programs, originally appearing in the BBC's cult sitcom Red Dwarf, and later on in the U.S...

), an artificially created creature (most of the enemies within the later series are some variant on GELFs or Simulants).

Hallmarks

The series developed its own distinct vocabulary. Words and phrases such as hologramatic
Holography
Holography is a technique that allows the light scattered from an object to be recorded and later reconstructed so that when an imaging system is placed in the reconstructed beam, an image of the object will be seen even when the object is no longer present...

 [sic], Dollarpound, Felis sapiens, Simulants, GELF
GELF
G.E.L.F. or simply GELF is an acronym for Genetically Engineered LifeForm. It was used in two science fiction television programs, originally appearing in the BBC's cult sitcom Red Dwarf, and later on in the U.S...

, space weevil
Weevil
A weevil is any beetle from the Curculionoidea superfamily. They are usually small, less than , and herbivorous. There are over 60,000 species in several families, mostly in the family Curculionidae...

 and Zero Gee Football appear throughout the series, highlighting a development in language, political climate, technology, evolution and culture in the future. The creators also employed a vocabulary of fictional expletive
Expletive attributive
Expletive comes from the Latin verb explere, meaning "to fill", via expletivus, "filling out". It was introduced into English in the seventeenth century to refer to various kinds of padding—the padding out of a book with peripheral material, the addition of syllables to a line of poetry for...

s in order to avoid using potentially offensive words in the show, and to give nuance to futuristic colloquial language. "Smeg", "gimboid", "goit", and variants of "smeg" such as "smegging", "smegger", and "smeg-head" were used.

Mixed reactions

The changes that were made to the series' cast, setting, creative teams and even production values from series to series have meant that opinions differ greatly between fans and critics alike as to the quality of certain series. In the "Great Red Dwarf Debate", published in volume 2 issue 3 of the Red Dwarf Smegazine, science fiction writers Steve Lyons and Joe Nazzaro both argued on the pros and cons of the early series against the later series. Lyons stated that what the show "once had was a unique balance of sci-fi comedy, which worked magnificently." Nazarro agreed that "the first two series are very original and very funny", but went on to say that "it wasn't until series III that the show hit its stride." Series VI is regarded as a continuation of the "Monster of the week" philosophy of series V, which was nevertheless considered to be visually impressive. Discussions revolve around the quality of series VI, seen by viewers as just as good as the earlier series', but has been criticised as a descent into formulaic comedy with an unwelcome change of setting.

The changes seen in series VII were seen as a disappointment; while much slicker and higher-budget in appearance, the shift away from outright sitcom and into something approaching comedy drama was seen as a move in the wrong direction. Furthermore, the attempt to shift back into traditional sitcom format for series VIII was greeted with a response that was similarly lukewarm. There was criticism aimed at the decision to resurrect the entire crew of Red Dwarf, as it was felt this detracted from the series' central premise of Lister being the last human being alive, as well as recognition that the cast "acted-up" to the live audience in a manner that was detrimental to the world of the series. There are other critics who feel that series VII and VIII are no weaker than the earlier series, however, and the topic is the subject of constant fervent debate among the show's fanbase.

Achievements

Although the pilot episode of the show gathered over four million viewers, viewing figures dipped in successive episodes and the first series had generally poor ratings. Through to series VI the ratings had steadily increased and peaked at over six million viewers, achieved with the episode "Gunmen of the Apocalypse". When the series returned in 1999 it gained the highest audience figures yet – over eight million viewers tuned in for series VIII's opening episode "Back in the Red: Part I". In its eight-series history, the series has won numerous awards including the Royal Television Society Award
Royal Television Society
The Royal Television Society is a British-based educational charity for the discussion, and analysis of television in all its forms, past, present and future. It is the oldest television society in the world...

 for special effects, the British Science Fiction award
British Science Fiction Association
The British Science Fiction Association was founded in 1958 by a group of British science fiction fans, authors, publishers and booksellers, in order to encourage science fiction in every form. It is an open membership organisation costing £26 per year for UK residents and £18 for the unwaged. The...

 for Best Dramatic Presentation, as well as an International Emmy Award achieved was for series VI episode "Gunmen of the Apocalypse", which tied with the Absolutely Fabulous
Absolutely Fabulous
Absolutely Fabulous, also known as Ab Fab, is a British sitcom created by Jennifer Saunders, based on an original idea by her and Dawn French, and written by Saunders, who plays the leading character. It also stars Joanna Lumley and Julia Sawalha, along with June Whitfield and Jane Horrocks...

episode, "Hospital", in the Popular Arts category. The show had also been nominated for the International Emmy Award in 1987, 1989, and 1992. Series VI won a British Comedy Award for 'Best BBC Comedy Series'. The video sales have won eight Gold Awards from the British Video Association, and the series still holds the record for being BBC2's longest-running, highest-rated sitcom. In 2007 the series was voted 'Best Sci-Fi Show Of All Time' by the readers of Radio Times
Radio Times
Radio Times is a UK weekly television and radio programme listings magazine, owned by the BBC. It has been published since 1923 by BBC Magazines, which also provides an on-line listings service under the same title...

magazine. Editor Gill Hudson stated that this result had surprised them as 'the series had not given any new episodes this century'.

Spin-offs and merchandise

The show's logo and characters have appeared on a wide range of merchandise. Red Dwarf has also been spun off in a variety of different media formats. For instance, the song "Tongue Tied", featured in the "Parallel Universe" episode of the show, was released in 1993 as a single and became a top 20 UK hit for Danny John Jules (under the name 'The Cat'). Stage plays of the show have been produced through Blak Yak, a theatre group in Perth
Perth, Western Australia
Perth is the capital and largest city of the Australian state of Western Australia and the fourth most populous city in Australia. The Perth metropolitan area has an estimated population of almost 1,700,000....

, Western Australia
Western Australia
Western Australia is a state of Australia, occupying the entire western third of the Australian continent. It is bounded by the Indian Ocean to the north and west, the Great Australian Bight and Indian Ocean to the south, the Northern Territory to the north-east and South Australia to the south-east...

, who were given permission by Grant Naylor Productions to mount stage versions of certain episodes in 2002, 2004 and 2006. And in October 2006 an Interactive Quiz DVD entitled Red Dwarf: Beat The Geek was released, hosted by Norman Lovett and Hattie Hayridge, both reprising their roles as Holly.

Novels

Working together under the name "Grant Naylor", the creators of the series collaboratively wrote two novels. The first, Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers, was published in November 1989, and incorporates plot lines from several episodes of the show's first two series. The second novel, Better Than Life
Better Than Life
Better Than Life is a science fiction comedy novel by Grant Naylor, the collective name for Rob Grant and Doug Naylor, co-creators and writers of the Red Dwarf television series, on which the novel is based...

, followed in October 1990, and is largely based on the second-series episode of the same name. Together, the two novels provide expanded backstory and development of the series' principal characters and themes. Retaining the show's offbeat sense of humor, the novels share some similarity with Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, also a science fiction comedy series.

The authors began work on a sequel to Better than Life, called The Last Human, but Rob Grant was drawn away from Red Dwarf by an interest in other projects. Still owing Penguin Publishing
Penguin Books
Penguin Books is a publisher founded in 1935 by Sir Allen Lane and V.K. Krishna Menon. Penguin revolutionised publishing in the 1930s through its high quality, inexpensive paperbacks, sold through Woolworths and other high street stores for sixpence. Penguin's success demonstrated that large...

 two more Red Dwarf novels, Grant and Naylor decided to each write an alternative sequel to Better than Life. Two completely different sequels were made as a result, each presenting a possible version of the story's continuation. Last Human
Last Human
Last Human is the title of a 1995 science fiction comedy novel written by Doug Naylor. It is part of the Red Dwarf series of novels, based on the popular television show created by Naylor and his partner Rob Grant...

, by Doug Naylor, adds Kochanski to the crew and places more emphasis on the science-fiction and plot elements, while Rob Grant's novel Backwards
Backwards
Backwards is the fourth Red Dwarf novel. It is set on the fictional backwards universe version of Earth.The novel was written by Rob Grant on his own. It follows on directly from the second Grant Naylor novel, Better Than Life, ignoring Last Human...

, is more in keeping with the previous two novels, and borrows more extensively from established television stories.

An omnibus edition of the first two novels was released in 1992, including edits to the original text and extra material such as the original pilot script of the TV series. All four novels have been released in audiobook format; the first two read by Chris Barrie, Last Human read by Craig Charles, and Backwards read by author Rob Grant.

In December, 2009, Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers was released in Germany with the title Roter Zwerg (Red Dwarf in German).

Home video releases

For the initial release of the VHS editions, episodes of Red Dwarf were separated and two tapes were released for each series, labelled 'byte one' and 'byte two'. These videos were named after the first episode of the three presented on the tape, as was typical with other BBC video releases at the time. However, on occasions the BBC decided to ignore the original running order and use the most popular episodes from the series to maximise sales of the videos. For series V, "Back to Reality" and "Quarantine" were given top billing on their respective video release. For the second VHS volume of series I, "Confidence and Paranoia
Confidence and Paranoia
"Confidence and Paranoia" is the fifth episode from series one of the science fiction sitcom Red Dwarf. It was first broadcast on the British television channel BBC2 on 14 March 1988...

" was given top billing, even though the original broadcast order was retained; this was due to the leading episode being "Waiting for God" which shared its name with the title of another comedy series (set in a retirement home). Future releases would increasingly observe authenticity with the 'original broadcast' context. All eight series were made available on VHS, and three episodes of series VII were also released as special "Xtended" (sic) versions with extra scenes (including an original, unbroadcast ending for the episode "Tikka To Ride") and no laugh track
Laugh track
A laugh track is a separate soundtrack invented by Charles "Charley" Douglass, with the artificial sound of audience laughter, made to be inserted into television programming of comedy shows and sitcoms.The term "laugh track" does not apply to the genuine audience laughter on shows that shoot in...

; the remastered
Red Dwarf Remastered
Red Dwarf Remastered was an attempt in the mid-1990s to bring the first three series of the BBC's cult sci-fi sitcom Red Dwarf up to date. A collaborative effort between BBC Worldwide and Grant Naylor Productions, it was hoped that remastered versions of the episodes would prove more appealing to...

 versions of series I–III were also released individually and in a complete box-set. Finally, two outtake
Blooper
A blooper, also known as an outtake or boner is a short sequence of a film or video production, usually a deleted scene, containing a mistake made by a member of the cast or crew. It also refers to an error made during a live radio or TV broadcast or news report, usually in terms of misspoken words...

 videos were released, Smeg Ups in 1994, and its sequel Smeg Outs in 1995.

The eight series have since been released on DVD in Region 1, 2 and 4, each with a bonus disc of extra material and each release from series III onwards being accompanied by an original documentary about the making of each respective series. Regions 2 and 4 have also seen the release of two Just The Shows, digipack boxsets containing the episodes from series I–IV (Volume 1) and V-VIII (Volume 2) with static menus and no extras. Red Dwarf: The Bodysnatcher Collection, containing the 1997 remastered episodes, as well as new documentaries for series I and II, was released in 2007. This release showcased a storyboard construction of "Bodysnatcher", an unfinished script from 1987, which was finally completed in 2007 by Rob Grant and Doug Naylor who were working together for the first time since 1993. In December 2008 an anniversary DVD set entitled Red Dwarf: All The Shows was released, reworking the vanilla disc content of the two Just The Shows sets within A4 packaging resembling a 'photo album', which carefully omitted information that no extras were included. This box-set was re-released in a smaller slip-case sized box, reverting to the Just the Shows title, in November 2009. The series is also available for download on iTunes
ITunes
iTunes is a media player computer program, used for playing, downloading, and organizing digital music and video files on desktop computers. It can also manage contents on iPod, iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad....

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