Red Dwarf

Red Dwarf is a British science fiction comedy franchise created by Rob Grant and Doug Naylor which primarily consists of a television sitcom that aired on BBC Two between 1988 and 1999, and on Dave since 2009, gaining a cult following.[1] The premise of the series follows the low-ranking technician Dave Lister, who awakens after being in suspended animation for three million years to find he is the last living human, with no crew on board the mining spacecraft Red Dwarf other than Arnold Rimmer, a hologram of Lister's deceased bunkmate, and Cat, a life form which evolved from Lister's pregnant cat.

Red Dwarf
Red Dwarf logo (1992–99)
Created by
Based onDave Hollins: Space Cadet
by Rob Grant
Doug Naylor
Directed byEd Bye (1988–91, 1997–99)
Juliet May (1992)
Grant Naylor (1992)
Andy de Emmony (1993)
Doug Naylor (2009–present)
ComposersHoward Goodall (1988-2017)
Paul Farrer (2020)
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original languageEnglish
No. of series12
+ 1 TV film
No. of episodes74 (list of episodes)
Executive producersPaul Jackson (1988–89)
Doug Naylor (1992–present)
Rob Grant (1992–93)
Henry Normal (2016–present)
Christine Langan (2020)
ProducersEd Bye (1988–91, 1997–99)
Hilary Bevan-Jones (1992)
Justin Judd (1993)
Jo Howard and Helen Norman (2009)
Richard Naylor (2012–present)
Kerry Waddell (2016–present)
Camera setupTape (1988–99); Digital (2009–present)
Multi-camera (Series 1–6, 8, 10–present),
Single-camera (Series 7, Back to Earth)
Running time28–30 minutes (Series 1–8, 10–12)
25 minutes (per part) (Back to Earth)
90 minutes (The Promised Land)
Production companiesPaul Jackson Productions (1988–89)
Grant Naylor Productions (1991–)
Baby Cow Productions (2016–)
Budget£250,000 per episode
Original networkBBC Two (1988–99)
Dave (2009–present)
Picture format576i (1988–99)
1080p (2009–present)
Original releaseOriginal run:
15 February 1988 – 5 April 1999

10 April 2009 – present
External links
Official website

As of 2020, the cast includes Chris Barrie as Rimmer, Craig Charles as Lister, Danny John-Jules as Cat, Robert Llewellyn as the sanitation droid Kryten, and Norman Lovett as the ship's computer, Holly.

To date, twelve series of the show have aired, in addition to The Promised Land. Four novels were published from 1989 to 1996. Two pilot episodes of an American version of the show were produced but never aired. The magazine The Red Dwarf Smegazine was published from 1992 to 1994.

One of the series' highest accolades came in 1994 when an episode from the sixth series, "Gunmen of the Apocalypse", won an International Emmy Award in the Popular Arts category. In the same year the series was also awarded "Best BBC Comedy Series" at the British Comedy Awards.[2] The series attracted its highest ratings, of more than eight million viewers, during the eighth series in 1999.[3]

The revived series on Dave has consistently delivered some of the highest ratings for non-Public Service Broadcasting commissions in the UK.[4][5][6] The show has been critically acclaimed, and has a Metacritic score of 84/100.[7] Series XI was voted "Best Returning TV Sitcom" and "Comedy of the Year" for 2016 by readers for the British Comedy Guide.[8] In a 2019 ranking by Empire, Red Dwarf came 80 on a list of the 100 best TV shows of all time.[9]

Setting and plot

Red Dwarf's current design from Series X (2012) and onward

The main setting of the series is the eponymous mining spaceship Red Dwarf.[10] In the first episode, set sometime in the late 21st century, an on-board radiation leak kills everyone except lowest-ranking technician Dave Lister, who is in suspended animation at the time, as punishment for smuggling a cat onboard ship. Said cat, Frankenstein, who is revealed to be pregnant, is safe in the cargo hold.[11] Following the accident, the ship's computer Holly keeps Lister in stasis until the radiation levels return to normal—a process that takes three million years.[11] Lister therefore emerges as the last human being in the universe—but not alone on board the ship.[12] His former bunkmate and immediate superior Arnold Judas Rimmer (a character plagued by failure) is resurrected by Holly as a hologram to keep Lister sane. They are joined by a creature known only as Cat, the last member of a race of humanoid felines that evolved in the ship's hold from Lister's pregnant cat during the 3 million years that Lister was in stasis.[12]

The series revolves around Lister being the last human alive, 3 million years from Earth, with his companions. The crew encounters phenomena such as time distortions, faster-than-light travel, mutant diseases and strange lifeforms (all evolved from Earth, because the series has no aliens) that had developed in the intervening millions of years.[13] Though it has a science fiction setting, much of the humour comes from the interactions of the characters, particularly the laid-back Lister and the stuck-up Rimmer.

Despite the pastiche of science fiction used as a backdrop, Red Dwarf is primarily a character-driven comedy, with science fiction elements used as complementary plot devices.[14] Especially in the early episodes, a recurring source of comedy was the Odd Couple-style relationship between the two central characters of the show, who have an intense dislike for each other yet are trapped together deep in space.

In Series III, the computer Holly changes from male (Norman Lovett) to female (Hattie Hayridge), and the mechanoid Kryten (who had appeared in one episode in Series II[15]) joins the crew and becomes a regular character.[16]

In Series VI, a story arc is introduced where Red Dwarf has been stolen, and the crew pursues it in the smaller Starbug craft, with the side effect that the character Holly disappears.[17]

Series VII is also set in Starbug. Early in series VII, Rimmer departs (due to actor Chris Barrie's commitments) and is replaced by Kristine Kochanski, Lister's long-term love interest, from an alternate universe.[18] Kochanski becomes a regular character for Series VII and VIII.

At the end of Series VII, we learn that Kryten's service nanobots, which had abandoned him years earlier, were behind the theft of the Red Dwarf at the end of series five. At the beginning of the eighth series, Kryten's nanobots reconstruct the Red Dwarf, which they had broken down into its constituent atoms.[19]

As a consequence, Series VIII features the entire original crew of Red Dwarf resurrected (except for the already-alive Lister and Kochanski), including a pre-accident Rimmer; and the original male Holly. The series ends with a metal-eating virus loose on Red Dwarf. The entire crew evacuates save the main cast (Lister, Rimmer, Cat, Kryten and Kochanski), whose fate is unresolved in a cliffhanger ending.[20]

Series IX onwards revert to the same four main characters of Series 3–6 (Lister, Rimmer, Cat and Kryten), on Red Dwarf and without Kochanski or Holly; Rimmer reappears as a hologram once again. While it was left unmentioned whether the Rimmer on board ship is the one who originally left, the revived version, or a third incarnation entirely (episodes have alluded to him remembering events from both previous incarnations' lives); with the release of The Promised Land, series-creator, Doug Naylor, confirmed in 2020 that the Rimmer from Back To Earth onwards is the original Rimmer having returned from his time being Ace Rimmer.

Characters and actors

  • Dave Lister, played by Craig Charles, is a genial Scouser and self-described bum. He was the lowest-ranking of the 169 crew members on the ship before the accident. Lister survived the accident, as he was in stasis for smuggling an unquarantined cat on board. He has a long-standing desire to return to Earth and start a farm and/or diner on Fiji (which is under three feet of water following a volcanic eruption), but is left impossibly far away by the accident, which renders him the last (known) surviving member of the human race.[21] He likes Indian food, especially chicken vindaloo, which is a recurring theme in the series.
From left to right: Cat, Rimmer, Kryten, and Lister as they appeared in Series X (2012)
  • Arnold Judas Rimmer, played by Chris Barrie, 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 kills the entire crew (including himself) except Lister. Nevertheless, Holly chose him to be the ship's one available hologram[22] because he considered him the person most likely to keep Lister sane. During Series VII, Rimmer leaves the dimension shared by his crewmates to become his swashbuckling dimensional counterpart, 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. From Back to Earth onwards, he is once again a hologram, although the circumstances that led to this are never fully explained.
  • The Cat, played by Danny John-Jules, 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 in early episodes. He becomes more influenced by his human companions over time, and begins to resemble a stylish, self-centred human. It is later revealed that, unlike his human companions, he has a "cool" sounding pulse, six nipples, and colour-coordinated internal organs.[23]
  • Holly (played by Norman Lovett in series I, II, VIII, and The Promised Land and a guest appearance in both series VII and XII; and Hattie Hayridge in series III to V), is the ship's computer. Holly has a functional IQ of 6000, although this is severely depleted by the three million years of runtime and lack of repairs. Holly is left alone after the radiation accident that kills Rimmer and the rest of the crew except for Lister and the Cat. The computer had developed "computer senility" before the radiation accident, rendering it functionally inert. 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".[24] Following an absence in series VI and the majority of series VII, Holly is back as his original male persona, being reset by the nanobots who stole Red Dwarf. From Back to Earth to series XII, Holly is absent once again due to Lister's bath overflowing offscreen, caused by him rushing out when hearing Kochanski had left, which got into Holly's circuity causing him to malfunction and go offline. In The Promised Land, the discovery of a backup drive allowed male Holly to return to the ship full-time.
  • Kryten, full name Kryten 2X4B-523P (played by Robert Llewellyn from series III onwards, and as a one-off appearance in series II by David Ross), 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 series 4000 service mechanoid[25] 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.[26]
  • Kristine Kochanski (originally portrayed by Clare Grogan before Chloë Annett took on the role from series VII) was initially a Red Dwarf navigation officer whom Lister had a crush on (later retconned to be his ex-girlfriend) and whose memory he had cherished ever since.[21] In one episode, the crew happens upon an alternative dimension where Kochanski survived the Red Dwarf cadmium II accident. She joins Lister and the crew after the link to her own dimension collapses.[18] By the first episode of the Red Dwarf: Back to Earth 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. Despite not making an appearance in the immediate series, she is mentioned at various points by Lister with hopes of reuniting with her.[27]


The first series aired on BBC2 in 1988. Eleven full series and one miniseries have so far been produced,[16] with a feature length special releasing in 2020.[28]

Concept and commission

The concept for the show was originally developed from the sketch series Dave Hollins: Space Cadet on the BBC Radio 4 show Son of Cliché in the mid-1980s, written by Rob Grant and Doug Naylor.[29] Their influences came from films and television programmes such as Star Trek (1966), Silent Running (1972), Alien (1979), Dark Star (1974) and The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (1981),[16] but also had a large element of British-style comedy and satire thrown into the mix, ultimately moulded into the form of a sitcom. Many visual and character elements bear similarities to the Trident nuclear submarine BBC documentary Defence of the Realm. Having written the pilot script in 1983, the former Spitting Image writers pitched their unique concept to the BBC, but it was rejected on fears that a science fiction sitcom would not be popular.[29]

It was finally accepted by BBC North in 1986, a result of a spare budget being assigned for a second series of Happy Families that would never arise, and producer Paul Jackson's insistence that Red Dwarf should be filmed instead.[30] The show was lucky to be remounted after an electricians' strike partway through rehearsals in early 1987 shut the entire production down (the title sequence was filmed in January 1987).[31] The filming was rescheduled for September, and the pilot episode finally made it onto television screens on 15 February 1988.[16]

Despite the commission of further series, the cast felt like "outsiders" at the BBC. Co-creator Doug Naylor attributed this to the show getting commissioned by BBC Manchester, but filming at Shepperton Studios near where the cast lived in London. When the show won an International Emmy Award in 1994, Naylor's attempts to have the cast invited to a party thrown by the BBC proved futile when they objected to Craig Charles and Danny John-Jules's inclusion, claiming they were "fire risks".[32]


Alan Rickman and Alfred Molina auditioned for roles in the series, with Molina being cast as Rimmer.[33][34] 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, a professional voice-actor and impressionist who had previously worked with both the writers on Spitting Image, and with the producers on Happy Families and Jasper Carrott productions.[34] Craig Charles, 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.[35] Charles described "Cat" as 'pretty cool' and after reading the script he decided he wanted to audition for the part of Dave Lister.[31] Laconic stand-up comedian Norman Lovett, who had originally tried out for the role of Rimmer, was kept in the show as Holly, the senile computer of the titular ship.[35] A professional dancer and singer, Danny John-Jules, 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's book Catwatching), and his showing up in character, wearing his father's 1950s-style zoot suit.[35]

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).[36] Grant left in 1995,[16] to pursue other projects,[37] leaving Naylor to write series VII and VIII with a group of new writers, including Paul Alexander and actor Robert Llewellyn (who portrayed the character Kryten).[38]

For the most part, Ed Bye 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) so Juliet May took over as director.[39] 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.[40] 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. All eight series were broadcast on BBC Two. At the beginning of series IV, production moved from BBC North's New Broadcasting House in Manchester to Shepperton.[41]

Theme song and music

The opening theme tune, closing theme tune, and incidental music were written and performed by Howard Goodall, with the vocals on the closing theme tune by Jenna Russell.[42] The first two series used a relatively sombre instrumental version of the closing theme for the opening titles; from series III onwards this switched to a more upbeat version, with Goodall singing on vocorder, the line "Red Dwarf" four times in the second half of the song.[43][44][45][46][47][48][49][50] Goodall also wrote music for the show's various songs, including "Tongue Tied", with lyrics written by Grant and Naylor.[51] Danny John-Jules (credited as 'The Cat') re-orchestrated and released "Tongue Tied" in October 1993; it reached number 17 on the UK charts.[52] Goodall himself sang "The Rimmer Song" heard during the series VII episode "Blue", to which Chris Barrie mimed.[53]


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 and released on VHS. The remastering included replacing model shots with computer graphics, cutting certain dialogue and scenes,[54] 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.[55] The remastered series were released in a 4-disc DVD box set "The Bodysnatcher Collection" in 2007.[56]


Release timeline
1988Series I and II
1989Series III
1991Series IV
1992Series V
1993Series VI
1997Series VII
1999Series VIII
2009Back To Earth
2012Series X
2016Series XI
2017Series XII
2020The Promised Land

Three years elapsed between series VI and VII, partly due to the dissolving of the Grant and Naylor partnership, but also due to cast and crew working on other projects.[37] When the series eventually returned, it was filmised and no longer shot in front of a live audience, allowing for greater use of four-walled sets, location shooting, and single-camera techniques.[57] 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.[58]

The show received a setback when the BBC rejected proposals for a series IX. Doug Naylor confirmed in 2007 that the BBC decided not to renew the series as they preferred to work on other projects.[59] A short animated Christmas special was, however, made available to mobile phone subscribers the same year.[60] Ultimately, however, fans had to wait a decade before the series returned to television.


Red Dwarf: Back to Earth

In 2008, a three-episode production was commissioned by the digital channel Dave. Red Dwarf: Back to Earth was broadcast over the Easter weekend of 2009, along with a "making of" documentary.[61][62] The episode was set nine years after the events of "Only the Good..." (with the cliffhanger ending of that episode left unresolved, a situation that would continue with series X). The storyline involves the characters arriving back on Earth, circa 2009, only to find that they are characters in a TV show called "Red Dwarf". Kochanski is supposedly dead and Holly is offline due to water damage caused by Lister leaving a tap running.[63] Actress Sophie Winkleman played a character called Katerina, a resurrected hologram of a Red Dwarf science officer intent on replacing Rimmer.[64]

To achieve a more cinematic atmosphere, Back to Earth was not filmed in front of a studio audience. Some previous Red Dwarf episodes had been shot in that way ("Bodyswap" and all of the seventh series), but Back to Earth represented the first time that a laughter track was not added before broadcast.[65] It was also the first episode of Red Dwarf to be filmed in high definition.[63]

The specials were televised over three nights starting on Friday 10 April 2009. The broadcasts received record ratings for Dave;[66] the first of the three episodes represented the UK's highest-ever viewing figures for a commissioned programme on a digital network.[67] Back to Earth was released on DVD on 15 June 2009,[68] and on Blu-ray on 31 August 2009.[69] Back to Earth was subsequently described on the series' official website as "for all intents and purposes, the 'ninth series' of Red Dwarf".[70] This placement was confirmed when Series X was commissioned and branded as the tenth series, although Back to Earth continues not to be referred to as "Series IX" on home media or digital releases.

Red Dwarf X

On 10 April 2011 Dave announced it had commissioned a six-episode series X to be broadcast on Dave in late 2012.[71][72] Filming dates for the new series Red Dwarf X were announced on 11 November 2011, along with confirmation that the series would be shot at Shepperton Studios in front of an audience.[73] Principal filming began on 16 December 2011 and ended on 27 January 2012, and the cast and crew subsequently returned for six days filming pick-ups.[74] Discounting guest stars, only the core cast of Charles, Barrie, Llewellyn and John-Jules returned for Series X, with Annett and Lovett absent, though the scripts include references to Kochanski and Holly.

On 20 July 2012, a 55-second trailer for series X was released on Facebook, followed by a new teaser every Friday.[75] The new series debuted on Thursday 4 October 2012.[76]

Red Dwarf XI and XII

Following series X, which attracted high viewing figures, Dave, Doug Naylor and the cast showed strong interest in making another series. During the Dimension Jump fan convention in May 2013, Doug Naylor stated that discussions were ongoing with all involved parties and while arrangements had not been finalised, he hoped shooting could begin in February 2014.[77] In October 2013, Robert Llewellyn posted on his blog, stating that "an eleventh series would happen" and that it would be "sometime in 2014". Llewellyn later removed the post from his blog and Doug Naylor issued a statement on Twitter, saying: "Getting tweets claiming Red Dwarf XI is commissioned. Not true. Not yet."[78][79] However, in January 2014 Danny John-Jules stated that the eleventh series of Red Dwarf was in the process of being written.[80]

At the April 2014 Sci-Fi Scarborough Festival, during the Red Dwarf cast panel, Danny John-Jules stated that filming of the eleventh series would commence in October 2014, with an expected release of Autumn 2015 on Dave.[81]

On 2 May 2015, at the Dimension Jump XVIII convention, Naylor announced that an eleventh and a twelfth series had been commissioned. The two series would be shot back-to-back towards the end of 2015 for broadcast on Dave in 2016 and 2017, respectively,[82] and would be co-produced by Baby Cow Productions, with company CEO, Henry Normal, executive producing the new episodes.[83]

Series XI and XII were filmed back-to-back at Pinewood Studios between November 2015 and March 2016.[84][85] The eleventh series premiered on UKTV's video on demand service UKTV Play on 15 September 2016, a week ahead of its broadcast transmission on 22 September.

On 8 September 2017, it was announced that Red Dwarf XII would begin broadcasting on Dave on 12 October 2017,[86] and on 15 September 2017 it was further announced that each episode would preview a week earlier via the UKTV Play video on demand service, effectively meaning that series 12 would be starting on 5 October 2017.[87]

Red Dwarf: The Promised Land

In late May 2019, in a radio interview, Robert Llewellyn stated that a thirteenth series was happening[88] and in June of that year, Danny John-Jules stated that it was expected to be wrapped up by the end of 2019.[89] However, in October 2019, UKTV announced that a 90-minute feature-length special would be produced instead, to be filmed from December 2019 to January 2020[90][91] with location filming scheduled for November.[92] Three 60-minute documentaries were also announced to accompany it, intended to act as a retrospective of all previous 12 series.

In January 2020, the first publicity photos of the special were released, with Ray Fearon revealed as the first confirmed guest actor portraying Rodon, the "leader of the feral cats".[93] In February 2020, the day before the 32nd anniversary of when Red Dwarf first aired, a synopsis was given by the official Red Dwarf website: "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." Al Roberts was also added to the cast in an undisclosed role and Norman Lovett officially announced to be returning as Holly following his one-off guest spot in Series XII.[94]

On 10 March 2020, in an exclusive with Radio Times, a teaser trailer was released.[95] A rough release date of sometime in April was given, and a day later on 11 March 2020, the official Twitter account for Dave revealed the title of the television film: Red Dwarf: The Promised Land.[96]


The episode "Polymorph" paid homage to the 1979 film Alien

Red Dwarf was founded on the standard sitcom focus of 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 series,[16] with its main characters acting bravely only when there was no other possible alternative. The increasing science-fiction elements of the series were treated seriously by creators Rob Grant and Doug Naylor. Satire, parody and drama were alternately woven into the episodes, referencing other television series, films and books. These have included references to the likes of 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968),[97] Top Gun (1986),[98] RoboCop (1987), Star Wars (1977), Citizen Kane (1942), The Wild One (1953), High Noon (1952), Rebel Without a Cause (1955), Casablanca (1942), Easy Rider (1969), The Terminator (1984),[99] Pride and Prejudice (1813), Isaac Asimov's Robot series (1939–85) and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

The writers based the whole theme of some episodes on the plots of feature films. The series III episode "Polymorph" references and parodies key moments from Alien (1979); from series IV, "Camille" echoes key scenes from Casablanca (1942),[99] while "Meltdown" borrows the main plot from Westworld (1973). For series IX, "Back to Earth" was partially inspired by Blade Runner (1982).[100] The series' themes are not limited to films or television, having also incorporated historical events and figures.[101] 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', both within the episode "Waiting for God"[102] (whose title makes a literary reference to the Samuel Beckett play Waiting for Godot), as well as the crew meeting a man they believe to be Jesus Christ in series X episode "Lemons". The series VII episode titled "Ouroboros" derives its name and theme from the ancient mythological snake by the same name. The third episode of series VI, "Gunmen of the Apocalypse", was based on the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

The series explores many science-fiction staples such as time-travel paradoxes (including the grandfather paradox), the question of determinism and free will (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 some time in the far future.

Aliens do not feature in the series, as Grant and Naylor decided very early in the process that they did not want aliens involved. This is usually addressed with Rimmer's belief in extraterrestrial life being shot down, such as a vessel he believes to be an alien ship turning out to be a garbage pod. 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, and a kind of 'Genetically Engineered Life Form' (GELF), an artificially created creature. Simulants and GELFs frequently serve as antagonists among the later series of the show.[103]


The series developed its own distinct vocabulary. Words and phrases such as hologramatic [sic], dollarpound, Felis sapiens, Simulants, GELF, space weevil, and Zero Gee Football appear throughout the series, highlighting a development in language, political climate, technology, evolution and culture in the future.[104] The creators also employed a vocabulary of fictional expletives in order to avoid using potentially offensive words in the show, and to give nuance to futuristic colloquial language; in particular, "smeg" (and variants such as "smegging", "smegger", and "smeg-head") features prominently, alongside the terms "gimboid" and "goit".[105]


SeriesTitleEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast airedNetwork
1I615 February 1988 (1988-02-15)21 March 1988 (1988-03-21)BBC Two
2II66 September 1988 (1988-09-06)11 October 1988 (1988-10-11)
3III614 November 1989 (1989-11-14)19 December 1989 (1989-12-19)
4IV614 February 1991 (1991-02-14)21 March 1991 (1991-03-21)
5V620 February 1992 (1992-02-20)26 March 1992 (1992-03-26)
6VI67 October 1993 (1993-10-07)11 November 1993 (1993-11-11)
7VII817 January 1997 (1997-01-17)7 March 1997 (1997-03-07)
8VIII818 February 1999 (1999-02-18)5 April 1999 (1999-04-05)
9Back to Earth310 April 2009 (2009-04-10)12 April 2009 (2009-04-12)Dave
10X64 October 2012 (2012-10-04)8 November 2012 (2012-11-08)
11XI622 September 2016 (2016-09-22)27 October 2016 (2016-10-27)
12XII612 October 2017 (2017-10-12)16 November 2017
The Promised Land9 April 2020 (2020-04-09)


Red Dwarf I

Episode no. Airdate Viewers (millions) BBC Two weekly ranking
115 February 19884.75m3
222 February 1988N/K-
329 February 19884.25m9
47 March 19883.75m8
514 March 1988N/K-
621 March 1988N/K-

Red Dwarf VIII

Episode no. Airdate Viewers BBC Two weekly ranking
118 February 19998,050,0001
225 February 19997,580,0001
34 March 19996,920,0002
411 March 19995,950,0001
518 March 19996,760,0001
625 March 19996,320,0001
71 April 19994,520,0003
85 April 19994,240,0003

Back to Earth

Episode No. Air date Dave viewers Dave Rank Rank
Dave ja vu
Total Viewers
1 10 April 2009 2,357,000 1 1 385,000 2,742,000
2 11 April 2009 1,238,000 2 6 366,000 1,604,000
3 12 April 2009 1,197,000 3 7 245,000 1,442,000

Red Dwarf X

Episode no. Airdate Dave viewers Dave Rank Rank
Dave ja vu
Total viewers
14 October 20121,978,00013113,0002,091,000
211 October 20121,567,0001278,0001,645,000
318 October 20121,519,00013106,0001,625,000
425 October 20121,345,00017119,0001,464,000
51 November 20121,561,0001473,0001,634,000
68 November 20121,400,00015107,0001,507,000

Red Dwarf XI

Episode no. Airdate 7-day viewers 28-day viewers Dave Rank
122 September 20161,456,0001,724,0001
229 September 20161,443,0001,710,0001
36 October 20161,144,0001,310,0001
413 October 20161,096,0001,292,0001
520 October 20161,180,0001,272,0001
627 October 20161,024,0001,158,0001

Red Dwarf XII

Episode no. Airdate 7-day viewers 28-day viewers Dave Rank
112 October 20171,200,0001,352,0001
219 October 20171,179,0001,278,0001
326 October 20171,189,0001,286,0001
42 November 2017973,0001,077,0001
59 November 2017901,000950,0001
616 November 2017846,000968,0001

The Promised Land

Airdate Dave viewers Rank
Dave ja vu
Total viewers
9 April 2020980,0001636,0001,670,000[106]

Reception and achievements

Critical reception

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 as to the quality of certain series.[16] 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."[99] 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.[17] Discussions revolve around the quality of series VI, seen by one reviewer as just as good as the earlier series',[17] but criticised by another reviewer as a descent into formulaic comedy with an unwelcome change of setting.[107]

The changes seen in series VII were seen by some 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 by one reviewer as a move in the wrong direction.[108] Furthermore, the attempt to shift back into traditional sitcom format for series VIII was greeted with a response that was similarly lukewarm.[16] 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.[19] There are other critics who feel that series VII and VIII are no weaker than the earlier series, however,[109][110] and the topic is the subject of constant fervent debate among the show's fanbase.[16] The return of the series on Dave has been met with a mostly positive reception.


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.[111] Through to series VI the ratings steadily increased and peaked at over six million viewers,[37] achieved with the episode "Gunmen of the Apocalypse".[112] 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".[113] The series has won numerous awards including the Royal Television Society Award for special effects, the British Science Fiction award for Best Dramatic Presentation, as well as an International Emmy Award[114] for series VI episode "Gunmen of the Apocalypse", which tied with an Absolutely Fabulous 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,[115] and the series still holds the record for being BBC Two's longest-running, highest-rated sitcom.[116] In 2007 the series was voted 'Best Sci-Fi Show Of All Time' by the readers of Radio Times magazine. Editor Gill Hudson stated that this result had surprised them as 'the series had not given any new episodes this century'.[117] In January 2017, series XI was voted "Best Returning TV Sitcom" and "Comedy of the Year" for 2016 by readers for the British Comedy Guide.[8]

A year later Red Dwarf once again was voted "Best Returning TV Sitcom" for series XII retaining the title from British Comedy Guide.[118]

Spin-offs and merchandise

The show's logo and characters have appeared on a wide range of merchandise.[36][119] 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').[52] Stage plays of the show have been produced through Blak Yak, a theatre group in Perth, Western Australia, who were given permission by Grant Naylor Productions to mount stage versions of certain episodes in 2002, 2004 and 2006.[120][121][122][123] 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.[124] In 2005, Grant Naylor Productions and Across the Pond Comics collaborated to produce the spin-off webcomic Red Dwarf: Prelude to Nanarchy.[125]


The German edition of Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers, entitled Roter Zwerg

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, 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.

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.[citation needed] Still owing Penguin Publishing 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, 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, is more in keeping with the previous two novels, and borrows more extensively from established television stories.[37]

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.[126] All four novels have been released in audiobook format, the first two read by Chris Barrie,[127][128] Last Human read by Craig Charles,[129] and Backwards read by author Rob Grant.[130]

In December 2009, Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers was released in Germany with the title Roter Zwerg ("Red Dwarf" in German).[131]

List of Red Dwarf novels
Title Author(s)
Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers Grant Naylor Productions
Co-authored by Rob Grant and Doug Naylor
Better Than Life Grant Naylor Productions
Co-authored by Rob Grant and Doug Naylor
Last Human Doug Naylor
Backwards Rob Grant

Home video releases

For the initial release of the VHS editions, episodes of Red Dwarf were separated and two volumes released for each series (except series VII and VIII, which were released on three separate tapes), labelled 'Byte One' and 'Byte Two' (plus 'Byte Three' for series VII and VIII). 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 III (the first-ever release), "Bodyswap" and "Timeslides" were swapped round, so that the latter could receive top billing on the second VHS volume; for the second VHS volume of series I, "Confidence and Paranoia" 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); and for series V, "Back to Reality" and "Quarantine" were given top billing on their respective video release, which completely re-organised the order of episodes from that in which they were originally broadcast.[132] 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;[133] the remastered versions of series I–III were also released individually and in a complete box-set.[134][135][136] Finally, two outtake videos were released, both hosted by Robert Llewellyn in character as Kryten: Smeg Ups in 1994, and its sequel, Smeg Outs, in 1995.[137][138]

ReleaseEpisodesYearDist. and Cat. #
Red Dwarf I – Byte One – The EndThe EndFuture EchoesBalance of Power1993BBCV 4914
Red Dwarf I – Byte Two – Confidence & ParanoiaConfidence and ParanoiaWaiting for GodMe²1993BBCV 4915
Red Dwarf II – Byte One – KrytenKrytenBetter Than LifeThanks for the Memory1992CBS/Fox 5969 BBCV 4749
Red Dwarf II – Byte Two – Stasis LeakStasis LeakQueegParallel Universe1992CBS/Fox 5970 BBCV 4750
Red Dwarf III – Byte One – BackwardsBackwardsMaroonedPolymorph1991CBS/Fox 5876 BBCV 4695
Red Dwarf III – Byte Two – TimeslidesTimeslidesBody SwapThe Last Day1991CBS/Fox 5877 BBCV 4707
Red Dwarf IV – Byte One – CamilleCamilleDNAJustice1992CBS/Fox 5874 BBCV 4847
Red Dwarf IV – Byte Two – Dimension JumpWhite HoleDimension JumpMeltdown1992CBS/Fox 5875 BBCV 4848
Red Dwarf V – Byte One – Back To RealityBack To RealityDemons & AngelsHoloship1994CBS/Fox 8262 BBCV 5197
Red Dwarf V – Byte Two – QuarantineQuarantineThe InquisitorTerrorform1994CBS/Fox 8263 BBCV 5212
Red Dwarf VI – Byte One – Gunmen of the ApocalypsePsirensLegionGunmen of the Apocalypse1995CBS/Fox 3196 BBCV 5580
Red Dwarf VI – Byte Two – Polymorph II – EmohawkPolymorph II – EmohawkRimmerworldOut of Time1995CBS/Fox 3376 BBCV 5594
Red Dwarf VII – Byte OneTikka to RideStoke Me a ClipperOuroboros1999CBS/Fox 6452 BBCV 6789
Red Dwarf VII – Byte TwoDuct SoupBlueBeyond a Joke1999BBCV 6790
Red Dwarf VII – Byte ThreeEpidemeNanarchy1999BBCV 6791
Red Dwarf VII – XtendedTikka to RideOuroborosDuct Soup • Smeg UpsUK 1997BBCV 6285
Red Dwarf VIII – Byte One – Back in the RedBack in the Red parts 1, 2 & 31999CBS/Fox 14608 BBCV 6842
Red Dwarf VIII – Byte Two – CassandraCassandraKrytie TVPete: Part I1999CBS/Fox 14609 BBCV 6843
Red Dwarf VIII – Byte Three – Pete, Part 2Pete, Part 2Only the Good...U.K. 1999CBS/Fox 14626
Red Dwarf – Smeg UpsThe outtakes from series IV, V & VI1994CBS/Fox 8375 BBCV 5406
Red Dwarf – Smeg OutsThe outtakes from series I, II & IIIU.K. 1995CBS/Fox 8475 BBCV 5693
DVD releases

The first eight series have been released on DVD in Regions 1, 2 and 4, each with a bonus disc of extra material. Each release from series III onwards also features an original documentary about the making of each respective series.[139] Regions 2 and 4 have also seen the release of two Just the Shows, digipack box sets containing the episodes from series I–IV (Volume 1) and V–VIII (Volume 2) with static menus and no extras.[140][141] Red Dwarf: The Bodysnatcher Collection, containing the 1998 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.[56] 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 omitted information that no extras were included. This box set was re-released in a smaller slipcase-sized box, reverting to the Just the Shows title, in November 2009. The series is also available for download on iTunes.

Release # of discs DVD release date
Region 1 Region 2 Region 4
Series I 2 25 February 2003 4 November 2002 3 December 2002
Series II 2 25 February 2003 10 February 2003 1 April 2003
Series III 2 3 February 2004 3 November 2003 18 November 2003
Series IV 2 3 February 2004 16 February 2004 9 March 2004
Just the Shows Vol. 1
Series 1–4 with no extras
4 N/A 18 October 2004 12 November 2004
Series V 2 15 March 2005 8 November 2004 1 December 2004
Series VI 2 15 March 2005 21 February 2005 6 April 2005
Series VII 3 10 January 2006 7 November 2005 1 December 2005
Series VIII 3 2 May 2006 27 March 2006 20 April 2006
The Complete Collection
Series 1–8 with extras
18 5 September 2006 N/A N/A
Just the Shows Vol. 2
Series 5–8 with no extras
6 N/A 2 October 2006 3 November 2006
Beat the Geek
(Interactive DVD quiz game)
1 N/A 23 October 2006 3 March 2011
The Bodysnatcher Collection
The remastered versions of series 1–3
4 N/A 12 November 2007 7 May 2008
Just the Smegs
DVD re-issue of the VHS release Smeg Ups and Smeg Outs
1 N/A 19 November 2007 3 March 2011
All the Shows
Series 1–8 with no extras
10 N/A 10 November 2008 N/A
Back to Earth 2 6 October 2009 15 June 2009 17 December 2009
Just the Shows
Series 1–8 with no extras
10 N/A 9 November 2009 N/A
The Complete Collection
Series 1–3 (Remastered), series 4–8, Just the Smegs and Back to Earth – The Director's Cut
19 N/A N/A 4 August 2010
Series X 2 8 January 2013[142] 19 November 2012[143] 12 December 2012[144]
Series XI 2 8 November 2016 14 November 2016 8 March 2017
Series XII 2 21 November 2017 20 November 2017 18 February 2018
The Promised Land 1 TBA 1 June 2020 TBA
Blu-ray releases
Release # of discs Blu-ray release date
Region A Region B
Series I–VIII
With The Bodysnatcher Collection
19 2 August 2019a 14 January 2019b
Back to Earth 2 6 October 2009 31 August 2009
Series X 2 8 January 2013[145] 19 November 2012[146]
Series XI 2 8 November 2016 14 November 2016
Series XII 2 21 November 2017 20 November 2017
The Promised Land 1 15 September 2020 1 June 2020

^a Only in Japan[147]
^b Only in the United Kingdom[148]

In 2016, BBC Worldwide began creating an 'up-resed' version of the first five series for release on Blu-ray, due to demand from Japan.[149] When asked about the project in 2017, Naylor confirmed he had stopped it due to lacklustre picture quality.[150] By 2018, the project, now encompassing the entire original run, had been restarted,[151] and a series 1–8 Blu-ray set release was confirmed in August.[152]


Rimmer with a greyscale appearance

The Red Dwarf Magazine—the magazine part of the title changed to "Smegazine" from issue 3—was launched in 1992 by Fleetway Editions. It comprised a mix of news, reviews, interviews, comic strips and competitions. The comic strips featured episode adaptations and original material, including further stories of popular characters like Mr. Flibble, the Polymorph and Ace Rimmer.

Notably, the comic strip stories' holographic characters, predominately Rimmer, were drawn in greyscale. This was at the request of Grant and Naylor, who had wanted to use the technique for the television series, but the process was deemed too expensive to produce.[153] (Rimmer did appear in greyscale in "low power mode" in "The Promised Land".)

Despite achieving circulation figures of over 40,000 per month,[153] the magazine's publisher decided to close the title down to concentrate on their other publications.[37] A farewell issue was published, cover dated January 1994, and featured the remaining interviews, features and comic strips that were to feature in the following issues.[154]

The Official Red Dwarf Fan Club produces a periodical magazine for members titled Back to Reality. The previous volume of this magazine, dating back to the 1990s, was known as Better Than Life.[155]

U.S. version

Cast of second Red Dwarf USA pilot

Despite the original version having been broadcast on PBS, a pilot episode for an American version (known as Red Dwarf USA) was produced through Universal Studios with the intention of broadcasting on NBC in 1992.[156] The show essentially followed the same story as the first episode of the original series, using American actors for most of the main roles:[157] Craig Bierko as Lister, Chris Eigeman as Rimmer, and Hinton Battle as Cat. Exceptions to this were Llewellyn, who reprised his role as Kryten, and the British actress Jane Leeves, who played Holly. It was written by Linwood Boomer and directed by Jeffrey Melman, with Grant and Naylor on board as creators and executive producers.[158] Llewellyn, Grant and Naylor travelled to America for the filming of the American pilot after production of the fifth series of the UK series. According to Llewellyn and Naylor, the cast were not satisfied with Linwood Boomer's script. Grant and Naylor rewrote the script, but although the cast preferred the re-write, the script as filmed was closer to Boomer's version. The pilot episode includes footage from the UK series in its title sequence, although it did not retain the logo or the theme music of the UK series. During filming of the pilot, the audience reaction was good and it was felt that the story had been well received.[158]

The studio executives were not entirely happy with the pilot, especially the casting, but decided to give the project another chance with Grant and Naylor in charge.[159] The intention was to shoot a "promo video" for the show in a small studio described by the writers as "a garage".[158] New cast members were hired for the roles of Cat (now depicted as female) and Rimmer,[158] Terry Farrell and Anthony Fusco, respectively.[160] This meant that, unlike the original British series, the cast was all Caucasian, which Charles referred to as "White Dwarf".[161] Chris Barrie was asked to play Rimmer in the second pilot, but he declined. With a small budget and deadline, new scenes were quickly shot and mixed in with existing footage of the pilot and UK series V episodes, to give an idea of the basic plot and character dynamics, alongside proposed future episodes, remakes of episodes from the original show.[158] Llewellyn did not participate in the re-shoot, though clips from the British version were used to show the character. Despite the re-shoots and re-casting, the option on the pilot was not picked up.[158]

The cast of both the British and American versions criticised the casting of Red Dwarf USA, particularly the part of Lister, who is portrayed in the British version as a likeable slob, but in the U.S. version as somewhat clean-cut. In the 2004 documentary Dwarfing USA, Danny John-Jules said the only actor who could have successfully portrayed an American Lister was John Belushi. In a 2009 interview on Kevin Pollak's Chat Show, Bierko said that casting him as Lister was a "huge mistake," and also said a "John Belushi-type" would have been better suited to the role.[162]

The American pilot has been heavily bootlegged, but it has never been broadcast on TV in any country. Excerpts from the first pilot are included in Dwarfing USA, a featurette on the making of the pilots included on the DVD release of Red Dwarf's fifth series. Because of rights-clearance issues, no footage from the second pilot is included in the featurette.

CharacterUK series1st US pilot2nd US pilot
Dave ListerCraig Charles
Craig Bierko
Arnold RimmerChris BarrieChris EigemanAnthony Fusco
CatDanny John-JulesHinton BattleTerry Farrell
KrytenDavid Ross (series 2)
Robert Llewellyn (series 3–)
Robert Llewellyn
HollyNorman Lovett (series 1–2, 7–8, 12–13)
Hattie Hayridge (series 3–5)
Jane Leeves

Red Dwarf: The Movie

Since the beginning of the seventh series in 1997, Doug Naylor had been attempting to make a feature-length version of the show.[163] A final draft of the script was written, by Naylor, and flyers began circulating around certain websites. The flyer was genuine and had been distributed by Winchester Films to market the film overseas.[164] Plot details were included as part of the teaser. It was set in the distant future where Homo sapienoids—a race of cyborgs—had taken over the solar system and were wiping out the human race. Spaceships that tried to escape Earth were hunted down "until only one remained... Red Dwarf".

Naylor had scouted Australia to get an idea of locations and finance costs, with pre-production beginning in 2004 and filming planned for 2005.[165] Costumes were made, including Kryten's, and A-list celebrity cameos, including Madonna, were rumoured.[166] However, finding sufficient funding had been difficult. Naylor explained at a Red Dwarf Dimension Jump convention that the film had been rejected by the BBC and the British Film Council.[165]

In 2012, material from early drafts of the film was incorporated into the series X finale "The Beginning".[167]

In 2018, Naylor suggested production of the movie was still under consideration, "The order will probably be another TV series, a stage show and possibly a movie, and I think the guys agree on that. The film is a long shot at this point just because it can take so long to get funding."[168] In late 2019, following the announcement of a feature-length special due for release in 2020, publications such as Yahoo! and The Sun began referring to it as Red Dwarf: The Movie finally seeing realisation.[169]

Role-playing game

Deep7 Press (formerly Deep7 LLC) released Red Dwarf – The Roleplaying Game in February 2003 (although the printed copyright is 2002).[170] Based on the series, the game allows its players to portray original characters within the Red Dwarf universe. Player characters can be human survivors, holograms, "evolved" house pets (cats, dogs, iguanas, rabbits, rats and mice), various types of mechanoid (Series 4000, Hudzen 10 and Waxdroids in the corebook, Series 3000 in the Extra Bits Book) or GELFs (Kinatawowi and Pleasure GELF in the corebook, "Vindaloovians" in the Extra Bits Book).

A total of three products were released for the game: the core 176-page rulebook, the AI Screen (analogous to the Game Master's Screen used in other role-playing games, also featuring the "Extra Bits Book" booklet) and the Series Sourcebook.[171] The Series Sourcebook contains plot summaries of each episode from series I to VIII as well as game rules for all major and minor characters from each series.

The game has been praised for staying true to the comedic nature of the series, for its entertaining writing and for the detail to which the background material is explained.[171][172] However, some reviewers found the game mechanics to be simplistic and uninspiring compared to other science-fiction role-playing games on the market.[173]

Video games

In promotion of the upcoming release of series XI, a mobile game titled Red Dwarf XI - The Game was released to coincide with the release of Twentica on 22 September 2016. Developed by GameDigits, it was intended to release episodically with new releases being based on all the episodes of XI.[174] However, it ceased development following the end of its adaptation of Officer Rimmer to instead focus on developing Red Dwarf XII - The Game,[175] which dropped the episodic format and instead featured minigames such as running through the corridors of spaceships featured in XII, similar to Temple Run, and free-roaming space on board Starbug. Fan reception to the games were mixed, and by late 2019, both games were no longer available to download off Google Play, however Red Dwarf XII - The Game can still be downloaded from Amazon App Store as well as Google Play when linked to via the URL.[176]

Red Dwarf was featured as a hidden area in the Lego video game, Lego Dimensions. The area was featured in the game's Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them expansion pack released on 18 November 2016, where the player was able to explore a small section of the titular ship including the sleeping quarters. References to the most recent series of the show were also included such as Snacky from Give & Take making a non-speaking appearance and the bio-printer from Officer Rimmer being an interactable object.[177]

Red Dwarf Night

On 14 February 1998, the night before the tenth anniversary of the show's first episode broadcast, BBC Two devoted an evening of programmes to the series, under the banner of Red Dwarf Night. The evening consisted of a mixture of new and existing material, and was introduced and linked by actor and fan Patrick Stewart. In addition, a series of special take-offs on BBC Two's idents, featuring the "2" logo falling in love with a skutter, were used.[178] The night began with Can't Smeg, Won't Smeg, a spoof of the cookery programme Can't Cook, Won't Cook, presented by that show's host Ainsley Harriott who had himself appeared as a GELF in the series VI episode "Emohawk: Polymorph II". Taking place outside the continuity of the series, two teams (Kryten and Lister versus Rimmer and Cat, although Cat quickly departs to be replaced by alter ego Duane Dibbley) were challenged to make the best chicken vindaloo.[178]

After a compilation bloopers show, featuring out-takes, the next programme was Universe Challenge, a spoof of University Challenge. Hosted by original University Challenge presenter Bamber Gascoigne, the show had a team of knowledgeable Dwarf fans compete against a team consisting of Chris Barrie, Craig Charles, Robert Llewellyn, Chloë Annett and Danny John-Jules.[178] This was followed by The Red Dwarf A–Z, a half-hour documentary that chose a different aspect of the show to focus on for each letter of the alphabet. Talking heads on the episode included Stephen Hawking, Terry Pratchett, original producer Paul Jackson, Mr Blobby, Patrick Stewart and a Dalek.[179] Finally, the night ended with a showing of the episode "Gunmen of the Apocalypse".[178]

YouTube Geek Week

In August 2013, YouTube held a campaign to promote user-generated content concerning science fiction, comics, gaming, and science.[180] Robert Llewellyn in-character as Kryten hosted the event's daily videoes, making references to Lister, Rimmer, and the Cat whilst presenting featured uploads.[181]

Stellar Rescue

On 1 July 2019, an advert for the AA called "Stellar Rescue" featuring the core Red Dwarf crew premiered on ITV.[182] The advert has Starbug break down on an inhospitable planet with Lister using the AA app to call a mechanic and successfully escape.[183][184][185] On 2 March 2020, a second advert called "Stellar Rescue - Smart Breakdown" was uploaded to the AA official YouTube channel featuring Starbug stranded without power on an ice planet but with Lister again calling a mechanic and saving the day.[186][187][188] An alternate 30-second one accompanied it, with this one serving as the broadcast version.

Red Dwarf: The First Three Million Years

In August 2020, a three-part documentary series entitled 'The First Three Million Years' was aired on Dave and narrated by Doctor Who actor David Tennant. The retrospective contained deleted scenes, behind-the-scenes footage and new interviews, as the cast and crew reflected upon 30 years of the show. A conversation between the four key cast members was filmed on the set of "The Promised Land", as the actors shared memories and anecdotes from their decades of working together[189]

Dave Hollins: Space Cadet

Red Dwarf was originally based on Dave Hollins: Space Cadet, a series of five sketches that aired in the BBC Radio 4 series Son of Cliché, produced by Rob Grant and Doug Naylor in 1984.[190][191]

The sketches recounted the adventures of Dave Hollins (voiced by Nick Wilton), a hapless space traveller who is marooned in space far from Earth.[192] His only steady companion is the computer Hab (voiced by Chris Barrie).[193]

Grant and Naylor chose to use the Dave Hollins: Space Cadet sketches as a base for a television show after watching the 1974 film Dark Star.[194] They changed some elements from the sketches:[195]

The 7-trillion-year figure was first changed to 7 billion years and then to 3 million and the characters of Arnold Rimmer and the Cat were created. The name Dave Hollins was changed to Dave Lister when a football player called Dave Hollins became well known, and Hab was replaced by Holly. One of the voice actors from Son of Cliché, Chris Barrie went on to portray Arnold Rimmer in the Red Dwarf TV series.

Episodes of Dave Hollins can be found on the 2-disc Red Dwarf DVD sets starting with series V and ending with series VIII.

See also


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Further reading