About Red Dwarf


The Crew

Dave Lister

A genial Liverpudlian slob with an unending taste for lager and curry, Lister is an unlikely candidate to be the sole remaining representative of the human race. But that's exactly what he becomes when a radiation disaster wipes out the crew of the mining ship Red Dwarf. In suspended animation at the time of the accident - as a punishment for smuggling a stray cat onboard - Lister is only awoken three million years later, and begins a quest to get home to Earth and to try to discover whether mankind still exists, or if he really is the Last Human.

On the surface, Lister appears to be an aimless drifter - even once describing his occupation as "bum" - but as the series goes on he's shown to have a good heart, a strong moral core, and no small amount of bravery. He's responsible for the existence of the entire cat race - who evolved during his three million years away from the very stray he'd brought onboard - and rescued the mechanoid Kryten from a derelict ship. As well as his long-term goal of reaching Earth, he continued to carry a torch for his lost love, Kristine Kochanski - and eventually fell in love with her parallel universe duplicate after she became stranded on the ship with them. He also, via a convoluted set of circumstances (and a time machine) was eventually revealed to have been his own father, thus ensuring the continued survival of the human race in an endless loop.

Craig Charles was a performance poet who had made several appearances on UK comedy programmes when he was asked by the producers of Red Dwarf to look over the script for the pilot episode, to advise them on whether the character of the Cat could be seen as a racist caricature. Craig agreed that it wasn't, and loved the script so much he asked if he could audition. Although Rob and Doug had originally envisioned Lister as a much older character, they agreed - and the rest is history.

Appearing in Red Dwarf launched Craig to cult stardom, and throughout the 1990s he carved out a successful career as a presenter on shows such as Cyberzone, Takeshi's Castle and - most famously - Robot Wars. He also headlined the Channel 4 sitcom Captain Butler in 1997. More recently, he's become best-known for his long-running role as cab driver Lloyd Mullaney in the ITV soap Coronation Street, and has hosted The Craig Charles Funk & Soul Show on BBC Radio 6music since 2002.

Arnold Rimmer

Lister's bunkmate aboard Red Dwarf, and his ideological opposite in almost every respect. Arnold Judas Rimmer is neurotic, anally-retentive, prissy, pompous, obnoxious, cowardly, obsessed with rules and order - and as the second-least-important crew member, obsessed with giving the only person he outranks (i.e. Lister) a hard time. The festering resentment of a childhood in which his three brothers were favoured by his parents and given all the breaks in life, while he had to try and climb the ranks the hard way, is amplified even further when he dies long before his time in the accident that wipes out the Red Dwarf crew (an accident that he just happens to possibly be a tiny bit responsible for) and is resurrected as an intangible, computer-powered hologram.

Just like Lister, however, Rimmer reveals hidden depths as the series progresses - and while the pair's relationship perhaps never quite reaches the level of "friendship", there's nevertheless a certain amount of grudging respect underneath the constant sniping. We come to understand his neuroses and sympathise with a life spent almost entirely unloved - and we also learn that in another universe, there's an Arnold Rimmer who is a dashing, heroic adventurer. Just one small incident in the childhood of "Ace" sent him down a different path from the Rimmer we know - but his very existence demonstrates the capacity for heroism in "our" Arnold, if only he could figure out where his spine is.

Chris Barrie was a noted impressionist who'd worked with Rob Grant and Doug Naylor on Spitting Image and Red Dwarf's radio precursor Son of Cliché before auditioning... to play Lister. Eventually, however, he headed off stiff competition including future Hollywood stars Alan Rickman and Alfred Molina to win the role of Rimmer. In 1997, citing a heavy workload, Chris decided to scale back his involvement in the show, and appeared in only four episodes of Series VII before the character of Rimmer was written out. However, his experience making those episodes proved so enjoyable that he immediately agreed to return for Series VIII.

Outside Red Dwarf, Chris is best-known for another sitcom, playing the title role of smarmy leisure centre manager Gordon Brittas in The Brittas Empire for seven series in the 1990s. He's also had a brief flirtation with Hollywood, playing the role of Hilary the butler alongside Angelina Jolie in the two Tomb Raider films. His passionate interest in cars and engineering, meanwhile, have led to him presenting several documentary series and specials for the Discovery Channel.

The Cat

The last surviving member (at least... that we know of!) of the race of Cat-people that evolved from Lister's pet, the fact that the Cat has no name is perhaps the most obvious indication of his character: he is the centre of his own universe, and doesn't need a name, because why would he need to distinguish himself from anyone else? In the early series, he shows particularly feline characteristics, from his preening narcissism to his desire to constantly play with his food (and consuming gigantic quantities of fish into the bargain). As he spends several years on the ship with Lister and Rimmer, however, a more rounded personality begins to develop: he maintains his vanity and obsession with being "cool", but also becomes more of an intrepid adventurer and valued ship's pilot. All the while, though, the terrible spectre of Duane Dibbley - the desperately uncool "duke of dork" alter ego - hangs over him...

Danny John-Jules had begun his career as a dancer and singer in West End productions - including being one of the original cast of Starlight Express - and also had a small role in the movie Little Shop of Horrors (1986). He turned up to his Red Dwarf audition an hour late, wearing a zoot suit borrowed from his father, and acting entirely in character as the Cat - from that moment on, there was simply no danger of the part going to anybody else. After Red Dwarf brought him into acting, his highest-profile roles have included the popular childrens' series Maid Marian and Her Merry Men and M.I. High, the movie Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, and the crime drama Death in Paradise. He has also hosted several travelogues based around his other main passion - motorbiking - and in 2013-14 produced his first short film, Bucky.

Kryten

The mechanoid Kryten (full name Kryten 2X4B-523P... but he hates the "jerky" middle name) was discovered by the crew aboard the crashed vessel Nova 5, where he had been dutifully tending to its three female crew members... despite the small matter of their having been dead for centuries. He joined them aboard Red Dwarf and was taught by Lister to break his servile programming and go off to find a new life for himself - whereupon he promptly crashed into an asteroid. Found and rebuilt (with a slightly altered voice and personality), he became the crew's go-to for scientific knowledge (despite his original speciality being in the cleaning and maintenance of toilets), while his beloved "Mr Lister" all the while persisted in trying to get him to embrace human emotions and rebel against his programming. Very occasionally, he succeeds, although he still has difficulty calling Rimmer a "smeghead".

Robert Llewellyn took on the role of Kryten at the beginning of Series III, after the writers decided to upgrade him from a one-off guest appearance to a recurring role. In that first appearance, at the beginning of Series II, he'd been played by David Ross - but Ross was unavailable for the next series due to a scheduling conflict, and so the call went out for a replacement. Robert was a noted writer and standup who had been a regular on the Edinburgh Festival circuit, and it was here that his show Mammon, Robot Born of Woman was seen by Red Dwarf producer Paul Jackson. Donning a cod-Canadian accent to play Kryten - in contrast to the posh, English butler voice deployed by Ross - Robert quickly settled into the role despite the punishing physical demands of the makeup and costume, and also found time to play several other guest roles, including Jim Reaper, the Data Doctor, and Kryten's "brother" Able. Outside the series, he's best known for presenting the Channel 4 series Scrapheap Challenge, and is also an accomplished novelist and non-fiction author, with the final instalment of his News From... sci-fi trilogy due to be published in 2015.

Holly

Red Dwarf's onboard computer, with an operating IQ of 6,000 (the same as 6,000 P.E. teachers), Holly acted quickly when the radiation leak killed the crew, immediately steering the ship safely out of the solar system and continuing to do so until the radiation levels had died down. Unfortunately, the attendant three million years of solitude had a bizarre effect on Holly, and by the time of Lister's re-emergence he had begun to show signs of computer senility. He unwittingly allowed the ship to accelerate to light speed, spent his days inventing a new form of music ("Hol Rock", based on a ten-note "decative" scale), and played the ultimate prank on the crew when pretending to have been replaced by the despotic Queeg 500. After falling in love with his parallel universe female counterpart Hilly, Holly eventually changed his avatar to resemble her, and the new Holly continued to operate the ship until she was separated from the crew by their loss of Red Dwarf. Eventually he was rediscovered - having been reset back to his factory settings and default visage - and reunited with the gang, but several years later an overrunning bath shorted out his circuits, taking him offline. He has yet to be repaired.

Norman Lovett was another actor who had auditioned to play Rimmer, but his laconic, deadpan standup style proved to be ideally suited to Holly. The character was originally intended to be a voice only, and was initially filmed that way, but eventually became a floating onscreen head before completion of the first series. Due to workload conflicts, Norman left the show after series two, but returned to reprise his role at the end of the seventh series and for the duration of the eighth. He continues to work actively in standup, and has taken headlining roles in sitcoms I Lovett and Asylum.

Hattie Hayridge was a standup comedian whose own style had already seen her draw comparison to Lovett - making her a natural choice to play his female parallel universe doppelganger in the Series II finale. Norman's departure before the beginning of Series III necessitated a quick replacement - and although other actors auditioned, having already had some familiarity with playing a version of the character made Hattie a shoo-in. The heavy retooling given to the show for Series VI, however, included writing out Holly - and so Hattie's last appearance was at the end of Series V.