Complete Guide

Writing

The original - often rejected - Red Dwarf pilot script went through some of its many drafts in a Welsh mountain-top domicile owned by Doug Naylor's father. With a logic known only to writers and medical students, returning back one night Rob and Doug elected to chase a rabbit in their car and nearly drove themselves off the edge of the mountain. The fifth day of writing had to be cancelled in favour of rescuing the car from the precarious 'dangling' position it had been left in the night before with a rented tractor.

Thankfully, the writers survived - and so did the script, though not without some changes. Lister's original age, 41, was heavily reduced, as was his original 7 billion years in stasis. The 129 strong crew would be upped to 169 (and, a few seasons later, to a retrospective 1,169) and McIntyre's funeral song changed from Stevie Wonder's Heaven is 10 Zillion Light Years Away to See Ya Later, Alligator. A farewell/funeral scene was also filmed but not included.

The characters were named after various people the writers had known in school (Rimmer was an annoying prefect, while Kochanski was the school bully!) in order to make the environment more solidly believable; although only surnames were used, never the personalities. Rob and Doug were even present in an exam where one entrant was carried out in true Rimmer style! Character traits came from the writers and those around them - apparently Rob's brother was a bit of a Cat-like fashion victim...

With the BBC reluctant to use too much swearing, Rob and Doug elected to create new swear-words in order to replicate natural speech - much as Porridge had used 'naff'. Trying out various vowel-consonant combinations (in the style of existing words), they came up with the likes of gimp, gimboid, goit...and, of course, smeg and smeg-head.

A great many pop culture details were created to make the show feel more 'solid'. Lister can perpetually be found humming Lunar City 7, a song the writers created, and he watches Mugs Murphy cartoons (and apparently bought the T-shirt) - all to give this self-contained universe a solid surrounding. Rimmer's salute, meanwhile, was designed to be his own creation, a salute he was hoping the Space Corps would take on. (These details, noted in the first Red Dwarf novel, were not expanded upon until seasons VII and VIII.)

Showing a concerning amount of commitment to his work, Rob purchased a cat to study. Having decided that Lister would be the only human, the crew had to be made up from 'other' life-forms. With Holly evolving from Son of Cliché's Hab (parodying 2001's Hal) and the left-field notion of an highly-evolved Cat proving a success, Rimmer became the other half of Red Dwarf's 'Odd Couple' - the ice to Lister's fire.

When the script was taken up by the BBC through Paul Jackson Productions, Grant Naylor - a name the writers would only officially adopt with their first Red Dwarf novel - began work on the five other episodes required for a series.

Future Echoes was the first season's major 'science-fiction' episode, and its successful translation to screen saw it moved up to episode two from its original fourth position. The writers drew themselves diagrams to help figure out the complex sequence of events within the episode.

The climax to the season - pre-empting what would happen in future seasons - was set to be a cliff-hanger. At the end of Confidence and Paranoia, Lister's lost love, Kristine (at this time spelt with a 'C') Kochanski, was set to be revived as a hologram. However, a major rethink caused Rob and Doug to instead bring to hologrammatic life a second Arnold Rimmer for a new season finale.

To make way for the new episode - Me2 - another script, about Rimmer going mad and attempting to steal parts of Lister's body, had to be discarded. In the script, Rimmer would wait for the hapless scouser to fall asleep and then poach a limb in order to create himself a new, solid body.

Me2 featured some sequences that never made it to transmission. Having trimmed down scenes featuring both Rimmers for the sake of practicality, a sequence where one Rimmer catches the other sneaking some sleep was excised. Other removals included extra dialogue about the Cat's slinking, defecating and courting, Lister asking the Cat to move into Rimmer's old bunk and another reference to Rimmer's daily goal lists.

Rimmer's Gazpacho Soup Humiliation

Rimmer's Gazpacho Soup humiliation was narrowly avoided by Grant Naylor when they were served the cold soup at a posh lunch, only for Rob to recall, just in time, that it was meant to be that way. Inspiration strikes at the most interesting times...

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