Complete Guide


The writing of Red Dwarf VI was a hurried affair. The BBC had given the harsh deadline of a Spring broadcast and, under a 'now or never' threat, the writers began work on scripts which would still be under construction as the shows were recorded.

Craig Charles had voiced his disappointment at Rimmer's active sex life in series V and wanted more snogs. Always willing to oblige, Rob and Doug gave him three - one with an AR simulation, one with a hairy GELF and one with a giant cockroach. (The possibility was also mooted that a cyberspace couple could steal Rimmer and Lister's bodies for the ultimate kiss, but the idea was shelved.)

With fans disappointed with series V's lack of Holly and Red Dwarf, Rob and Doug elected to make changes. Holly had lost much of the expository dialogue to Kryten and many of the 'dumb' jokes to the Cat and a change was needed. Confounding all expectations, they elected to lose Red Dwarf and its computer completely. The hope was to give the show a greater sense of urgency with more dynamic plotting and less 'sit around chatting' time.

This also gave the Cat more time amongst the crew. While Danny had always enjoyed doing a quick line and then fleeing, it was decided to bring him into the mix more fully. His Cat instincts (sense of smell especially) were put to use, but otherwise it was reasoned that, after so much time with humans, the Cat might lose some of his feline nature.

Another recurring theme came in the form of the Space Corps Directives. Each week Rimmer would misquote a directive and be corrected by Kryten - following on from Rimmer's first glimpse of the directive list in last season's Quarantine. Indeed, the very format of the series - dialogue scene, emergency, cockpit scene, (crash) landing - followed something of a structure, influenced in part by Rob and Doug's experiences in the States with Red Dwarf USA. (Psirens' Captain Tau was named after that Red Dwarf's captain.)

The next fundamental change came with Rimmer's hologram status. Hardlight was introduced for the eating scene in Legion, but was eventually retained for the rest of the series - the writer's were sick of Rimmer being unable to touch or feel and, therefore, be under threat. The previous series had already needed to work around this problem three times - for Holoship, Terrorform and Quarantine - and hardlight provided a long-term solution.

While a proper 'series opening' had never been written (the episode order was usually decided after shooting had wrapped) the writers decided to break the mould for VI. Psirens was written with a nod to the BBC's request for an episode that recapped the vital information. Lister's emergence from deep sleep echoed his original departure from stasis, and his memory loss allowed Kryten to remind him (and the audience) who he was and what was going on - it also re-established Kochanski, who was to be used later in the episode.

The script to Psirens was published in Primordial Soup, a collection of six of Red Dwarf's "least worst" scripts. The BBC had elected to save the broadcast of Red Dwarf VI until October and so details of the first episode were prematurely exposed. Cut sections included a second Space Corps Directive gag, Lister's collection of ex-girlfriend pictures, the details of how he got a tattoo, and a moment where the psiren's blood trail was revealed to be an illusion and actually the psiren in disguise.

The themes introduced in the first episode made Red Dwarf VI the first to have a full story arc and, for the most part, a strict episode order (although Rimmerworld and Emohawk were eventually swapped). This would go on to massively influence the later series.

Gunmen of the Apocalypse - originally set at night (a cunning plan to avoid the weather changes on set) and entitled High Midnight - finally gave the writers their chance to do that SF staple, the Western episode. Having done a recce of the likely location (claiming all the while that the episode was written and they knew what would happen - which was not entirely the case) the episode went on to win the International Emmy.

Gunmen's script featured a scene, deleted from the shoot, where Lister deals with a threatening cowboy by covering him in soapy water then throwing knives to give him a shave and a hair-cut. (Although Lister considered the result unsatisfactory - the sideburns were uneven.) It was also a rare episode to leave its villains undefeated - the simulant ship would return as a threat in Rimmerworld.

With a strong fan following and the cry going out for another glimpse of favoured alternate personalities Ace Rimmer and Duane Dibbley, Rob and Doug elected to cram all their 'sequel' material into one episode - Emohawk - Polymorph II. (The episode title was originally the other way around - Polymorph II - Emohawk - until someone pointed out that it sounded like a football score.) Plenty of time was given over to new ideas - the Kinitawowi GELF tribe and the Space Filth - before a new polymorph was introduced to unleash the two popular characters.

An idea was mooted at one stage to have the Cat be permanently affected by his alter-ego, turning into Duane whenever he reached a high stress level (where his clutzy actions would forever be breaking parts of Starbug). In the end it was decided that Duane - showing his actual personality for the first time in this episode - should simply come and go, although the stress idea would be given to Rimmer for Rimmerworld.

Out of Time also featured another idea that the writers had toyed with for a while - Lister as an android. The thought of how Kryten might react to discovering that he outranks Lister was considered as an episode of its own, but eventually made its way into Out of Time.