Talkie Toaster this month twiddles his browning knob in the direction of prison inmate and all-round Welsh nutter, Birdman.

Name: Birdman Birdman
Occupation: Prison Inmate
Qualifications: Three years at university. Four years at veterinary college. Twenty years for GBH.
Distinguishing Marks: Encrusted drool beneath mouth. Fetid sores on face (current total 15). Claw marks on right forefinger.
Captain's Comments: Prison inmate on floor 13 whose time in the Hole seems to have sent him a little do-lally. Originally of Welsh origin, Birdman is named for his love of his pet sparrow, Pete, which inmate Kryten managed to de-evolve into a Tyrannosaurus Rex. (Note: Do these guys ever press the right button on anything?)

Howdy doodly-doo!

Oh, yes, hello.

Would you like some toast?

I won't, but maybe Pete would like a few crumbs. Thank you. He's been off his seed ever since that unfortunate business with the...y'know.

The dinosaur?

Ooh, don't say that word! It gets him all upset - you have to spell it out. When he was turned into that D-I-N-N-O... that D-Y-N-O...into the T-rex he got very upset. It's no wonder he went on the rampage. How would you feel if your lovely feathery backside suddenly transformed into something that resembled a scaly green Voltzwagon?


He got ever so hungry, you know. They even fed him a curry! Poor Pete. I heard the blokes in the lab tested the strength of what was left in the bowl, and it actually registered as a chemical weapon.

All this happened after Arnold Rimmer and Dave Lister got hold of a Time Wand...

Well, there you go, see. I met those blokes while I was in The Hole. I tell you, I think the pair of them were one can short of a six pack.

Not very bright, then?

No, I mean the pack of lager they smuggled in was missing a can. That Lister bloke was livid - I think when he gets cut he bleeds Leopard Lager. That there Rimmer was very clever, mind. We had a lovely, cosy chat about my pet bird, Pete, who's nine years old. Which in sparrow years is...nine years old. Which makes him...erm...


Well, yes! So Rimmer's not the only clever one on Red Dwarf then!

Shortly after that, Pete ate you, didn't he? And speaking of food, would you like toasted tea cake?

I think Pete'd choke on the currants. They'd stick in his throat - much like I did in his. He bit off my feet - did you know that? I went from a size nine to a size naught in under two seconds. He meant it in a friendly way though; I think it was just his way of saying he wanted us to be closer. He'd never eaten me before.


How did you get Pete?

In my younger days I was a Canary myself. We used to go out on dangerous suicide missions, just like the young lads do today. I was never very good at them, always coming back alive. On my last mission we were asked to check out a forest moon and as we marched back to our shuttle, I came across a broken-winged Pete.

Where was this?

On the sole of Kill Crazy's boot.

He trod on Pete?

He says it was an accident. I can't imagine why anyone would think he'd harm a defenceless creature.

Apart from the 12 counts of violent conduct on his record...

No, no, no - I don't see why he'd lie to me.

Apart from the 49 counts of fraud on his... never mind. So, why the name Pete?

I named him after Peter Beardsley who starred in the definitive version of Casablanca with Myra Binglebat. "This could be the beginnings of a beautiful mutual compatibility index..." Classic.

Let's talk about the nickname 'Birdman'. I assume that comes from the famous Alcatraz prisoner, Robert Stroud?

That's right. You've heard of him, have you? Stroud developed a love of canaries after he found an injured bird in the recreation yard. I wanted to keep canaries, too, but my request was...misunderstood by the captain. I spent a week with seven members of The Tank's convict army in my cell! They didn't like the cages I can tell you. And you'd be amazed how irate a group of convicted felons can get when you only ever feed them seed and the odd worm.

Anyway, Stroud had something like 300 birds in his collection - which means that he also had the prison's highest allocation of mops, buckets and disinfectant. He even wrote two books on the subject. I wanted to write one of my own, but they won't let me near sharp objects.

Sharp objects?

You know, pens, pencils...

Burt Lancaster famously played the birdman of Alcatraz in the film of the same name. Who would play you in the story of your life?

I dunno, really. Rhys Ifans? Maybe someone who's good with birds.

Like Russell Crowe, you mean?

I was thinking more like Bill Oddie...

Thank you, Birdman. One final question - would you like some toast?