Mr Flibble Talks To... Encasing Kryten
In 1992, Universal attempted an American Red Dwarf pilot. Robert Llewellyn was asked to reprise his role as Kryten, and the hunt began for a costumer who could bring the Mechanoid to life Stateside. Mr Flibble tries out his Americanisms on the costumer and fan Joseph Kerezman.
26 April, 2002
Joseph Kerezman
Mr Flibble's right hand provided by
Andrew Ellard

Mr Flibble began by muttering about getting himself a new tailor. Andrew pointed out that Mr F's tailoring amounts to one small bow-tie, permanently fixed to his chin. Then he asked Joseph about working on SCIENCE FICTION costumes.

I enjoy doing unusual costumes, There are so many people that do "modern" costuming, I just love the futuristic. It's also never the same two days in a row, so I decided to make the speciality costume my path.

Tell me about your experiences on the TNG and DS9 costumes...

I worked on three episodes of TNG doing second unit wardrobe - Devils Due, The Wounded and Data's Day. I made sure the costumes were on the actors correctly and nothing was missing, I also helped make the original Cardassian costumes used in The Wounded.

They changed the design for DS9. I made several prop bags for the pilot episode, including the one Odo turned himself into to sneak on board the Cardassian ship, and a bunch of 'shopping bags' seen on the promenade being carried by people for the entire run of the show.

And later, on Enterprise, I worked with HMS Creative Production on the pilot. I made all the Klingon Holsters and the Suliban holsters. I also made protective carrying bags for the hand props that HMS made. I am working with Gene Roddenberry Jr. developing new products for - the first being an official Enterprise arm patch that fans can buy.

How did you get involved with interviewing for the RED DWARF USA Pilot?

I worked on a show called Great Scott! that starred Tobey "Spiderman" Maguire. I made him a costume for a character called 'Swell Bod'. One of the producers of that show - Todd Stevens - was working on Red Dwarf and thought I could design it, so he called me and we arranged an interview for the job with Linwood Boomer. Todd told me they wanted the US show to have the same look as the first two series of the original show. So I came to the interview with a "Rimmer" costume shirt, tie and pants.

Mr Flibble puzzled over this for a moment. Rimmer pants? Does that mean they were on a coat-hanger? Finally he bridged American-English language gap and realised Joseph was talking about trousers.

My copies of the first two series were [taped from] PBS, and the PAL transfers weren't very clear - so I came up with my own 'Jupiter Mining Corp./Red Dwarf' patches that I hand painted. The shirt looked like what they wanted, and I was doing well in the interview. Then Mr. Boomer asked a bout the Cat. I said I would shop his clothes on Melrose Avenue - there are a lot of shops on Melrose that have some very wild clothes, cool enough for the Cat, yet still unusual enough that people would think he had made them himself.

Mr. Boomer told me they did not want our Cat to be as "cartoony" as the one on the British show. When I left, I thought I had a good shot at the job - it went to another person, but I was relatively inexperienced with designing a whole show at that time. On a brighter note, Todd called me and said they wanted me to do Kryten alongside the people at Prop'er Effects [now HMS Creative Production].

What was your STARTING POINT? The British costume?

I was again told they wanted things to resemble the original show as much as possible. So we were given two or three pictures of Kryten, and two episodes - Camille and The Last Day - to work from. I had the first four series on tape myself, so that helped too. Then we were told Robert would be coming over to play Kryten! I love the original show and the idea that we would get to work with at least one of the original actors was just great!

Mr Flibble noticed that he wasn't asked to appear in the US pilot. He then sulked for twenty minutes. You served as both co-designer on the costume and set costumer...

I primarily make the 'soft' parts of costume. Mike Moore - a long time friend and prop maker - and I designed and made the costume together. We did the basic design, based on the British costume, together, and then I made all the 'soft' parts and Mike did the chest armour and belt boxes. He trimmed them and handed them off to me to integrate them with the cloth parts I was producing. I also was Robert's 'Personal Costumer' on set - since I knew how the costume had to be put on, and I could fix any thing that may have broken or ripped.

How did you enjoy working so closely with ROBERT LLEWELLYN?

I can't remember ever having a better time working with any actor before or since. I even got a mention in his book, The Man in the Rubber Mask. I am "The Man with a Beard"! (Laughs) I have an autographed copy of the book where he said he was sorry for forgetting my name!

Robert was very helpful in the creating of the costume. We had been told we would have access to the series V costume as reference, but that didn't happen. Robert told us why - right after the last shot of Series V, it met with a horrible accident and the armour was pretty much destroyed. Robert explained he was standing with the armour in his hand and one of the costume people asked him to hand it to them. As he did, the thing broke into pieces. Robert had been standing on it. He said it was so uncomfortable he just could not stand wearing it for another series, so he ensured he would not have to! (Laughs)

Hold still... your nose is coming off

He found your costume very comfortable, I believe...

Yes, he was extremely happy with what was done. We asked him a lot of questions about the costume, and what he liked and disliked about it. I told him we wanted him to be as comfortable as possible... then we encased him in plaster.

Comfy Cozzie

We used the body mould to make the armour. I made his new body suit out of heavy weight spandex, and spandex over quilted foam. About a week or so after the initial measurements and mould were done, I took the costume to the set for the first fitting. I dressed Robert and he was very happy. He partially ran out onto the set and over to Rob and Doug and started telling them "This is what I have been going on about all these years!" - and then he sat on the floor! (Laughs)

I sort of yelled at him to get up. When he did I had to brush the dirt and grime off his butt. Sound stages are filthy for the most part and this was a brand new costume! He did a few more moves to show Rob and Doug how easy it was to move and told them he wished his other suit had been as comfortable.

He also liked the gloves I made him. They were made of flesh-tone heavy-weight spandex and had 'robotic' detail added. Robert mentioned his gloves in England had been latex moulded over leather gloves and could not be cleaned easily so his hands smelled like "decaying flesh" - I think that was the term he used - for a month after a series was finished. (Laughs) He told us he had used the same pair of hands for all 3 series he had been in at that time!

Fragrant Fingers

What was the atmosphere like on set? I believe there were two scripts...

I was only there a few times before filming and things seemed a little subdued. I had read the first script, thought it was just borrowed from a few British episodes, but since it was supposed to introduce the show to an American audience it was okay. I thought it was funny enough for the pilot.

When I came to do Robert's fitting I was handed a new script. Robert told me Rob and Doug had re-written it, so I read it and thought, 'Well, that's better! This is very funny!' I didn't hear, until I read Robert's book, what had gone on with it.

What did you think of the finished show?

Hmmn. Well. I liked it, pretty much. I felt Robert and Jane Leeves [Holly] stole the show and were very funny! The rest... well, it was okay. I never liked the red dot on Rimmer's forehead. Mike Moore made a couple of H's out of 'holographic plastic' that we brought with us to filming in hopes they would change over; they just didn't want to.

I was told by one of the producers that nobody really liked the rest of the costumes, the 'Dwarf' uniforms. They worked all weekend before shooting trying to fix them. The odd colour jumpsuits with ties never worked for me. I thought it needed a more 'real' look, like the original show.

One of my favourite things on the show was getting to meet Rob Grant and Doug Naylor - and I was a fan of the British show, so it was great that Robert introduced me to them. Even after Red Dwarf USA was over I stayed in contact with all of them. 'Team Kryten' made crew jackets for the American Red Dwarf and we sent one to each Rob and Doug. I got a nice letter thanking us for the "brutal jackets".

Group Hug

After that, they had coats made for the cast and crew for series VI, and Rob and Doug sent one each to me and Mike. It is one of my prized crew jackets. It was even suggested that I may be invited over to work on an upcoming Red Dwarf series. That hasn't happened, but I hope that the invitation may still show up someday - I would love to work on Red Dwarf again!

I actually still have Robert's costume from the show, and I still think of Red Dwarf as one of the high points of my career. I was sorry the show didn't get picked up, I would have loved to continue to have worked on it.

Finally, what are you doing now, and what have you got coming up?

I am working with Gene Roddenberry's son on developing new Star Trek products for, and making the costume orders that come in to And I am taking care of my three-year-old daughter, Crystal - a full time job all by itself! (Laughs)

Mr Flibble enjoyed talking to Joseph Kerezman, and now that it's over... Mr Flibble is very cross.

You can link to Joseph's website from our Links Section.