Red Dwarf. Image shows from L to R: Cat (Danny John-Jules), Rimmer (Chris Barrie), Lister (Craig Charles), Kryten (Robert Llewellyn). Copyright: UKTV.

Red Dwarf

Dave and BBC Two sitcom set on a space ship. 74 episodes (12 series), 1988 - 2020. Stars Chris Barrie, Craig Charles, Danny John-Jules, Robert Llewellyn and others.

Series XII, Episode 4 is repeated on Friday at 10pm.


Two pilot episodes were made for an American version of Red Dwarf. However, neither was considered a success, and thus a series was never made.

For the first series, the producers had to go to a local pub and persuade drinkers to fill the gaps in the studio audience.

By Series 8, reflecting the success of the series, producers were having to turn away over 200 fans from recordings as the demand to see the show live was too great.

The demand for tickets for the show's return in 2012 (Series 10) was so great the ticket company's website crashed within minutes of the tickets being announced.

Series 7 and the 2009 specials did not have a live audience. This was to allow greater freedom in camera positions and set design. Series 7 still featured a laugh track (recorded via screenings), however the 2009 series was completely free of a laugh track.

The pilot script was written in 1983, but the series did not make it on air until 1988 as the script was continually rejected by the BBC.

The show only got its break when (fan of the project) Paul Jackson moved to BBC Manchester and managed to obtain a budget from his bosses for a second series of Happy Families (which was never to be made) and then craftily re-allocated this money to make the Red Dwarf pilot.

Kryten is named after the title character in J.M. Barrie's The Admirable Crichton - Crichton was an effortlessly competent butler to an upper-class Victorian family.

At first Alan Rickman was considered for the part of Rimmer, while Alfred Molina was a potential Lister. However, it was decided that, due to their movie work, it might prove too difficult to get the pair to return should the show become a success and thus the idea was dropped.

Norman Lovett (Holly) originally auditioned for the part of Rimmer.

Chris Barrie (Rimmer) originally auditioned for the part of Lister.

Meanwhile Craig Charles was originally offered the part of The Cat, but he asked to audition for the role of Lister instead.

Danny John-Jules arrived for his audition as The Cat in character and in full costume.

David Ross, who played Kryten in the character's first appearance, was unable to return to the role when the writers decided to make the robot a regular character because he was appearing in the play A Flea In Her Ear.

Craig Charles and Chris Barrie have admitted that, in the early series, off-camera they strongly disliked each other.

Doug Naylor says that when he was talking to an American production company about the potential Red Dwarf movie one executive suggested Hugh Grant should be signed up to play Lister in the film version.

Norman Lovett (Holly) left after the second series because of the pressures of commuting between his home in Edinburgh and the production in London and Manchester.

He is said to be unhappy that Hattie Hayridge was brought in to replace him. There was no Holly in Series 6 (the writers decided Kryten's presence made the role superfluous), however when the character of Holly returned it was Lovett who took the role back.

However, the character was cut from the the 2009 specials (the explanation being the crew couldn't drag a computer around with them on Earth) - something Lovett was upset about. He wrote on his blog: "Not one of the cast have got in touch with me which just shows how self centred they are. I'm not bitter just unhappy about the way I have been treated by them. By the way GrantNaylor you still owe me money for the Red Dwarf movie rehearsals."


The running order of Series 4 was changed due to the outbreak of the second Gulf War. The intended first episode, Meltdown, was replaced with Camille, as it was felt that the former's anti-war message was not appropriate.

Gareth Gwenlan was the Head of BBC Comedy when creators Rob Grant and Doug Naylor were first attempting to get Red Dwarf made. Gwenlan was opposed to the show, reportedly saying "You can't have a sitcom in space. There's no settee." As a result, when the series did make it to air, the creators decided to use Gwenlan's surname as one of the show's made-up swear-words.

Some fans have spotted that the four main stars of Red Dwarf - Craig Charles, Chris Barrie, Danny John-Jules and Robert Llewellyn - all have first names for surnames. All four were also born on a leap year (1964, 1960, 1960, 1956).

In the early series, the rubber costume Robert Llewellyn had to put on to play Kryten was said to be a nightmare to wear as it was suffocatingly hot and took ages to mould to the face. Although make-up technology has since improved, in 1989 it apparently took seven hours each day to put the mask on the actor.

Llewellyn has made four appearances without the make-up on. He played Jim Reaper in Episode 3.6; a human Kryten in Episode 4.2; Bongo in Episode 4.5 and the Data Doctor in Episode 8.2.

According to a timeline of events given in Series 2 Episode 4, Stasis Leak, the fatal cadmium leak that killed Red Dwarf's entire crew happened on 23rd March 2077, or within a few days of.

The origins of Red Dwarf can be traced back to Son Of Cliché, a 1983 radio series written by Grant and Naylor, and a sketch about a man stuck as the sole survivor on a space ship after an explosion.