Red Dwarf X's premier on Dave tonight sees the return of one of British TV’s longest running sitcoms so we here at FemaleFirst have taken a look back at the rise and fall of Red Dwarf.
While the show’s meant to make a comeback, in 1988, the show nearly didn’t happen at all after an electricians strike nearly scuppered the series and cast changes were being made up until the very last minute and one BBC exec wanted the show canned as it didn’t feature a sofa.
How Craig Charles became involved was also somewhat haphazard, as originally he’d only been used as a consultant to make sure that people wouldn’t think of the ‘Cat’ character as being racially offensive. Charles, a ‘punk-poet’ at the time, then came on to the show as the ‘Lister’ everyman character. Even Chris Barrie was a replacement, as the ‘Ripper’ the role that was set to define him originally meant to go to Alfred Molina.
Obviously inspired by classic novel Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy and the sardonic movie Dark Star, Red Dwarf’s charms were in its characters, as they were all perfectly terrible and brilliantly relatable.
While other sci-fi drama shows always featured heroes of skill, strength and intelligence, Red Dwarf offered an array of buffoons.
From the last human alive being an idiot and hologram of the ships most pompous nobody, to a robot obsessed with ironing and a cripplingly vain hyper evolved cat, the entire crew was barely one functional person between them. Add in a ship’s computer that was about as much use as a turnip, and all the sci-fi tropes were lampooned.
Having narrowly made it to a second series, Red Dwarf took flight, with the show’s brilliantly obnoxious characters fully taking shape and the plotlines finally got to the levels of Douglas Adams inspired silliness that the show’s creators had always wanted.
For the next three years, the show grew from strength to strength, fantastically mixing the banal and the impossible with impeccable comedic timing and becoming a firm fan favourite on the BBC.
Come the show’s fifth season, the show had started to run out of steam a little, and both the fifth and sixth series of the show weren’t quite about to match the brilliance of the first few years.
The breakup of the creative partnership of Rob Grant and Doug Naylor was a bad sign though, with the show’s next two series and the Back To Earth special being mere shadows of their brilliant forbears. Losing the studio audience, gaining a whole bunch of characters and losing the low budget, bodged together charm of the first few years hurt the show massively.
Thankfully though, this latest re-incarnation of the comedy is exponentially better, seamlessly picking up the charming, low-fi comedy of the Red Dwarf as if it’s never been away. For those who’ve missed the world’s only space fairing slob, it’s been far too long.
Red Dwarf X starts tonight on Dave at 9pm.
FemaleFirst Cameron Smith