That’s right. Former host of American talk show The Late Late Show Craig Ferguson’s first ever acting gig was playing Lister’s disembodied confidence in Confidence & Paranoia, an episode voted by fans as one of the worst episodes of Red Dwarf. Can you believe that accent? Ferguson faintly recalls his time on the show: “There was a hotel in Manchester called The Britannia that we stayed at, which was absolutely notorious. I mean, it was crazy. And Craig Charles and I were both big drinkers at the time, so it was a bit nutty.”
If I can make a request to the makers of the next series, let’s get Lister’s Confidence back. It’s not like Ferguson has a demanding talk show to host anymore!
In what is wildly regarded as one of the best Red Dwarf episodes ever, Back to Reality, Timothy Spall plays Andy, the man in charge of releasing the boys from the virtual reality machine. Nerds will recognize Spall from Harry Potter, but he’s also been in…well, everything, from Topsy-Turvy to Blandings, Sweeney Todd to The King’s Speech. Having recently done a The Tale of Little Pig Robinson dressed as a pig, Spall was one of few people Robery Llewellyn could commiserate with over the horrors of having to wear rubber masks.
Brian Cox & Sarah Alexander
You’ll know Emmy-winning actor Brian Cox from big action movies like the Bourne trilogy, Troy, and Braveheart. Whovians will recognize him from An Adventure in Space and Time as Sydney Newman. (He also did the voice of an Ood once.) In one of Dwarf’s Ace Rimmer episodes, Stoke Me a Clipper, Mr. Cox plays the medieval king in Lister’s virtual reality game. You’ll also recognize Sarah Alexander, who went on to do Smack the Pony and Green Wing, Teachers, Stardust, Jonathan Creek, and more.
Comedian Ruby Wax, who is married to Red Dwarf director Ed Bye, plays newscaster Blaize Falconberger in Timeslides, reporting on Lister’s wild success after he goes back in time and invents tension sheets (red bubble wrap).
This is only a surprise if you haven’t seen Red Dwarf lately, so it’s a bit of a bonus. Did you recognize Lister’s best friend Peterson as Mark Williams, who plays Ron’s dad in Harry Potter, Rory’s dad in Doctor Who, Beach in S1 of Blandings, and Billy the goat man in Neil Gaiman’s Stardust?
Resources: The AV Club The Man in the Rubber Mask by Robert Llewellyn