10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Red Dwarf


What fictional character–more famous than Kryten–drove the same tank that appears in Beyond a Joke during the Pride and Prejudice Land virtual reality game?


In Beyond a Joke, Kryten’s hackles are up when the crew doesn’t come to dinner, so he plugs himself into Kochanski’s Jane Austin game and blows up a gazebo with a T-72 tank. This tank had been used in the film Goldeneye, driven by literature and film’s favorite 007 James Bond, played by Pierce Brosnan. The explosion on the set of Red Dwarf was horrendously miscalculated and blew out the windows in the surrounding areas. After joining the writing staff this season, this is one of the few scenes written by Robert Llewellyn. He had planned to write himself out of the episode once his head explodes after Lister asks for ketchup with his lobster, but he wound up not only playing Kryten but also Kryten’s drug-addled brother Able.

Bonus fact: Robert Llewellyn’s only contribution as writer to series X was, “It’s all perfectly hygienic, sir,” after Kryten is caught drying spoons with the heat outlet located in his rear.

What is Red Dwarf‘s relation to the Tate Modern art museum?

tate-modern-att3Many scenes of Red Dwarf were shot at the Tate Modern…except, it wasn’t the Tate Modern back then. The Tate Modern wasn’t opened until 2000, before which the building was the Bankside Power Station, which had been vacant since 1981. Psirens, an episode that used this location heavily, was filmed in 1993. As much as series X goes back to Dwarf‘s roots, you see far fewer scenes inside power plants and abandoned warehouses, partially because their “beloved” power station was converted into a popular modern art gallery.

Bonus fact: The building where they filmed Justice was also used as the Toot Sweet factory in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. 

When was the first time Robert Llewellyn worked with Norman Lovett on Red Dwarf?

urlRemarkably, Llewellyn’s Kryten doesn’t share a scene with Lovett’s Holly until season 8. This is the result of both characters being portrayed by multiple actors. In Kryten’s debut (season 2, episode 1, 1998), Kryten does share screen time with Lovett’s Holly, but Kryten is played by David Ross (also the voice of Talkie Toaster). Llewellyn’s Kryten doesn’t come on the scene until season 3, at which point, Norman Lovett has been replaced by Hattie Hayridge. It isn’t until season 8 (technically the very end of season 7 as a teaser for next season) that Lovett reprises his role as Holly.

But it isn’t the first time Llewellyn had ever met Lovett. They’d bumped into each other on the comedy circuit. In fact, in Llewellyn’s The Man in the Rubber Mask, he recounts the time Lovett asked him to time how long it was between when Lovett got on stage until he started talking. The man is a master at making people laugh by just standing on stage and doing nothing.

In Back to Earth, why do you only see the Starbug car from one side?

carbugCraig Charles being a regular on Coronation Street has its advantages. When the script for Back to Earth said, Location: Coronation Street, they didn’t have to mock up a set. They got to film on the real live Coronation Street. Problem is, when someone accidentally locked the keys inside the Smart car disguised as Starbug, it made the conversation with AA (Triple A, if you like) a little awkward. Is there any way to prove that it wasn’t a prank call when the crew of Dwarf phoned up to say they’d locked their keys inside their spaceship on Coronation Street? Luckily, someone in the props department smashed out the window so they could continue the shoot. Of course, that meant not shooting Starbug from one side.

What was the on-set motto of season 5?

red_dwarf_x_episode02_04Every time a prop broke during season 5, they’d say, “That lasted a long time, guy,” as started by Danny John-Jules. Craig Charles was most notably the one to break props just by touching them. In The Man with the Rubber Mask, Llewellyn recounts the time he had to warn a pilot of this fact as he let Craig sit in the pilot’s seat in the cockpit of a passenger plane in mid-flight.

Which GELF actor celebrated the tenth anniversary of Red Dwarf with a cooking special?

Screen-Shot-2014-11-02-at-17.43.35Can’t Cook, Won’t Cook was a TV game show 1995-2000, hosted by Ainsley Harriott, who also played a GELF in Red Dwarf (Emohawk). For Dwarf‘s tenth anniversary, Harriott hosted Can’t Smeg, Won’t Smeg, which featured Charles, Barrie, Llewellyn, and John-Jules playing Lister, Rimmer, Kryten, and Duane Dibbley as they competed for the best dish. Chloe Annett also makes a guest appearance. This appears as a feature on the season 4 DVD.

Who played baby Lister in Ouroboros?

WtmawxqlwfsbbigDanny John-Jules’ nephew Alexander John-Jules played baby Lister, who is found under a pool table and (*spoilers*) turns out to be Lister’s own son. Ouroboros is the symbol of the snake eating its own tail.

Bonus fact: Robert Llewellyn’s daughter is named Holly, but for completely different reasons than related to the Red Dwarf shipboard computer.

Is the laugh track live?

Season 1-6 of Red Dwarf was shot in front of a live studio audience, so the laugh track is live and real. Season 7 was not shot in front of a live studio audience, but the episodes were screened to an audience, and their laughter was captured for the laugh track. None of the laughter is canned. Back to Earth has no audience or laugh track. Season X goes back to having a live audience with live laughter. On the DVD of season 7, you can try out the show without the laugh track. Personally, I found the laugh track makes all the difference, and I think that’s why Back to Earth didn’t quite work for me.

What is Kryten’s accent supposed to be?

krytenKryten’s accent is supposed to be a cross between Canadian and Bostonian.

Bonus fact: The runner on early Red Dwarf couldn’t pronounce Kryten with their French accent, so the runner, and eventually everyone in the cast, started calling Robert Llewellyn “Cretin.”

What was written under one of the beds in the rehearsal room on early Red Dwarf?

Norman Lovett was here for quite a while.

CoverIf you’re a Red Dwarf fan, do buy a copy of Robert Llewellyn’s tell-all book The Man in the Rubber Mask (Amazon). It not only goes all the way from season 3 to X, but it also includes a long section on what it was like doing the American remake, as Llewellyn was the only member of the original cast sent to  Hollywood to participate in it. You’ll get vivid scenes with all your favorites–Craig Charles always bumming cigarettes off people and setting fire to Llewellyn’s scripts, Danny John-Jules comparing the salaries of celebrities, and Chris Barrie talking cars. There’s also some fun stuff on meeting people like Stephen Fry & Hugh Laurie and Jeremy Clarkson, as well as Llewellyn’s other projects like Scrapheap Challenge. All the behind-the-scenes smeg you could ever desire and more. (It’s also on audio.)

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