Tongue Tied

Birdman was the only long-term occupant of The Hole, the [solitary confinement cell in The Tank of Red Dwarf, along with his pet sparrow Pete.


When Rimmer and Lister were put in The Hole for two months, they realised that they were in a cell with another prisoner. He was a slightly deranged, but harmless Welshman who owned a pet sparrow. He told them that the other prisoners called him Birdman, prompting Lister to ask "Why?" Rimmer sarcastically muttering that it was because he liked instant custard (a reference to Bird's Custard).

He told them that his sparrow, Pete, was nine years old or, in sparrow years, nine years old, which meant that he was nine years old. Rimmer did not enjoy the prospect of spending two months in a cramped cell with a man who was clearly deranged, but at that moment Bob the Skutter broke them out of The Hole and led them all to the cargo bays.

They passed by the frozen crew and joined the rest of the Dwarfers for a sumptuous dinner. Birdman suddenly noticed that Pete had died from the excitement of being free. Kryten tried to use the Time Wand to make Pete young and strong again, but accidentally reversed evolution by several million years. Pete was transformed into a Tyrannosaurus rex, who first sneezed over the short-sighted Birdman, covering him in mucus, and then refused the seed that Birdman offered him. He chose instead to eat Birdman, leaving only his feet and boots behind.

When Lister later used the Time Wand to undo all their changes, Birdman was brought back to life and offered his newly restored sparrow some seed. (Pete Part I & Pete Part II, Series VIII).


  • Birdman's real name was never mentioned, nor why he was in either The Tank or placed in The Hole, though his bird might well have been involved. An interview with Talkie Toaster on the official Red Dwarf website reveals that Birdman was once "the craziest of the Canaries."
  • Birdman shares a number of character traits with Burt Lancaster's film portrayal of the famous Robert Stroud, the "Birdman of Alcatraz".