The Canary shuttle (also referred to as the Canary drop ship in the Series VIII scripts books) was one of the many shuttle-craft aboard Red Dwarf, and one of the largest, although it is only seen briefly, and only in Series VIII.
It is used to transport battalions of the Canaries on away missions; the Canaries being a prisoner "suicide squad" made up of the inmates of The Tank, a classified prison on Floor 13 of Red Dwarf (and which for Series VIII includes the regular characters).
The Canary shuttle was significantly larger than Starbug (the largest Red Dwarf shuttle seen in the show so far), since it could transport numerous squads of Canaries at once.
On the interior, the shuttle contained a blue holding area for the Canaries and their uniforms and weapons; and an unseen cockpit with a relatively tiny view-port. It is unclear who piloted the Canary shuttle; either a guard or Canary commander such as Mr Knot, or was remotely controlled by the nanobot-rebuilt Holly of the new Red Dwarf.
On the exterior, the shuttle was pale in colour, with two wings at either side and a large fin on top, both coming out of the rear section. Propulsion is provided by two large boosters also at the rear. The front section was rather bulky, given that it was a transport ship, with various markings but no other portholes except the tiny one in the cockpit. The Canary symbol was painted in red on the rear fin and on the wings on either side; the same symbol which was also present on the Canary uniform patches.
The shuttle also took them to a meeting with a strange GELF lifeform on an unnamed derelict. It was during this mission and in conversation in the Canary shuttle that Kill Crazy came up with the idea of reprogramming Kryten. This would result in Kryten becoming a ruthless entrepreneur, and the creation of Krytie TV and Women's Shower Night for the prison cinema. (Krytie TV)
Three of these shuttles transported three different Canary squads to the wreck of the SS Manny Celeste, where contact was lost with the first and second battalions, due to the effects of the Time Wand. Returning Canaries were subject to customs checking at the shuttle landing bay, but Kryten smuggled the Time Wand aboard inside his head, in an attempt to use it to make their jail sentences go by rapidly. (Pete I)
Due to the effects of the Chameleonic Microbe, most of the crew evacuated Red Dwarf in various shuttles during the Series VIII finale. However, the Canary shuttle is not seen among the fleet of Starbugs and Blue Midgets, leaving the fate of the Canary shuttle unknown. Presumably it could be have been taken by the crew, or prisoners, but this is unseen. (Only the Good...)
The Canary shuttle is not seen again in later series, such as Back to Earth or Series X, but the Canaries are referenced when the Canary uniform is seen by Dave Lister in an airlock during his escape from Red Dwarf in the the Series X episode "Fathers & Suns".
- No model was created for the Canary shuttle like most Red Dwarf shuttles; it was entirely rendered in CGI, as with most of Series VIII.
- The shuttle remains unnamed, but it is likely that the shuttle was meant to be a nanobot-rebuilt White Giant, as with much of Series VIII, such as Red Dwarf itself, and the Blue Midget shuttlecraft.
Behind the scenes
- In another indication of it's large size, the Canary shuttle was to have originally contained it's own canteen. Scenes in the prison canteen aboard the Tank on Red Dwarf (such as where Baxter bullies the Cat in "Pete Part I") were to have originally occurred in the canteen of the Canary shuttle. (Series VIII script book)