Tongue Tied

"Schopenhauer was right, wouldn't you say? Life without pain has no meaning. Gentlemen, I wish to give your lives meaning..."
- Dr. Lanstrom ("Quarantine")

Doctor Hildegard Lanstrom was once a Space Corps scientist of German heritage and genius-level intellect.

Dr Lanstrom specialised in the research of viral strains, and eventually became a victim of her own genius. Dr. Lanstrom's hologram would resurface three million years later to terrorise the crew of the Red Dwarf, and before she died for good, she would pass on her deadly disease to Arnold Rimmer.

However the fruits of her work would live on, and actually end up assisting the boys from the Dwarf.


Dr. Lanstrom's work included a hypothesis on there being two kinds of virus: positive and negative, the negative already being well known for their detrimental effects such as flu and rabies. Her claim on positive viruses was that they were "viral strains which promote an unaccountable feeling of well being and happiness", to quote Kryten commenting on Lanstrom's virus. She also claimed to have isolated several positive strains of viruses such as Inspiration, Gnotus venustas or Charisma, Delecto quislibet or Sexual Magnetism, and Felicitus populi or Luck. It is unstated whether Lanstrom was a human or a custom-made hologram for research purposes, though considering her research would require physical contact it seems she may have originally been the latter.

Dr. Lanstrom awakes from stasis on her planet, and displays her hex vision

Lanstrom died, becoming a hologram, and settled down to finish her work at a research base on a snowy S3 planet in Deep Space. There she isolated and contracted a mutated holo-plague which caused a mental breakdown for the victim, and also caused "hex vision", telepathy and telekinesis.

The holo psi-virus stimulated areas of the human brain which were normally inaccessible; this also drained the victim's energy, and so when Lanstrom was discovered by the surviving crew of Red Dwarf she was still in a stasis pod three million years later, after having put herself in there to preserve what little life span remained in her, after setting off the distress beacon.

Dr. Lanstrom was eventually killed when the holo-virus drained the remainder of her energy and destroyed her, just before she was able to do harm to the crew. ("Quarantine", Series V)

Dr. Lanstrom is later referred to by Holly in the Series VIII opener "Back in the Red, Part One" as the inventor of the viruses to the nanobot-resurrected Arnold Rimmer, as he finds the sexual magnetism virus in the wreck of the crashed Starbug in the hangar of the new Red Dwarf. The human Rimmer then uses the virus to sleep with every female officer aboard the ship, including Doc Newton. ("Back in the Red", Series VIII)


  • Hello, my name is Dr. Hildegarde Lanstrom, and I am quite, quite mad.
  • I have a riddle for you. What is dead, and dead, and dead, all over? Yoooouuuuu...
  • Unfortunately, she has already found you...
  • Twinkle, twinkle, little eye, now it is time for you to die...


  • Dr Lanstrom has some extended dialogue in the deleted scenes for the episode "Quarantine" on the Series V DVD. Further lunacy and foreboding riddles from Dr. Lanstrom include "the man of the bottom of the stairs who wasn't there" and "how the wise man dies like the fool."
  • An interview between Dr. Lanstrom and Talkie Toaster on the official Red Dwarf website reveals a wealth of background information on Dr Lanstrom. It is revealed that Lanstrom originally died during a birthday party for one her fellow scientists at the research base. When Lanstrom suggested to a drunken, philosophical physicist that he was a merely a product of her imagination, the other scientist cut off her head with a fire-axe, at Lanstrom's own goading, to see if he would cease to exist. He did almost immediately cease to exist, since he was almost immediately shot dead by a security guard after committing this act. Lanstrom found the whole incident rather ironic and hilarious when she was revived as a hologram, indicating that she was very likely psychotic before contracting the Holo Virus, and before she even became a hologram. Interview

Behind the Scenes

  • Dr. Lanstrom was portrayed by prominent British actress Maggie Steed, in heavy make-up and prosthetics.