Professor Irene Edgington, better known by her nickname "Professor E", was the the lead scientist at the Erroneous Reasoning Research Academy. Some of her many exploits included de-evolving herself into a chimpanzee through the misuse of her own equipment- she had been attempting to accelerate evolution to observe the future of the human form and her equipment worked in reverse-, and the invention of a groinal exploder. It is not exactly clear how she managed to get into one of the station's stasis booths while in her de-evolved form.
Her background also remains unclear, although Kryten does mention that most of the ERRA staff were selected from groups known for their ability to be wrong, such as "referees, television critics, and weathermen", indicating that she may have once participated in one of these occupations. Her status as head researcher seems to indicate that she was even more prone to error than many of her contemporaries.
Indeed, she is only shown to have gotten something right once in her life, justifying the cosmic significance of her nickname being "Professor E" and her first name being "Irene" (Irene E = Irony).
After the crew returned her to her human form by Kryten reprogramming her evolution accelerator, allowing her to help them save Dave Lister from a device of her own creation, she is killed after falling over a box containing Arnold Rimmer's health and safety forms into an airlock. While not lethal in of itself, she naturally could not be trusted to press the right release button.
Despite her aptitude for wrongness, she seems to take her life in great stride, accepting her many failures and seeming almost oblivious to their consequences. She is friendly to the crew, although this could largely be due to her misguided perceptions of them.
Getting things completely wrong in the name of science.
Likes and Dislikes
She felt an immediate attraction to Arnold Rimmer, saying that she felt a special bond between them, though only because her inability to be right made her see him as the complete opposite of what he was. She described him as being "kind, clever, selfless" and stated that he was one of the "brave, silent types". She also liked Rimmer and Lister's "enchanting" sleeping quarters, and in general expressed little antipathy to much of anything.
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Behind the Scenes
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- Her presence in the script was a last minute addition prompted by the strict rules surrounding the working arrangements of actor Peter Elliot, who played her chimp alter ego. Initially it was the chimp who would have dominated the episode's screen time, which might account for why she was given such a sudden death.
- Giving a visual cue to the fact everything Irene does is pretty much the opposite of what is right, the eyeglasses she wears are upside-down.
- In the very next episode of the series Rimmer mentions how the perfect woman for Lister to re-populate the human race with would be "any female with working ovaries", seemingly forgetting that they had someone that qualified just a little while before.