For the original version of Kristine Kochanski, who died in the radiation leak and appears briefly in Series I, II, and VI as portrayed by Clare Grogan, visit Kristine Kochanski (Original).
"How did I end up like this? On a ship where the fourth most popular pastime is going down to the laundry room and watching my knickers spin dry?"
- Kristine Z. Kochanski ("Duct Soup")
Kristine Z. Kochanski is the Navigation Officer of the Red Dwarf. Originating from a parallel universe, she became a full member of the gang during the third episode of Series VII. She came from an alternate universe in which she discovers Dave Lister's pet cat, and confiscates her, but cannot bring herself to destroy her. As a result it is she, not Lister, who is sentenced to six months in stasis for bringing an unquarantined animal on board, and therefore she who survives the radiation leak. In her dimension, she had briefly dated Lister before leaving him for Tim. However, when Lister died in the radiation leak, he become a soft-light hologram and cleaned up his act, and was her boyfriend.
After meeting with the Red Dwarf crew from our universe, she is forced to join the them after a series of bizarre accidents. This "alive" version of Kochanski becomes a main character for the next two series. She even joined the regular characters in the brig of the nanobot-rebuilt and repopulated Red Dwarf for the duration of Series VIII, and was present until the 1999 - 2009 Bridge.
In Back to Earth, set nine years after Series VIII, it is first presumed that she died in an accident involving an air-lock, but it is later admitted by Kryten that she actually left in a Blue Midget after growing despondent by Lister's own self-destructive behaviour, with Kryten lying to try and protect his feelings. Though being completely off-screen, she is often mentioned in Series X, with Lister seeking to find her again.
Due to major divergences in her life experience and background, not to mention her previous relationship with Lister, she is considered a different character than the Kochanski who made fleeting appearances (played primarily by Clare Grogan, but also other actresses) in the first six seasons.
Given that she comes from another universe, it is unclear how much she shares, personal history-wise, with the original Kochanski seen in the early seasons.
Kristine Z. Kochanski is from the Gorbals (the trendiest part of 23rd century Glasgow) to affluent Space Corps career parents (her father an archaeologist and her mother in advertising), and had spent her childhood and teenage years in "Cyberschool" with perfect computer-generated teachers and friends and a pony named "Trumper", before exiting into real life where upon she was tormented by her brother Moose Kochanski. Kris for a time rebelled and became a "retro-punk". She later entered Space Corps Cadet School and become a navigational officer for the Jupiter Mining Corporation spaceship Red Dwarf.
In her universe, Kochanski discovered Lister's pregnant pet cat, Frankenstein, and confiscates her, but cannot bring herself to destroy her. As a result it is she, not Lister, who is sentenced to six months in stasis for bringing an un-quarantined animal on board, and who therefore survives the radiation leak that killed the rest of the crew.. Like the prime Lister, she emerges from stasis three million years late to find the crew wiped out and the ship far from home. Holly brings back her ex-boyfriend Lister as a hologram (as opposed to our world in which Rimmer was brought back with the express intent of providing Lister with conflict and thus keeping him sane). Initially a soft light hologram, this Lister is unable to touch, eat, or otherwise physically interact with his world. This apparently helps him to develop into a more mature, sensitive and cultured man. When Lister gets a hard light drive (presumably from Legion, as Rimmer does in our universe), they rekindle their relationship. The human Lister from the "main" universe comes as quite a shock. It is not clear what Cat and Kryten are like in her universe, but we can assume they are more sophisticated, as the alternate Kochanski seems unimpressed with their alternatives as well.
Aboard Red Dwarf
This version version of Kochanski joined the boys from the Dwarf in the Series VII episode "Ouroboros", trapped in the "main" dimension due to attacks by the Kinitawowi battle cruiser on the Dimensional Tear, and from whom Kochanski saves Starbug with her superior navigational skills. She basically took Rimmer's place as acting navigation officer.
Kochanski found it hard to fit in with the boys from the Dwarf, who were much less refined than her own crew. Starbug didn't even have cottage cheese with pineapple chunks in, a bath, or proper wine. She was not appreciative of Lister's advances, instead wanting to get to her own boyfriend in her own dimension, a "perfect", hologram version of Lister. Lister tried to mature, give up curries and take up personal hygiene to win her over, with little success. She did on occasion have tender moments with Lister, however, causing Kryten to become insanely possessive and protective over Lister, and insanely jealous over Kris. Kris also found Cat incredibly dumb and annoying, since her version of the Cat was although stylish and vain, was a lot more intelligent.
It was Kochanski who defeated Epideme, and also who soon after instigated the search for the nanobots to rebuild Lister's lost arm. This search resulted in the reconstruction of Red Dwarf, and the resurrection of the original crew who had died in the radiation leak. (Back in the Red)
Series VIII features both Kochanski and Rimmer, although a different incarnation, a nanobot-resurrected form of his living self; the two almost had sex due to the machinations of Cassandra. Kris ended up being sentenced to the Tank along with the boys, and soon after was unwittingly signed up to the Canaries by Lister.
Throughout Series VI and VIII, Kochanski remains with the crew, even when rejoined by Rimmer in Series VIII. After the halfway point of series VII, she seems to stop trying to find ways back to her own universe, and the entirety of series VIII could be watched without gaining any hint she is from a parallel universe.
Apparently, according to Kryten in Back to Earth, an unreliable narrator given his jealous feelings towards Kris, she was feeling Lister was wasting his life away, and left Red Dwarf to travel on her own in a Blue Midget. This was perhaps to search for the rest of the Red Dwarf crew, now alive after being resurrected by the nanobots, or find a way back to her boyfriend in her own dimension. In order to protect Lister's feelings, Kryten creates the fiction that Kochanski is in fact dead, accidentally sucked out of an airlock, and for a long time after Lister would visit a gravestone in her memory set up in the Observation Dome and read to it.
After learning that Kris is in fact still alive, Lister makes it his ongoing mission to find her, resisting a mirage of her begging him to stay in the Despair Squid-induced hallucination (portrayed again by Chloë Annett), instead he emotionally states that he will find her again in the real universe, since he now knows she's out there, and will win her back proper.
Through Series X, Kochanski is mentioned numerous times by Lister, who is still looking for her out in Deep Space. There are photographs of her in Lister's bunk in the Series X sleeping quarters. Whilst Lister is put on hold to the All Droid Station, he claims that not even Kochanski entering the room naked could get him off the phone - he would simply put the phone between his buttocks and get to work. ("Trojan")
When the Cat said he had some bad news, then relayed it by playing charades, Lister asked Cat if he knew what had happened to Krissy. ("Dear Dave") When Lister recorded some drunken videos to himself as his own father to give himself some "tough love", he told "Lister Jr." to sort his life out, enroll in the JMC engineer program, and locate Krissy. ("Fathers & Suns")
Lister gets involved with the BEGGs, originally at least, to find out if they had seen Kochanski on their moon. Soon after, the Dwarfers are led to a woman in stasis by Lister believing it to be Kochanski. ("Entangled")
In Series XI, Lister has a discussion with Kryten, who is going through a mid-life crisis. Lister says that about three years earlier he had his own mid-life crisis, in part due to "missed opportunities", which may be a reference to Kochanski. However, Lister says that he got over his mid-life crisis in five minutes, since "that is how you have a mid-life crisis in the north". ("Krysis", Series XI)
In a February 2018 What Culture interview with showrunner Doug Naylor, Naylor said this of Kochanski's possible return:
- Miss Kochanski Maam (Rimmer)
- Kris, Krissie (Lister)
- Officer Bud Babe, Officer B.B. (Cat)
- [Sarcastically] "She who must be drooled over" (Kryten)
Unlike Dave Lister and Arnold Rimmer, Kristine Kochanski was born to wealthy parents and had a relatively carefree upbringing. She is classy if somewhat persnickety. After being trapped with the "Dwarfers" in their universe, the alternate Kochanski adds something of a new dynamic to the show. She is an upper-middle class female officer in what was a decidedly "laddish" environment. Much of the humour in her scenes comes from the difference between her frame of reference and that of the others. Although Annett lacks Grogan's Scottish accent, the series now reveals that she was from the Gorbals (apparently the trendiest part of 23rd century Glasgow), and had spent her childhood in "Cyberschool" with perfect computer-generated settings and perfect computer-generated friends and a pony named "Trumper" before entering Space Cadet School.
The addition of Kochanski as a regular character in the show was met with mixed reactions from the fans; some loved the idea, some hated it. In either case, times were changing, and with Chris Barrie wanting a much smaller part in the show due to other commitments (the writers had to agree at the risk of losing him completely), another main character was needed. The writers felt that a woman was an interesting addition to the environment, especially since Kochanski had already been a minor character in the Red Dwarf canon since the first series. In many circumstances (and in fact Grogan's version of the character had at one point been earmarked to join the series as a second hologram regular for Series II), Kochanski was used by the writers to replace Kryten as the exposition character during the seventh and eighth series.
Originally, it was suggested that Lister had loved Kochanski from afar, but never found the courage to ask her out. This was changed to them having had a relationship that ended before the accident in the novel Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers (she went back to her previous boyfriend Tim), and later episodes have followed that version. The events of "Stasis Leak", which had a future version of Lister (from roughly the timeframe of Series VII) go back through time and marry Kochanski, appear to have been forgotten, or perhaps lost in an alternate timeline due to the frequent messing about with time that occurred throughout the series.
Kochanski is a trained navigation officer.
Likes and Dislikes
Kochanski likes her version of Dave Lister, opera, baths, cottage cheese with pineapple chunks, this version Dave Lister (sometimes), and Kryten (Series 8).
- "Let's at least ask someone who's at least going to give us a slightly more intelligent opinion. Hello, wall! What do you think?" (RD: Beyond a Joke)
- "I mean I've tried to fit in I've really tried. I even tried learning what offside was." (RD: Duct Soup)
- "Because now like all men you have absolutely no control over your penis." (RD: Pete II)
Behind the Scenes
- Chloë Annett was hired for Series VII, while Chris Barrie was on a leave of absence. However, Kochanski was not intended to replace Arnold Rimmer, and both characters appeared in Series VIII. Previously, the character was played by Clare Grogan, a Scottish actress. Kochanski's Scottish heritage is reaffirmed in Duct Soup, even though Annett is English.
- The character's surname suggests she has Polish and American ancestry: Kochanski is an anglicised form of the Polish surname Kocieński, and many Polish migrants in the early 20th century adopted anglicised surnames upon settling in the USA.
- According to some sources, the character of Kochanski was added in order to have a female lead in the proposed Red Dwarf movie, however the notion of having Kochanski join the cast as a regular was originally planned back in Series II but the idea was dropped.
- At the start of Series VIII, Kryten's nanobots not only rebuilt the ship, but also resurrected the crew. However, although Kristine Kochanski was one of the crew members who was perished aboard Red Dwarf in this main universe, she was not resurrected. Despite her differences, the alternate Kochanski is accepted by the resurrected crew as their own. Though it could be assumed that when holly programmed the second set of nanobots he got them to not include Kochanski .
- In Last Human, following being reunited with Lister as an aged couple in a world where time runs backwards (following the death of Dave Lister in the 'real' universe), Kochanski and Lister have entered into a loving relationship with each other. Now part of the Red Dwarf crew, Kochanski is in a clear position of authority as the highest-ranking member of the crew — a fact that Rimmer mildly resents (being the only one she ever seems to boss around). The novel ends with Kochanski and Lister, stranded on an idyllic world in an unknown parallel universe, attempting to start a family with help from the Luck virus.