Tongue Tied

Blue is the fifth episode of Series VII of Red Dwarf.

It is the forty-first episode overall. It first aired 14 February 1997 on BBC2.


Aboard Starbug, it has been some time since Arnold Rimmer (Chris Barrie) left the crew to become Ace Rimmer. ("Stoke Me a Clipper")

Dave Lister (Craig Charles) begins to get the blues and, much to his own horror, Lister begins to find that he is actually missing Rimmer, remembering "old times" and even having a disturbing dream about Rimmer where he is "nice".

Cat (Danny John-Jules), Kochanski (Chloë Annett), and Kryten (Robert Llewellyn) each have their own unique remedy to Lister's very unusual problem.


Everybody aboard Starbug is starting to feel depressed, still without any trace of Red Dwarf. Kochanski is still rebuking Lister's romantic efforts and trying to get back to her boyfriend - a "perfect" version of Lister - in her own dimension and has managed to find another Dimensional Tear, whilst Kryten is still jealous of the relationship that she could potentially rekindle with Lister from old times. Kryten is also maddened by the fact he has to add lingerie to his database, and also the fact he has to keep taking the salad cream out of the fridge.

Starbug is nearly wrecked by the comet's tail

Starbug attempts to go through the tail of an icy phasing comet, with a velocity of over 25,000mps, to reach another link-way through non-space to Kochanski's own dimension. However, they fail badly in the attempt, almost wrecking Starbug and leaving it too badly damaged to reach the Dimension Tear in time before it seals itself. Kryten blames the weight of Kochanski's laundry, although he also suspects Lister deliberately damaged Starbug so that Kochanski couldn't leave.

Lister begins to miss Rimmer, giving a Freudian slip in calling Cat "Rimmer". Cat suggests throwing out some of the old junk from the cargo bay of Starbug to lessen the weight of the ship, but Lister can't bring himself to throw anything out. Lister poignantly reflects on some of the "fun times" that he and Rimmer spent together in the early days on Red Dwarf after the accident which killed everyone else, such as playing golf on Traga XVI and searching the lockers for hidden goods. Cat says that "he must have blinked and missed them", baffled by Lister's behavior. Kryten says that he will "put the rubber room on standby".

Later when sitting in the cockpit, Lister is startled when Rimmer suddenly returns having tired of heroic escapades across the universe. Lister finds that, far from the neurotic smeghead he used to know, Rimmer is now pleasant and easy-going. The two briefly discuss Rimmer's adventures and Kochanski joining the crew, and the two admit how much they've missed each other. They then share an emotional hug which then leads the two to kiss... at which point Lister, who dreamt the whole thing, wakes up and throws himself out of bed in horror. Kryten tries some psychology to get to the bottom of Lister's problem. He attempts a hypnosis disc, but fails poorly due to a wrongly placed disc, causing him to scream out one of Adolf Hitler's speeches. However Kochanski has a little talk with Lister and makes him realize why he misses Rimmer, since Holly was right in that Rimmer was the best suited to keep Lister sane exactly because of the fact he hated him so much - it's what kept Lister going during the early years. This seems to have some positive effect on Lister, much to Kryten's disgust.

Kryten, having to be one step better than Kochanski, creates "The Rimmer Experience" a virtual reality ride created from Rimmer's very factually incorrect journal, depicting Rimmer thinking of himself as a 'Hero' and a 'Remarkable Person'. The scenes depict Rimmer in Admirable uniform, giving Cat fashion tips, which according to the real Cat, makes him look like a woodwork teacher. Another scene shows Lister has called for Rimmer to save him from danger before he wets himself. The next scene shows Cat and Lister saying how they owe their lives to him, giving a massive grin, further sickening the crew.

The last scene is the strangest of all. An army of tiny men all with Rimmer's face sing a song, praising the genius and bravery of Rimmer. The ride ends and Lister declares that he never wants to see or hear from Rimmer ever again, much to Kochanski's amusement. Kryten is pleased and declares "Sigmund Freud, eat your heart out!"


  • This is the final episode to date to depict the original version of Arnold Rimmer; he would return in the next series as a new "version" resurrected by nanobots.
  • "Blue" marks Rimmer's last appearance as a hologram until Back to Earth.
  • "Blue" the final episode yet to depict Ace Rimmer.
  • There is reference to a mysterious being in this episode, the Vidal Beast of Sharmutt II; it is said to have formerly attacked Starbug, although this has not been seen in the television series. It may possibly be the same attack and assailant (the Pan-Dimensional Liquid Beast from the Mogadon Cluster) as mentioned the earlier series' episode "Out of Time".
  • When the old Rimmer returns as Ace Rimmer in Lister's dream, he tells Lister what he's been getting up to in his new life as Ace. Part of this involves, as Rimmer puts it, "fighting in the Belalugosian Wars". This is likely a reference to the actor Bela Lugosi, famous for playing classic movie monsters such as Dracula.
  • Starbug's attempt to go through the comet's tail was achieved through a combination of extensive model work and CGI, although in the broadcast episode, much of the model work was dropped. These cut shots can be seen however on the Series VII DVD.

Chris Barrie

Actor Chris Barrie had wanted a lesser role in Series VII as he was called to do more work on another BBC tv show called The Brittas Empire, so Doug Naylor had written the character of Arnold Rimmer out in an earlier episode of the series, "Stoke Me a Clipper". Rimmer's next appearance would be as a nanobot-resurrected, flesh-and-blood human in the first episode of Series VIII.

However Barrie was persuaded to come back to film four scenes for the Series VII episode "Blue". These include:

  • One in a flashback to a time when the Lister, Rimmer and Kryten were playing golf on a desert planetoid with very little atmosphere and gravity, Traga 16. Rimmer's ball goes right around the planet, to be found by Lister who hides it to scupper the bet they had. Rimmer walks around the planetoid numerous times looking for it.
  • Another flashback to an earlier time when Lister and Rimmer were alone aboard Red Dwarf, shortly after Lister came out of stasis. They play a game in the locker room, cracking open the lockers, but a flamethrower has been rigged to the one which Rimmer opens to take care of thieves, which blasts through the hologram much to Lister's amusement.
  • Lister's dream in which the old Arnold returns to Starbug after becoming the new Ace Rimmer whilst Lister is alone on nightwatch. In the dream Lister remembers Rimmer very differently, with Rimmer being much more light-heartened. The dream ends with them in a homoerotic clinch, and Lister wakes up scraping his tongue, wailing and believing he is having a nervous breakdown.
  • Rimmer appears centrally in The Rimmer Experience, a virtual-reality ride built by Kryten for Lister later on in the episode. Based on Rimmer's own memoirs, here Rimmer plays as a (very incorrect) heroic version of himself, much to the utter disgust of the others. Chris Barrie also portrayed the singing Rimmers, along with Red Dwarf composer Howard Goodall.

Deleted Scenes

  • When Kochanski says that she had a dream about a monkey being stretched across a tennis court and Lister admits to playing his guitar, he also says that he has just about mastered a second chord.
  • More of Lister talking about Rimmer and, to his horror, realizing that he is missing him.
  • The Rimmer Experience and the Rimmer Munchkins have at least four extensions, including more of the crew as seen through the eyes of Rimmer's fantasy in which he was brave and heroic, and they are all idiotic cowards, much like Rimmer was in real life. Among the additions include Rimmer correcting Kryten on a mistake, something which never happened, and Rimmer is seen devouring Curry that Lister found too hot, which also never happened.

Background Information

  • The original title of the episode in the script was "Heartache".
  • Long-time Red Dwarf composer Howard Goodall performed as the singing Rimmer Munchkins during The Rimmer Experience.
  • In the much later Series XI episode "Officer Rimmer", a classical version of the song from this episode can be heard in the new Rimmer's Officers Club.
  • Another new writer added to the credits was Kim Fuller, writer of Spiceworld. His script for "Blue" was also edited by Naylor to fit into the Red Dwarf universe. As part of Doug Naylor's plan to mix up the episodes between Science Fiction and comedy, "Blue" was tailored towards the latter. It also follows a tradition of Doug Naylor teasing Craig Charles by writing Lister into disgusting snogs (eg. slimy mutants insects in "Psirens" and hairy GELFs in "Emohawk").
  • The shots of Starbug flying through the icy tail of a comet was accomplished through both model shots of the model getting pelted with ice, and also CGI. The latter Doug Naylor was very unhappy with, especially since there was no motion blur, which had to be altered last-minute. This, along with the shots of planets and nebulae in the background whilst on the planetoids, Naylor was unhappy with and has stated his wish to one day Remaster the whole of Series VII. (Series VII DVD Collector's booklet) Different versions, alternate takes and extended cuts of both these model shots and CGI shots are available for viewing on the Series VII DVD special features.
  • As revealed in the cast commentary for the episode on the Series VII DVD, the cast referred to the filming of The Rimmer Experience as "Black Friday". Similar to the plot of the episode, most of the cast were depressed, especially with the ride being so jolty to be painful and requiring numerous takes.
  • The episode was first broadcast on the British television channel BBC2 on 14 February 1997. Written by Kim Fuller and Doug Naylor and directed by Ed Bye.

Guest Stars

Noteworthy Dialogue

  • Rimmer: "Oh Listy"
    Lister: "Oh Rimmsy"
  • Kochanski: So what games do you play, then? 'Match the Bodypart to the Crewmember'?
    Cat: I always love that one!
    Kochanski: 'Armpit Name That Tune'? 'Guess Whose Bottie is Sticking Through a Hole in the Curtain'?
    Cat: Shall I add that one to the slate, bud?

Plot Inconsistencies

  • Lister remembers his times with Rimmer on Red Dwarf. During those times Rimmer should have been shown in one of his previous hologram outfit colors -- light grey, green, or red -- which donated "soft-light" which Rimmer originally was. This one showed Rimmer dressed in blue, something that Rimmer didn't acquire until they met Legion, which occurred after they lost Red Dwarf. The blue outfit signified his change to a "hard light" hologram, which doesn't happen until Starbug encountered the Legion Station. Consequently, during the Rimmer Munchkins Song, the only form of Rimmer not shown was in the light gray outfit he wore in the first two seasons. It could be assumed that this colour convention was dropped by the time of Series VII for whatever reason, although it is shown again in the Series X episode "Entangled" when Rimmer switches between modes.
    • Although it was likely an oversight on the part of the costume department, it could be explained as Rimmer could be wearing the blue hard-light hologram outfit earlier than he acquired it simply because this was seen in one of Lister's very old, skewered memories.
  • If Kryten had read Rimmer's journals and entirely programmed The Rimmer Experience himself from Rimmer's mindset and memories, it remains a mystery how Kryten would be surprised, taken aback and offended at some of Rimmer's comments regarding himself during the ride, since Kryten would already have read the comments and programmed them into the simulation himself.
    • Perhaps he only skimmed over them to get the basic facts, and used the computer to simulate the events.
  • The left-hand rod that controls the arm movement on the left-most Rimmer puppet is clearly visible.
    • Kryten could have added this as part of the experience.