When Kryten discovers how to implant someone's consciousness into another person's body, Rimmer seizes the opportunity to have a real body again.
When a Skutter goes insane and switches around a substantial amount of the mechanical wiring on Red Dwarf (so that the button for one thing may lead to the activation of another), Arnold Rimmer and Kryten are forced to re-wire everything back in order from the Science Room and find which activation will switch on the ship's self-destruct system, so as not to set it off. But, even though Rimmer warned them not to, David Lister and Cat use something mechanical: one of the Red Dwarf vending machines. When Lister asks for a crispy bar and a milkshake, he accidentally sets off the self-destruct.
Since only the Captain or a senior officer can cancel the self-destruct, Kryten attempts to put one of the late officer's consciousnesses into Lister's body using a technique utilising the consciousnesses on the hologram disks, a process Kryten developed back on Nova 5. The swap works, but Carol Brown, the officer whose consciousness was transferred into Lister's body, is unable to overwrite the auto-destruct. After the countdown reaches zero, a crispy bar and a milkshake fall out of the nearest vending machine. The crew then reason that the warning for the auto-destruct was wired to the vending machine, but not the actual bomb itself. Holly then tells them that "we haven't got a bomb", and that she "got rid of it ages ago."
Later, Rimmer offers a proposal to Lister: that they "body swap" for two weeks. While in Lister's body, Rimmer would get him fitter using the health plan and diet he used while he was alive. And while in Rimmer's "body", Lister would just have to deal with being a hologram. Lister eventually accepts on the condition that Rimmer treats Lister's body with the utmost respect, and Kryten "body swaps" them. Rimmer is now excited at being able to touch, taste and smell again and engorges himself on poached Mimian bladder fish, with his head in a pile of mash potato and pouring gravy over his head. Instead of getting fit, he abuses Lister's body by eating unhealthily, smoking too many cigars and generally going crazy with his new found physical form.
Lister demands he uses the gym to get fit as he promised, but instead he lazes in the hot tub of the Captain's quarters, reading Muscle Women magazine. Lister weighs him and finds Rimmer has added two stone to his weight. Lister demands his body back, but Rimmer pleads with Lister to give him another chance and promises him that he won't mess up again.
However one evening in their sleeping quarters, Lister catches Rimmer engorging food again. Lister has had enough and the final straw is when he discovers that Rimmer also chopped off his beloved locks, he then gets Kryten to swap their bodies back. That night, Rimmer kidnaps Lister and convinces Kryten that Lister gave his consent for Kryten to chloroform him and body swap them again - poor Kryten has no choice because he is programmed to obey any order, no matter how insane.
Rimmer then flees with Lister's body in a Starbug, and is chased by Kryten, Cat and Lister in Rimmer's hologram body in a Blue Midget. When Rimmer flies dangerously close to the surface terrain of a rocky planetoid, Lister abandons the chase and Blue Midget pulls back. Starbug clips a rock formation and crashes into the ground, and the 'bug is almost buried in earth. Lister is horrified that his body may be gone, and Blue Midget docks with the wrecked 'bug. Rimmer appears from the cockpit, and at first jokes that he has lost Lister's left arm (although he hasn't), before fainting. Lister doesn't think it's funny, but Kryten and Cat find it hilarious.
Sometime later and back aboard Red Dwarf, Lister is now back in the sleeping quarters with his own body back with Kryten apologizing for all the trouble. Rimmer then walks in looking like he's "seen a ghost," as Lister puts it. Rimmer replies in Cat's voice that Kryten chloroformed him and switched his body with Rimmer's. Rimmer now in Cat's body appears with a big plate of Bangers and Mash and says, "Just one night I promise, I'll give it back first thing tomorrow." Then he adds, "Maybe Thursday," before eating his food in a gluttonous fashion.
Red Dwarf Remastered
The original chase between Blue Midget and Starbug was originally achieved through some of the most extensive model work ever completed for the television series to date. However Ed Bye and Doug Naylor still felt that the chase could have been faster, and tenser, and so the scene was redone with computer-generated imagery for the Red Dwarf Remastered version of "Bodyswap".
The planetoid on which the chase takes place was completely redone in CGI, which was formerly an entire set built for the chase. The new CGI shots also included Rimmer doing some impressive aerial feats in Starbug, the 'bug being seen to perform barrel rolls and loops. The chase with Blue Midget picks up great speed and ends up going underground, and through narrow, subterranean caverns - where Rimmer crashes the 'bug, into the side of the cavern wall, and where Blue Midget docks with it.
Available on the Series III DVD:
- The full version of Rimmer trying to persuade Lister to bodyswap was heavily cut down when it became clear that the audience were already ahead of the story. Rimmer guilt trips him and uses reverse psychology saying that he doesn't have the ambition to go to the gym, but Rimmer would.
- A scene which continues Rimmer's indulgence and Lister's worry, and extended dialogue with the two actors copying each other. This includes Rimmer smoking cigars, feeling pains in his chest, and drinking fattening egg-nog and eating giant cream cakes - which Rimmer smears all over Lister's face.
- Another scene which continues to illustrate Rimmer's developing gluttony, as he helps himself to giant pies in a fridge Lister has signed with "no eating".
- It is followed by a quick deleted line regarding Lister's tooth, which Lister says has a cavity that is filled with at least three meals.
The following scene, the first Robert Llewellyn filmed as Kryten (and originally impersonated David Ross) was considered lost for many years, but recovered and included in the bonus features of the The Bodysnatcher Collection:
- The scene in the hot tub was originally significantly longer. Kryten enters with a full banquet for Rimmer (in Lister's body) and Rimmer quickly exits the hot tub, pretending to exercise. Kryten lights the candles on the banquet table with a flame produced from his finger. Lister has sent Kryten down because wants to know how the exercise is going but Kryten can see that Rimmer hasn't done anything, and is in fact is gaining weight for Lister's body. Rimmer asks Kryten to lie to Lister saying that it's coming along perfectly, but Kryten is programmed not to lie. Rimmer thinks a moment then asks Kryten to go back to Lister and tell Lister that, when he gets his body back, he won't recognise it. Kryten agrees.
- At the end of the episode - when Rimmer is in Cat's body with the bangers and mash - the Remastered version of the episode contains a few more seconds before it cuts to the credits. In these few extra seconds, Rimmer-in-Cat is seen with his happy face covered in mash potato, holding up chicken drumsticks, then holding burgers in front of his eyes.
- Cat reveals the only known word in cat language in this episode, "JOZXYQK".
- This is also the only episode in which Cat refers to Rimmer by his name.
- This is the second episode (after "Queeg") that gave Chris Barrie a chance to impersonate his fellow cast members, although this time only visually, taking on the mannerisms of both Craig Charles and (briefly) Danny John-Jules, while Charles and John-Jules both had a go at impersonating Barrie.
- Despite Rimmer going insane, to the point of becoming a dangerous villain, there seems to be no long-standing ramifications from his actions in his episode. However, it can be presumed that the bodyswap machine was probably destroyed to prevent this from happening again, and Kryten eventually with Lister's help broke his programming to no longer blindly obey human orders.
- However, the events of the very next episode strongly suggest that the events of "Bodyswap" now never happened. Or happened considerably differently.
- Due to the complexities of filming this episode, this was the first (studio-based) Red Dwarf episode not to be shot with a live audience. Instead, the episode was shown to an audience and their reactions recorded (according to the DVD booklet, the audience included the cast members, as well). This would become standard practice for Series VII.
- In Rimmer's body, Lister pleads for Cat to let him use his body. Lister says, "How else am I supposed to pilot White Midget?" Blue Midget is used instead of White Midget. According to the DVD booklet, the White Midget model did not exist at the time.
- The chase between Blue Midget and Starbug over a moon's surface were the intricate model shots made for the show at this point.
Interesting, funny or relevant dialogue in the episode:
- Holly: ...I've been through the whole of my database, collated every single option and there are three realistic alternatives. One: Sit here and get blown up. Two: Stand here and get blown up. Three: Jump up and down, shout at me for not being able to think of anything, then get blown up.
- Lister (in Rimmer's body): Oh smeg! What the smegging smeg's he smegging done? He's smegging killed me!
- Rimmer (in Lister's body): Go ahead, Punk! Make my day!