Tongue Tied

Future Echoes is the second episode of Series I of Red Dwarf. It first aired 22 February 1988 on BBC2.


When Red Dwarf breaks the barrier of the speed of light, the crew begin to experience visions from their future.


Sometime shortly after Dave Lister comes out of three million years of stasis aboard the now-empty Red Dwarf, he rides around the corridors on his space bike singing "Oh My Darling, Clementine":

In a crater, on a ast'roid excavating for a mine,
lived an old plutonium miner, and his daughter Clementine...

Lister stops off at an artificially intelligent vending machine in White Corridor 159 to get a bacon sandwich with French mustard and a black coffee. It has developed senility and a lisp, throwing out a pair of black wellington boots and a steel bucket that hits Lister's foot. His old bunkmate and superior, Arnold Rimmer, now a hologram, runs by Lister as he performs his necrobics, berating Lister for his slobby lifestyle.

"This is haircut for action. Makes me feel like a man"...

Red Dwarf has been speeding up in the three million years it has been unmanned, and the senile ship's computer Holly is struggling to cope with the astrophysics of it all. Rimmer continually interrupts Holly's equations and annoys him, demanding to be given a new, "military" haircut, to which Holly replies by giving Rimmer a giant, 1950s-syle beehive hairdo.

Lister and Cat prepare to go into stasis while Red Dwarf goes to light speed until they get back to Earth, since it will take thousands of years just to turn around, and are packing up their things in the sleeping quarters. Lister shows Cat some of his old photographs, including one of Lister's favorite Zero Gravity Footballers, Jim Bexley Speed, "roof attack" for the London Jets; who Lister claims was "really, really thrilled to meet me", but doesn't appear so in the photograph. He then shows Cat a photograph of Gran, the woman who raised Lister, and tells Cat a story about how tough she was. Then then shows Cat his "Jupiter Rise" shot, and finally, a picture of Hannah, his father's old dog. Cat hisses and scratches at it, especially when Lister tells him that "dawwgs" are giant. As Cat slinks off terrified, Lister repairs one of his broken robot goldfish, McCartney.

Red Dwarf passes the light-speed barrier

Rimmer expects that when the journey is over, he will no longer be needed, so he demands to be left on even though he will be alone. Unfortunately they reach light speed 22 hours before they expected and don't get to go into stasis after all.

Lister experiences the light-boom (Remastered)

The future echoes begin...

While shaving, Lister watches himself accidentally cutting himself in the mirror and Rimmer rushing up behind him, then a few seconds later he does cut himself and yells for Rimmer, but dismisses what he saw in the mirror. Lister goes to the drive room and talks to Rimmer, only Rimmer is having a conversation with an invisible person. Rimmer leaves through one door and immediately returns through another where he has the same conversation with Lister that he had before.

Lister tries to tell him about what is happening and Rimmer is convinced when he sees Cat rush past them in the hall, in pain after breaking a tooth, but then sees him in the sleeping quarters immediately after, apparently fine. Holly calls the experiences "Future Echoes", pieces of the future that they are catching up with as a result of light speed, backed up when Rimmer spots a photograph showing Lister holding two babies in his arms. When Cat breaks his tooth on one of Lister's artificial goldfish, it seemingly confirms that the Future Echoes do indeed tell the future correctly.

Rimmer sees Lister getting killed by an exploding panel in the Drive Room and doesn't seem to be too concerned about it in front of Lister. Holly interrupts and tells them that there is an emergency going on, and Lister must put two cables together to stop the navicomp overheating in the Drive Room. Lister goes to face his death, as Rimmer mockingly hums a funeral march, but Lister doesn't get killed. After the countdown, Lister is floored by Cat doing a surprise "dawwg attack".

171-year-old Lister complete with white dreadlocks, and a metal hand with a bottle opener

They return to their quarters and see a very old Lister lying in the bunk. The Old Lister tells them that it was Lister's son Bexley that Rimmer saw in the drive room and tells Lister to grab his camera and run to the medical bay. Rimmer wonders how Lister fathers two children without a woman on board and Lister responds with "I dunno, but it'll be a lot of fun finding out!"

A future echo of Lister's twin sons

The two go to the medical bay and are greeted by Lister, the same age he is now, introducing them to his twin dread-locked baby boys, Jim Lister (named after Jim Bexley Speed) and Bexley Lister (named after Jim Bexley Speed who played "Roof Attack" in Lister's favourite Zero Gravity Football team, the London Jets). The present Lister then takes the picture (which is the same picture that appeared earlier) of his future self and the twins.


  • Dave Lister mentions that he is 25 years old in this episode (not counting time spent in stasis); Lister is also said to be this age in the first Red Dwarf novel, Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers, which is set in a different continuity to the television series albeit set simultaneously.
    • In the Series XII episode "M-Corp", it is indicated that Lister is 50. This would mean that 25 years have passed (not counting time spent in stasis) between the first and twelfth series.
  • Lister's Jupiter Mining Corporation registration number is given as "RD 52 169". This of course would be meaningless three million years into the future, but is apparently still necessary to order for the Vending Machines of Red Dwarf.
  • This episode features the first appearance of Lister's space bike.
  • Rimmer's Necrobics is first seen in the episode.
  • It is established that, although a hologram, Rimmer's hair grows as a human's would, perhaps programmed to do so. This means that Holly has to periodically project new haircuts for him, essentially giving Rimmer a "haircut". This also foreshadows later series, where it would be revealed that Holograms also age in appearance as a human would. ("Stasis Leak, "Out of Time", "Back to Earth")
  • In the Red Dwarf universe, Polaroids are still being made several centuries into the future. The photo of Lister holding the two babies is a real Polaroid which was filmed developing in real time during the closing credits. An Easter egg on the Series I DVD includes raw footage of this sequence (and the two babies can be heard crying in the background of the shot, as the photo had just been taken). There is also Kryten's infamous "double-Polaroid" scene in the Series IV episode "D.N.A."
  • This is the only on-screen appearance of Lister's twin sons, Jim and Bexley.

Background Information

  • To combat the problem of new viewers not understanding what was going on (a massive ship with only Lister, Rimmer and Cat aboard), Holly's opening SOS message was introduced with him delivering a different witty remark at the end.
  • Originally this episode was number four in the series but was switched to second because the producers felt that it was the best episode to really introduce the sci-fi aspects of the show.
  • The Skutters (described as "roving shoe boxes" in the script) were radio-controlled props. After performing perfectly in rehearsals, during filming one skutter got radio interference from a nearby taxi company, causing it to go haywire and it attacked Chris Barrie in the groin. The skutter performing the derogatory hand gesture to Rimmer was a actually a "skutter glove".
  • As noted in the cast commentary on the Series I DVD, Craig Charles said that the bucket the vending machine threw out hit Charles on the toe, and his foot hurt for the rest of the series. Charles also pulled his Achilles tendon whilst climbing through Supply Pipe 28 looking for the Cat Priest in the episode "Waiting for God".


  • The 171-year-old Lister seen in the episode has a metal prosthetic right arm. This coincides with when Lister has his right arm cut off by Kryten in an attempt to kill the epideme virus inside Lister, and Kryten starts to build Lister a prosthetic arm, in the Series VII episode "RD: Epideme". However, Lister's flesh-and-blood arm is later rebuilt by the nanobots in "RD: Nanarchy", throwing this future echo into some confusion - it may have been an echo of, say, "one possible future" where Lister never had his arm rebuilt.
  • Rimmer says to Lister that "you can't cheat death by whacking it on the head." Ironically, at a later date when Rimmer has been resurrected by the nanobots in the flesh and is facing his end a second time, Rimmer kicks Death himself in the balls and runs away at the conclusion of Series VIII. ("Only the Good...")
  • The future echo Rimmer sees of Lister (or maybe his son) exploding is possibly the same explosion Lister gets caught up in, and which nearly kills him, in the later Series II episode "Queeg".
  • Rimmer suggests that if they get to Earth, they may have "cured death" and he could get his human body back, no longer having to be a hologram. This foreshadows what happens in the first episode of Series VIII, when he gets resurrected in the flesh by the nanobots.

Noteworthy Dialogue

  • Rimmer: Clock stop, six forty-seven. Not a bad little time for the mile. Pity I was only doing the three hundred meters.
  • Rimmer: [jogging] Morning, Lister! How's life in hippie heaven, you pregnant baboon-bellied space beatnik? What's the plan for the day, then? Slobbing in the morning, followed by slobbing in the afternoon, then a bit of a snooze before the main evening's slob? God, you're a disgrace to the species. [jogs away]
    Lister: Good morning, Rimmer.
  • Holly: Look, I'm trying to navigate at faster than the speed of light, which means that before you see something, you've already passed through it. Even with an IQ of 6000, it's still brown-trousers time.
  • Rimmer: As my father always said, "Shiny clean boots and a spanking short haircut, and you can cope with anything." He said that just before that rather unfortunate suicide business.
  • Holly: Look, I'm a tenth-generation AI hologramic computer. I'm not your mum.
    Rimmer: Yes, fantastic.
    Holly: What do you want this time? A hand with your homework? Or would you like me to sew little name tags in your P.E. kit?
  • [Holly has given the hologram Rimmer a bouffant-haircut when Rimmer asked for a military-style cut]
    Rimmer: This haircut was designed for action, not ponceing around in! Maybe a bit too severe, a bit too Green Beret. But you are how you look. And I look...
    [sees the hairdo in the mirror]
    Rimmer: Like a complete and total tit!
  • [Rimmer has just noticed the woman's hair-do given to him after he insulted Holly]
    Rimmer: Holly! Holly!
    [A static image of Holly appears on the screen]
    Holly: This is a recording. I'm afraid Holly is busy at the moment, but if you would like to leave a message after the bleep, he will get back to you. Bleep.
  • Rimmer: I'll see you toast in the fires of Hell for this Holly!
    Talkie Toaster: Did somebody say they wanted toast?
  • Lister: But Rimmer, death isn't the handicap it used to be in the olden days. It doesn't screw your career up like it used to.
    Rimmer: That's what they say, Lister, but If you had two people coming for a job, and one of them was dead, which one would you pick?
    Lister: It depends which better qualified.
    Rimmer: Ball-pats. When was the last time you saw a dead newsreader?
    Lister: Channel 27. They had a hologram reading the news!
    Rimmer: [Starts flailing] Oh... groovy funky Channel 27! Big smegging deal! You livies hate us deadies!
  • [[[Cat]] is checking himself out in the mirror]
    Cat: You know, I wish I was someone else. Then I could kiss me.
  • [Lister is preparing to go into stasis. Rimmer isn't happy about it]
    Lister: Holly's supposed to have told you. I thought you wouldn't mind.
    Rimmer: Mind? Mind? Why should I mind? 300,000 millennia alone while you're in suspended animation? I'll be fine. I'll do that crossword puzzle book, that should kill a couple of centuries.
    Lister: Holly 'll switch you off until you come back out.
    Rimmer: Even better. Switch me on, switch me off, like I'm some battery-powered sex aid.
  • Holly: Emergency, emergency. There's an emergency going on.
  • Holly: We're travelling faster than LS.
    Lister: What's LS?
    Talkie Toaster: Light Speed.
    Lister: Smart arse.
  • Rimmer: Brace yourself for a bit of a shock, Lister, but I just saw you die.
    Lister: What?
    Rimmer: I did warn you to brace yourself.
    Lister: You didn't give me much of a chance.
    Rimmer: I gave you ample bracing time.
    Lister: No you didn't. You didn't even pause.
    Rimmer: Well, I'm sorry. *I've* just had a rather nasty experience. *I* have just seen someone I know die in the most hideous, hideous way.
    Lister: Yeah. *Me*.
  • Rimmer: Black Border begins, to Dave Lister, condolences on your passing away. What's that poem? Now, weary traveler, rest your head, for just like me you are utterly dead.
  • Rimmer: It will be happened; it shall be going to be happening; it will be was an event that could will have been taken place in the future. Simple as that.
  • Lister: You said yourself. I can't stop it. Let's get this over with. [grabs a pipe]
    Rimmer: Lister, what's that for?
    Lister: I'm going out like I came in -- screaming and kicking.
    Rimmer: You can't whack Death on the head!
    Lister: If he comes near me I'm gonna rip his nipples off!!!


Main Article: Continuity Errors

  • In the "Double Rimmer" scene, Rimmer doesn't lift his right hand to point the second time he says ...and I've decided...shut up!
  • In the same scene, when the first Rimmer leaves, the second Rimmer walks in at the same time, causing Lister to scream. If you look at the right edge of the canister dispenser you can clearly see the line caused by the split screen.
  • In Rimmer's future echo he first says "You're space crazy" and then in the actual conversation with Lister, he says "You are space crazy".
  • Both Rimmer and Lister use a door in the Drive Room which wasn't there in the previous episode.
    Only when seen from certain angles.[N 1]
  • The sign above the Stasis Booth has changed colour from the previous episode.
    It was mentioned there were two of them.
  • Lister claims he's never read a book, but in "The End" he claims he forgot to return his library book.
    Lister was speaking in hyperbole, for one thing. Even if he did rent out a book, that doesn't mean he read it. And lastly, for all we know the library book was illustrated.
  • In the future, Lister still uses a Polaroid SLR 680 camera, but doesn't unfold it to take the picture of Jim and Bexley.
  • When Lister is fixing his robot goldfish, he picks it up with his right hand, then after the camera cuts, he puts it back into the tank with his left hand..
    He could have moved it from one hand to the other.
  • The cuts on Lister's robot goldfish disappear when he throws it back into the tank after fixing it.
    Something that advanced will most likely have self-repairing ‘skin’.
  • At the end of the episode, when the future Lister and the babies appear, Rimmer has his arms folded. In the next shot, Rimmer's hands are on his hips.
    Rimmer could have moved his arms.


On the Internet Movie Database, "Future Echoes" has a weighted average rating of 8.2 out of 10. Out of the 73 total episodes in Red Dwarf, this rating places it 34th highest rated out of the 73.[1]

In late 2017, prominent fan site Ganymede & Titan ran the Pearl Poll from among hundreds of fans. The aim of the Pearl Poll was to produce a 'definitive' list of all 73 episodes of Red Dwarf in order of their popularity. In February 2018 the list was published, and "Future Echoes" was voted 11th out of the 73 episodes.[2]


  1. According to Movie Mistakes user Andy Benham, this is the entrance to the Captain's office.