Meltdown is the sixth and final episode in Series IV of Red Dwarf.

It is the twenty-fourth episode overall.


When the crew of Red Dwarf use a matter paddle to travel to the nearest S3 atmospheric planet, they end up fighting in a planetary war being fought between Earth's historical figures. Arnold Rimmer takes it upon himself to prove his mettle...


Rimmer is boring Lister and Cat to death with a story about a how, as a seventeen-year-old, he beat his Space Corps cadet training officer at "Risk". Rimmer details the game by every dice roll. Lister is forced to listen alone, since Cat has ear plugs in, and Rimmer compares the game to his military fantasies of being commander in a glorious field of battle. Kryten interrupts, materialising in the sleeping quarters, and begins teleporting about it. He was foraging in the old research labs down on Z Deck, when he found a prototype Matter Paddle. The device can locate any planet with an S3 atmosphere within a range of 500,000 light years and can transport anyone touching it to the surface. A planet is found within range, and its decided to send Rimmer and Kryten on ahead to make sure the atmosphere is fit for Lister and Cat. Rimmer protests, not keen to go on the expedition and reminds them he can't actually hold the paddle. Holly reminds him that he does have a small physical presence, and deactivates him leaving behind his light bee which is responsible for projecting his image. Lister has some fun with it, sticking it in his mouth and suggesting a game of squash, before Kryten takes it and disappears.


The "rather unconvincing" dinosaurs in the "Prehistoric Area" of Waxworld

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Rimmer and Kryten are taken captive by Elvis Presley in "Hero World"


Lister and Cat accidentally emerge in "Villain World"

Kryten and Rimmer arrive on the planet and confirm that the atmosphere is breathable and return the paddle. Only seconds after doing so, they find themselves on the run from inauthentic dinosaurs. They are soon held prisoner, much to their surprise, by Elvis Presley and ushered into the presence of Einstein, Marilyn Monroe and Pythagoras. The planet is actually an ancient Waxdroid theme park featuring prominent characters, both historical and fictional, from Earth's history - where a war is going on between waxdroids of good guys (from 'Hero World') and bad guys (from 'Villain World'). The good guys consist of characters such as Albert Einstein, the Dalai Lama, Mother Teresa, Father Christmas, Stan Laurel, Queen Victoria, Ghandi, Abraham Lincoln, Pythagoras, Marilyn Monroe, and Elvis Presley, disorganised by their lack of a leader with all of the actually heroic waxdroids (such as John Wayne and Lord Nelson) having been killed leaving behind a bunch of philosophers, pacifists and celebrities. The bad guys consist of characters such as KKK members, Al Capone, Mussolini, Caligula, Rasputin, James Last, Richard III, and Hitler, their leader. It is revealed that the waxdroids broke their programming, and are fighting a war that Abe Lincoln calls the 'Wax War". Rimmer declares himself leader of the "Hero" faction, saying that if the Io Amateur Wargamers could see him now, they would choke on their pikestaffs.


Lister and Cat in prison

Cat and Lister beam in to Hitler's war room, and beam out again, ending up in the chimney. Lister explains to Cat who the members of the room are: "The short one with the stupid 'tash was Hitler and the jerky one with the child molester glasses was Goebbels. Which means the fat bastard must have been Goering. He was a cocaine addict and a transvestite." The Nazis are stood outside the chimney listening. Cat and Lister are imprisoned with Abe Lincoln, who explains the war after Lister watches the execution by firing quad of Winnie-the-Pooh. After being interrogated by Caligula, Cat, Lister and Lincoln escape, but lose the Matter Paddle to the villains in the process, teleporting Caligula and Rasputin into the wardrobe. Lincoln shows Cat and Lister Hero HQ.


"Don't eyeball ME, Gandhi!"
- drill-sergeant Rimmer


"Arnie Rimmer's Death Machine" fulfills Rimmer's military fantasies of command, by charging across a minefield "under cover of daylight". Rimmer's command results in the destruction of all the Waxdroids.

Lister and Cat attempt to end the war, while Rimmer and an unwilling Kryten continue the war, Cat and Lister are imprisoned. Rimmer, who has gone half-crazed with his military fantasies and calling himself "Iron Duke", sees it as his calling and does his best to train the "soldiers", but fails miserably, with three melting from exhaustion. In the end, because of a "daylight charge, over the minefield", everyone (except the Red Dwarf crew) dies however Queen Victoria sneaks into the enemy compound and kills all the evil waxdroids before being fatally shot herself with Kryten then ordered to increase the heat in the compound to ensure they melt.

Afterwards, Rimmer has Lister and Cat released and declares victory despite the fact that both armies were wiped out. Although Rimmer believes that he has done a great duty, Lister is disgusted by the Pyrrhic victory, demands Rimmer's light bee and swallows it- with Rimmer still conscious inside it. He promises that Rimmer will "come out in a couple of days", so he can go through what he put them through, and asks the others if they fancy eating a vindaloo as they return to Red Dwarf.

Deleted Scenes

Available on the Series IV DVD:

  • Two cuts for time were made as the crew prepare to use the Matter Paddle. Cat says that, as the most awesome-looking guy in the Universe, he isn't having his molecules rearranged. He also says that Rimmer being 200,000 light years away isn't far enough.
  • Rimmer and Kryten's encounter with the monsters in prehistoric world was originally longer.
Dvd recovered scenes 300104 6
  • More time with Elvis and Pope Gregory XIII's waxdroids, with Rimmer referring to St Gregory as the patron saint of GBH (Grievous Bodily Harm) when Gregory threatens to turn Rimmer's head into a bowling ball.
  • Lister and Cat experience further terror in their prison cell. Lister says that the Nazis may turn them into handbags, and Cat doesn't mind if he goes out as matching accessories.
  • Kryten's further discoveries about Waxworld include its original size, and that it used to house 10,000 waxdroids.
  • More battle footage includes Stan Laurel's death.

Guest Stars

Hero World

  • Mahatma Gandhi - Charles Reynolds
  • St. Francis of Assisi - Ray Chaney
  • Queen Victoria - Alice De Mallet De Donas
  • Mother Teresa - Loraine Farraro
  • Jean-Paul Sartre - Jeremy De Satge

Villain World

  • Hermann Goering - Robert Smythe (uncredited)
  • Joseph Goebbels - Raymond Martin
  • Al Capone - David Garry
  • KKK member - Joe Wenbourne (uncredited)
  • Hell's Angel - Kevin O'Brien (uncredited)

Fiction World

  • Winnie the Pooh (unseen). Executed by Nazis.
  • Santa Claus - played by Sam Avent. Killed in the final charge with the Heroes.

Prehistoric World

Rimmer and Kryten first materialise on Waxworld in the "Prehistoric World" part of the theme park. The dinosaurs encountered were stock footage from an old Kaiju film, the 1967 film Daikyojū Gappa.


  • For the last two episodes of Series IV the closing credits do not include the standard Red Dwarf theme song. At the end of "Dimension Jump" the Hammond Organ version of the song is played by Rimmer and the Skutters without any lyrics. In "Meltdown", the Waxdroid Elvis Presley sings the Red Dwarf theme at the end.
  • This is the first time the Light Bee is shown and spoken of, it also explains how Rimmer can lie on a bed or sit on a chair, because of that "small physical presence".
  • To explain Rimmer's even more than usually demented behavior, Kryten advances a theory that Lister damaged his light bee when he swallowed it and spat it out before, making the slaughter of the wax droids Lister's indirect fault.
  • Rimmer's drill-sergeant speeches to his waxdroid army are inspired by Gunnery Sergeant Hartman in Full Metal Jacket - albeit a little toned down from that film.
  • Tony Hawks was often called the "fifth Dwarfer", since he would often do the warm-up for the studio audience, and played characters such as Talkie Toaster and the compere to the The Sensational Reverse Brothers in "Backwards". Hawks plays Caligula in this episode, and it is the last time Hawks appears in Red Dwarf.

Background Information

  • The episode was meant to go out at the beginning of Series IV, but was moved to the end. This rescheduling was for political sensitivity issues; the episode carries a strong anti-war message, because it was before the end of the First Gulf War.
  • The Villain HQ was Shepperton Studios' central 'Old House' - also used in films such as The Omen and The Mummy Returns.[1]
  • The exterior scenes were filmed in fields outside Shepperton Studios in an attempt to keep the episode within budget. However, close proximity to Heathrow Airport forced cast and crew to undertake a large number of retakes.[2]
  • With the amount of guest actors for this episode, many of them professional impersonators (such as the Elvis and Marilyn Monroe waxdroids), this was the busiest Red Dwarf set to date. The Hitler waxdroid, however, was portrayed by Kenneth Hadley, who was chosen by casting director Jane Davies by scribbling mustaches and falling fringes on the actor's publicity photos. The actor originally hired to play Gandhi, Alex Tetteh-Lartey, had to be replaced since he couldn't take the cold on location, as well as being too frail to do the push-ups required in the script. The Father Christmas actor got a little too close to one of the explosions during filming.
  • This episode was at least partially inspired by the 1973 film Westworld.
  • A nice effect was created for this episode - Holly present in the display on Rimmer's space bike as he watches over the final battle. However, this was cut down to only a brief glimpse in the final episode. This was originally going to be a larger role in the story. Even though the shot is brief, Holly is notably frustrated with Rimmer too, just as Lister, Cat and Kryten are in the episode.

Noteworthy Dialogue

  • Rimmer: "My god, Kryten, this is my destiny! I was born for this moment."
    Kryten: "Not sure I'm following you, sir..."
    Rimmer: "Across that valley lies an army of darkness such as mankind has never seen. The only thing between them and total victory is this pathetic pocket of resistance. Without a leader, without a plan. Into this bleak arena steps a man, the man for the moment."
    Kryten: "Who?"
    Rimmer: "Me, who do you think, Pat Boone?"
  • Waxdroid Elvis Presley: "Reach for the sky, boys! Let me see them understains."
  • Elvis Presley: "You've been wonderful prisoners, you really have..."
  • Elvis Presley: "Anybody got a burger? Haven't eaten in five minutes"
  • Waxdroid Caligula:: "Rasputin, bring in the bucket of soapy frogs and remove his trousers!"
  • Caligula:: "Rasputin, bring hither the skin diving suit with the bottom cut out, and unleash the rampant wildebeest"
  • Caligula:: "Rasputin, I'm very cross indeed! Guards!"
  • Rimmer: [to Mahatma Gandhi] "Get Gandhi out of that damn nappy and into a uniform. Have you no pride man, don't you want to win this war or what? Don't eyeball ME Gandhi! Get on the floor and give me fifty push-ups NOW!"
  • Rimmer: [to St. Francis of Assisi] "There's only two kinds from Assisi, steers and queers. Which one are you BOY?"
  • Rimmer: [to Jean-Paul Sartre] "Well Sartre, we don't like existentialists around here. And we certainly don't like French philosophers poncing around in their black polo-necks filling everyone's heads with their theories about the bleakness of existence and the absurdity of the cosmos. CLEAR?"
  • Rimmer: "The deranged menace that once threatened this world is vanquished."
    Lister: "No he isn't pal, you're still here."
    Rimmer: "I've brought about peace, freedom and democracy."
    Lister: "Yeah Rimmer, right, absolutely. Now all the corpses that litter that battlefield out there can just lie there, safe in the knowledge that they snuffed it under a flag of peace, and can now happily decompose in land of freedom. You smegger."


  • In a previous episode, "Dimension Jump", Ace Rimmer states that Kryten's Series 4000 is not waterproof. Yet in "Meltdown", Kryten and Lister teleport into the shower in the sleeping quarters by mistake using the Matter Paddle. The shower is apparently automatic, and they emerge both dripping wet.
    Many things are water-resistant but not waterproof.
  • Apparently Rimmer wiped out all of the planet's population, but what about the dinosaurs near the start of the episode?
    He wiped out the intelligent life, as in the Wax Droids based on humans and fictional characters in Hero World and Villain World.


  1. Series IV DVD booklet

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