Tongue Tied

Timeslides is the fifth episode in Series III of Red Dwarf, and seventeenth episode overall. It first aired 12 December 1989 on BBC2.


The developing fluid that Kryten uses to process old photographs mutates and the photographs come alive. The boys from the Dwarf find they can go into the photograph, and Dave Lister decides to use the process as a form of time travel. Using the time slides, Lister plans on changing history so that he does not end up marooned in Deep Space aboard Red Dwarf.


Lister is depressed — bored with Scrabble, bored with table golf, bored with tiddlywinks show jumping, bored with Durex volleyball, bored with Unicycle Polo, bored with soapsud slalom — even bored with Junior Angler.

Lister tells Arnold Rimmer and Cat that he hates his life on Red Dwarf, and yearns for a better life. During the conversation, Rimmer reminisces about a former schoolmate from Io House, Fred "Thickie" Holden, who despite being one of the stupidest boys in class went on to earn an immense fortune with an invention called the Tension Sheet, which, as Rimmer states, is merely bubble wrap that has been painted red with the words "Tension Sheet" written on it.

Lister enters Frank Rimmer's wedding to Janine through a timeslide.

Lister berates Adolf Hitler.

Meanwhile, while working in the ship's photo processing darkroom, Kryten accidentally discovers that the developing fluid has mutated and can make photographs come to life. The same thing is possible with slides, and soon the crew are testing this by stepping into photographs. The only problem is that they can't move outside the borders of the original photo. Lister steps into a photo to when Adolf Hitler was addressing the Nuremberg rally and shouts to the crowd to "Ignore him! He's a complete and total nutter, and he's only got one testicle." before getting into a scuffle with the Führer himself and swiping his briefcase. Looking inside, the crew find a banana and crisp sandwich and a bomb planted there by Von Stauffenberg which they quickly throw back to Nazi Germany with seconds to spare, accidentally saving Hitler's life. Lister's photo then appears in an old newspaper. This excites the crew, as they now have a rudimentary form of time travel.

Dave Lister gives his younger self the Tension Sheet at the Aigburth Arms

Although the crew are denied the chance to go back to Earth permanently since they can't move outside a photograph, Lister decides to go back in time and change history by giving the Tension Sheet invention to his seventeen-year-old self, who is in the band Smeg and the Heads at the Aigburth Arms.

History is altered, with Lister becoming a billionaire instead of Fred Holden, and Lister never joins Red Dwarf. This creates unforeseen changes in the present, as Cat and Kryten disappear (as Lister never smuggled Frankenstein aboard, so the Cat Race never existed and since no-one was able to pilot a transport craft, they never rescued Kryten from Nova 5), leaving Rimmer alone with Holly.

The billionaire Lister fails to recognise Rimmer

Refusing to accept an eternity alone with Holly, Rimmer uses the timeslides to visit the billionaire Lister, hoping to persuade him to come back to Red Dwarf, and claiming "it is my duty. My duty as a complete and utter bastard!" Lister, however — now living in a mansion with a supermodel wife — fails to recognise him, and tells the butler Gilbert to throw him out.

Rimmer decides to copy Lister and make himself the billionaire, and uses the timeslides to go even further back in time to give the secret of the Tension Sheet to his younger self in Io House. However, Rimmer's plan is overheard by his younger self's bunk room schoolmate, Fred Holden. Upon returning to the present, everything is put back exactly the way it was. Lister, Cat and Kryten re-appear and Rimmer waits to disappear to fame and riches. However, nothing happens as Holly explains the Tension Sheet was invented by one "Thicky" Holden and all Rimmer has done is set things back to exactly as they were. As Rimmer laments his bad luck and poor lot in life, Holly suddenly realises something is different... she can't explain how, but Rimmer is now alive, not a hologram.

Delighted with this turn of events, Rimmer takes a bite out of Hitler's banana and crisp sandwich, and tells Kryten to unpack 'Rachael' and get out the puncture repair kit. Elated, he rushes out into a corridor, enjoying the chance to touch the boxes in the storage area but before he can get too far, he slams his fists down on top of some innocuous-looking crates containing explosives. The resulting large explosion kills Rimmer once again. Lister asks the others if they heard anything, which they all shrug off.

Deleted Scenes

Available on the Series III DVD:

  • The opening scene of Cat wanting to play juvenile games with an unwilling and depressed Lister is extended with additional dialogue. Amongst them Cat mentions jousting with wheelchairs, waste-bin helmets and pool cues; Lister does joust in the episode "RD: Stoke Me a Clipper" as Lister of Smeg.
  • An alternate take of the tension sheet discussion was re-shot to remove Rimmer's "hologram box" because the writers considered it an unsuccessful effect. The box (similar to a glove-box) enables the intangible hologram to operate two blinking mechanical arms inside the box, with which Rimmer is using it to re-paint his childhood model soldiers and spitfire airplanes.
  • Additional dialogue with Rimmer talking to the rich Lister, his wife and butler Gilbert. Rimmer lists all the things Lister now has, and says that all he used to be happy with was a curry, a beer and a gory film.

Guest Stars


  • One of the Timeslide photos shows Adolf Hitler, leader of the "runners-up" in World War II, in Nuremberg. Lister comes back from the Timeslide with a suitcase from Staff Colonel Von Stauffenberg, who was a key member in the assassination attempt on Hitler, although in reality the bomb had been hidden in the colonel's briefcase, not Hitler's. The possibilities of the Timeslides are endless, as Lister says, that they could go back and convince Dustin Hoffman not to make Ishtar. With the timelines changed Lister is now famous and rich as shown in a news reel. He bought Buckingham Palace just to gravel his drive. He called his home "Xanadu", not as a reference to the movie Citizen Kane, but rather as a tribute to the hit single by Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich. The wealthy Lister is profiled in a fictional TV show as a spoof of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. Lister's teenage self continually accuses him of being a crypto-facist.
  • Several changes to "Timeslides" were done as part of it being remastered in 1998. The special guest star Adolf Hitler mention has been removed from the opening credits. Lister kicking the bomb into the timeslide has been tightened and a fire element added to explosion. Lister's reference to the Dustin Hoffman movie Ishtar has been removed. Xanadu and Citizen Kane references have been removed. A running water video effect has been added to rich Lister's huge statue.
  • It is theorised that Rimmer's encounter with himself aged eight made the version of himself from three weeks before the radiation leak less disturbed by his encounter with his future self (from "Stasis Leak") and listened to his future self's advice and put himself into stasis, which was how he was alive at the end of this episode (briefly).
  • Ironically, if Rimmer was successful in changing his timeline as he had intended, the Cadmium 2 radiation leak would never had happened as the drive plate would've been fitted properly, the Cat race would never have existed and Kryten would still be trapped on Nova 5 and Lister would've lived a relatively normal life regardless of what happened. Also the timeslides would never have existed, which meant that they couldn't go back in time to alter history in the first place, creating a paradox similar to that in "Out of Time".
  • This is the first time we see Kryten remove his eyes (to wipe them before reattaching them to his head).
  • Craig Charles's brother Emile played the younger version of Lister.
  • This is the only episode where we see the younger versions of Lister and Rimmer (played by Emile Charles and Simon Gaffney, respectively) in the same episode.
  • Kryten at one point suggests returning to the site of JFK's assassination in 1963 (and calling at the president to duck), foreshadowing the events of "Tikka to Ride" years later.
  • Cat appears to have learned a lot about playing golf since his club-throwing attempt at the sport in "Better Than Life".
  • This is the second episode (after "Stasis Leak") to introduce a substantial change to the personal timeline of the Red Dwarf crew. Although Lister's alternate history is erased, Rimmer's changed history is not, meaning that from here forward, everyone else on Red Dwarf has always known Rimmer to be alive (which means certain events, such as the events of the preceding episode "Bodyswap", now never happened). However, for reasons not explained, Rimmer and Holly remain aware of the changed history, so while returning to hologram form would not be a big adjustment to Rimmer, it would be for Lister and the others. Also left unaddressed is whether, in the newly created timeline, another hologram had been created (such as Kristine Kochanski). Unless, the theory that Rimmer meeting himself aged * made his past self in "Stasis Leak" believe him was true, and Rimmer's body in stasis was found AFTER the events of "Bodyswap".
  • This episode features the only appearances of Frank and Janine Rimmer, at the wedding. Chris Barrie portrayed Frank Rimmer, whilst Janine and the wedding guests were uncredited.

Background Information

  • Due to a continuity error, certain lines had to be cut from the skiing holiday picture scene. The scene established that Lister had got somebody's skiing holiday pictures back by mistake, while the skiers were scripted to discuss about how they received Lister's rather scary birthday snaps, which showed some guys being sick, in place of theirs. Craig Charles realised this was a continuity flaw as at that time, the skiers had yet to receive the pictures and thus would have no memory of them. The lines were cut, but as they were originally speaking parts, Louisa Ruthven and Mark Steel were still credited on-screen.
  • The episode featured music from Craig Charles, though he was uncredited on-screen due to an oversight. Not only did he write the songs "Bad News" and "Cash", but he also penned the "Om" song which was sung by the young Lister, who was played by Emile Charles, Craig's brother. Young Lister was lead singer in the band Smeg and the Heads, portrayed by Jeffrey Walker and Bill Steer of real-life band Carcass.
  • The alternate billionaire Lister's 'Xanadu' mansion scenes were filmed at Lyme Park, later made famous as the location of Mr Darcy's estate of Pemberley in the BBC Pride & Prejudice adaptation.[1]
  • Simon Gaffney played the Young Rimmer. Robert Addie played Gilbert, Lister's servant. Rupert Bates and Richard Hainsworth each played as one of Lister's Bodyguards. Stephen McKintosh played Thickie Holden, Rimmer's roommate and inventor of the Tension Sheet. Louisa Ruthven appeared as Ski Woman and Mark Steel appeared as Ski Man in one of the Timeslide photos, Koo Stark played Lady Sabrina Mulholland-Jjones, Lister's "most desirable woman in the western hemisphere" fiancée. Ruby Wax, director Ed Bye's wife, played Blaize Falconberger, the host of the fictional TV show Lifestyles of the Disgustingly Rich and Famous. That role was originally written for Monty Python star Graham Chapman, but he died shortly before filming began. Craig Charles' real-life friends, Bill Steer and Jeffrey Walker of the death metal band Carcass, play the young Lister's bandmates Dobbin and Gazza in Smeg and the Heads. Chris Barrie also appears in one slide as Rimmer's Brother Frank Rimmer. It is a picture of Frank Rimmer's wedding which Lister manages to accidentally gatecrash, leading an annoyed Frank to repeatedly punch Lister in the stomach.

Noteworthy Dialogue

Lister meets Adolf Hitler.

  • Lister gatecrashing Adolf Hitler's speech: Ignore him, he's a complete and total nutter. And he's only got one testicle.
  • Lister: It's the first song I wrote... It's called "Om"!
  • Rimmer: I'm going in to rescue him [rescue Lister from the lifestyle of a playboy]; it's my duty as a complete and utter bastard!
  • Rimmer: Sabrina Mulholland-Jjones!? The Duke of Lincoln's eldest daughter, model, best-selling novelist and international jet-setter?
    Lister: Yeah, she's me bird.
  • Rimmer addressing the now-rich Lister: You call this happiness? Surrounded by toadying lackeys and paid sycophants? Living with a love goddess, sex-bomb model megastar. You call this contentment? Y'know, I stand here now, and I look at the two of us, and I ask one simple question: who is the rich man? You, with your fifty-eight houses, your private island in the Bahamas, your multi-billion pound business empire, or me, with... with... with what I've got? (After a few moments of silence) It's you, isn't it?
  • The now-alive, not-a-hologram-anymore-and-feeling-spectacular-about-it Rimmer: Kryten, unpack Rachael and get out the puncture repair kit! I'm alive! I can touch! I can feel! I can fondle! I'm alive! Don't you think it's incredible?! I AM ALI- (explosion)
    Cat: What was he saying?
    Lister: (Shrugs)


  • The episode was originally broadcast on the British television channel BBC2 on 12 December 1989 in the 9:00pm evening time slot. Although the episode is not remembered as much as its fellow Series III efforts - "Backwards" and "Polymorph" - it was still rated highly. 'Reviews by Gavrielle' remarking that the episode was "brilliant from start to finish."