Tongue Tied

Waiting for God is the fourth episode of Series I of Red Dwarf. It first aired 7 March 1988 on BBC2.


Dave Lister researches the background of Cat, learning that during the three million years he spent in stasis Lister had become the god of the cat people's religion, Cloister.

Meanwhile, the hologram Arnold Rimmer shows no interest in it, instead becoming obsessed with a salvaged space pod that he believes will contain aliens that can give him a body back, or potentially a beautiful alien woman with six breasts.


As it turns out, Dave Lister lied about passing the chef's exam in the previous episode to make Arnold Rimmer believe that Lister now outranks him. According to the Red Dwarf computer Holly, this was the most interesting thing to happen aboard the ship for a long while.

During a particularly boring day, Rimmer enters the Drive Room and asks Holly to give him access to the captain's confidential crew files on the crew. Holly says that they are for the captain's eyes only, but Rimmer argues that he has been dead for three million years, and he is the highest ranking member aboard. Holly concedes, and Rimmer asks him to read out the files. Rimmer is pleased with the unflattering comments about Lister, but is then angered by the even worse comments about himself.

Soon after, Holly notices a pod floating in space and Rimmer wants it salvaged and orders Holly to bring it aboard using the scoop, convinced that it contains alien life forms. Rimmer begins to speculate wilder and wilder theories, much to the annoyance of Lister.

When Lister violates Rimmer's self-imposed quarantine in the Observation Room, he finds that it is in fact a garbage pod jettisoned from the Waste Disposal Unit of Red Dwarf itself. Lister knows this because, before the accident, he had worked Waste Disposal a few times, but Rimmer never had. Holly explains that he has known all along but decided not to tell Rimmer as it was "worth a laugh." Lister agrees to keep the joke, while Rimmer's elaborate ideas about the possibilities of the aliens who built the pod expand and grow to the point that he believes them to be able to give him a real body. This is all much to Lister's amusement and ire.

Now having lost all interest in the pod, Lister begins to research the religion of the cat people and confirms that they are a race which evolved from his pet, Frankenstein, and that they now have his image as their God, "Cloister". He does this, as well as looking up more, with a translated Cat Holy Book, the "Book of Smeg", transformed from the cat language of smells and marks into plain English. Lister is upset when he learns that, as they mistakenly tried to follow his plan to travel to Fiji and set up a diner, there was a great number of "Cat Wars" over the petty issue of what colour hats the employees would wear which wiped most of the species out (and Lister notes, sadly, that both sides were wrong). The survivors left Red Dwarf in the Cat Arks. Wanting to learn more, Lister continues looking for Cat, who frequently disappears into regions unknown in the hold of the massive ship, beyond Holly's "supervision field".

Cloister the Supid

"It is I, Cloister!"

Lister follows Cat deep into the hold of the ship through Supply Pipe 28 and at end finds a chamber where a Cat Priest who is dying with the belief that he hasn't lived up to the expectations of the almighty Cloister, their god. Cat isn't interested in the fact that his mentor is near death; only wanting to talk about his "investigating feet". Lister pities the Cat Priest and, in the guise of Cloister, convinces him that he has lived admirably as a priest so that he can die in peace.

Rimmer's quarantine period finally ends and he sends Lister in to investigate the pod. After he pulls out a rotting roast chicken, Rimmer exclaims in the excitement of finding the "perfectly preserved remains of a Quagaar warrior." However, interrupting the closing credits, he shouts "It's a garbage pod! It's a smegging garbage pod!"

Guest Stars[]

Deleted Scenes[]

  • Extended scenes are available on the DVD. These include Lister and Rimmer in the sleeping quarters discussing philosophy and the meaning of life (with Lister saying it to "be nice"); and Rimmer's firm belief (and Lister's firm disbelief) in aliens.


  • Rimmer reveals that eighteen weeks have passed since Lister came out of stasis in the episode "The End".
  • Viewers were originally going to discover that Lister lied about the results of his chefs exam from the previous episode in greater detail, however Rob Grant and Doug Naylor decided to get it out of the way in Holly's opening message as this episode already had two plot-lines.
  • Except for the remark by Holly at the beginning that Lister pretended to pass the chef's exam, although he really failed, this episode has nothing to do with the plots of Episodes 3, 5, and 6, which were in some way connected.
  • Until the 2020 special The Promised Land (which in many ways acts as a sequel to this episode) aired over thirty years later, this was the only episode to dwell on Cat's history and people.
  • The Cat Priest has one white hand and one black hand; this is because the Felis sapiens, like their ancestors, often had patches of different colours.[1] This episode also marks the only time (until 2020's The Promised Land) that another cat person other than Cat has appeared, although two, a male and a female, were supposed to appear in the "lost episode" of Series VII called "Identity Within". The priest cat is the only other confirmed life form aboard Red Dwarf other than Cat and Lister at the start of the series, although neither Holly nor Lister was aware of this until moments before the priest's death.
  • The Cat Priest is also the first character to die on-screen during the show's run. While the entire crew of the Red Dwarf except for Lister had died in "The End", and Rimmer witnessed the death of Bexley Lister in a future echo during the episode of the same name, these events occurred off-screen.
  • The episode established major backstory elements of Cat's species, and also established that a group of cat people left Red Dwarf on the Cat Arks and, presumably, settled elsewhere, opening future story possibilities (finally resolved in the 2020 special The Promised Land). Exactly how a viable race was created through inbreeding among Frankenstein's litter is left unexplained (although the novel Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers suggests that background radiation left over from the radiation leak sped up their evolution).
  • The Dwarfers read Captain Hollister's confidential reports on them in this episode, much to Rimmer's chagrin. The Dwarfers revisit another set of the captain's private appraisal files on the crew in the Series XII finale "Skipper". The similar unflattering remarks about Rimmer send him into a deep despondency, a contributing factor when he later uses a Quantum Skipper to find a dimension where he is not such a loser.
  • Rimmer gets antsy about Lister wearing his uniform, even though it's one of his spare uniforms, identical to the one he turned to powder in.

Background Information[]

  • As noted in the cast commentary on the Series I DVD, Craig Charles said that he pulled his Achilles tendon whilst climbing through Supply Pipe 28 filming looking for the Cat Priest.[2]
  • This episode shares its title with that of a BBC sitcom about the residents of a nursing home. Due to this, the original three episode video release "Series I-Byte 2" bears the title of "Confidence and Paranoia", the second episode shown on the tape, to prevent fans of the other show from making an incorrect purchase. The title itself is a play on the title of the classic Samuel Beckett play, Waiting for Godot.

Noteworthy Dialogue[]

  • Lister: That's what I'm saying, I am your God!
    Cat: Ok, (points to his food) turn this into a woman.
  • (About the captain's confidential performance reviews)
    Rimmer: Read me Lister's file, Holly.
    Holly: David Lister, Technician, third class. Captain's remarks: "Has requested sick leave due to diarrhoea on no less than five hundred occasions. Left his previous job as a supermarket trolley attendant after ten years because he didn't want to get tied down to a career. Promotion prospects: zero.
  • Rimmer: All right, Holly. Give me...give me my own file.
    Holly: Arnold Rimmer, Technician, second Class. Captain's remarks: "There's a saying amongst the officers: if a job's worth doing, it's worth doing well. If it's not worth doing, give it to Rimmer. He aches for responsibility, but constantly fails the engineering exam.
    Rimmer: Whoa! Whoa! Whoa, Holly! Holly, I want *my* report. Rimmer. Two Ms, E, R.
    Holly: (continuing unabated) Astoundingly zealous. Possibly mad. Probably has more teeth than brain cells. Promotion prospects: comical."
    Rimmer: No no no no! Holly, I want "Rimmer". That's two Rs, one at the front, one at the back.
    Holly: Arnold, this "is" your report.
    Rimmer: I always hated that pus-head Hollister. He always resented my popularity. That's why he never put forward my proposal to reduce the minimum haircut length by an eighth of an inch. Small-minded, petty-thinking modo.
  • Lister: Rimmer, there's nothing out there, you know. There's nobody out there. No alien monsters, no Zargon warships, no beautiful blondes with beehive hairdos who say: "Show me some more of this Earth thing called kissing." There's just you, me, the Cat, and a lot of floating smeggin' rocks. That's it. Finito.
    Rimmer: Lister, if there's no one out there, what's the point in existence? Why are we here?
  • Lister: [examining markings on the space pod] Hold on... Give me an R... Give me an E... Give me a D.... Give me a Red Dwarf...Garbage Pod! Holly, did Rimmer ever work in waste disposal?
    Holly: No, Dave.
    Lister: It's one of our old Red Dwarf garbage pods with the writing burnt off in places. Why didn't you tell him, Hol?
    Holly: Well, it's a laugh, innit?
  • Lister: This is terrible. Holy wars! Killing! They're just usin' religion as an excuse to be extremely crappy to each other.
    Talkie Toaster: So what else is new? (Lister makes a face as if to say "good point")
  • Lister: I mean, what kind of holy writ is this, Rimmer? It is a sin to be cool.
    Lister: "Quagars"?
    Rimmer: Quagaars, it's a name I made up! Double-A, actually! I believe the Quagaars'll have the technology to give me a new body!
    Lister: Never mind this tot, where's the Cat?
    Rimmer: "Tot"?
    Lister: Tot.
    Rimmer: "Tot"?!
    Lister: Tot!
    Rimmer: "TOT"?!
    Lister: TOT!
  • Cat Priest: But then, the boy was born, to The Cripple and The Idiot.
    Cat: What idiot?
    Priest: Your father, boy.
    Cat: My father was a jelly-brain?
    Priest: Yes! That's why he ate his own feet!
    Cat: I did wonder...
  • Rimmer: (Credits roll but then stop) It's a garbage pod. (Credits roll again, then stop again) IT'S A SMEGGING GARBAGE POD!!!

Continuity Errors[]

  • The artwork depicting the cat holy wars accidentally shows the soldiers on one side wearing orange hats, and their rivals wearing purple hats, instead of red on one side and blue on the other.
    • This may have been an error on the part of the artist, or it may have been intentional given the supposed limited intelligence and/or colour blindness of the cats.


While reception to Series I was generally positive, the deeper and religious themes of "Waiting for God" was polarising to fans.[3]

On the Internet Movie Database, "Waiting for God" has a weighted average rating of 7.6 out of 10, making it the 52nd highest rated out of a total of 74 episodes.[4]

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 "Waiting for God" was voted 48th out of the 73 episodes.[5]