Tongue Tied

"We're on a mining ship, three million years into Deep Space. . . can someone explain to me where the smeg I got this traffic cone?"
-Dave Lister ("The Last Day")

Red Dwarf is an ongoing British comedy/science-fiction multimedia franchise. The central component of the franchise is the television programme which has run for twelve series (formerly on the BBC, now on the Dave channel, and rarely on the GOLD channel.)

However, there are also four novels (which takes place in the same universe but a different continuity to the television series), audio books, a board game, mobile phone games, comic books, and various toys, clothes and other merchandise.


Red Dwarf began as a television series sitcom in 1988 by Grant Naylor Productions (Grant Naylor being a pseudonym of the writing team composed by Rob Grant and Doug Naylor). The duo had previously written for Spitting Image, and the origins of Red Dwarf were in a comedy science fiction radio sketch they wrote called Son of Cliché.

Naylor and Grant came up with the idea for Red Dwarf in the real-life Aigburth Arms, which would also feature in the fictional stories. Inspiration for Red Dwarf came from a number of sources, including The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, the prison comedy Porridge, flat share comedy The Odd Couple, and the sci-fi films 2001: A Space Odyssey, Alien and Dark Star.[1][2][3]

Red Dwarf was originally shown on the BBC 2 station, although it is now shown on the "Dave" channel. Twelve series have been made (including the ninth which was a three-part mini-series to "reboot" the show), and numerous television specials, including numerous "smeg-ups compilations (or bloopers), Universe Challenge and Can't Smeg, Won't Smeg. The television series regularly racked up many millions of views.

Two pilots were made for a new version of the show in the United States in 1992, but the American pilots were unsuccessful in getting an American series made. A project to get a live-action film underway stalled. Older series of the British television show were remastered in 1998.

The franchise has branched out into different media, including four best-selling novels (Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers, Better Than Life, Last Human and Backwards), which take place in an alternate dimension to the television series. There are also toys, puppets and figurines of the ships and characters, a paper-based role-playing game, paper comics such as the Red Dwarf Smegazine, a radio show, webcomics such as Prelude to Nanarchy and Scoop of the Century, and mobile episodes such as "Red Christmas".

The last television series to be broadcast was Series XII in 2017. A feature-length television movie, The Promised Land, was broadcast in 2020.


Red Dwarf is about the adventures of slob Dave Lister, the only survivor of a disaster that killed the crew of the Jupiter Mining Company spaceship Red Dwarf. Lister, the lowest ranking crewmember of Red Dwarf, smuggled a pregnant cat, Frankenstein on board after shore leave on Titan. He was caught in possession of an illegal animal, but refused to surrender it to the ship's captain for dissection. As punishment he was sentenced to eighteen months in suspended animation. However, during this time, a radiation leak killed every living thing on board Red Dwarf except for Lister and his cat, who was safely stashed in the ship's vast cargo hold. After three million years, when the radiation finally faded into background levels, Lister was revived by the ship's artificial intelligence Holly to discover that he is the last human being alive, but he is not alone. Lister and his companions make up the regular characters of the show, the Boys from the Dwarf.

As Lister makes his way back to Earth his only companions are Arnold Rimmer, a hologramatic representation of a dead shipmate, and Cat, a member of a feline race that evolved from Lister's pet cat and who was, other than Lister, the only known remaining living being aboard the vessel.[4] The crew of Red Dwarf is later joined by Kryten, a mechanoid and Kristine Kochanski, a parallel universe version of Lister's dream woman.


One of the series' highest accolades came in 1994, when an episode from the Series VI, "Gunmen of the Apocalypse", won an International Emmy Award in the Popular Arts category, and in the same year the series was also awarded "Best BBC Comedy Series" at the British Comedy Awards.[5] The series attracted its highest ratings, of more than eight million viewers, during Series VIII in 1999.[6]

The revived series on digital channel Dave has consistently delivered some of the highest ratings for non-Public Service Broadcasting commissions in the UK.[7][8][9] The show has been critically acclaimed, and has a Metacritic score of 84/100.[10] Series XI was voted "Best Returning TV Sitcom" and "Comedy of the Year" for 2016 by readers for the British Comedy Guide.[11]


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