The early history of SS Vespasian is unknown.
Three million years into the future, the ship had become entirely populated by the former Series 4000 DivaDroid mechanoids who now made up the "MILF" (Mechanoid Intergalactic Liberation Front), a radical droid faction led by a mech known as Wind. The MILF used Vespasian as a mobile command base as they embarked on their quest around the Galaxy. First and foremost, their self-imposed mission was to locate and free from servitude any other mechs, whilst "re-calibrating" their human masters - that is, turning them into mechs and imposing a life of servitude upon them in kind.
Their secondary goal, once the first had been completed, was to find their "fabled land" - Siliconia - which would make them all free. Ironically, despite their idealism based on "liberty", not all the mechs of SS Vespasian were free and equal. The older Mk. 2 Series 4000 mechs were kept in the lower decks and engine room to do the "grunt" work, whilst the newer Mk. 3 models (such as the MILF leader Wind) lived a life of relative luxury in the upper decks.
When Vespasian came across a Les Gibson Paul guitar floating in space, the MILFs decided to stake it out and see if the guitar's former owner came back to claim it. Unfortunately for the owner of said guitar, Dave Lister of the Red Dwarf, he did indeed come back to reclaim it.
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- SS Vespasian was presumably named after the Roman emperor of the same name from Earth history. There are significant Roman themes throughout the ship, such as Roman-looking laurel wreath designs on flags. This especially evident in the "Colosseum" arena part of the ship, where dissident MILFs are forced to have "clean offs" to the death.
- There are several areas of the spaceship seen in the episode. These include the hangar bay where the Dwarfers first enter; the luxurious Deck 12 where the MILFs pamper themselves and Kryten; the "re-calibration room" where they turn humans into mechanoids; the prisoner cells where the Dwarfers are held; the engine room worked by older MK. 2 Series 4000s and overseen by Rusty; and the gladiatorial arena where "clean-offs" are held.
Behind the Scenes
- As the Dwarfers first enter SS Vespasian, Kryten scans it with a psi-scanner which reveals the ship to be a space freighter. However, a deteriorated sign above their heads apparently reads that Vespasian was used by as a heavy cruiser, registration of AX11698.
- Behind-the-scenes photography reveals that SS Vespasian was owned by the "Eastern Space Freighting Company". The Vespasian interior scenes were filmed at the Kempton Steam Rooms, with the sets heavily inspired by steampunk.
- Website of Matthew Clark, chief graphics designer on Series XII