While exploring the SSS Esperanto, the Dwarfers were assailed by the Despair Squid, which sprayed Starbug with its hallucinogenic ink. Starbug crashed into a sandbank and the crew were killed upon impact. They then awoke in a Total Immersion Video Game arcade, where they were told that the past four years were actually spent in a simulation.
When they opened the suitcases that contained their "real" identities, Lister discovered that his name was Sebastian Doyle, that he worked for a company called CGI and had some very expensive clothes and jewellery. He even had his own limousine in the car park. He also discovered that Rimmer was really his half-brother, William. Billy Doyle was a smelly, alcoholic drop-out and was his brother's complete opposite.
Later, as they left the arcade to discover more about themselves, the Dwarfers were confronted by a fascist policeman. He threatened to execute them as enemies of the state, until Lister stepped out of the shadows. The policeman recognised him as Voter Colonel Sebastian Doyle - CGI section chief and head of the Ministry of Alteration, an assassination bureau. Rumours had abounded that Doyle had spent the last four years on a personal retreat. Kryten had to kill the policeman to prevent him from killing a fleeing child, so Lister drove them away at breakneck speed from the pursuing authorities.
In spite of his slovenliness, Lister had always considered himself to be a good and honourable man and was devastated by the revelation that he was really an official in a tyrannical regime responsible for sending thousands of people to their deaths. He was prepared to commit group suicide with the others, until Holly managed to convince Kryten to release a mood stabiliser into the air that brought them all back to reality ("Back to Reality").
Although this was only a hallucination, according to dimensional theory this fantasy world continued to exist after the Dwarfers had left, meaning that Doyle's legacy goes on.
Behind the Scenes