Tongue Tied

Series VIII of Red Dwarf aired between February and April 1999.

It starred Chris Barrie as a resurrected human Arnold Rimmer, Craig Charles as Dave Lister, Danny John-Jules as Cat, Robert Llewellyn as Kryten, Chloë Annett as Kristine Kochanski and Norman Lovett as Holly; with a recurring guest cast of Mac McDonald as Captain Frank Hollister (reprising his earlier role from Series I-II), Graham McTavish as Warden Ackerman, Jake Wood as Kill Crazy and Ricky Grover as Baxter.

As reported on by press releases at the time, the production of Series VIII at Shepperton Studios was chaotic and marred by numerous difficulties.[1]

Generally, Series VIII was not well received by the fans. Many saw the storylines and writing as too over-the-top, almost pantomime-like. Most significantly, Series VIII changed the format of the show drastically, repopulating Red Dwarf with a full crew compliment, and placing the regular characters in the ship prison. Later series would see the ship return to its previous format - that is, the regular characters once again becoming the sole occupants of the ship.

Series VIII was the final series of the original BBC run of Red Dwarf and the last television outing for ten years, until the show returned in 2009 with the special Back to Earth and then properly with Series X in 2012, now funded by digital channel Dave. Although Series VIII has eight episodes, it actually has the fewest number of individual story-lines of any full series, with only five.


The title of Series VIII, resembling writing on a prison wall

Dave Lister and the crew of Starbug finally get the Red Dwarf back, but little do they expect what awaits for them inside. The nanobots have proven far more industrious than ever intended, first over-building the ship to its original design plans, and then to their greatest shock resurrecting the original crew. This reunion with old friends proves bitter-sweet however, as they are soon arrested and charged with stealing Starbug. Although eventually proven innocent, they are instead sentenced to two years in The Tank for misusing classified information. Escalating an already bad situation, Lister signs them all up to the Canaries, a sacrificial convict army which Holly mistakenly informs him is the prison choir. Thus, as well dealing with their guards, such as the Captain and Warden, and literately butting heads with their fellow convicts, such as Kill Crazy and Baxter, they also end up facing a future knowing computer, have Kryten turned into a purveyor of low brow entertainment, find a device that manipulates time, devolving a sparrow into something far less harmless, and are left to die when the ship contracts a chameleonic and highly corrosive micro-organism. Can the newly-revived Rimmer save the day by crossing over into a mirror universe and coming back with an antidote, or is he doomed to die once again?

Main Cast

Cast photo


Picture Title Original Airdate Episode #
Lister.jpg Back in the Red I 18 February 1999 45
After some spectacular flying stunts, Lister and friends finally step aboard their beloved Red Dwarf only to find that they are no longer alone.
Cpt hollister.jpg Back in the Red II 25 February 1999 46
After the nanobots rebuild Red Dwarf, Lister and friends crash land Starbug on board and discover that the crew have been revived. They are arrested for flying Starbug without the necessary rank or qualifications and put on trial.
Data doc.jpg Back in the Red III 4 March 1999 47
Kryten is reset to factory settings, while Lister, Cat, Holly, and Kochanski face two years in the brig. The newly revived Rimmer ponders whether to help them or exploit them.
Krys.jpg Cassandra 11 March 1999 48
Now prisoners and accidental members of the Red Dwarf convict army, the Dwarfers are forced to find out what happened to the crew of SSS Silverberg.
Krytie-tv design.png Krytie TV 18 March 1999 49
Kryten gets his (or is it her) own television show, and Lister gets his guitar back.
0816reddbbc.jpg Pete I 25 March 1999 50
Our friends escape the brig after they acquire a device that manipulates time. Unfortunately they accidentally create and are chased by a beast from the past.
Pete.jpg Pete II 1 April 1999 51
Witnessing what they have created, the Dwarfers face death and Rimmer and Lister push the Captain to the breaking point.
Rimmer-Kicks-Death.png Only The Good... 5 April 1999 52
During another escape attempt, the Dwarfer's find that the ship is being destroyed by a corrosive virus. Rimmer must go into a mirror universe to find an antidote for the virus.

Background Information

  • For Series VIII, Doug Naylor returned to the show's roots and wrote the majority of the series himself. Paul Alexander, whose episodes "Stoke Me a Clipper" and "Epideme" were well received, returned as script supervisor, as well as co-writing "Krytie TV" and "Pete, Part Two". Another episode script he wrote, "Phwoaarr", was ultimately rejected by Doug Naylor.
  • The inspiration for the new series came about during Naylor's work on the remastering of Series I to III. The classic bunk setup and the character of Captain Hollister in those early episodes proved to be a deciding factor in reviving the crew.
  • After a brief leave of absence, Chris Barrie returns as a resurrected version of Arnold Rimmer.
  • Norman Lovett returns as a regular cast-member playing both the original male version of Holly and the non-senile Holly of the rebuilt Red Dwarf.
  • Chloë Annett continued her role as the parallel Kristine Kochanski from Series VII, and the series is the character's last proper appearance thus far. She is often mentioned later on in, as one of Lister's over-riding motivations, but is only seen properly as a hallucination during the events of Back to Earth.
  • Aside from the regulars, and discounting occasional flashbacks in the first season, Series VIII has the largest ongoing background cast of any Red Dwarf season, due to it taking place on a fully operational and crewed Red Dwarf.
  • Doug Naylor later related misgivings about the structure of Series VIII, stating that he dislikes writing multi-parters and that he felt that the opening "Back in the Red" story would have been better off as the one hour special it was originally intended; he put these problems down to budget. The Series VIII DVDs contains extended versions of the multi-parters ("BITR" and "Pete") as single episodes, though this does not mitigate the concerns raised about lesser scenes added in for padding. Later on, for the director's cut of Back to Earth, he actually cut out content from the original episodic versions.
  • This series ends in a cliffhanger. Although seemingly resolved, it is not mentioned in the mini-series Back to Earth, set nine years after Series VIII. The solution is alluded to in the Series X finale "The Beginning", with Rimmer taking credit for saving them. The others dispute this, but are continually interrupted before they can say their side of the story.
  • There is continual debate within the fan community over whether this or, as is also commonly stated, Series VII, is the worst series of Red Dwarf, with Back to Earth also contentious. Largely this comes down to whether one likes or dislikes the over-the-top and almost pantomime comedy of VIII over the attempted comedy-drama format of VII. "Pete, Part Two" is however quite widely felt to be the worst episode ever, with "Krytie TV" also a running contender. Series X and onward is now widely considered to be the show's return to form.
  • Series VIII has the most "lost episodes" of any Red Dwarf series. Series I had "Bodysnatcher", Series III had "Dad", and Series VII had "IDW". Series VIII has two "lost episodes" - "Phwoaarr" and "Earth". Several script ideas, supposedly featuring the return of Kristine Kochanski, had to be cut from the latter part of Series X due to a lack of location funding. However, the exact nature and working titles for these are unknown.


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