-Talkie Toaster ("White Hole")
Talkie Toaster, or simply The Toaster, is a minor recurring character in the Red Dwarf novels and television series.
Manufactured by a Taiwanese company named Crapola Inc., Talkie Toaster was an annoying, monomaniacal, artificially-intelligent electric bread toaster purchased by Dave Lister whilst on planet-leave at a second-hand junk shop on Miranda, along with robot goldfish and a smuggled pet cat.
Despite being more intelligent than the Red Dwarf computer Holly, the novelty kitchen appliance was, on top of being defective, only designed to provide light conversation at breakfast time, and as such it was totally single-minded and tried to steer every conversation to the subject of toast.
Talkie Toaster appeared in the Red Dwarf novels, and in the television series, two episodes of Series I, a deleted scene in Series II, and once in a rebuilt form in Series IV and much later in Series XII.
In the second novel, Better Than Life, it is explained that Talkie Toaster was bought by Lister at a souvenir shop on Miranda for the princely sum of $£19.99 (DollarPounds) plus tax. It was not fitted with a Silicon Heaven belief chip to keep the price down, and therefore had no concept of an afterlife, or even right and wrong. It was advertised as being able to sense the mood of its owner and engage in conversation appropriately, but whether due to being defective, or the cheapness of the product, this is untrue. While it starts with polite suggestions, if you don't want toast right this minute, it goes on to demands, hysterical sobbing and abuse from the toaster that would make a pimp blush. It even attempts guilt trips and utilises extortion.
With the rest of the crew trapped in "Better Than Life", Holly reactivated the Toaster for company, but he won 793 consecutive chess games against Holly due to his computer senility having severely depleted Holly's original IQ. During a conversation, TT mentioned a loophole in Holly's programming that would technically cure his computer senility by reducing his runtime, the procedure doubling Holly's original IQ to the point where he could even tell the Toaster that Lister had created the universe. However, when Holly recalculated his lifespan, he determined that he had actually shortened his life span to only three and a half minutes, forcing him to turn himself off before it could run down. During this time, the Toaster also saved the crew from death: while Holly was a genius, he explained to the Toaster how to escape from a Black Hole, information which later came in useful when the crew encountered one. The Toaster did not, however, merely volunteer this information: it practically tortured the crew by forcing them to eat ridiculous amounts of toast before talking (Cat later explains that the toast was burnt, cold and soggy, and Kryten was forced to change stomach-bags due to him eating Rimmer's share as well as his own).
When the crew were searching for Lister back on Earth- Lister having been separated from the main ship due to the time dilation effect of the black hole, with the result that they were only away for a few weeks while Lister experienced thirty-four years- Kryten and the Toaster were attacked by a polymorph when they took it on board in the belief that it was Lister. Talkie Toaster saved them by decapitating it, flipping himself over and firing out a metal plate- the crumb tray- that had been wedged into his grill. However, after the crew loses a certain emotion to another Polymorph that had managed to get on board (Lister loses his fear, Cat loses his vanity, Kryten loses his guilt, and Rimmer loses his anger), the Toaster is destroyed by Kryten before the Polymorph is destroyed and their personalities are returned to normal.
Talkie Toaster was subsequently repaired, but its personality circuits were damaged to the point where it believed it was a moose and was reduced to making loud bellowing noises and threatening to charge the crew with its antlers.
Talkie Toaster did not appear in either of the follow-up books, although Backwards has Holly musing on what it says about his mental state that he agreed to a plan to restore his IQ based on the suggestion of the Toaster.
In two episodes of Series I, "Future Echoes" and "Waiting for God", Talkie Toaster appears as a standard 1970s toaster made from stainless steel but with a circular light on the side which flashes as he speaks, and is voiced by John Lenahan. The Toaster would keep interjecting in conversations in surprisingly and annoyingly smart ways, and whenever possible would try eventually to steer the conversation towards toast. He likes to greet people with the phrase, "Howdy-doodly-do, how's it going?"
- "This one's mental. He's defective. He wants everyone to eat toast all of the time. He's obsessed with it. And if you don't want to eat, like, four hundred rounds of toast every hour, he throws a major wobbler. That's what caused the accident in the first place. (Kryten: What accident?) The accident involving me, the toaster, the waste disposal and a fourteen-pound lump hammer. And another thing is, he always says "Howdy Doodly Doo". Drives you spare. I mean, what the smeg does "Howdy Doodly Doo" mean?"
- ―Lister describing how annoying the toaster is to Kryten[src]
Eventually Talkie Toaster became too much for Lister who smashed the Toaster into 3000 separate pieces with a fourteen-pound lump hammer (which the Toaster later describes as "First degree toaster-cide"), and his change in appearance may mean that Kryten had to fit a different casing. In the Series IV episode "White Hole", Talkie Toaster appears rebuilt by Kryten with a housing of red plastic, with his name "Talkie Toaster" emblazoned on the side, and rather more flashing red and green lights (originally from "Box", the computer in Star Cops) - although they have nothing to do with when he speaks, which is indicated by the press-down handle that would usually be used to start bread toasting - and is voiced by David Ross (who originally played Kryten in Series II). The second novel's description matches his appearance in Series IV.Kryten eventually retrieved the Toaster from Waste Disposal and repaired it in order to use him as a guinea-pig for "intelligence compression" — restoring his former intelligence (his AI chips were very badly damaged) at the cost of reducing his operational lifespan. After it worked with him Kryten tried it on Holly, but a miscalculation made her twice as smart as she used to be and left her with only three-and-a-half minutes to live. Later on by blocking up a "white hole" which spews out time, time was reset to before the Toaster was repaired so he did not end up repaired after all. The Toaster's repaired personality was somewhat different from his original one: it now had a different voice and no longer tried to hide its obsession with toast. Where before, the Toaster would cut into a conversation, insult someone, and then make some reference to toast, the new Toaster was barely able to go more than two sentences without asking if someone would like a cooked bread product.
Talkie Toaster was presumably destroyed by Lister once again and never again repaired, judging by the fact he has only been mentioned but not seen since the fourth series. The timeline in "White Hole" was erased, therefore the Talkie Toaster had no longer had a shortened life-span due to intelligence compression.
Kryten and Rimmer are running to be President of the various machines of Red Dwarf and, though a mixture of lies and smear campaigning, have reached a dead heat in the polls. Kryten and Lister, his running mate, retrieve Talkie from the garbage hold in order to secure his vote and win the election. In return Talkie insists on being returned to the sleeping quarters, plugged in, and for Lister to eat a sizable amount of toast each morning. Lister reluctantly agrees, securing the last vote needed for Kryten to beat Rimmer in the election. At the end, Lister reneges on his promise, and the Cat locks Rimmer in the garbage hold with Talkie instead, where Rimmer is quickly driven to insanity by Talkie who continuously asks him if he wants toast.
- [Lister is shaving and singing "Lunar City Seven" out of tune]: Talkie Toaster: "You can't sing, you know..."
Lister: "And I suppose you can, can you?"
Talkie Toaster: "Oh, just cause I'm a toaster, I'm tone deaf?"
Lister: "Go on then!"
Talkie Toaster: "Welcome to the Starlight Ballroom..." [Talkie Toaster begins singing Sinatra's Fly Me To The Moon with gusto, causing Lister to hammer it with his shaving foam-covered fist, and the impact causes Talkie Toaster to go offline] ("Future Echoes")
- Talkie Toaster: "Would you like some toast? Some nice hot crisp brown buttered toast. No? How about a muffin then? Nothing? You know the last time you had toast. 18 days ago, 11.36, Tuesday 3rd, two rounds. I mean, what's the point in buying a toaster with artificial intelligence if you don't like toast. I mean, this is my job. This is cruel, just cruel." ("Waiting for God")
- Lister: "No. Shhh. I'm busy."
Talkie Toaster "Not busy eating toast though are you?"
Lister: "I don't want any."
Talkie Toaster: "The whole purpose of my existence is meaningless if you don't want toast."
Talkie Toaster: "I toast, therefore I am." ("Waiting for God")
- Lister: "This is terrible. Holy wars! Killing! They're just using' 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") ("Waiting for God")
- [Cat is indulging in a bit of karaoke, screeching and wailing, with the Skutters on keyboard and Talkie Toaster dueting] Talkie Toaster: "Do-wop do-wop-wop..."
Cat: "Hold it! What are you doing?"
Talkie Toaster: "I keep getting lost..."
Cat: "What you are doing is coming in too early. You're coming in on the EEEE when you should be coming in on the YYYY. You're making the whole thing sound stupid."
Talkie Toaster: "Maybe I should quit the band. I don't understand Cat music."
Cat: "Look, it's simple. It's just a love song about a Cat and his everlasting love for his lady cat. It's called "I Love You Babe Until a New Chick Comes Along". ("Kryten" deleted scene)
- Talkie Toaster: "Howdy doodly do! How's it going? I'm Talkie, Talkie Toaster, your chirpy breakfast companion! Talkie's the name, toasting's the game. Anyone like any toast?"
Lister: [annoyed] Look, I don't want any toast, and he [gestures at Kryten] doesn't want any toast. In fact, no one around here wants any toast. Not now, not ever. No toast."
Talkie Toaster: "How about a muffin?"
Lister: "Or muffins! We don't like muffins 'round here! We want [ticks the following items off on his fingers] no muffins, no toast, no teacakes, no buns, baps, baguettes, or bagels! No croissants, no crumpets, no pancakes, no potato cakes, and no hot cross buns, and definitely, [leans forward menacingly; through gritted teeth] no smeggin' flapjacks!"
Talkie Toaster: "Aaah...so you're a waffle man!"
Lister: [despairingly; to Kryten] "You see, you see what he's like? He winds me up, man, there's no reasoning with him!"
Kryten: Allow me, sir. As one mechanical to another, he'll understand. ("White Hole")
- Holly: [her IQ has been increased to 12,000] Strike a light! I'm a genius again! I know everything! Metaphysics, philosophy, the purpose of being-everything! Ask me a question, any question, and I'll answer it."
Talkie Toaster: "Any question?"
Talkie Toaster: "How to break the speed of light? How to marry quantum mechanics and classical physics? Any question at all, truly anything and you will answer?"
Talkie Toaster: "OK, here's my question: Would you like some toast?"
Holly: "No, thank you. Now ask me another."
Talkie Toaster: "Do you know anything about the use of chaos theory in predicting weather cycles?"
Holly: "I know everything there is to know about chaos theory and predicting weather cycles"
Talkie Toaster: "Oh, very well. Here's my second question: Would you like a crumpet?"
Holly: "I'm a computer with an I.Q. of 12,000. You don't seem to understand; I know the meaning of the universe."
Talkie Toaster: "That's not answering my question."
Holly: [irritated] "No, I would not like a crumpet! Now ask me a sensible question, preferably one that isn't bread related."
Talkie Toaster: "Very well. I have a third question. A sensible question. A question that will tax your new I.Q. to its very limits and stretch the sinews of you knowledge to bursting point."
Holly: This is going to be about waffles, isn't it?"
Talkie Toaster: Certainly not. And I resent the implication that I'm a one-dimensional, bread-obsessed electrical appliance."
Holly: I apologise, toaster. What's the question?"
Talkie Toaster: The question is this: Given that God is infinite, and that the universe is also infinite... would you like a toasted teacake?"
Holly: "That's another bready question".
Talkie Toaster: "It's not just bready. It's quite curranty, too." ("White Hole")
- Talkie Toaster: [After Holly has realised her time-shortened predicament] "Well here's my next question, what the smeg are you going to do?" ("White Hole")
- Talkie Toaster: [Holly is shutting herself off] "Wait, before you go, there is one question, an important one, the others will have to know!"
Holly: [alarmed] What? What?"
Talkie Toaster: "Would you like a cheese and ham Breville?" ("RD: White Hole")
- Talkie Toaster: [While locked in the garbage hold with Rimmer] "Would you like some toast? Would you like some toast? Would you like some toast? Would you like some toast?"
Rimmer: [yelling] "No toast!!!" ("Mechocracy")
- Cat: "What happens if we get sucked into this Black Hole? Is that a bad thing?"
Talkie Toaster: "A Black Hole is a giant, unstable star that's collapsed into itself. It's gravitational pull is so enormous that nothing can escape - light, time, nothing. How about a potato cake?"
Rimmer: "Look, would you kindly shut your grill? I'm trying to think."
Cat: "Can't we just fly through it, and out the other side?"
Talkie Toaster: "Nice idea, and perhaps we can stop off at the souvenir shop in the middle and buy various Black Hole memorabilia."
Cat: "Black Holes have souvenir shops in the middle?"
Rimmer: "He's taking the smeg. Will you stop talking to that cheap piece of junk? We've got to work out how to get out of here."
- Rimmer: "Explain this miladdo: how does a novelty kitchen appliance suddenly get to know so much about Black Holes?"
Talkie Toaster: "I have a voracious appetite for reading."
Rimmer: "Holly told you how we could escape, didn't he? After he got his IQ back, but before he went off-line. Did he mention how we could get out of this one?"
Talkie Toaster: [with grill glowing red] "Maybe. Depends on whether or not anybody wants any toast."
- Talkie Toaster: [As Cat is forced to eat his thirty-fifth slice of toast] "Yes, keep eating the toast..."
- Cat: "I want you to live with this for the rest of your life - you make real lousy toast. It's cold, burnt, and it's soggy."
Talkie Toaster: "What d'you expect for $£19.99 plus tax? Conversation, quantum theory AND good toast?"
- [Lister has been missing for twenty-four days, and Kryten has stacked Blue Midget with pallets of bread, rolls and baps]
Talkie Toaster: "I only pray we've brought enough bread."
- Talkie Toaster: "Careful, I'm not waterproof!"
- Talkie Toaster: "Was it something I said? He seems a little cut up." [Talkie Toaster after firing out his crumb tray, decapitating a polymorph and saving the crew]
- Talkie Toaster: [With the personality of an angry moose after being destroyed and rebuilt by Kryten] "MAAHHHHOOOOOOOOOOO!" (Better Than Life)
Behind the Scenes
- The original incarnation of Talkie Toaster was Lister's talking alarm clock. However, the alarm clock remained silent in the broadcast television series. The alarm clock is seen with artificial intelligence, talking (and voiced by Chris Barrie) in the "lost episode" of Series I, "Bodysnatcher", which is reconstructed in The Bodysnatcher Collection. Here the alarm clock is seen as originally intended, many of whose mannerisms can be seen later in Talkie Toaster. Lister also smashes up the alarm clock for being annoying, much as happens with Talkie Toaster in the television series.
- Talkie Toaster was voiced by John Lenahan in the first and second series, and by David Ross (who also played Kryten in his debut episode) after Talkie Toaster was destroyed by Lister and rebuilt by Kryten in the fourth series.
- In Built to Last, the Series IV making-of featurette, the cast talk very fondly of the character Talkie Toaster returning from the early series. Robert Llewellyn was worried, however, that David Ross had gotten the part since Llewellyn had taken Ross' role playing Kryten. There was no animosity however and Ross even commended Llewellyn on his portrayal of Kryten.
- One of the Red Dwarf novels, Better Than Life, says that Lister adored junk and electronic crap. Accordingly, he had collected the Talkie Toaster, some robot goldfish, a musical toilet-roll holder that plays "Morning has Broken", and an electronic chilli thermometer for measuring his curry from "Very Hot" to "Book A Plot In The Cemetery, Matie". There was of course the talking toilet, although this may have been a standard-issue feature on the ship.
- Early, unproduced scripts would have had Talkie Toaster become a villain, erasing Holly and taking over Red Dwarf, although ultimately this idea went unrealised in the show. It was the idea of director Ed Bye, who stated that TT was his favorite character, but the writers apparently never went along with it.
- For Series VI and Series VII it was decided that the show would be set entirely aboard Starbug, to set up a new dynamic in the show as the crew try to find their stolen mothership. The original idea was that Talkie Toaster would have been revealed as the culprit who stole Red Dwarf. However the idea was eventually settled on that it would be the nanobots instead. This was revealed in "Nanarchy".
- In British English, 'crapola' suggests very badly made or pointless, but not harmful or, generally, expensive.
- Talkie Toaster has been referenced heavily in the role-playing, post-apocalyptic Fallout franchise. It features as cut content in Fallout 2 in the Environmental Protection Agency section. A non-playable-character named The Toaster appears as a fully interactive and maniacal character in the Fallout: New Vegas official expansion pack Old World Blues, where he resides in the player housing saying things such as he wants to "burn the world", and after upgrading will super-heat melee weapons for the player making them more effective.