This article is about the 2020 television movie, not to be confused with Red Dwarf: The Movie, an unproduced project from the early 2000s.

Red Dwarf: The Promised Land (also referred to simply as The Promised Land, and colloquially but not officially as Series XIII) is a movie-length[1] Red Dwarf television special. It was written and directed by franchise co-creator Doug Naylor, and produced by his son, Richard Naylor.

The Promised Land was broadcast on the Dave channel in the UK on Thursday 9 April 2020.[2]

The plot involves the boys from the Dwarf finally coming across Cat's people, the Felis sapiens. A despondent Dave Lister is mistaken as Cloister, the god of the cat race, and has to continue the act, in a reference to the Series I episode "Waiting for God". Cat is also forced to come to terms with his past, and the most useless and cowardly entity in The Universe, Arnold Rimmer, is forced find his inner hero in order to save everybody.


First official cast photo

Although Series XIII of Red Dwarf was never confirmed after the airing of Series XII, it was widely rumoured to be happening from as early as the spring of 2018. Statements from cast members including Danny John-Jules and Robert Llewellyn at Dimension Jump and other conventions - and later in 2019 from creator Doug Naylor himself - confirmed that more Red Dwarf was going to be made in some format, whether it be another series, a stage show, or a movie.[3][4][5][6][7]

In early 2019, the cast came together to film a short television advert for motoring organisation AA called "Stellar Rescue", in which the Dwarfers break down in Starbug and are rescued by the AA[8]. The advert demonstrated the fact that the Series XII sets are still in place; the advert was well received and stoked interest in further Red Dwarf material.[9]

In October 2019, the official Red Dwarf website announced that a feature-length television 'special' would air in 2020. Doug Naylor is set to both write and direct.[10]

As with the Back to Earth three-part special (2009) and the subsequent television series, the special was produced and aired by the Dave channel. As with the most recent two series - Series XI and Series XII - the special was co-produced by Baby Cow Productions and was filmed in front of a live studio audience at Pinewood Studios.[11]

All of the filming was due to take place in December 2019, with ticket ballot applications for the studio audience available through the Lost in TV website.[12] One of the two live audience recordings was postponed for a few weeks due to Robert Llewellyn being taken to hospital with an illness, and shooting was rescheduled for January 2020. Llewellyn eventually returned and The first round of filming took place 13 December 2019 and the second on 11 January 2020, both at Pinewood Studios[13][14]

Rehearsal pictures revealed that Norman Lovett was back with the rest of the cast.[15] Lovett again reprised the role of Holly as he did in the Series XII finale, "Skipper".[1]

Post-production digital effects were created by two effects houses, Outpost Facilities and Axis VFX, and comprised over 500 VFX shots.[16]

As he did with the previous series, Matthew Clark of the art department kept an extensive production diary of "The Promised Land" which detailed design and construction of the sets and props. Mr Clark then publicly posted this to social media site Twitter after the special had aired on Dave.[17]

Promotional Material


One of the posters with the SFX magazine April 2020 issue

Issue #325 of SFX magazine (April 2020) was centric to Red Dwarf, covering The Promised Land and featuring several different magazine covers, exclusive behind-the-scenes photographs, and posters.[18] SFX magazine has a history of covering Red Dwarf exclusives going back to 1996, although The Promised Land coverage was the most in-depth.[19]

UK SciFi Now magazine Issue #170 also covered The Promised Land.[20]


On 10 March 2020, the first sneak peak of the 2020 special started airing on the UK channel Dave.

The teaser trailer is in the dramatic style of a serious film trailer, and showcases the CGI that will be used in the special, including shots of spacecraft, a planet, and multiple explosions. There is also a shot of the new character, the cat leader Rodon, and sections of dialogue from the Boys from the Dwarf, including Kryten saying something about the crew needing to find a new ship.


Teaser for the New Red Dwarf Special - COMING SOON

A longer fifty-second trailer was released 20 March 2019 which announced the air date of 9 April 2020.


Red Dwarf The Promised Land Thursday 9th April Dave

Sneak Peek

On April 3rd, UKTV uploaded the pre-opening sequence of the special to YouTube, a segment lasting four and a half minutes.[21]

The sneak peek garnered positive reviews from Dwarfers.[22]



The Promised Doc

A thirty-minute making-of documentary, The Promised Doc, has been made available on the UKTV Play on-demand streaming service[23], which will later also be included on the DVD/Blu-ray home video release.

The First Three Million Years

Main article: The First Three Million Years

The First Three Million Years is an in-depth, three-part, retrospective Red Dwarf documentary originally due to be broadcast on the Dave channel around the same time as The Promised Land.[24] However issues caused by the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdown delayed the post-production[25], and it was eventually aired on Dave in August 2020.[26]

Official Synopsis

An official synopsis of the special was released by channel Dave in February 2020:[1]

"The new 90-minute special is the thirteenth outing of the legendary sci-fi comedy. It reunites the original cast of Chris Barrie (Rimmer), Craig Charles (Lister), Danny John-Jules (Cat) Robert Llewellyn (Kryten) and sees the return of Holly (Norman Lovett) the much loved ship's computer. Written and directed by Doug Naylor, it was recorded in front of a live studio audience over two nights at the world famous Pinewood Studios.

Three million years ago... David Lister, a vending machine repairman, was sentenced to eighteen months in suspended animation for smuggling his pregnant cat aboard the mining ship Red Dwarf. While Lister remained in stasis, a radiation leak killed the rest of the crew. Safely sealed in the hold, the cats evolved into humanoid form. The cats now roam deep space in a fleet of their own...

The posse meet three cat clerics (Tom Bennett, Mandeep Dhillon, Lucy Pearman) who worship Lister as their god. Lister vows to help them as they're being hunted by Rodon, the ruthless feral cat leader (Ray Fearon) who has vowed to wipe out all cats who worship anyone but him."



Three million years ago... David Lister was sentenced to eighteen months in suspended animation for smuggling his pregnant cat aboard the mining ship Red Dwarf. While Lister was in stasis, a radiation leak killed the rest of the crew. Safely sealed in the hold, the cats evolved into humanoid form. The cats now roam Deep Space in a fleet of their own...

A star then emerges from behind a planetoid as the Cat Fleet flies in front of it. The ships line up in front of the planetoid, forming a stylised "cat face".

Inside his throne room, Rodon, sovereign of the Feral Cats and self-styled 'living god', turns from staring out into space and bares his golden incisor teeth. He is preparing to torture a dissident for information, and begins scratching his back with his oversized claws. The rebel, Brother Sol, is a Cat Cleric of their old religion and worships Cloister, which Rodon has outlawed. Sol says that he will tell Rodon everything, and Rodon cruelly teases him by asking how much of The Universe is composed of dark matter.

Rodon's royal aide, Count Ludo, enters through the cat flap-like door with a confiscated copy of the Book of Smeg and the news that he has captured some more 'insurgents'. Rodon orders them to be brought in, and they are brought in at gunpoint by two feral guards.

The prisoners are two female cats, Sister Luna and Sister Peanut, also Clerics like Sol, who plead with Rodon to embrace the teachings of Cloister since under his rule nobody is working or sharing and their economy has crashed. Rodon states that he is their only god, and orders the two guards to take away Sol, Luna and Peanut and that the prisoners be made an example of by being hanged in the marketplace.

As the two feral guards lead the three Clerics away down the hallway, crowds gather, and a sympathetic cat commoner stealthily passes Luna a laser pointer. Luna begins shining it at an airlock, making sure not to look at the beam herself. The dot distracts the feral guards, who cannot resist following the dot of light into the airlock. Peanut, who is averting her gaze, has to pull Sol back from also following them into the airlock. The clerics then seal the airlock door on the ferals.

Sol, Luna, and Peanut then flee from the fleet in a shuttle. Sol vows that they will one day return to liberate their people. Peanut, who is mute, uses sign language to say that their faith in Cloister will protect them. Luna suggests that they search for the place of their birth, Red Dwarf, and seek help from Cloister, whom they hope to find there.

Aboard Red Dwarf

Aboard Red Dwarf, Dave Lister - the last human in the Galaxy - has entered into a depression. He is eating several unhealthy meals at midnight followed by beer milkshakes, and drinking much more than his usual half a leopard lager brewery throughout the day. Piles of empty bottles are reaching to the ceiling. Lister has also taken to distracting himself by hoarding gigantic piles of useless junk (antique salvage he calls it) in the sleeping quarters which he has found in Cargo Bay 15. These include "Rocking Dad" CDs, Knitting for Beginners, boy band badges, Subbuteo table football Partick Thistle Away Kit, and a Swedish massage chair without batteries.

As Lister enters into the bunkroom with another trolley full of junk, singing the "Om" song to himself, Kryten and Cat follow and attempt an intervention. Cat asks what has happened to him and calls him a wreck. As Lister opens a bottle on the lines of Kryten's head, Kryten sympathises with the stress Lister is under and having the responsibility of carrying on the human race. Kryten suggests a radical way solving Lister's dilemma - Kryten can perform sex changes using some tech they have picked up from a derelict, Delta VII. Kryten suggests that they use the tech to turn Cat into a woman, so that Lister and Cat can mate and produce some offspring. Kryten says that it will involve a lot of folding, which he should be good at since he is so good at folding sheets. Lister refuses, and the proposal causes an argument between Lister and Cat as to who would make a more attractive woman.

Arnold Rimmer orders that Kryten come to the science room to look at some distortion in space, overriding Kryten's requests to put himself in for an overdue service. Kryten deliberately misinterprets Rimmer's command to follow him, instead follwing him in the style of a private-eye and hiding, but he is seen by Rimmer. In the science room, Kryten deduces that the distortion is actually a distress signal. Rimmer, as usual, is scared, saying that it is probably genetically-engineered, man-eating cheese luring them into a trap. Rimmer commands that Kryten ignore the signal, since they are all too old to go adventuring nowadays, but Kryten refuses, stating that Space Corps Directives bind them to assist fellow space travellers in need of help. Rimmer orders that Kryten erase his memory of it, which Kryten does, but Kryten finds the signal again. Rimmer orders him to erase his memory again, but Kryten then finds the signal again, and this repeats itself a number of times.

They are interrupted by Lister and Cat, who walk in holding a huge floppy disc - in amongst the clutter Lister has brought up from cargo bay 15, they have found Holly's backup disc. The ship computer, Holly, has been offline for decades after his databanks suffered water damage. They plug in the backup disc and reinstall Holly; however Holly is returned to default settings, and has therefore lost all of his memories and the unique personality he has previously developed.

The Dwarfers explain to Holly that three million years have passed since they left Earth's Solar System, and a radiation leak had killed the rest of the crew. Holly doesn't recognise Kryten and Cat as registered crewmembers, and recognises Lister and Rimmer as the lowest ranking crewmembers. However, Rimmer doesn't count, since he is dead, and Lister can also be discounted due to him previously smuggling an unquarantined animal aboard the ship. Holly quickly decides that the mission of the ship can no longer be fulfilled and as per Space Corps Directives, Red Dwarf should be decommissioned as a redundant ship. Holly will set a course for the nearest Black Hole and launch the Engine Core into it. Holly gives them a week to put their affairs in order.

The Dwarfers attempt to prove that they can be useful, and begin doing odd jobs around the ship - even Cat gets his overalls and a hard hat on. However, Holly cannot be convinced to spare the ship. The Dwarfers gather into an airlock to have a discussion outside of Holly's supervision field and where he cannot overhear them. They also cover their mouths so that Holly cannot lip-read them. However, as they plot against Holly they fail to realise that they are unwittingly transmitting their conversation across the ship, while Holly looks on in annoyance.

Their scheming unveiled, the Dwarfers begin to openly mock Holly, since Kryten is momentarily due to explode the asteroid in the mineral ore storage bay causing an electromagnetic pulse which will disable Holly. However, Kryten then walks by with a mop, winking at the others saying "tonight is the night". The Dwarfers realise that Kryten misunderstood the timing and thought to set the asteroid detonation for midnight (12am), when Lister meant to detonate it at noon (12pm). Now fully exasperated with them, Holly tells them that he has safely sealed off the asteroid, and that their seven day deadline to evacuate is now reduced to seven minutes.

Aboard Iron Star

The Dwarfers are forced to flee in Starbug 19, and they resolve to find a new home. With nothing in the Galactic vicinity, Kryten suggests that they search for the ship which was emitting a distress signal. Lister stays positive, saying they'll find it in no time. Three months later and they still haven't found anything, with Lister and Cat having grown long hair and beards.

Starbug 19 then comes across a massive derelict space station, Iron Star, which still has power and is still in orbit around a small desert planetoid. Kryten uses the Psi-Scan to run some internal scans, and is excited to tell the others that the station is loaded with advanced technology since it was constructed several centuries after Red Dwarf. Lister presumes that this place could be their new home, and Kryten resolves to download the floor plan and show them around. They dock with the Iron Star and Lister and Cat don space suits to explore the interior, while Kryten acts as estate agent and in typical cowardly fashion Rimmer stays behind to monitor them from the safety of Starbug. Rimmer quotes Space Corps Directive 76239, which he states that "derelict ships must be deemed safe before senior officers venture aboard", but Kryten remembers as "exteme caution should be taken on the naturist deck when peeling carrots".

Deeming that the atmosphere is safe to breathe, Lister and Cat remove their helmets. As they continue their exploration, they find a chamber which Kryten ascertains is the Hologram Projection Suite of the Iron Star. Krytrn discovers that it is much more advanced then the HPS aboard Red Dwarf, which could only maintain one hologram at a time - the Iron Star can maintain multiple holograms at a time. When Kryten also discovers that the holograms aboard Iron Star are composed of a type of quantum energy called "diamond light" which would enable unimaginable powers, including manipulation of light and matter. Upon hearing this, Rimmer leaves the 'bug and runs to join the others.

While Rimmer and Kryten examine the hologram technology further, Lister and Cat muse over some 'smart cutlery' which creates a forcefield around meat, that had been designed to ensure vegetarianism in the crew of Iron Star. Lister, a dedicated curry-aholic, says that he prefers his cutlery stupid.

Rimmer is obsessed with improving his light bee, and although Kryten suggests taking the hologram tech back to Starbug and running further tests before giving Rimmer an upgrade. Rimmer, impatient, says that he is not willing to wait for Kryten to perform some 'namby-pamby European Space Agency safety tests', and 'going before a committee of grey-suited meddling bureau-droids and answer questions of where I'm most likely to find a croissant'. Kryten pleads for more time to evaluate the safety of the tech, but Rimmer orders Kryten to perform the upgrade nonetheless.

Rimmer deactivates himself, Lister puts Rimmer's light bee into the diamond light projector and starts it up. It fills with glowing yellow energy and Rimmer reappears, albeit in his soft-light, Second Technician uniform from the early days. Rimmer asks as to why this is, and Kryten supposes that it is just going through the gears.

Finally, Rimmer appears in his diamond light form - he is now tanned and muscular, with a Superman-style haircut and is wearing a grey bodysuit with glowing shoes. Rimmer says that he feels incredible, and begins to experiment with his powers - he can now phase between a solid state and a noncorporeal state, and can also do this to objects he touches, demonstrating this with some equipment he picks up. As heroic music plays, Rimmer then becomes a ball of light and begins to zip around the Iron Star at fantastic speeds. Rimmer then reappears in front of his crewmates and suggests that he needs a new name to match his newfound powers. He muses on 'Glitter Guy', then decides he needs something better, and decides on 'The Mighty Light'.

The heroic music then suddenly stops and Rimmer disappears as his light bee falls powerless to the corridor floor. Lister goes over to pick up Rimmer's light bee, quipping that Rimmer should instead be called 'The Shitey Sprite'. The gang move back onto the Science Room where the hologram projector is. As Cat laughs, Kryten reboots Rimmer back up as hard-light hologram and Rimmer asks what happened. Kryten explains that, since they skipped the European Space Agency safety checks, the power surge has fried Rimmer's battery. His light bee can no longer hold any charge, and the only way Rimmer can keep himself online is by rigging his light bee up to an external power source. To his dismay, Rimmer notices that Lister is plugging a wire from Rimmer's light bee into a wall socket, quipping that Rimmer has gone from 'Glitter Guy to the Cable Kid'. Cat says that is not getting his hopes up that Rimmer will forget to plug himself in. Rimmer threatens to put Kryten on report for 'listening to him' and obeying his orders.

The gang then decide to further explore the ship, with Cat wanting to know if Iron Star will be suitable for them to move in. Rimmer joins the others, but is forced to repeatedly plug himself into extension cables to keep moving around the ship, angrily pointing out that he is acting senior officer and an electric hedge trimmer.

Encounter with Cats

As the gang explore deeper into Iron Star, Lister wondering if they have already passed that way opens a door to a storage cupboard. Inside, he sees three felis sapiens cowering among the boxes. At first this does not register and Lister apologises for intruding. Lister closes the door and looks at the astounded faces of his cremates, and it then sinks in what he has just seen. Lister repoens the door, and the three cats look upon Lister's figure bathed in light filtering down from an overhead gantry, and they immediately begin to prostrate themselves before him, declaring him to be a perfect likeness of their diety Cloister.

They explain that they are Brother Sol, Sister Luna and Sister Peanut (the same three fugitives as seen in the episode prologue) and they are priests in the order which worship Cloister. They tell the Dwarfers that they a tyrant, Rodon, outlawed Cloister worship on pain of death, and that they fled their own execution. They are now hiding from the ferals aboard Iron Star, as the ferals presuambly hunt for them in the Cat Fleet.

Lister tells the Cat Priests that he is not Cloister, that is a nobody, and asks his crewmates to back him up - to which they do enthusiastically, saying that Lister is indeed an absolute zero. The Cat Priests refuse to believe that Lister is not Cloister, and instead that he must be either just being humble or testing them. Sister Luna says that she has ate three vindaloos a day in order to 'purge evil', as it instructs in the Book of Smeg. They burst into song, extolling 'Listy Listy' and dance their way into the corridor playing musical instruments.

The Cat Priests give Lister a powerful artefact made of serendibite which they stole from Rodon - the Anubis Stone, which they believe is destined to be used by Cloister to vanquish evil-doers and lead the cat race to their promised land, Fuchal. Kryten scans it with a psi-scan but deduces that it is fact varnished beetle dung. As the Cat Priests await 'the sermon in the corridor', Lister is resolved to convince them that he is not their god, but Kryten advises him against this, since it will break their hearts and souls.

Kryten detects a teleportation energy signiture coming from the Science Room they were in earlier, which Rimmer deduces looks like a boarding party about to beam in, and he advises fleeing. Lister tells the afraid Cat Priests that he will protect them, and the group move on to the location to confront the newcomers. As the group enter, Rodon, his second-in-command Count Ludo and a group of feral henchmen materialise. Rodon introduces himself as the Feral King, and shows anger that the Dwarfers have been sheltering the runaway clerics, especially towards Cat, who he calls a traitor. Rodon threatens the Dwarfers with execution if they do not immediately give up the runaway clerics and the Anubis Stone, and says he will offer up their bloody corpses as a gift to the cat people. Cat suggests a pampering bath and candle set instead, and wonders why Rodon doesn't immediately like him.

Sister Luna warns Rodon that Lister is Cloister, but Rodon denouces Cloister as a false god, who has brought nothing but division, war and death, and resolves to kill Lister to strengthen his position. He orders Count Ludo to retrieve the Anubis Stone, which he is relucant to do, but his fear of Rodon wins out. Seeing that Cloister's wrath is not vented, Luna gives up the Anubis Stone, and Ludo returns it to Rodon.

Rodon orders two of his guards, a male and female feral, to stay behind and execute the Dwarfers and the Cat Priests. Rodon orders this be done by flushing them out of an airlock, so that all the Cat Fleet can see the consequences of questioning his authority. Rodon and Count Ludo then teleport back to the Cat Fleet. The guards then approach with claws drawn. The Dwarfers attempt to put up some resistance, defending themselves with the vegetarian forks, and using lettuce taken from the cleric's packed lunches to get through the forcefields the forks generate. However, all this does is buy them some time, and they are subdued when the ferals pull out and charge up their energy guns. As the ferals lead the Dwarfers and the Cat Priests down a corridor to an airlock, Rimmer is captured when the female feral steps on his extension cable.

Back aboard his flagship, Rodon grows impatient, and thinking that the henchmen may have failed, orders Count Ludo to fire meow missiles at the Iron Star. Ludo protests since some of their party are still aboard, but Rodon tells Ludo to send fish to their mamas, and shouts at him to launch the missiles immediately. Back aboard Iron star, the Dwarfers are Cat Clerics are in the airlock about to be flushed, with Brother Sol stating his belief that it is all a test in their faith. Ironically, they are saved by the airlock when the first meow missile hits and the station is rocked by an explosion. Brother Sol, on seeing the feral guards fall to their deaths as the corridor floor disintegrates, declares this to be a result of the divine wrath of Cloister. The gang then hack the airlock and use it as an elevator to take them to the hangar where Starbug awaits.


More explosions rock Iron Star and it begins to rapidly disintergrate in a ship quake. The Dwarfers and the Cat Clerics race to the hangar through falling debris. They get aboard Starbug, with the Dwarfers taking their place in the cockpit. With only moments of charge left, Rimmer plugs a cable from his light bee into his console with relief. The Cat Clerics strap themselves into chairs in the mid-section. Lister fires up the engine and Cat fires up the retros, and the 'bug flies out the hangar as it explodes in flames around them. Starbug just flies clear of Iron Star as it is entirely destroyed.

Unfortunately, the debris field is too dense to navigate, with Starbug taking a direct hit on its rear section, which then sets on fire. With their stern about to explode, Lister uncouples the rear module and seperates it. Rimmer then angrily questions how they are going to fly Starbug when the engines and thrusters are in the part Lister just ejected, and suggests that maybe Lister should have used a fire extinguisher instead. Rimmer asks what their current flight path is, and Kryten tells him it is down. He asks him to be more specific, and Kryten says straight down, into the desert moon below them.


Main Cast

Guest Cast

Deleted Scenes

Available on the UKTV Play on-demand steaming service
  • An extension to the opening scene in Rodon's throne room aboard the Cat Fleet. After Rodon sentences Sister Luna and Sister Peanut to be hanged in the market square for sedition against him, Count Ludo enters with Rodon's meal. Ludo asks Rodon if he would like to execute Brother Sol (who Rodon was just interrogating) before he dines. Rodon orders that all three Clerics be taken away and hung together. Sol is joyous and believes that his luck is changing since he is not being executed immediately in the throne room. Ludo then unveils Rodon's delicacy - he takes the metal Cloche dish cover off to reveal a tin of synthetic protein in jelly, flavoured as meat and fish. Ludo removes the tin lid and Rodon contentedly eats chunks out of the tin with his claws.
  • Extension to the scene in the science room aboard Red Dwarf when Kryten picks up the distress signal from the Iron Star and Rimmer fearfully orders Kryten to ignore the signal. Rimmer says that is is probably some pheromone-producing insectoids hell-bent on impregnating them with their parasitic offspring (a reference to the events of the Series XI episode "Can of Worms"). Kryten reminds Rimmer that it is their sworn duty to help fellow space travelers.
  • Extension after the newly re-uploaded Holly threatens to decommission Red Dwarf, launching the Engine Core and the Hologram Simulation Suite into a nearby Black Hole. Rimmer requests an appeal, to which Holly says that may take some time, which relieves Rimmer, but Holly says that this will be a total of ten seconds. Holly presents both sides of the argument to the mediation computer - which Lister points out is Holly himself - and Holly says that the mediation computer must remain anonymous for fear of reprisals. Holly then tells them their defense is putting up a robust appeal and that it looks good for them, then suddenly tells them that they have lost the appeal.
  • Extension to the scene where the Dwarfers are in the airlock talking about how to erase the newly uploaded Holly before he decommissions the ship. Rimmer suggests a "computer vasectomy", and Cat holds up some shears and says "snippety snip". Of course Holly can hear them, and looks on in mild annoyance.
  • An extension to the scene when the Dwarfers first enter the seemingly abandoned Iron Star. Kryten guides the others around, speaking in a manner similar to how an estate agent may describe a house to potential buyers (he is attempting to convince them to move there and make it their new home, since Red Dwarf has been lost to the new Holly). Kryten says that Iron Star "benefits from three well-sized cargo bays, and is a conveniently located a short shuttle ride to a nearby moon. Welcoming hallways lead to cargo lifts and an ever-popular airlock. The Bussard ram-jet fusion rocket does need updating, but it's worth remembering that furniture, curtains and a working teleporter are all included. And, most importantly, there is no forward chain."
  • A new scene in which Lister, Cat, and Kryten explore Iron Star, while Rimmer stays in Starbug 19 to monitor the scans. Cat complains that he is too hot as his visor becomes too steamy to see through. Kryten examines Cat's space suit to discover that his thermostat is faulty, and the temperature gauge is on a setting which could slow-cook lamb. Cat says he will be the first dead guy to ever smell delicious. Kryten says that he is not familiar with these spacesuits, Lister explains that he fished them out of a garbage pile in Cargo Bay 15. Much to Cat's annoyance, fanning himself with a magazine doesn't seem to work. Lister offers to share his suit coolant, but Cat reminds Lister that cats never share anything, even if it means saving their lives. When Lister tries to put a coolant tube into Cat's suit, Cat gets so annoyed that he takes his own helmet off. Fortunately, Cat discovers that he can breathe. Lister then shakes his head at Cat, and takes his own helmet off. Rimmer then finally chimes in on the radio, telling the others that his scans reveal that the air is breathable, and Lister sarcastically tells him that he doesn't know what he would do without him. Cat says that on their next away mission, he is going to drill holes into his helmet, and Lister tells him that he will help him. Cat meows loudly in acceptance.
  • An extension to the scene when the Dwarfers and the three Cat Clerics encounter Rodon and the Feral Cats on Iron Star. The Cat Clerics tell Rodon that he cannot hurt the 'Holy Poppadum' Cloister (Lister), since he is a 'living god' and therefore nothing can hurt his divine being. Much to Lister's concern, the Cat Clerics give examples as to how Lister is invincible, challenging Rodon to try: set fire to him and he will make a fool of Rodon; shoot him in the face and the gun will fail; stab him in the eye and the knife will go blunt; rip out his tongue and he will still speak. Lister tells the Ferals it won't be necessary.

Cat shows his claws for the first time

  • When the Ferals bare their claws at the Dwarfers, Cat bares his own, but they are significantly more manicured and smaller. Lister says that they have back-up on the way, and in walks Rimmer. The Ferals hiss at Rimmer, and Rimmer tells of his motto: "When the going gets tough, the Rimmers get going. See you!" Rimmer then walks back out, rolling up his extension cable as he goes.
  • As Starbug begins to crash land and Kryten reads the instruction manual, Cat asks why anybody reads. As the 'bug begins to enter the atmosphere of the moon, Lister says that it not slowing down since the atmosphere is too thin. Cat offers to put on some music.
  • After Cat admits he has already taken the emergency parachute to make fashion items, Lister sarcastically quips that they should never take Cat to the Louvre since he will come out wearing a canvas man-bag made out of the Mona Lisa.


  • The title of the special calls back to a line in the first episode of Red Dwarf, "The End", originally aired in 1988. The line comes from the end of the episode:
LISTER: No! No, it's not Cloister, it's me, it's Lister! It's *Lister* the ... stupid?!
CAT: Who shall returneth to lead us to Fuchal, the Promised Land.
LISTER: No, it's not Fuchal, it's Fiji! And I will! I'll lead you there. (To RIMMER) *That's* where we're going. Holly, plot a course!
  • The Promised Land features the first Felis sapiens in the television series since the Cat Priest in the Series I episode "Waiting for God" (1988)
    • A number of female Felis sapiens appeared in the Series XI episode "Can of Worms", where Cat mated with one. However Cat's mate, Ankita, was actually a polymorph in disguise, and the others were part of Cat's dream.
    • Non-canon sources, such as the unproduced Series VII episode "Identity Within" (recreated using storyboards and the voice acting of Chris Barrie on the Series VII DVD) featured Felis sapiens such as Zural and Ora.
  • The Cat Ark on which the Felis sapiens originally left Red Dwarf remains unseen. Rodon claims that the Cat Fleet which contains the surviving Felis sapiens has been constructed from salvage taken from the most advanced Space Corps derelicts the Felis sapiens came across in their travels. It is possible that the Cat Ark was abandoned, or scrapped for parts when building the Cat Fleet.
  • Lister is going through a depression at the beginning of the special. He has also suffered from depression a number of times previously, not surprising, given that he is the last human in the Galaxy. Examples of this include "Timeslides", "Blue", "Back to Earth", and "Dear Dave".
  • Kryten is in a significant state of disrepair in The Promised Land, with patches of brown rust across his covering, newer plating welded on in places, and a very cracked/scratched chest monitor. In the making-of documentary The Promised Doc[28], actor Robert Llewellyn confirms this is due to the eventful lives of the Dwarfers, without mentioning a specific incident. Llewellyn said that the wear-and-tear suggests the passage of time along with the other ageing Dwarfers.
    • Kryten does repeatedly suggest that he put himself in for a service throughout the special.
  • In the Series V episode "Holoship", the Dwarfers encounter the holoship Enlightenment and one of the hologram officers, Binks, beams aboard Starbug. Binks mentions that he is familiar with Felis sapiens (being bred from domestic housecats and being half as smart) suggesting that the Enlightenment had already encountered the Cat Fleet.
    • Binks also mentions that Kryten is 'almost burnt out' with around three years left until he expires. This of course does happen to Kryten in The Promised Land, whereby Kryten is in dire need of maintenance, and also fully depletes his battery.
  • During the conversion from Hard-Light to Diamond-Light, Rimmer cycles through several of his past uniforms from the series. He initially appears in his original JMC Z Shift uniform and large H from Series I and II, then in his green "Captain Emerald" uniform and Series V-VII H before his Soft Light and Hard Light uniforms from Series VI and VII.
  • Cat mentions the only time he was uncool in the past was an incident on htraE, or Back World as he names it, an infamous reference to his attempt to relieve himself at the end of the Series III episode "Backwards" (1989).
  • Holly is an antagonist to the rest of the crew in the first half of the special, similar to the episode "Queeg". Other episodes where the Dwarfers were beset by hostile computers include "Cassandra" (Cassandra) and "Fathers & Suns" (Pree). In the case of the latter, Pree was a computer which similarly decided the ancient ship and its relict crew were redundant and threatened to thusly destroy it and throw the Dwarfers off the ship, much like Holly does in "The Promised Land".

Starbug separation comparison

  • Starbug separates into two sections in The Promised Land, leaving the bulbous rear section behind, and the crew use the front section of the 'bug as a lifeboat. The 'bug was previously seen doing this in an unbroadcast scene from the 'Xtended' edition of "Tikka to Ride" (1997) on the Series VI DVD.[29]
  • The scene where the Dwarfers go into an airlock to have a private discussion away from Holly is reminiscent of a very similar scene in a 2001: A Space Odyssey. In 2001, two characters go into an airlock to discuss what they should do about their malfunctioning and potentially murderous computer Hal 9000; however Hal reads their lips. In The Promised Land, the Dwarfers go into the airlock and shield their mouths so that Holly can't lip read; however they are unwittingly broadcasting their conversation around the entire ship.

Background Information

  • Red Dwarf is the second sitcom in UK television history to have aired new episodes in five different decades; the first was Last of the Summer Wine.
  • In regards to the TV special, Craig Charles said, "I will surely require the services of a chiropractor after dragging these doddering misfits through what promises to be our most epic adventure yet. Dave Lister, the human race's last hope in a hostile universe. God help us. And may the Dwarf be with you."[30]
  • Ed Moore, director of photography for Series XI and XII, was replaced by Ian Adrian due to Moore having prior commitments.[31] Adrian previously acted as such for the one hour special of Doctor Who, "Twice Upon a Time", which was the last story of the Twelfth Doctor.
  • When switched into low-power mode, Rimmer is displayed in black-and-white; this effect was originally intended to be permanent feature of Rimmer's character from the beginning, however this was nixed in earlier series due to budget concerns. Advances in special effects have allowed this be done a lot more realistically and within budgetary means (see Hologram)
  • The Felis sapiens Holy Book (first seen the Series I episode "Waiting for God") was recreated for The Promised Land, the originals having long since been lost. The images in the recreated Holy Book are almost identical; however the depictions of Cloister look more like Lister than they did in the original.

Station explosion comparison

  • The shot where the Dwarfers escape in Starbug from the hangar of the exploding Iron Star is almost identical to the shot where the crew escape the exploding Asclepius' Station in the Series XI episode "Give & Take". The take-off is the same, but when flying through the hangar the shot is mirrored and more flames are added.
  • Richard Naylor said on his Twitter feed that there was a whole scene written with the three Cat Clerics stealing the Anubis Stone; this scene would have also explained the origin and/or the nature of the Anubis Stone. However, it was decided that the scene would have to be cut for pacing reasons, and it was not filmed.[32] This caused criticism from some fans since the omission of this scene reduced the Anubis Stone to a MacGuffin.[33]

Errors / Inconsistencies

  • Production error: In the prologue sequence, when the Cat Clerics trick the Feral guards into going into the airlock with the laser pointer, one of the guards momentarily touches the supposedly solid door, and it moves with ease.
  • Continuity error: The revelation that Cat and Rodon are brothers creates a potential continuity error, since logic would dictate that Rodon should have been long dead by the time of "The Promised Land". Like the other Dwarfers, Cat has spent many centuries in stasis (e.g. "Psirens", "Nanarchy") and also been thrust forward in time many further centuries by anomalies such as wormholes (e.g, "Rimmerworld", "Stoke Me a Clipper").
    • It is possible that Felis sapiens are very long-lived, or alternatively that Rodon had also spent many centuries in stasis like the Dwarfers.
      • A further possibility is that when the Cat Clerics went looking for Red Dwarf in their shuttle, they went through some sort of aforementioned spacial anomaly which put them forwards into the respective timeline of the events in The Promised Land, with Rodon and the rest of the Cat Fleet following them through as they chased the fugitives.
        • It is also possible that Rodon and his compatriots are not from the same era as the rest of the Cats who left on the B Arc, but a later migration brought there by the temporal displacement of a wormhole or other stellar phenomena, or through entering stasis. This theory posits that after being born from among the stragglers, notably The Cripple and The Idiot, Rodon led a group of followers away, found the other Cats and staged a military coup against the old theocracy.


  • Kryten: Permission to go apeshit mode Sir!
  • Lister: What is the greatest erogenous zone?
    Cat: My mirror.
    Lister: It's the brain. You don't have one.


The UKTV Play on-demand streaming service has the special online, along with "The Promised Doc" making-of documentary, deleted scenes and "smeg ups" (blooper reel).[34]

Red Dwarf: The Promised Land is due to be released on both DVD and Blu-ray in the UK on 1 June 2020.[35] The home media release will have all the additional material currently available on the UKTV Play site, plus an additional making-of documentary called Through an Audience's Eyes and easter eggs.[36] The DVD cover will be reversible and include two different artworks; one matching the poster and one matching the earlier, BBC-era DVD style covers.[37]

Red Dwarf: The Promised Land is due to be released on home media internationally in due course.[38]


Viewing Figures

Over a million viewers tuned in to the Dave channel to watch the first broadcast of Red Dwarf: The Promised Land, making it the most watched programme on Dave for half a decade.[39] Including time-shifted, consolidated figures (repeats and online views over the following week), this figure is increased to 1.6 million views, making the special the most watched programme outside the British terrestrial channels (BBC and ITV).[40]

Further consolidated viewing figures released a month later by The Radio Times were even higher then the initial figures from UKTV Play, stating over two million recorded views. “Total consumption” of the special across 24 days and made it both the highest-rated show on the network during the coronavirus lockdown, and also the highest-rated broadcast on Dave for several years.[41]

Audience Reception

The initial response from fans on the official Red Dwarf website was generally positive, with the website declaring the special a hit.[42]

On the Internet Movie Database, Red Dwarf: The Promised Land holds an average user rating of 7.7 out of 10, based on 556 ratings.[43] This places it the 48th highest rated episode out of 74.[44]

On Rotten Tomatoes, Red Dwarf: The Promised Land holds an audience score of 75%.[45]

Critical Reception

Rachel Knightley of Starburst magazine gave Red Dwarf: The Promised Land 9 out of 10, stating: “The sit-com-meets-science recipe holds strong, with gorgeous 1980s/’90s technology jokes sitting comfortably beside allusions to the modern world’s own daftness.”[46]

Morgan Jeffery of The Radio Times gave Red Dwarf: The Promised Land 3 out of 5, stating: “The Promised Land is unlikely to convert anyone who's found themselves immune to the show's charms thus far, but it's a reasonably rewarding outing for the faithful.”[47]

Rebecca Nicholson of The Guardian also gave Red Dwarf: The Promised Land 3 of 5, stating: “This feature-length space odyssey sees the gang reunite to fight a bunch of evil felines, in an adventure that’s great fun for fans and perfectly watchable for everyone else... ...The Promised Land is not Red Dwarf in its prime. You get the impression that everyone involved knows it, but is trying to enjoy themselves, regardless. ”[48]


On 11 April 2020, Doug Naylor and Richard Naylor spoke on the Two Geeks Two Beers Podcast about the future of Red Dwarf. Doug said that he has 'a million' ideas about how to further explore the fictional universe, and although he favours the movie-length special format, it may take the form of another series or a fifth novel, but this be down to a number of factors, least of all budget.

One of Doug's ideas would be the Dwarfers coming across the other Red Dwarf crewmembers, including Captain Hollister, who were resurrected by the nanobots in Series VIII, but fled at the end of that series to escape the chameleonic microbe. Hollister and the other resurrected crew may have formed a colony on a new planet.

Doug Naylor said that a finale to wrap up the television show is not being planned: "We've always said that we don't want to do the 'final show' – where Lister's back on Fuchal, he's got his white horses and somehow he's got Kochanski and they ride off into the distance and everyone goes 'What a lame s**t show that was' – it would be just horrific... ... I don’t want it to end. Going 'That's the end'… I think that would be horrible. I'm tearing up just thinking about it!"[49][50]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2
  14. "The Promised Land" making of documentary
  28. "The Promised Doc", making of documentary

External Links

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.