RED DWARF: Smegging brilliant! - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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RED DWARF: Smegging brilliant!

Andrew Jero begins a new regular Red Dwarf column with a retrospective of the cult Sci-Fi comedy.

Red Dwarf began in 1986, it was derived from a radio show sketch called Son of Cliche, written by creators Rob Grant and Doug Naylor. Dealing initially with the interesting pastimes of David Lister and Arnold Judas Rimmer, the show thrived on the two main characters absolutely hating each other. Behind the scenes, things weren't much different as actors Craig Charles and Chris Barrie rarely got along.
“There was a lot of useful testosterone flying around then – I was 23 and a big baby and an idiot. Series one and two were the most difficult. Now we can finish each others sentences.”
Charles said at the Red Dwarf X launch in 2012.
Series I debuted in 1988 and wasn't very successful, the ratings were quite low, but Series II had already been commissioned by the BBC so they held onto the show, giving it a chance to grow. Series II faired significantly better ratings wise and introduced Kryten in the first episode, though most fans would agree that it wasn't until Series III when Red Dwarf really took off. Backwards, the opener for the third series, saw Kryten (played now by Robert Llewellyn) return as a regular cast member, the Cat was funnier, and Rimmer and Lister hated each other less, possibly because they had two stronger characters to interact with. Series III also contains one of the best episodes of Red Dwarf ever, Polymorph

The crew of the Red Dwarf travelled to other planets meeting strange genetically modified creatures from Earth, this was due to the ‘no aliens’ rule applied to the show. Series IV was good, Series V was better, producing the likes of Back to Reality and Quarantine. Series VI was for me, when it hit its peak! Leigon, Gunmen of the Apocalypse, Emohawk/Polymorph II and Rimmerworld! Four fantastic episodes out of the six in the season. Only the series’ tenth series would have similar success.

Series VII saw the departure of Rimmer in Stoke Me A Clipper, when he takes Ace Rimmer’s place as the next Ace. The next episode Ouroborous, introduced the character Kristine Kochanski as a regular for the rest of the seventh and all of the eighth series. Rimmer returned in Series VIII, as well as the entire crew due to microscopic creatures known as Nanobots.

With a four year break between Series VII and Series VIII, Chris Barrie began work on other projects, Craig Charles was cleared of a rape allegation, and things behind the scenes slowly began to fall apart with the series’ creators - eventually breaking up the writing team of Grant & Naylor. Doug Naylor turned to other writers to assist him in the production of the seventh series, with Red Dwarf's own Robert Llewellyn contributing to a script. This series was shakier than Red Dwarf had been since the first year, and the following series, the Eighth, was often hit or miss to fans too. Krytie TV was identified as sexist and lacking the same creative drive of the previous seven series. With Series VIII airing in 1999, there was a break until 2009 when Red Dwarf came back in a three episode special series Back to Earth

June 2010 saw plans to make a tenth series of Red Dwarf slowly coming out of the woodwork, with Craig Charles, Chris Barrie and Hattie Hayridge all reporting new episodes were being worked on. In 2011, Robert Llewellyn confirmed that Series X would soon be going into production, to be broadcast in 2012. On April 10th that year the first official announcement came from Doug Naylor at that years’ Dimension Jump convention. The four man actors, Chris Barrie, Craig Charles, Robert Lewellyn and Danny John-Jules would all be returning to reprise their roles respectively as Arnold Rimmer, Dave Lister, Kryten 2X4B-523P and The Cat.

Among the tenth series were some of the funniest and most original episodes of Red Dwarf yet; Trojan, Lemons, Dear Dave and The Beginning. Ratings were high and, in my opinion, Series X was the second best run of Red Dwarf episodes ever. Which is especially impressive when you think that we're now talking about a show that has broadcast new episodes in four different decades! Plus there's more Red Dwarf to come, series XI is due to start filming this October, with plans for it to be broadcast in the autumn of 2015.

Over the coming weeks I'll be looking at some of the various different aspects I love about Red Dwarf, but for those of you reading this I have a question - what would you like to see? Character articles, season overviews, or episode reviews?

Andrew Jero is 17, lives in Iowa and has a very strong love of both Red Dwarf and Doctor Who. He enjoys acting and writing plays, television scripts, and short stories. Follow Andrew on Twitter.

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