Doug Naylor still remembers the moment he and Rob Grant first dreamed up the cult sci-fi comedy series Red Dwarf.
“We were doing a sketch show for radio called Son of Cliché for BBC Radio 4 and Rob suggested we come up with a sci-fi sketch,” Naylor recalled during a special event hosted to mark the end of Red Dwarf XII on Dave.
“That was where the Dave Hollins came from. It was a sketch about a guy who woke up on a ship where an alien had come on board and killed everyone and Dave is left alone with a computer for company.”
“It wasn’t the greatest sketch in the world, but it gave us the idea. So we went off to this cottage my dad had in the mountains in Wales and wrote this whole sitcom around this sketch.”
“We just started out with this idea of two characters walking down this corridor. One is a
jobs-worth and the other is a slob and they are on a spaceship and they are two guys in conflict and they are going to argue and it just went from there.”
The two characters would go on to become Dave Lister and Arnold J. Rimmer, played by Craig Charles and Chris Barrie respectively, and would provide the heartbeat of the critically acclaimed sci-fi series that turns 30 in 2018.
A show loved by fans all over the world, Red Dwarf has spawned 12 series, four novels, a radio version and even two failed attempts at creating a version of the show for US audiences.
Most seem pretty happy with the current version though, with Barrie and Charles joined by Robert Llewellyn’s mechanoid Kryten and Danny John-Jules’ Cat.
Over 72 episodes, fans have remained hooked and the season – and potentially series – finale for season 12 even managed to bring back a couple of familiar face from the show’s original cast.
“Skipper” sees the gang encounter an anomaly in the space time continuum where the crew experience the effects of paths not taken in their own universe, resulting in a series of comedic short skips through time and space.
Cat, in particular, fails to grasp the notion that the opposite of whatever he says he wants to do happens, resulting in some of the funniest moments of the new series and a reminder of what made the show so popular in the first place.
Rimmer then embarks on a series of mini-adventures through the multiverse, exploring alternate timelines created by the various decisions they made along the way. It’s a fascinating look at what could have been and could yet serve as a suitable enough finale for the entire series.
The 12th series of Red Dwarf has just wrapped on Dave and while no plans are in place as yet for more, it’s already been a big success for the digital broadcaster. Naylor, for his part, appears optimistic yet open-minded about the future of the show.
“Everyone wants to do more and so barring unforeseen disasters I think we’ll certainly do more,” he said. “But If you look at the end of series 10 and the end of series 12, they both could have closed the series. You don’t want it to happen but equally I don’t want to write the final show.”
If this is the end, however, Naylor feels happy to go out on this kind of note, rather than anything more definitive. “I don’t want to do that big ‘Lister makes it to Fiji and rides off on a white horse with Kochanski. Fans would say ‘oh god’ and they wouldn’t like it. I’d rather go out on something funny and stupid, so this would be a good one to go out on.”
For all his discussion about the end of Red Dwarf, Naylor still has plans for more from the gang though, with another series and maybe even a stage show in the offing soon enough.
Red Dwarf ending? There’s not a chance in smeg.
The finale of Red Dwarf XII airs on Dave tonight at 9pm and is available now on demand.
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Loaded staff writer Jack Beresford has produced content for Lad Bible, Axonn Media and a variety of online sports and news media outlets.