Rimmer, Lister, Kryten and Cat are back, in the first original Red Dwarf series since 1999. Can the silly sci-fi comedy characters still create laughs?
Speaking before the red carpet premiere of the new series, Chris Barrie, who plays space's most anal hologram, Rimmer, expresses his worries: “Has it occurred to anyone that people saw series 2, 3 and 4 when they were smoking god knows what? And that we’re know measured against their memories of that?”
“I was smoking god knows what when we made it,” jokes Craig Charles, who plays the last human male in the known universe, Dave Lister.
“They might say ‘Damn this isn’t nearly as funny’,” frets Barrie.
“They were probably stoned out of their heads,” laughs Charles.
Robert Llewellyn, who plays neurotic Series 4000 mechanoid robotic servant, Kryten, steers the conversation on to more serious terrain: “Suddenly what we’ve become aware of is the range of people that watched the show.
“There are people that were teenagers in the late Eighties who would have watched it when they were at university, had children - and the children have watched it on Dave or DVDs.
“Those kids weren’t even born when it was first on and they’ve now seen it all back-to-back.”
Red Dwarf has very loyal fans, some of whom are queuing up outside the Prince Charles cinema, Leicester Square, to see the stars and get a sneak peek of the first episode as we speak.
Llewellyn says his son will also show up for the occasion: “I stupidly used the word ‘acting’ to describe what I was doing and my son said ‘No dad, the others are acting. You’re just a twat with a rubber head.”
The harsh description, not dissimilar to the type of cutting lines and ‘smeg head’ insults that are famous in Red Dwarf, causes an outpour of laugher from his co-stars.
"We've got to set up a T-shirt business," chuckles Charles.
Bouncing off each other, the men – who all describe the show as “career-defining” – clearly all still get along well.
Llewellyn notes: “We are blessed with chemistry. There is something special between all of us I’ve never experienced it anywhere else.”
“We can be honest with each other because we’ve known each other for so long,” concurs Barrie.
And Charles adds: “It’s out of love, you can be rude and offensive and still laugh at it, as it’s affectionate.”
I ask the guys to sum up their characters in two lines…
Barrie says: "Arnold Rimmer is a very well-rounded character, and never is anal about anything.” Charles describes Lister as “a space bum guitar god, looking for a way home and a really hot curry” - and Llewellyn thinks “Kryten is just thrilled that there is still an ample supply of laundry that needs doing and acres of floors that need mopping”.
How seriously can these grown men take each other while dressed in rubber costumes?
"I remember when we were outside in the freezing cold and I turned round to Chris in a moment of clarity and looked at myself and said ‘This is no way for a man who’s hurtling towards 50 to be dressing’," admits Charles.
But Llewellyn thinks seeing each other without their costumes on is stranger: "I don't look at Danny and think ‘God, he looks weird, he’s got funny teeth in and weird hair and a psychedelic suit’, it’s just normal. I look at Danny more when he’s not in costume.”
The first episode of Red Dwarf X (or series 10) is called Trojan and begins with the Dwarfers' mining ship still creaking though the wastelands of unchartered deep space when they stumble upon the mysteriously abandoned SS Trojan.
Rimmer receives an SOS distress call from an old foe who tells him: "Your brain is smaller than a salad section in a Scottish supermarket" - and is suddenly faced with a big dilemma.
Is the show back to original Red Dwarf at its early '90s best? There are simple gags about moose, being put on hold and pressing wrong buttons and plenty of silly faces, all of which create laughs.
Showrunner Doug Naylor confirms he's expecting Dave to commission another series, but for now fans can enjoy a return to form for the show, as it makes a TV comeback for six 30 minute episodes from Thursday 4 October, 9pm on Dave and Dave HD.
As Barrie notes: they "never stop having fun".
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