Warning: This node contains spoilers which are unsuitable for younger readers, and those who have not seen Red Dwarf. You have been warned.
Series one was the defining series of the entire show. It really showed the crowds what was possible in the Red Dwarf world, such as problems with time, creatures evolving from housecats and fever hallucinations, two copies of one person and, of course, a glimpse of the probable future.
It starred a poet, an impressionist, a dancer and a stand-up comedian, and it was nearly never filmed. After an electricians’ strike at the BBC in 1984, production of Red Dwarf fell in a screaming heap. However, the producers went and organised for Red Dwarf to get a second chance… and it got it in 1987. Red Dwarf was now released, and there was no stopping it.
The pilot episode, “The End”, told the story of how David Lister, a curry- and beer-loving slob, came to become the last human left alive, three million years from Earth, with only a hologrammatical human and a human who evolved from cats for company. It’s certainly not the best situation to be in, especially if all you want to do is buy a farm on Fiji.
”Future Echoes”, where the crew caught climpses of themselves in the future, was shoved up the line from fourth to second to show the audience what the team were capable of. It was a nightmare to create, what with many split-screen shots and many of the crew trying to figure out the complex plot. Even writers Rob Grant and Doug Naylor had to draw diagrams for themselves.
In ”Balance of Power”, Lister started to get sick of Rimmer's superiority and decided to take an exam to become a chef. It toyed with the idea of swapping bodies (this would have greater importance in later series), and also showed what Lister was like when it came to tests of intelligence – pathetic. Cat was given a great many ‘fish’ gags, and the first long dialogue between Rimmer and Lister was also given a green light.
In ”Waiting for God”, Lister found out that he was God of the Cat's race, under the name 'Cloister'. It also introduced Rimmer’s obsession for aliens, but the episode definitely belonged to Craig Charles and Danny John-Jules. It also became Talkie Toaster’s second episode, and it would not return until Series 4. Shame, that – I liked it.
More sci-fi ideas were tossed around in “Confidence and Paranoia”, where Lister was given a fever which made his hallucinations solid. Chris Barrie was also given a second part – the man in Lister’s soap opera. Also given one-off roles were two men that originally tried out for the part of Lister – Craig Ferguson and Lee Cornes as Confidence and Paranoia respectively.
”Me2” relied totally on split-screen sequences as two Rimmers wreaked havoc everywhere on the ship – and on Chris Barrie’s body. Doing the workout scene reduced the man ‘to a small puddle on the floor’ (Red Dwarf 1 Collector’s Booklet). Another bit of trivia is the gazpacho soup scene… Rob Grant did the same thing, except he didn’t get his soup warmed up.
So that was series 1. Click here for series 2…