Oh Smeg! Red Dwarf Turns 30!

“It’s cold outside, there’s no kind of atmosphere. I’m all alone, more or less. Let me fly far away from here. Fun, fun, fun in the sun, sun, sun. I want to lie shipwrecked and comatose, drinking fresh mango juice. Goldfish shoals nipping at my toes. Fun, fun, fun in the sun, sun, sun.” – Red Dwarf theme song

It was on this date in 1988 that the cosmic comedy Red Dwarf first aired on the BBC. Created by the British comedy team of Rob Grant and Doug Naylor, the series concerns the exploits of Dave Lister (Craig Charles) — a low-level maintenance worker about the titular interstellar mining ship. After refusing to reveal the location of the non-quarantined cat he smuggled aboard, Lister is placed into suspended animation as punishment. While in statis, the Red Dwarf suffers a catastrophic radiation leak that kills the entire crew. The ship’s computer Holly (first played by Norman Lovett, then Hattie Hayridge) waits until the ship is inhabitable again before releasing Lister…a process that takes 3,000,000 years. Stuck in deep space and desperate to return home to Earth — or whatever remains of it — Lister is joined by Arnold Rimmer (Chris Barrie), a hologram of his pompous dead roommate, The Cat (Danny John-Jules), a creature who evolved from the feline he snuck on board, and the service droid Kryten (Robert Llewellyn).

Over the course of 12 seasons and 73 episodes, the Boys from the Dwarf have traveled to parallel universe, met genetically engineered lifeforms, gone back in time, and generally bummed around the cosmos. The show reached the peak of its creative and commercial success during its sixth season in 1993 (after which co-creator Rob Grant left the series). As proven by its recent 12th season however, the show has plenty of life left in it. Although wildly popular in the UK, it has remained something of an underground phenomenon in the United States over the years, this despite the fact that it once was primed for a big budget NBC pilot. (One that thankfully never made it past the pilot stage). But what it lacks in mainstream acclaim on these shores it more than makes up for in laughs. If you’ve never seen this superb sci-fi comedy, check it out ASAP for one of the funniest Britcoms around.

And smoke me a kipper, I’ll be back for breakfast.