Spaced out

How exactly do you score in outer space? Torn Lappin gets the gen on celibacy across the galaxy from Red Dwarfs resident space-slob Dave Lister, aka Craig Charles.

‘This guy has been in space for three million years, and he hasn’t got laid yet!’ In space no one can hear you whinge, but back on earth Craig Charles is having a heartfelt moan about the lack of inter- galactic legover situations scripted for his character Dave Lister. in the ever-popular BBC2 sci-fi sitcom Red Dwarf By the last series, the fifth, the situation was getting beyond ajoke.

‘Last year Rimmer got laid twice.‘ Charles moans, ‘and he’s a bloody hologram! I didn’t even get a peck on the cheek.‘ Fear not though, for Red Dwarf VI offers a rather more optimistic prognosis for the Lister libido. ‘Lister gets kissed so many times by a variety of babes.‘ drools Charles. ‘I had it written

' into my contract. But they make me pay for it. At one

point I’m kissing an actress called Samantha Robertson who’s a lovely girl and very attractive, and the next thing I know I’m necking with this monster who‘s dripping sperrnicidal fluid into me mouth. Oh, they made me pay for it. Every time I get kissed there’s hell to pay. In one episode I get married to a genetically engineered life-form, played by this 700 pound guy who lifts me over his shoulder and carries me off to his tent.’

Ten years after its first screening Red Dwarf has transcended its early cult status to become one of BBC2’s most successful shows, regularly pulling in audiences approaching seven million, and in addition trawling in plentiful revenue from the sale of books, videos. T-shirts etc. The winning formula is a combination of bickering dialogue, Young Ones style lavatorial humour, imaginative and increasingly outrageous scripts, spiced up with the occasional impressive special effect.

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‘This is the funniest series we’ve done,‘ says ' Charles. ‘lt’s got some great memorable moments in it. We’re keeping our feet on the ground, but we’re reaching for the stars. It’s got a bit bigger than any of us expected, and there's a whole lot of money being made, but as long as that money gets ploughed back into improving the show and making it better, and the production values aren’t compromised that's OK. l honestly believe that this year’s is the best Red Dwarf series. There’s a school of thought that prefers the first series when it was just Rimmer and Lister and it was more conversationally-based. But we‘ve done that. and you’ve got to grow. I‘m happy with the way it‘s developed. It doesn‘t have to look like it‘s held together by sticky-back plastic on a Squeezy

bottle in space.’

Like any successful TV science-fiction series, Red Dwarf has attracted a substantial following of complete Obsessives who regard the show as being several elements more than a superior TV sitcom.’ The cast are baffled by the devotion and trainspotter mentality of Red Dwarf fans, who delight in collaiing the actors and reciting great chunks of dialogue back at them.

‘They scare me a lot,‘ says Charles. ‘They are fanatics, and they can quote the whole series for you. I’m not like that. Once you’ve done the line and filmed it, you’re on to the next scene. That line‘s

forever gone. I went to Chicago for a Red Dwarf

convention, and these people were camping outside the door of my hotel room. I don’t want to sound racist or sexist, but once you’ve been in Chicago for a couple of days you start fancying any woman who’s under 500 pounds, because they’re all so

‘At one point I’m kissing an actress called Samantha Robertson who’s a lovely girl and very attractive, and the next thing i know I’m necking with this monster who’s dripping spermicidal fluid into me mouth.’

massive. They do nothing but eat. They come and give you big hugs and you get lost in these rolls of blubber. And they all look like they’ve killed their parents. Either that or they live in their parents‘ basement eating potato chips and watching Red Dwarf reruns.

Meanwhile back in series VI there are more pressing matters to attend to than Lister’s failure to get his end away. For the course of the entire series, the crew are separated from their eponymous space- craft, and have to zip around in the relatively cramped Star Bug. ‘Lister‘s forgotten where he parked Red Dwarf,’ Charles owns up. ‘He got pissed one night and he’s forgotten what planet he parked it outside.’ They never had that problem with The Starship Enterprise.

Red Dwarf begins on BBC2 on Thursday 7 October at 9pm.

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The List 24 September—7 October I993 65