Sunday, 28 August 2016

Theme Time: Howard Goodall and Jenna Russell - Red Dwarf

Over on my friend Cait's blog, she's been discussing her love of the sci-fi sitcom Red Dwarf. To be honest, it's not a love I've ever shared but I do like the theme tune it has to be said. So, having previously explored one Chris Barrie sitcom in Theme Time this week, I thought I'd best double up and dedicate tonight's post to Red Dwarf.

My disinterest in Red Dwarf often surprises people, but what can I say; I did try and watch it and get into it in the '90s and it just never really clicked with me. I remain more of a HitchHikers Guide to the Galaxy man myself, but maybe I should dip my toe in the waters again sometime? 

Anyway, Red Dwarf was a BBC2 sitcom which started life in 1988 (I well recall watching that first episode) and was created by Rob Grant and Doug Naylor. The show is set in the 22nd century upon the eponymous mining spaceship 'Red Dwarf' In the first episode, an on-board radiation leak of Cadmium kills everyone except for lowest-ranking technician Dave Lister (Craig Charles) who was in suspended animation at the time, and his pregnant cat, Frankenstein, who was safely sealed in the cargo hold.

Following the accident, the ship's lugubrious computer Holly (Norman Lovett) keeps Lister in stasis until the background radiation dies down – a process that takes three million years, making the feckless Lister the unlikely last human being in the universe. His immediate superior, the officious Arnold Judas Rimmer (Chris Barrie) is resurrected by Holly as a hologram to keep Lister company. At the same time, Lister's cat has evolved in the hold to become the humanoid Cat (Danny John- Jules) whilst later series saw the introduction of Kryten, a sort of robotic servant the crew rescue from the crashed Nova 5 in series two, played initially by David Ross and, from the third series onwards, by Robert Llewellyn) Holly would be later played by comedienne Hattie Hayride in series three to five, whilst the crew was expanded to include Kochanski from series 7, played by Chloe Annett - though the lovely Clare Grogan had previously appeared in the role prior to the character becoming a regular.

There have been ten series of Red Dwarf since 1988, with the most recent series being broadcast on Dave. The show was based on sketches by Grant and Naylor entitled Dave Hollins: Space Cadet for the Radio 4 series Son of Cliche which starred Nick Wilton as the hapless marooned space traveller and Chris Barrie as his companion Hub. Despite Barrie's role in this, the initial casting choice for Rimmer in Red Dwarf was Alfred Molina (Alan Rickman also auditioned for the series) but when the actor had doubts about the character and the series, he bowed out to be replaced by Barrie.

The brilliant theme tune was composed by Howard Goodall (of Blackadder theme fame) and was sung by actress Jenna Russell (pictured above) star of stage and screen and no stranger to sitcom herself having appeared in the Esmonde and Larbey penned On The Up around this time and in Home to Roost prior to that.

I mean, isn't that just a brilliant theme tune?

And who can forget the song Tongue Tied which appeared in an episode and went on to reach number 17 in the UK singles chart


  1. Yay! You did it. :-)

    I love the theme music to Red Dwarf. I vividly remember my choir teacher at Primary School teaching us all the words to it. I thought he was the coolest man on earth.

    Tongue-Tied is something special too. I especially like the dance routine.

    1. That is a cool teacher :)

      Spookily on the night we had been discussing Red Dwarf, the Dave channel started to repeat the show from the first ep. Sorry to say, I got through two eps...still not for me!