Isn't It always the case? You spend 200 years looking for something and then it turns up just when you least expect it, and in the last place you'd ever look. At the end of Season Seven of Red Dwarf, the Jupiter Mining Corporation's finest vessel was eventually found by its surviving crew members, lurking amongst Lister's underwear in Starbug's laundry basket. Those naughty nanobots, responsible for purloining it in the first place, restored it to far, far more than its former glory. As Lister (Craig Charles), Kryten (Robert Llewelyn), Kochanski (Chloë Annett) and the Cat (Danny John Jules) soon discover that the ship is not the only thing that the nanobots have re-created
Throughout the history of the series, there have been two things which have remained constant: Lister is the last surviving human in the universe, and Arnold J Rimmer exists only as a hologram, having died horribly three million years ago. All this is about to change. The last series of Red Dwarf was a controversial one. Rimmer was absent for half the season and replaced by the permanently irritable (and to Kryten, irritating) Kristine Kochanski; writer and co-creator Rob Grant had left and the scripts had lost some of their edge; and while there were still some classic moments (the "Arnold, Arnold, Arnold Rimmer" song, for instance) there were far too many duff lines spoken in ventilation ducts. This was compounded by the fact that the lack of a studio audience meant that the timing of many of the jokes wasn't as sharp as it could have been.
Season Eight, however, promises a return to form. The show is once more being recorded in front of a studio audience. Norman Lovett's Holly and Chris Barrie's Rimmer are both back for all the episodes. There are scutters aplenty and the largest amount of curry ever seen on television. Imagine that the first half of the first episode of the first season was the template for what was to come. Imagine that the accident that destroyed all of Lister's friends (and killed Rimmer too) never occurred. Imagine then Red Dwarf VIII
Circumstances for our heroes have changed considerably. Tell us more.
Craig Charles: We get stuck on charges for stealing Starbug, so we end up in jail. Its a different dynamic in a way; the crew are back with some of the strangest looking bods you've ever met. There's a chap there with more than 55 facial piercings We spend most of our time in a cell really, unless we're going on suicide missions, to break the monotony! The sleeping quarters are back to what they were - no longer the captain's quarters. We're on the 13th floor, 'The Tank'. There are some good stories
Chris Barrie: In Starbug it was quite limited. We'd see other ships or discover other planets, but back on Red Dwarf, there's so much more that can happen. There are a lot of little ideas that have been placed to provide more adventures.
This season, Rimmer makes a welcome return. What was it that convinced Chris Barrie to reprise the role?
CB: Having done six series and then seven, in retrospect I thought I may as well stay right to the end. It will probably go down as the thing that I was best known for. I did enjoy the couple of episodes I did for the seventh series and I just want to get back into it. Plus, the vibe I got from inside and the fans, was that the balance of the show wasn't quite there without Rimmer and I thought I'd go back and save the day! Mainly it was a personal thing. You're never going to get the same sort of script material that you get for this show anywhere else.
What's the atmosphere like on set?
CB: Something's obviously happened to me over the last couple of years because I think that this is the most comfortable series of this show I've done. We've all got to the point where we really work well together and I think it's probably the best of all the series. I don't know what happened, but there's a good balance now between studio audience, location and rehearse/record and the actors have got a good balance of funny dialogue or character dialogue and visual effects. I think it's all come together wonderfully. It's great to have Norman back. Chloë's excellent, and the boys are the boys and we're all happy.
CC: I think we all genuinely get on. Throughout the years we've all had fallings out and stuff. When you're in a room with creative people all the time they're bound to get on your nerves. But this time it's been painless. It's the most enjoyable Red Dwarf experience I've had. We all know our characters and what we're supposed to do. We've been at it now for 12 years - the whole of my adult life in fact!
Norman Lovett: I'm still isolated, lonely it's a strange form of acting to do but I like it. The closest I get to the actors is the read through
Being relatively new to the team, did Chloë get ganged up on?
Chloë Annett: They wouldn't dare!
Robert Llewelyn: Chloë was more 'one of the lads' than the rest of us put together!
How did Craig feel when he found he was banged up for most of the show?
CC: I thought I've done the research, I might as well do the video! I got all that out my system in The Governor really. It's funny, when Doug [Naylor, writer] used to come and visit me all the time you could tell he was making notes. I thought he was coming 'cos he was a mate! I should have known The weird thing was, when [Doug Naylor's Red Dwarf novel] The Last Human came out I was in jail all the way through that as wellPeter Ware
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