Red Dwarf is 30 years old – so here are the show’s five greatest episodes
Red Dwarf is the sort of strange, unique comedy show that could only have come out of Britain. In a lot of ways, it’s a traditional workplace sitcom – only it happens to be set in space. We have four strongly developed characters, who wouldn’t normally interact but are thrown together and forced to get along, all played by hilarious talents (Craig Charles, Chris Barrie, Danny John-Jules, and from series II onward, Robert Llewellyn). That could be the set-up of any great TV sitcom on its own, right there.
But the sci-fi setting allowed for so much more. The brilliant lo-fi space models set the tone for every episode, and creators Rob Grant and Doug Naylor played with concepts like time travel, virtually reality and parallel universes to create a show like nothing else. You didn't get anything like that on My Family.
The first episode – ironically titled ‘The End’ – first aired all the way back on February 15th, 1988, meaning the show turns 30 years old this week. And to mark the occasion, here are the top five greatest episode of Red Dwarf, according to their IMDB rankings.
5. ‘Dimension Jump’ Red Dwarf IV, Episode 5
First aired: 14 March 1991
IMDB rating: 8.7
The episode that introduced us to Ace Rimmer, dashing space pilot hero who is the alternate dimension counterpart to our regular Rimmer. Chris Barrie was clearly having a ball playing both roles.
4. ‘Queeg’ Red Dwarf II, Episode 5
First aired: 4 October 1988
IMDB rating: 8.9
After taking meteor damage, the ship’s faithful-but-annoying computer Holly is replaced by authoritarian Queeg, memorably played by American actor Charles Augins.
3. ‘Polymorph’ Red Dwarf III, Episode 3
First aired: 28 November 1989
IMDB rating: 8.9
One of the most cinematic installments of the series, ‘Polymorph’ loosely riffed on Ridley Scott’s Alien and featured a stunning shape-shifting creature. The episode went on to have a sequel in Red Dwarf VI.
2. ‘Quarantine’ Red Dwarf V, Episode 4
First aired: 12 March 1992
IMDB rating: 9.1
The first episode to be directed by creators Grant and Naylor saw Rimmer take over the ship and force the other crew members into quarantine, while a electronic holo-virus took over his mind. It was another great showcase for Chris Barrie, as he got to go insane and talk to a fluffy penguin called Mr Fibble.
1. ‘Back To Reality’ Red Dwarf V, Episode 6
First aired: 26 March 1992
A perfect example of how Red Dwarf could take a wild high concept and really run with it. After the Starbug seemingly explodes in a battle with giant space squid, it is revealed that the cast haven’t actually been stuck in deep space – all this time, they’ve just been playing an immersive video game, and now have to adjust back to the real world. Though of course, all is not what it seems.