Red Dwarf would struggle to get commissioned today says Craig Charles

Star of the much-loved sci-fi comedy suggests that its premise is too outlandish for the tastes of today’s comedy commissioners

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Red Dwarf is returning to Dave later this month but its star Craig Charles has said that the comedy would not be commissioned today if it were presented as a new idea.

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Charles, who has played the lovably feckless crew member Dave Lister in the show since it first aired on BBC2 in 1988, suggested at a screening of the new series today that the outlandish premise would turn modern comedy commissioners off.

He said: “I don’t think you could get it through the commissioning process now. If you went and said ‘I have this great idea for a comedy right, you have got this guy who is the last surviving human in the universe and for company he has got this hologram of his dead bunk mate and a life form that’s evolved from the ship’s cat and some dodgy old mechanoid…'”

His co-star Chris Barrie, who plays the hologram Arnold Judas Rimmer, agreed, saying that comedy shows were given more of a chance in the late 1980s when Red Dwarf first hit the screens.

“It was in the days when a show, if it wasn’t hitting the ratings immediately, would be given a second chance,” said Barrie. “These days I am not sure all those shows get those opportunities.”

Red Dwarf XI returns to Dave later this month and sees the return of Danny John-Jules (Cat) and Robert Llewellyn (Kryten) along with a host of guest stars for a brand new series recorded in front of a live studio audience at Pinewood Studios. The series is written and directed by Red Dwarf co-creator Doug Naylor. 

The last fresh episodes of the cult sci-fi comedy was in 2012 with the six-part Red Dwarf X. This was a follow-up to 2009’s Red Dwarf: Back to Earth, Dave’s first foray into scripted comedy commissions.

Back to Earth saw more than 2.6 million viewers tuning in to catch up with the four hapless space explorers as they returned to action for the first time since the BBC series ended a decade earlier. 

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Red Dwarf series XI airs on Dave on September 22 and series XII will follow next year. Fans will also be able to watch Red Dward XI on UKTV Play the week before.