Red Dwarf crew to head back to 1950s as new series explores “big issues”

The sci-fi comedy will tackle some thorny contemporary concerns when it returns later this month, says writer Doug Naylor - starting with an episode set in a world where science is outlawed

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Red Dwarf is blasting back onto our TV screens later this month – and the sci-fi comedy’s new adventures will have something meaningful to say about the contemporary world, according to writer Doug Naylor.

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Episode one of Red Dwarf XI is called Twentica and takes the show’s regulars to an alternative history on 1950s earth where technology and science have been outlawed by a hostile alien invasion force. Human inhabitants are forced to pursue scientific endeavour in secret.

“It is quite interesting and relevant,” Naylor said at a special screening. “The horror of a society that represses science, I feel, is quite contemporary.

“There’s a lot in this series that is of the moment, that is about big issues.

“Because it’s set in the future you can play with so many ideas, that is why [Red Dwarf] doesn’t ever look dated. You can look back on some of the comedies that were made in the same year we started in 1988 and they really start to feel their age. But because we are set so far in the future it doesn’t affect us so much.”

The show’s new six-episode run will also contain out-and-out comedy of course, as the crew of Lister (Craig Charles), Rimmer (Chris Barrie) Cat (Danny John-Jules) and Robert Llewellyn (Kryten) return to action.

One episode sees Cat takes time off from being in love with himself to fall in love with a female Cat with a secret.

In another, Lister wakes up to discover a deranged droid has stolen some of his body parts, while Kryten has a mid-life crisis that makes him consider leaving the Dwarfers for a younger crew.

Red Dwarf first aired on BBC2 in 1988 and ran for eight series before it transferred to Dave in 2009.

Asked how long the series could run, Naylor joked: “We will run it into the ground basically, until we are so old and sad we can’t get out of bed.”

Speaking at the same Q and A panel, Chris Barrie chipped in: “[It will end] when I have to wear a toupee and can’t get a side-parting, that’s the time to hang up.”

Craig Charles added: “We wouldn’t want to come back fat and old and do a bag of shite. We want it to be as good as it possibly could, as good as the old days.”

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Red Dwarf XI returns to Dave on 22nd September. Fans can watch the show on UKTV Play the week before