Red Dwarf writer Doug Naylor recently answered a question that’s been bugging dedicated fans of the sci-fi sitcom for years: which version of Rimmer currently appears on the show?
For the uninitiated, the original hologram Rimmer left Red Dwarf in its seventh series in a storyline that saw him become the new “Ace” Rimmer (an alternative version of the character from a parallel world).
A new version of the character was then introduced in the show’s eighth series – a human Rimmer given life by Kryten’s nanobots. That series ended on a cliffhanger and when Red Dwarf returned with three-part special Back to Earth, Rimmer was a hologram once again – but was this the original, or had the second Rimmer also become hologrammatic?
Naylor recently confirmed that the version of Chris Barrie’s character who appears from Back to Earth onwards is the original, with his return – and whatever fate befell the new human Rimmer – playing out off-screen.
“Red Dwarf is guilty sometimes of not caring about backstory and if we can do another new good show, we will ignore [backstory] a little bit,” Naylor said. ‘It’s always been a bit guilty of that.”
Indeed, speaking to RadioTimes.com as part of a new interview to promote the DVD and Blu-ray release of Red Dwarf special The Promised Land, Rimmer actor Chris Barrie revealed that even he didn’t know which version of Rimmer he was supposed to be playing in the latest episodes.
“I have to tell you, I didn’t really think too deeply about which particular one it was!” Barrie admitted. “To me, there’s two – Smeghead Rimmer and Ace Rimmer. They’re the two basic ones.
“If the wardrobe department set a certain costume for me and I look at the dialogue, I kind of know which Rimmer I’m playing. I leave Doug and Richard [Naylor, producer] to contemplate those possible queries by the fans.”
Barrie revealed though that he often gets questions from Red Dwarf fans asking exactly what happened to do the two Rimmers between series eight and Back to Earth. “I’m always up for [exploring] that sort of thing,” he said. “But in terms of the content and where Doug is going to take the story and take the characters, it’s entirely up to him.”
The actor, who’s played various versions of Rimmer for over three decades now, did say that he’d been keen to play Ace Rimmer again, with that version of the character not having appeared on Red Dwarf since 1997.
“When we used to go to conventions back in the day, the three questions that I was always asked were, ‘Is Holly ever going to come back? Is Danny [John-Jules] ever going to get a chance to do Dwayne Dibley again?’ And for me specifically, ‘When’s Ace coming back?’ And I would always tell them, ‘Well, it’s not up to me.’ That’s not my decision.
“But if he ever did come back, I would jump at the chance. I’d love to do that, yeah.”