Saturday, 13 March 2010

Ah, So You're a Waffle Man!

Does anyone want any toast? - Red Dwarf - BBC comedy

Classic moment from one of the UK's most revered sit-coms, well the most revered British Sci-fi comedy "Red Dwarf". Here is Kryten and Lister getting angry with "Talkie the Toaster", who obsessively talks or asks whether folk would like to have toast! This is from the 1991 fourth series and from the episode "White Hole".

The Talkie Toaster made an earlier appearance in series 1, with a different voice and look (the voice of American illusionist Jon Lenahan) and came back in this series, now voiced by David Ross. Does that name ring a bell? It was Ross who first played Kryten in his first appearance in Red Dwarf II. He simply wasn't availiable at the time of series III, from which Kryten's popularity made him a regular. You can't now think of Kryten without Robert Llewellyn under that heavy, heavy make-up and rubber and his faux-American accent. David Ross also played Elgin on the "Only Fools and Horses" spin-off for character Boycie, "The Green, Green Grass" in 2005 and onwards.

"Red Dwarf" began in 1988 on BBC2, however the famous title sequence was made in 1987. This was due to production delays and industrial strikes at the time, behind the scenes at the BBC. Red Dwarf refers to a a whale of a mining spaceship that's 6 miles long. Both the beginning and end credits show it's massive size. The story goes, that an on-board radiation leak of cadmium II kills all humans apart from technician Dave Lister (Craig Charles) who survives by being coincidentally  kept in the stasis chamber after being punished for keeping his black cat Frankenstein on the ship. This all proves fruitful, but Lister remains frozen and preserved in time for another 3 million years by the ship's computer Holly (Norman Lovett) as radiation from the accident still leaks. After he's released he discocers to his dismay, his smug roomate Arnold Rimmer (Chris Barrie) has been brought back to life via hologram thanks to Holly. Frankenstein the cat has delivered generations and generations of cats until they have evolved into human-like life-forms, with still the agilty and scent of a cat. The one relative aboard is merely called "Cat" or "The Cat"(played by Danny John-Jules).

By the point of 1991, "Red Dwarf was now an established sit-com with an even larger budget compared to the 2 first seasons, with more action and special effects, losing none of it's comedy value. By this point Holly was played by a woman, comedienne Hattie Hayridge, replacing Norman Lovett from series 3.

The relationship between the 4 main characters differs, but one thing they all have in common is, even Kryten they all hate Rimmer, who likes to be regimented while noone else cares, has an ego, and is an odious twerp really, until he becomes "Ace Rimmer" and everybody likes him. The Cat was quite a one-dimensional character to begin with, but gained depth as the series ran on, a vain but cool character, but with limited intelligence. Lister is seen as the leader of the group, although has a knack for curry and can be extremely lazy, to Rimmer's disgust. Kryten cares for Lister the most and is like a servant to him. Kryten is honest and reliable, as well as the most intelligent.

Craig Charles, before "Red Dwarf" was an urban performance poet. An unusual and inspired role! He was a scouser with a funny bone, and was picked up sooner or later by TV bosses.

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