My journey through the Red Dwarf archives for the actors outside of the main cast has taken me all the way from the Pilot to Series 3. Today we find our selves with my favourite episode of Series 4…Meltdown. Written again by Rob Grant and Doug Naylor and directed by Ed Bye, Meltdown is possibly one of the weirdest storylines of Red Dwarf so far, and that is saying something.
Kryten discovers a “Matter Paddle” in the Red Dwarf science lab and teleports the crew to a nearby planet with an Earth like atmosphere. They discover that humans had previously visited the planet and populated it with “Wax Droids”, animated wax works of very famous characters from Earth’s history. People such as Albert Einstein, Ghandi and Winnie the Pooh, have all somehow gone berserk and are now at war with each other.
Kryten and Rimmer taken prisoner by Pope Gregory and a gun wielding Elvis Presley, Lister and Cat captured by Adolf Hitler and questioned by Roman Emperor Caligula and just when you think it cant get stranger Lister witnesses the execution of Winnie the Pooh at the hands of a firing squad consisting of Al Capone, Benito Mussolini, Napoleon, Richard the III, and James Last!! there’s escape plans hatched by Abraham Lincoln, the tricking of Rasputin, I could go on…
Meltdown was not intentionally the last episode of Series 4 but with the outbreak of the first war in the Gulf, the BBC decided to postpone it due to the warfare nature of the story. The episode also saw the departure of Ed Bye as director. Ed had assumed that Red Dwarf wouldn’t continue past 4 series and had already committed himself to directing his wife, Ruby Wax’s, new show “The Full Wax”
So to the cast of Meltdown…
Clayton Mark plays the Gun toting Elvis Presley. Not for the first time the usual singer of the closing theme tune, Jenna Russell, was replaced with Clayton doing his Elvis take on the theme. Clayton’s work as an Elvis impersonator can be found on his official site The Clayton Mark Experience.
Adolf Hitler is portrayed by Kenneth Hadley. Kenneth has made a career for himself as a bit part actor. From playing the limousine driver in “The Life and Death of Peter Sellers” to popping up in the Bill and Holby, Kenneth was last seen in the “One Under” episode of Doctors earlier this year.
Martin Friend is another bit part actor and in “Meltdown” plays Albert Einstein. Martin also played the Mayor in Only Fools and Horses and was most recently on our screens in Hustle.
Pythagoras is acted by Stephen Tiller, who seems to have been a bit type cast in his other on screen performances as he tends to be spotted in policeman roles. From a Russian policeman in 1997′s Val Kilmer vehicle The Saint to Murphy’s Law in 2003, Stephen has played coppers.
My favourite character in “Meltdown” is by far Abraham Lincoln, and is played by a Sci-Fi legend in my eyes, Jack Klaff. South African born Jack Klaff first came before us as “Red 4″ in Star Wars episode IV-A New Hope. After his awesome appearance in Red Dwarf his credits include Malvoisin in Ivanhoe, Lord Eudo Blount in Cadfael and most recently as Sir Rufus in the TV movie Agent X.
Tony Hawkes as Caligula is NOT to be confused with the Skateboard and computer game star, he is in fact a veteran of Red Dwarf episodes. Tony has also performed the Dispensing Machine, a Restaurant advertisement, a Suitcase, and was the Compere in 1989′s “Backwards” episode. He has just finished filming “Playing the Moldovans at tennis”.
Forbes Masson was due to join his family’s gravestone business before deciding on the stage as a career. He created the short running Sit-Com “The High Life” with his friend Alan Cumming, but is best known for playing math’s teacher Rod Morris in Eastenders.
Awesome, funny, strange. Watch Meltdown for a proper laugh.
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- Red Dwarf X Coming soon