The Other Cast Meltdown – Red Dwarf

The Other Cast is a semi regular feature that looks outside of the core cast members of the Brit Scifi Comedy
Meltdown – Red Dwarf – Episode 6 Series 4

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 – Timeslides

Red Dwarf series 3 Episode 5

When Lister gets bored it surely cannot end well. After finding Durex Volleyball tedious, he tells Cat and Rimmer he hates his life aboard Red Dwarf. During the conversation Rimmer reminisces about his former school chum Fred “Thickie” Holden who, despite being stupid, went on to fame and fortune inventing the “Tension Sheet” which is merely bubble wrap painted Red with the words Tension Sheet written on it.

Meanwhile, whilst working in the ships darkroom, Kryten discovers that the developing chemicals make the photographs come to life. Lister goes back through one of Rimmer’s old photo’s to Nazi Germany. Whilst there he abuses Hitler with a joke about only having one testicle, he also manages to accidently foil Claus Von Stauffenbergs assassination attempt.

Lister’s next move is to go back and give the “Tension Sheet” to his younger self. This creates changes in the future and both Cat and Kryten cease to exist. Rimmer, now alone on Red Dwarf with just Holly (Hattie Hayridge) for company, decides this isn’t on and visits Lister in his new life to claiming it is his duty as a “complete and utter bastard”. Lister now a very wealthy man has the butler show Rimmer out.

Rimmer now has to restore the timelines and travels back even further to give the plans for the “Tension Sheet” to HIS younger self. When he arrives back on Red Dwarf all is as it was. Cat, Kryten and Lister are reinstated and Rimmer sits back awaiting the fame and fortune. When nothing happens Holly explains that while he was telling his younger self the plans for the invention, his bunkmate Thickie Holden overheard the plans and invented the “Tension Sheet” anyway, however Rimmer is now alive and no longer a hologram. Overly happy he rushes into the corridor and inadvertently blows himself up.

This is where we get to the point of these articles. The OTHER cast members.

The episode has music and songs written by Craig Charles and the song “Om” is sung by Lister the younger, played by his real life brother Emile Charles. Young Lister’s band “Smeg and the Head’s” were actually Jeff Walker and Bill Steer of rock metal band Carcass.

Young Rimmer was portrayed by Simon Gaffney, who played the character in a total of 3 episodes, “Polymorph” episode 3 of series 3, “Timeslides”, and series 4 episode 5’s “Dimension Jump”.

Lister’s butler was Robert Addie who passed away in November of 2003 aged 43. He was best known for Sir Gilbert in 1998’s “Merlin” mini series and for playing General Russell in T.V. show Bugs.

Stephen McIntosh from T.V series “A kind of Living” played Fred “Thickie” Holden.

Lady Sabrina Mulholland-Jones the “most desirable woman in the Western hemisphere” also known as the now rich Lister’s fianc?e was played by Koo Stark. One time girlfriend of HRH Prince Andrew, Miss Stark was shunned by the Royal family for her involvement in soft porn films “Emily” and “Cruel passion’s”. She also played Miss Scarlett in the 1991 six-part Cluedo show.

Director Ed Bye’s wife Ruby Wax was a late piece of casting to play Blaize FalconBerger the host of fictional show “Lifestyles of the disgustingly rich and famous”.
She stepped into the role at the last minute due to the unfortunate death of Monty Python star Graham Chapman, who passed away just as rehearsals began.
Ruby already had fame as a T.V presenter and comedienne and has recently received acclaim for her website raising awareness for mental health issues in society.

Whilst not one of the most talked about episodes from series three it is by far one of my favourites. I laugh from beginning to end, which is kind of the point.

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Red shirt shown, to see more colours and to order click the image.
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Red Dwarf The Other Cast – Queeg

Queeg - Played by Charles Augins
First aired as episode 5 of the second series of Red Dwarf on 4th of October 1988 Queeg is again written by Rob Grant and Doug Naylor, and directed by Ed Bye.
This episode is a classic and involves the ships back up computer taking charge from Holly.

It all started when Holly (Norman Lovett) was addressing the crew but forgot what he was saying. After a horrendous impact to the Red Dwarf, Holly remembers he was supposed to be warning the crew they were on collision course with a meteor. Rimmers legs start to walk around on there own and Holly finally asks Lister to go and have him repaired. Whilst connecting him to the Hologram simulation suite, Holly’s instructions lead Lister to connect the wrong leads and causes an explosion, launching Lister over the consoles. Craig Charles who plays Lister did this stunt himself, quoted at the time as saying “I’m a scouser, I can be dropped on my head with no problems”

The constant mistakes by Holly, who is supposed to have an IQ of 6000, really annoys the crew, until a mysterious face appears on the console where Holly’s image should be. According to the face, he is Queeg 500 and is Holly’s replacement. Due to Gross negligence and crew endangerment he has taken control of Red Dwarf and demoted Holly to the position of Night watchman.
Whilst initially pleased with the efficiency of Queeg, he forces Rimmer out of bed really early to exercise and puts Cat and Lister on ship scrubbing duty, warning they wouldn’t be fed if they don’t comply.

An exasperated crew beg Holly to return and a game to the death is decided. After such games as Cluedo and Connect 4 are thrown out as ideas, Chess is picked with the winner Gaining complete control of Red Dwarf and the loser being wiped from the memory banks. Queeg wins fairly rapidly and has to say his goodbyes to Rimmer, Lister and Cat and slowly disappears from the screen. Moments later the crew are shocked when Holly returns and explains it was all an elaborate prank to make them realise how easy they actually had it.

Charles Augins voices Queeg 500 and is most famous for choreography. He won the prestigious Laurence Olivier Award for Best Theatre Choreography in 1991 for “Five guys named Moe”. he also choreographed the 1986 George Lucas produced Children’s fantasy “Labyrinth”. As well as the choreography, Charles also voiced the puppet Fiery in the film. He appeared in the 1981 episode of Blake’s 7 entitled Warlord as Lod. It was through his choreography that Charles had the Queeg opportunity. He was booked to arrange the choreography for the “Tongue Tied” section of the next episode “Parallel Universe” but the writers were so impressed with him they cast him as Queeg and the rest is history.

A classic episode of a classic series, full of cultural references and extreme humour with the exception of this line “A load of Tottenham that is. A steaming pile of Hotspur” NOT funny, not funny at all.

Red Dwarf… the other cast.

Red Dwarf Logo
Its been awhile since I wrote a piece like this, a hybrid of a ‘the importance of the little people’ and a ‘where are they now’ article. When I say ‘little people’ I mean nothing derogatory by that, its just a way of me saying ‘outside the main cast’. You can have a small ensemble of main characters or as in a sports movie you can have a large cast, but there is always the other characters, the ones half way down the main credits, that no film or television show can be made without. On my agenda this week is the Sci-Fi show that kept British made science fiction on out televisions during the long hiatus that Doctor Who was away for, and that show is Red Dwarf.

For those of you that have been asleep since 1988 Red Dwarf was a science fiction comedy from the pens of Rob Grant and Doug Naylor. Here’s the synopsis….

Three million years ago a radiation leak killed the crew of the mining vessel Red Dwarf. The only survivor was Dave Lister, the chicken soup dispenser repair man. He spends his time on the ship with a holographic projection of Arnold Rimmer his uptight neurotic dead bunkmate, Cat a life form that evolved from Dave’s cat and Kryten a service mechanoid.

This is the thing, it really is a small cast of four characters. but it works very well and the story is helped with occasional pop up performances from other ship related items and past crew members, and its these guys I am on about in this article.

Captain Frank Hollister was played by Mac McDonald (born Terence McDonald) from Long Island, New York. Captain Hollister first appeared in episode 1 and sentenced Lister to 18 months in stasis for bringing a cat aboard the ship. Hollister was always stressed and very easily annoyed, as the show went from series to series, it turns out Captain Hollister is actually Dennis the Doughnut Boy who had lied and stolen his way up the ranks. Mac McDonald was recently seen in Little Britain abroad and is doing game voiceovers, including Battlefield 3.

Kristine Kochanski was the ships navigation officer and the obsession of Lister’s since they had finished a relationship in the past. During season 7, Kochanski from the parallel universe joins the crew. During the parallel universe it had been her sentenced to stasis for hiding the cat. Kochanski was originally played by Clare Grogan who had found fame in the 1980’s with pop band Altered Images, before going on to star in a few episodes of Eastenders and most recently Skins on Channel 4.
The next actress to take the role was London born Chloe Annett. Chloe had been very watchable in the late 90’s show Crime Traveller and a few episodes of Doctors and Casualty appear on the resume, but Red Dwarf was, thus far, the career highlight.

Warden Ackerman was a slightly unbalanced man, who ran the “The Tank”, Red Dwarfs prison level. The character was portrayed by the excellent Graham McTavish. Hugely successful, his credits include Mikhail Novakovich in 24, Ferguson in Prison Break and is currently working in New Zealand on the set of the Hobbit starring as Dwalin.

Olaf Petersen was the Danish catering officer, Lister’s best friend and drinking companion. “Felicitations, beautiful ladies, my name is Olaf Petersen. I am very good in bed” still makes me laugh after all these years. In my opinion, possibly, the most talented member of the cast, Petersen was played by the excellent Mark Williams from the Fast Show and mega successful Harry Potter films and is due to be in the Doctor Who episode Dinosaurs in Space later in the year.

Holly is the ships tenth generation AI holographic computer. ” I am Holly the ships computer. I have an I.Q of 6000. the same as 6000 P.E teachers or 12000 parking attendants”. Norman Lovett originally auditioned for the part of Rimmer, has popped up over the years in The Bill and has done lots of voice over work on books and games and is a favourite amongst convention fans.
Hattie Hayridge also played Holly for a while and is an incredible comedy writer. She has written for Lee Evans, Jasper Carrott, and Rory Bremner.

Then we come to my favourite character outside of the big four. Toaster!!
A product of the Crapola Inc company, Toaster played in two episodes only and was voiced by the awesome magician John Lenehan.

There are also so many people that starred in just one or two episodes and I am sure more fanatical viewers than myself will have there own memories of the unspoken heroes but I will leave you with a quote from mine…..

” May I just ask one question?… Would anyone like any toast? ”

Empire is best….Its official

I don’t mean to cause controversy whenever I open my mouth or write something down. I never intend to tell everyone they are wrong, its just a gift…I mean curse, that I have to live with. So today is no different. I am going to tell you all why the god-like George Lucas should have stopped with the original trilogy and why Empire strikes back is the best of all of the Star Wars films. Bring on the hatred and fan-boy death threats, I relish the fight.

Star Wars V – The Empire Strikes Back was directed by the late ( died November 27th 2010 ) Irvin Kirshner. Kirshner was responsible for my favourite non Bond, Bond film Never Say Never Again and also directed Robocop 2 and retired from directing after completing Seaquest DSV in 1993.

Whether it was from his time making documentaries in the Middle East or just the way he was, all Kirshner’s films had a slightly darker aura around them and were full of social alienation and the weaknesses that all humans posses.

Empire was no different. It had a slower pace than the others and really let you get to know the characters well. The intricate parts of there personality that you didn’t quite get in Star Wars IV – A New Hope and that made your enjoyment of Star Wars VI – Return Of The Jedi an awful lot better. Irvin Kirshner was all about the emotional base, the character or the person playing them, seeing the story through there eyes, quite literally in some scenes, which is why certain shots in the film are close ups of someone’s face. He wanted you to follow the story through the characters and not because of them. His style was to make films like an opera, especially the sequels. He wanted to leave all the climax for the third film and have his project be the emotional story telling Act Two.

The cast and crew, over the years, have all said they favoured Irvin Kirshner’s style and personality over that of George Lucas (New Hope) and Richard Marquand (Jedi), and that Empire was the film they liked making the most.

Return of the Jedi was a better film because you learnt so much in Empire and this is why George Lucas should have stopped her. With the first Trilogy. We really didn’t need episodes 1,2, and 3 and quite honestly they are not good films. The special effects are of course second to none, but that’s because they are nothing more than Hollywood films. George Lucas, when asked by Irvin Kirshner why he wanted him to direct such a film, answered “Well, because you know everything a Hollywood director is supposed to know, but your not Hollywood, I like that”

Should have listened to your advice George.

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Tardis Timey Wimey
Tardis Timey Wimey

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Topical T Shirt of the Week so Don’t Panic

Don't Panic

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For those of you who don’t know who Douglas Adams is, shame on you. Please see the brief introduction to his life below (thanks to wikipedia) then start digesting his writings, thanks to amazon.

Douglas Noel Adams (11 March 1952 ? 11 May 2001) was an English writer and dramatist. He is best known as the author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, which started life in 1978 as a BBC radio comedy before developing into a “trilogy” of five books that sold over 15?million copies in his lifetime, a television series, several stage plays, comics, a computer game, and in 2005 a feature film. Adams’s contribution to UK radio is commemorated in The Radio Academy‘s Hall of Fame.[1]

Adams also wrote Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency (1987) and The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul (1988), and co-wrote The Meaning of Liff (1983), Last Chance to See (1990), and three stories for the television series Doctor Who. A posthumous collection of his work, including an unfinished novel, was published as The Salmon of Doubt in 2002.

Adams became known as an advocate for environmental and conservation causes, and also as a lover of fast cars, cameras, and the Apple Macintosh. He was a staunch atheist, famously imagining a sentient puddle who wakes up one morning and thinks, “This is an interesting world I find myself in?an interesting hole I find myself in?fits me rather neatly, doesn’t it? In fact it fits me staggeringly well, must have been made to have me in it!”[2] Biologist Richard Dawkins dedicated his book, The God Delusion (2006), to Adams, writing on his death that, “Science has lost a friend, literature has lost a luminary, the mountain gorilla and the black rhino have lost a gallant defender.”

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