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? ”