Blast From the Past: Chris Barrie Attacks Red Dwarf In Newly Re-Emerged Interview | Gizmodo UK
Craig Charles with Chris Barrie and Robert Llewellyn at the Red Dwarf X launch Craig Charles, with Chris Barrie and Robert Llewellyn at the. Fame and Fortune: Craig Charles speaks of his journey from an impoverished It was good but wasn't even half what Chris Barrie was getting. It's pretty much impossible to imagine anyone but Chris Barrie in the thanks to this concern that the script found its way to Craig Charles. It's not your imagination – Lister and Kochanski's relationship really is that confusing.
And next month, for the first time in 10 years, Red Dwarf will return to our screens for a new four-part special. We meet in Manchester two days before filming begins, and when he arrives, 45 minutes late, his hands are literally shaking. His brow is sweating, and his fingers tremble as he keeps rubbing and pawing at his face.
For a horrible second I wonder if he is all right - and then I wonder if he can tell that that is what I'm wondering. It's the fate of the former addict to be scrutinised through the filter of the past, and it must be awful to see doubt flicker across strangers' eyes. Then I realise Charles is just desperately nervous. I think he's mostly nervous about talking to a journalist - which after all he's been through is hardly surprising. But he also seems apprehensive, albeit excited, about the revival of Red Dwarf 21 years after its first episode.
I felt it was really of its time and place, you know?
Blast From the Past: Chris Barrie Attacks Red Dwarf In Newly Re-Emerged 1993 Interview
But then the script arrived, and it's absolutely brilliant. The script is just a proper head-fuck, it's proper Red Dwarf. And I just said OK, count me in. Once the ship's lowly technician, and a cheeky layabout, Lister is now the only human being left in the universe, trapped on the craft with a hologram of his neurotically uptight former boss, an android, and a wildly vain mutant descendant of Lister's cat.
Throughout its eight series the cast changed little, and in essence the show remained faithful to the classic sitcom formula of ill-suited characters locked together against their will - a sort of Porridge in outer space. But the low-budget sets and ironic pastiche of sci-fi tropes cast it more in the genre of The Young Ones - a cult hit that evolved into a mainstream classic.
The producer had only asked me to read the script because he wanted to know if I thought the part of the cat was racist. This was in the mid 80s," he smiles, "when everything was so PC.
I said, 'I don't think the part of the cat is racist at all, but any chance of me coming in to read for the part of Lister? They were from Manchester, and I thought there's no way on earth they are going to let the last human being on earth be a scouser, no way.
But we were all really playing caricatures of ourselves; we took our own idiosyncrasies and blew them up out of all proportion. There is a bit of Chris that is a bit trainspottery; you, know, he collects cars and stuff like that.
Danny can be vain, and Robert is full of middle-class guilt. And me, well, I was very much the hard-drinking, hard-living Many fans were puzzled that its ending, when it came, seemed so inexplicably abrupt. It was supposed to go on to be a film. We wanted to go and make the movie, but every year it never happened. We were all just gearing up for the movie, and so we all went and got our teeth done - and then the money never came through.
So we were all really out of pocket with these Hollywood teeth that cost something like 20 grand, which the film company was going to pay for. And then all of a sudden there's no bloody film, and we've all got these new teeth. There has always been something unpolished about him, and even now, after quarter of a century as a performer, the rawness remains a large part of his charm.
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The clarity of ambition and purpose found in most performers today seems to have clean passed him by altogether. I didn't see that 21 years later I'd still be talking about it, let alone filming a new one. For me," he says simply, "everything's always been an accident. At the age of 12 he wrote a poem called I Want to Feel Your Bum, which a teacher entered into a competition.
When good TV goes bad: how Red Dwarf’s star faded
I couldn't believe it. I mean, no one had a job in the 80s. I was writing poems about the riots, and it's funny how niggers don't show bruises, all this really hardcore stuff. It was about Liverpool at the time. Liverpool was a very racist place. We were filling theatres with poetry, which is quite weird now.
It doesn't happen now.
But I was the one who kind of went from that and made it on to the telly. I suppose 'cause I was cute, brown, young, Scouse. I ticked all their boxes, didn't I? Coming from having absolutely nothing to having a few grand in the bank, it was a big culture leap. The show was nearly canceled two days into rehearsals due to an electricians' strike, and then just as filming was about to begin it was postponed for several months due to a technicians' strike.
In a meeting with creators Rob Grant and Doug Naylor he had flat out rejected the concept on the basis of "You can't have a sitcom in space. Rickman would only commit to one series, but Molina was actually cast. Those delays in filming meant he dropped out of the show.
As for the actors who make up the cast - Norman Lovett Holly originally auditioned for the part of Rimmer.
Chris Barrie Rimmer originally auditioned for the part of Lister. Craig Charles was originally offered the part of The Cat, but he asked to audition for the role of Lister instead.
Danny John-Jules arrived for his audition as The Cat in character and wearing an old black suit that his father had got married in. The design of the Cat's pink suit from the first series was copied from it.
When good TV goes bad: how Red Dwarf’s star faded | Television & radio | The Guardian
For the recordings of the first series the producers had to drag customers out of a local pub to fill the studio audience - a far cry from Red Dwarf X where the demand for tickets was so great the ticket company's website crashed within minutes of them being announced. Craig Charles and Chris Barrie have admitted that, in the early series, off-camera they strongly disliked each other.
In fact it wasn't until the filming of Red Dwarf VI that their relationship started to warm. In an attempt was made to launch a US version of Red Dwarf.
Robert Llewellyn Kryten was the only member of the British cast to appear in the pilot episode, however both Chris Barrie and Danny John-Jules were both offered the chance to reprise their characters of Rimmer and The Cat, but both declined. Studio executives ordered a second pilot to be filmed, with some recasting - Terry Farrell came in as Cat, and Anthony Fuscle as Rimmer.