The official terrestrial broadcast of Series XI of cult TV Red Dwarf hits Dave on Thursday 22nd September at 9pm. We marked the early release on UKTV Play last week with a listicle – The Top 10 Smegging Best Episodes of Red Dwarf Ever!
And we want to continue the celebration of the worlds longest running sitcom with a look as some of the best cameos that have appeared over the previous 9.5 series. We managed to highlight 20 guest appearances that are worth celebrating and add to the cult status of Red Dwarf.
ACTOR: Anita Dobson
CHARACTER: Captain Tau
WHAT THEY IN?: Eastenders, Strictly Come Dancing
Famous for being married to Dirty Den in her TV life and Queen guitarist Brian May in her real life, Anita Dobson appeared in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo in Series VI episode “Psirens”. She hailed Starbug for assistance before being shot dead, with Clare Grogan’s Kristine Kochanski picking up the her weapon in her final ever Red Dwarf appearance. Of course, the whole situation turned out to be the psirens.
ACTOR: Arthur Smith
CHARACTER: Nighclub Owner
WHAT THEY IN?: (Stand Up Comedian)
The nightclub owner in Series 3 opener “Backwards”, comedian Arthur Smith famously delivered his line backwards. If his line is played forwards it turns out he is actually lamenting any person who has went to the tedious effort of putting the audio forward and “what a poor sad life he has got.”
ACTOR: Don Warrington
CHARACTER: Commander Binks
WHAT THEY IN?: Rising Damp, Law & Order: UK, Death in Paradise
Even thespian greats like theatre icon Don Warrington have been drawn to Red Dwarf. Playing Commander Binks of the Holoship Enlightenment who famously beams aboard Starbug to survey the ship and its crew which plays out as a very amusing tit-for-tat with Lister.
ACTOR: Jack Docherty
CHARACTER: The Inquisitor
EPISODE(S): “The Inquisitor”
WHAT THEY IN?: The Jack Docherty Show, Absolutely, The Strangerers
While Jack Docherty might not be the most widely recognisable name on this list, he became a big deal with the launch of Channel 5 hosting a popular chat show before going on to become a prominent comedy TV producer. He played the stimulant who travels through time judging all and erasing those not worthy from time.
ACTOR: Ruby Wax
CHARACTER: Blaize Falconburger
WHAT THEY IN?: (Comedian & Chat Show Host)
It’s not surprising that loud mouthed American comic/reporter managed a cameo in Red Dwarf given she is married to long term Red Dwarf director Ed Bye. She plays a fictionalised version of herself as a host on ‘Lifestyle of the Disgustingly Rich and Famous’ profiling the insanely rich Lister in the altered future. Amazingly, Wax was a last minute replacement after Monty Python’s Graham Chapman who was booked for the role died during rehearsals.
ACTOR: Jake Wood
CHARACTER: Kill Crazy (real name Oswold Blenkinsopp)
EPISODE(S): “Casandra”, “Krytie TV”, “Pete I”, “Pete 2”
WHAT THEY IN?: Eastenders, Strictly Come Dancing, The Illusionist
Kill Crazy was a semi-regular character in Series VIII played by Jake Wood who was an over exaggerated unhinged prison mate of the dwarfers, taking a more prominent role in the episode “Krytie TV” as the person who reprograms Kryten. Red Dwarf was an early break in his career which would later see him in Eastenders and a host of minor parts in some Hollywood films.
ACTOR: Gordon Kennedy
EPISODE(S): “The Last Day”
WHAT THEY IN?: Robin Hood, Being Human, River City
Almost an unknown in acting circles to people out with Kennedy’s home country of Scotland, his role as Kryten’s replacement in “The Last Day” is one of his most iconic roles. Hudzen-10 is an upgrade to the redundant series 4000 mechanoid Kryten who has gone dangerously insane in the millions of years travelling to catch up to Red Dwarf. However, his strong belief in silicon heaven proves to be his downfall.
ACTOR: Richard Ng
EPISODE(S): “Back to Earth”
WHAT THEY IN?: Tomb Raider: Cradle of Life, Millionaire’s Express, Miracles
A true cult star of Hong Kong cinema, Ng has built his reputation on comedic roles in films in a raft of eastern films. He appeared in the “Back to Earth” specials as Swallow the nose maker that the crew track down trying to find ‘the creator’.
ACTOR: Robert Bathurst
CHARACTER: Frank Todhunter
EPISODE(S): “The End”
WHAT THEY IN?: Cold Feet, Downtown Abbey, Mrs. Brown’s Boys D’Movie
Now an established British actor known for many roles in popular dramas, Red Dwarf was an early break for Robert Bathurst. Featuring in the pilot episode, he provides the science behind the suspended animation chamber that Lister is being placed into and is ironically the last member of Red Dwarf’s crew to be seen alive by Lister.
ACTOR: Sarah Alexander
CHARACTER: The Queen of Camelot
EPISODE(S): “Stoke Me a Clipper”
WHAT THEY IN?: Smack the Pony, Green Wing, Coupling
Alexander was a well regarded comedy actress in the UK when she landed a cameo in Red Dwarf as the Queen of Camelot (no, not Guinevere) in Lister’s VR computer game in the Series VII episode “Stoke Me a Clipper” where Rimmer is passed the mantle of becoming Ace.
ACTOR: Geraldine McEwan
WHAT THEY IN?: Marple, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, The Magdalene Sisters
Another heavyweight stage actor who laterally became famous for playing Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple in the acclaimed TV drama. She plays the super-computer Cassandra who can predict the future with 100% accuracy the dwarfers and their fellow canaries must overcome.
ACTOR: Jenny Agutter
CHARACTER: Professor Mamet
WHAT THEY IN?: Logan’s Run, An American Werewolf in London, Child’s Play 2
Famed for her roles in some of the biggest cult films about, Jenny Agutter was another actress who appeared in the Series VI episode “Psirens” playing the role of Kryten’s creator ‘Professor Mamet’ who, despite being a psiren in disguise, is able to command Kryten to kill himself.
ACTOR: Mark Williams
CHARACTER: Olaf Petersen
EPISODE(S): “The End”, “Balance of Power”, “Statis Leak”
WHAT THEY IN?: The Fast Show, Harry Potter, 101 Dalmations
Long before he landed the gig of Arthur Weasley in the Harry Potter film franchise, Mark Williams played the part of one of Lister’s boozing buddies, Olaf Petersen. Appearing in three episodes over the first two seasons, Petersen became a reference point for many of Lister’s stories over the years.
ACTOR: Graham McTavish
CHARACTER: Mr. Ackerman
EPISODE(S): “Back in the Red III”, “Casandra”, “Krytie TV”, “Pete I”, “Only the Good…”
WHAT THEY IN?: The Hobbit, Outland, Preacher
Scot Graham McTavish played the role of sadistic prison warden ‘Mr. Ackerman’ in Series VIII. In charge of ‘The Tank’, McTavish is credited with elaborating the character including his effeminate traits and mincing walk. McTavish is a go-to voice actor and has had many minor parts in Hollywood films before landing the part of Dwalin in The Hobbit trilogy. He can currently be seen as The Saint of Killers in AMC’s Preacher.
ACTOR: Jane Horrocks
CHARACTER: Nirvanah Crane
WHAT THEY IN?: Absolutely Fabulous, Little Voice, Sunshine on Leith
Famed for her portrayal as Bubble in Absolutely Fabulous, Jane Horrocks played a love interest for Rimmer in the Series V opener “Holoship”. Despite falling for Rimmer, she was chosen at random to be his challenger to secure a place on the Enlightenment and purposely failed the test to give Rimmer the place he craved so much.
ACTOR: Lenny Von Dohlen
CHARACTER: Fascist Cop
EPISODE(S): “Back to Reality”
WHAT THEY IN?: Electric Dreams, Twin Peaks, Home Alone 3
American Lenny Van Dohlen of Electric Dreams and Twin Peaks fame turned up in Series V finale, “Back to Reality” playing a fascist cop. He was convinced to take the role by previous guest star and friend Frances Barber who had appeared in “Polymorph”. The episode was anticipated to be the final ever Dwarf episode and was nominated for an Emmy Award. It is widely regarded as one of the best Red Dwarf episodes ever – and was my number one in last week’s article!
ACTOR: Ainsley Harriott
CHARACTER: GELF Bride
EPISODE(S): “Emohawk: Polymorph II”
WHAT THEY IN?: (TV Chef) Ready Steady Cook, Strictly Come Dancing
One of the most bizarre and famous cameos not only in Red Dwarf, but in British TV history. As a massive fan of the show, TV chef Ainsley Harriott campaigned for a part on the show and ultimately got all GELF’d up to play the part of Lister’s father-in-law.
ACTOR: Timothy Spall
CHARACTER: Andy the Techie
EPISODE(S): “Back to Reality”
WHAT THEY IN?: Auf Wiedersehen Pet, Harry Potter, The Last Samurai
It easily forgotten that Timothy Spall also appeared in “Back to Reality” as the technician that welcomes them back to the “real world”. While Spall had become a household name for his role of Barry in Auf Wiedersehen, Pet – it’s his post Red Dwarf cameo that has made him one of the biggest stars to ever appear in the show.
ACTOR: Craig Ferguson
EPISODE(S): “Confidence and Paranoia”
WHAT THEY IN?: The Late Late Show, Saving Grace, Brave
Craig Ferguson is a household name stateside for his years presenting The Late Late Show, but prior to chat show domination he made his name as an actor and his guest role in the fifth ever episode of Red Dwarf is his first acting credit. Playing ‘Confidence’, a manifestation of Lister’s illness along with stand-up Lee Cornes playing ‘Paranoia’.
ACTOR: Brian Cox
CHARACTER: King of Camelot
EPISODE(S): “Stoke Me a Clipper”
WHAT THEY IN?: The Bourne Identity, X2, Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Arguable the most famous actor ever to appear on Red Dwarf, Brian Cox’s cameo as the King of Camelot (again, not King Arthur) came about through a conversation with director Ed Bye. He was intrigued about playing a comedy role which was outwith his normal roles. On his day of filming the weather was so bad that he had to return to reshoot all his scenes.
And there we have it…any you think I have missed out?
Be sure to catch Series XI: Episode 1 “Twentica” on Dave if you haven’t seen it already. Believe me, it’s well worth the watch!