Classic TV: Red Dwarf V (1992)
The fifth series of the sci-fi comedy Red Dwarf was first broadcast on BBC2 in February 1992. Rimmer (Chris Barrie), Lister (Craig Charles), Cat (Danny John-Jules), Kryten (Robert Llewellyn) and the ship's computer Holly (Hattie Hayridge) all returned for this season and there were no significant changes to the series format.
Red Dwarf V begins with a story showing Rimmer in an unusually sympathetic light. In "Holoship", Rimmer is disgusted by the plot of a romantic film, unable to accept the premise that someone would give up their deepest desires in life because of their love for someone they will never even see again.
|Arnold Rimmer (Chris Barrie) with Nirvanah Crane (Jane Horrocks) in "Holoship"
But Rimmer's selfishness is about to be put to the test, when he is beamed aboard a passing ship crewed entirely by holograms. There he is offered everything he has ever wanted. He can be an officer, have status, have a physical body and - since Red Dwarf is always at least a little bit adolescent at heart - take part in the ship's almost mandatory sexual activity, where refusing an offer of sex is considered to be the height of bad manners.
|Just another mad robot to deal with: The Inquisitor pays a visit to Red Dwarf
"Demons and Angels" sees Kryten constructing a "triplicator". This will enable the crew to eke out their food supplies by replicating every food item, including the very last strawberry.
The triplicator produces two copies of the strawberry - except that one is perfect and the other disgusting and maggot-ridden. It seems that the machine is splitting every item into its very best and very worst elements. When a freak accident causes two Red Dwarfs to be created, the crew must meet their angelic counterparts - and face their evil twins.
|Rimmer and Mr Flibble in "Quarantine"
The fifth series concludes with one of Red Dwarf's boldest and most celebrated episodes. In "Back to Reality" the characters are exploring a research facility on an ocean planet. The planet is populated by genetic mutations, including a giant squid that attacks their ship Starbug and destroys it, apparently killing them all in the process.
|Cat (Danny John-Jules), Rimmer and Lister (Craig Charles) discover the truth in "Back to Reality"
Reality is even more depressing than their failure in the game. Lister discovers that he is really a secret police chief in charge of torture and executions in a fascist state. Rimmer is his hopeless down-and-out half-brother and Kryten is a traffic control cop with the improbable name of Jake Bullet. Most distressingly and hilariously of all, Cat turns out not to be the sharpest, best-dressed dude in the galaxy. He is in reality a sad dweeb with the unfortunate name of Duayne Dibbley and an even more unfortunate bowl head hair cut and buck teeth. Have the Red Dwarf boys really returned to reality, or is there something else going on?
This fifth series also saw Red Dwarf take on a new director, Julie May, as Dwarf's regular director Ed Bye was working on his wife Ruby Wax's TV show. This season had some production problems, as Bye's replacement was herself replaced part way through the series. The writers Rob Grant and Doug Naylor did some direction themselves, including on the episodes "Quarantine" and "Back to Reality", where they were credited as "Grant Naylor".