Blue Midget is the most abundant type of shuttle aboard the city-sized JMC mining spaceship Red Dwarf; although the Blue Midgets are relatively small in size, and the Starbug and White Giant shuttlecraft are larger. There have been four different sub-types of Blue Midget seen in the television series.
Television series appearancesEdit
The original version of Blue Midget was depicted by a physical model and first appeared in the first episode of Series II, as the shuttle which takes the boys from the Dwarf to the wreck of the Nova 5 where they rescue Kryten (then a guest star). This was the first of the Red Dwarf shuttles seen, and remains the only shuttle used throughout Series II.
The fuselage of the original Blue Midget resembles that of a Chinook helicopter, and the overall chassis and interior also has elements of a bathyscaphe, a tank and/or a truck. Inside it is not much larger than a truck cab, and its cockpit can hold a maximum of three people, at least in the original versions of the shuttle seen. Customisations include a furry dice Inside the cockpit, and on the back a bumper sticker that reads "My Other Space Ship is a Red Dwarf".
The engine was mostly exposed on either side, with two huge exhaust pies coming out of it over the top. It had very small maneuvering thrusters on either side, and one large rocket booster on the back end for propulsion. For "landing mode" it has caterpillar tracks that can tackle almost any extraterrestrial terrain.
By Series III, and the introduction of Kryten as a main character, a bigger shuttle - Starbug - was created, and Blue Midget faded into the background, only featuring in two episodes of Series III and not showing up at all again until Series VIII.
Remastered and Series VIIIEdit
The redesigned Blue Midget, as seen in "Red Dwarf Remastered", was completely redesigned by computer-generated imagery to resemble a bubble car with retractable "legs" to walk on - identical to that of the hoppers described in the novels - used for taking off and walking replacing its caterpillar tracks. As with the new CG Red Dwarf model, this was also utilised for Series VIII, where it had a higher rendering quality (in this case the change in shape is justified by the nanobots reconstruction). The CGI design also had two rocket boosters at the back instead of one.
The new CGI design was also used for the reappearance of Blue Midget in Series VIII, where the ship gained its third, substantially larger cockpit more akin to the Series VI–VII Starbug cockpit; the redesign was ascribed to the nanobots and their reconstruction of Red Dwarf and the Blue Midgets. These Blue Midgets apparently had artificial intelligence, since they were able to copy the Cat as he danced in Back in the Red. These Blue Midgets were significantly larger inside, big enough to hold Lister, Rimmer, the Cat, Kryten, Kochanski, and two skutters in the cockpit, each with their own consoles.
All of the Blue Midget craft were supposedly used by the Red Dwarf crew to abandon the mothership in "Only the Good...", however in "Back to Earth, Part Three" it is revealed that, during the 1999 - 2009 bridge, Kochanski flew one to get away from Red Dwarf and an increasingly unstable Lister.
Blue Midget is the most frequently used shuttle Series X, with Starbug only being used once in "Trojan" and only seen as an exterior CGI model. Blue Midget is depicted in Series X with both CGI and a physical model for the exterior, and two sets were made to depict the interior (actually re-jigged sets for the Series X Drive Room). Blue Midget is used first to get the crew to the BEGG moon and the ERRA space station in "Entangled" and then later used to escape from and then do battle with a Simulant Death Ship in the series finale episode "The Beginning".
The chassis of the Series X Blue Midgets seems to be a fusion of the two earlier types, and of an intermediate size between the two - larger that the original version, but smaller than the Remastered updated version - with a cockpit able to hold four. There is also a single room in the rear, unlike in other Blue Midgets where only the cockpit is seen. The front and underchassis is reminiscent of the original model, whereas it also has the top and rear - and back two rockets - of the later CGI versions. They are leaning towards the CGI versions in design, given the two rear rockets, and they are also "smoother", with no exposed engine or large exhaust pipes. This may suggest that they are a sub-variant of the nanobot-reconstructed versions.
These Blue Midgets do not appear to have either caterpillar treads or legs - or have not been seen in action yet; perhaps the tracks or legs are still folded into the undercarriage - with the change in shape this time likely due to the same reason that that Red Dwarf itself appeared to changed.
Possible future appearancesEdit
Doug Naylor has confirmed that the same models and sets are to be reused in the upcoming Series XI and Series XII as were used for Series X. Therefore, it likely that the same Blue Midget, with the same exterior and interior as Series X, will be featured in the upcoming two series.
Blue Midget also features in the first two Red Dwarf novels. In the second novel, Better Than Life, after a polymorph finds its way aboard the shuttle craft, the craft is made to self-destruct at the insistence of Lister.