Stoke Me a Clipper is the second episode in Series VII of Red Dwarf, and the thirty-eighth overall episode of the programme.
The episode marks the final appearance of Arnold Rimmer as one of the Boys from the Dwarf in Series VII, who leaves in an attempt to become Ace Rimmer. Rimmer would reappear sporadically in flashbacks, dreams, and virtual reality simulations through the remainder of series VII, and the character would come back permanently in the next series.
Daredevil pilot Ace Rimmer, fatally wounded after rescuing Princess Bonjella, travels from his own dimension into the dimension where Starbug is cruising. His intention is to try and bring out courage in the cowardly version of himself aboard Starbug, and then hopefully recruit Arnold Rimmer as his replacement, so that after his death another Rimmer will carry on the legacy of the interstellar space hero.
A Heinkel He 111 flies over Earth in a dimension where the Nazis still exist. Ace Rimmer (Arnold Rimmer's better looking heroic alternate being, from "Dimension Jump" and "Emohawk: Polymorph II") escapes his bonds in the plane's cargo hold by dislocating his own shoulders. Emerging into the cockpit of the plane, Ace has a short discourse with nemesis Captain Voorhese, before grabbing a gun and shooting the pilot and Voorhese's lieutenant. Voorhese escapes by throwing his pet crocodile Snappy at Ace, and the Nazi captain lights a stick of dynamite and jumps out of the plane with a parachute. As the fuse burns away, Ace wrestles the crocodile, ties it up with rope, and jumps out with it, seconds before the dynamite goes off and the plane explodes.
Voorhese looks up to see Ace surfboarding down on the crocodile, and fires off a few shots from his Luger pistol at Ace, but misses both times, and Ace lands the croc's jaws on the Nazi captain's head and steals his parachute whilst Voorhese is eaten in mid-air. On the ground, the Nazi prisoner Princess Beryl Bonjella is about to face a firing squad, but Ace shoots most of them as he parachutes down, and although Ace takes a shot to the chest he is more bothered about his top being ruined.
Ace goes through the roof of a munitions shed, and the Nazis begin shooting the shed up, but Ace emerges on a space bike, shooting more of them, and also shooting off the metal chains that bind Princess Bonjella. He tells the princess that they'll be time for explanations later, and hopefully, some sex. "What a guy", she says. With only three Nazis left, Snappy the crocodile falls on two of them, killing them, and the last Nazi looks up, saying "What a guy" as Ace writes "Smoke Me a Kipper, I'll be back for Breakfast" in smoke through the air with the space bike.
Meanwhile on Starbug in Deep Space, Dave Lister is tired of taking cold showers to suppress his libido, nearly using all the water supplies in the process, so he goes into the AR Suite (also upgraded since the battle with their future selves) with his book of cheats and engages the TIV Camelot Game as Lister of Smeg. He challenges the King's best knight, the Good Knight, so he can win the honour of spending a day and a night in the bed of the Queen of Camelot. Using Lister's cheat codes, Lister of Smeg defeats the Good Knight in a jousting contest, turning the Good Knight's horse into a donkey and beheading him. Lister of Smeg claims his prize, and with one last cheat the Queen's chastity belt falls freely to the ground, and they disappear into a tent which begins bouncing up and down, much to the King's protests and even Lister's aide Manservant Kryten's disgust.
Ace transports into their dimension with Wildfire, causing a massive power drain on Starbug and snapping Lister out of the Camelot game mid-coitus with the Queen. The Dwarfers are very happy to see Ace, except for the insanely jealous and resentful Arnold Rimmer who wants to bond with his dashing counterpart using a tube of superglue and a rabid hamster. Ace reveals to Arnold that he is dying and wants Rimmer to replace him as Ace. He also tells Rimmer of the Ace secret — the fact that he is a hard-light hologram like him - and is not even the original Ace; alternate versions of Rimmer from countless dimensions have all taken the reins to be Ace. It is Arnold's destiny to become Ace too, and now with the time he has left Ace must train Arnold to succeed him and keep the legend going. After encouragement from Lister (or rather taunts that Arnold is incapable of anything brave or heroic in a bit of reverse psychology), Arnold decides to accept the offer and begins his training using the AR suite.
It doesn't go well, before the King's best knight (that Lister of Smeg fought earlier) escapes from the AR machine looking for his opponent and decides to fight any of the Household of Lister of Smeg. Rimmer is terrified, but with no choice fights back. In an amazing stroke of luck, Rimmer picks up a hand-held bazookoid and blasts the knight, seemingly killing it.
Flush from his success, and first ever apparent act of bravery, Rimmer happily leaves before the knight gets up, revealing himself to actually be Lister who had put blank ammo in the bazookoid. Rimmer tells Ace that he proved himself, and Ace tells Rimmer to "Smoke me a Kipper, I'll be..." before dying, his damaged light bee finally put of power. Arnold, shocked at seeing his counterpart dying in front of him, is lost for words when the others arrive and, believing him to be Ace, ask what happened. Lister pretends that the knight killed Rimmer, and the real Rimmer is forced to agree. They hold at funeral for Arnold, only Lister knowing the truth. Present are the Cat, Kryten and Rachael (who, Lister notes, is essentially his widow). Dave delivers the eulogy, thanking Rimmer for keeping him sane, and the light bee is placed in a coffin that the real Ace provided sent away with a full Rimmer Salute.. .
Starbug follows Ace's light bee coffin through a wormhole to a pre-programmed destination in Dimension 165 - trillions of similar coffins making up the entire ring system of a planet, the destinies of all of them having been to become Ace too. Lister asks him if he is going to be the one to break the chain. This finally convinces Arnold fully to embrace his destiny and later says his final goodbyes to Lister, Kryten and the Cat. He gets into Wildfire, messes up Ace's catchphrase by saying "Stoke Me A Clipper, I'll be back for Christmas", and hits the ejector seat button instead of the ignition. He uses the excuse that he wanted to say one last goodbye, and Lister wishes him luck, before Arnold flies off with Wildfire to dimensions new, and Starbug flies off in its continual quest to find Red Dwarf.
Available on the Series VII DVD:
- An extended opening scene, trimmed for time and pacing purposes, when Ace Rimmer emerges from his bonds and into the cockpit of the Nazi plane. Ace says "Sorry, chaps, dying is not on today's itinerary", whilst throwing his cigar at them. After shooting the pilot and the Nazi with glasses, taking his gun and pointing it at Captain Voorhese. Ace says to him "Don't usually shoot an unarmed man, Voorhesey. Not cricket. But in your case, I'm prepared to make an exception." Voorhese says "I'm touched", before throwing Snappy at Ace.
- As Ace lands Snappy's jaws on Voorhese's head in mid-air, Ace says "Mind if I borrow this?" as he takes Voorhese's parachute. As Voorhese falls, Ace says "I'll be sure to return it as soon as you hit the ground." The blue-screen was never completed for additional dialogue.
- The original take of the medieval shoot in the Camelot Game was re-shot on a sunny day, as during the original take it was overcast, windy, wet and drizzling. The original take is seen here in full, including extended dialogue between Lister of Smeg and the King of Camelot. As Lister says that he wants a "night and a day in the bed of your good lady", the crowd of common-folk behind are notably more aggravated, shouting traitor. The King says that it is the most extraordinary request he's ever heard. Lister thinks he doesn't understand, and so reiterates that he means he wants to have sex with her in a "24 hour love fest". The Queen immediately accepts the challenge.
- With Lister and Kryten pulled out of the game early to notice that the red, green and blue alert signs of Starbug are all flashing, Kryten says "We are either under attack or we're having a disco." Lister then says "You can discount the second option, Rimmer banned discos when he saw how I danced the Funky Chicken."
- Extra moments of Arnold and Ace. Arnold seems happy that Ace is on his way out. Ace tells him that he wants Arnold to become the next Ace, going off on a trans-dimensional quest to defend the weak, and that he wishes he'd made it to a dimension where he was made of studier stuff. During the AR training, Ace says it's good to be in high places so you can get the big picture. Arnold says to look down girl's cleavages.
- The new Ace Rimmer reveals his origins to Lister, saying in his dimension the divergent point was fairly recently, from Lister's viewpoint, when stole the Time Drive on the Gemini 12 and left his crew for dead. He wound up in Napoleonic times, hiding as a woman in a dress and working in a florists to avoid conscription, before the prior Ace before him approached him to pass on the flame. He uses it as an example of how they "all start out as caterpillars and end up butterflies".
- Chris Barrie had decided to leave the series at this point, only wishing to appear in two episodes of Series VII. He was convinced to appear in four, but was written out in the second episode anyway, allowing more time to develop Kochanski's character, who would be arriving in the next episode.
- This episode marks final 'real' appearance of the original Rimmer hologram in the series, with his other appearances taking the forms of flashbacks and dream sequences in a later episode of Series VII, "Blue". In Series VIII, Rimmer is resurrected in the flesh by the nanobots. Rimmer is shown as a hologram again in Back to Earth, though it is never clearly referenced whether or not the original has returned or is another hologram program perhaps of the Rimmer from Series VIII (which happens to share some of the previous Rimmer's memories).
- If Chris Barrie had not left Series VII at this point, the second adventure of Series VII would have been Identity Within.
- "Stoke Me a Clipper" is a sequel to the Series IV episode "Dimension Jump" in more ways than one. The Ace Rimmer in "Dimension Jump" says that he has "billions" of other Arnold Rimmers to meet, which foreshadows the events of "Stoke Me a Clipper" where it is revealed that there have already been billions of Ace Rimmers saving the Universe, one passing on the flame to another.
- In a deleted scene, the Ace that was in this episode is from a universe where he stole the Time Drive and left the others for dead (implying that the divergent point occurred during "Out of Time"), being recruited when he was hiding in a florists pretending to be a woman in Napoleonic times.
- It is unclear whether or not, through the use of time travel, Ace's rescue attempt happened in a dimension during the Second World War period or another time period where German Nazis attempt to take control (It is more likely that it happened in a dimension where it is World War II, with some universes more ahead of others, due to the motorbike Ace uses having a digital readout).
- This was the first time Ace Rimmer was mentioned since Rob Grant left, which is interesting given that Ace Rimmer appears in Grant's personal sequel to the novel Better Than Life called Backwards (though largely based on "Dimension Jump"). Doug Naylor's sequel, Last Human, instead focus on GELFs. The return of Ace, and probably thus the original Rimmer hologram, was also one of the considered endings for Series VIII.
- As Rimmer's farewell episode it makes good on his suggestion that he just might have the stuff to be a hero deep inside him, if only his hang-ups weren't in the way. Rimmer had previously been turned into Ace when the Emohawk drained him of his bitterness and snideness, and also showed heroic qualities by destroying the Time Drive with a bazookoid saving Starbug, so it is possible. The next Rimmer also becomes a hero in the final episode of Series X after learning that his real father is Dungo Dennis, freeing him of his hang-ups and coming up with a successful plan to save them from the Simulant Death Ship. The book Last Human also follows this theme, with Rimmer taking on an evil version of Lister and saving his son from death, later sacrificing himself to save the rest of the crew and many others.
- Ace Rimmer rescues Princess Bonjella and writes "smoke me a kipper" across the sky using a space bike, a mode of transport not seen since the earlier series of the show.
- Ace: Smoke me a kipper, I'll be back for breakfast.
- Ace: Princess Bonjella? Ace Rimmer. There'll be time for explanations later, and hopefully, some sex.
- Princess Bonjella: What a guy!
- Ace: Bet he's a sour kraut! [Rimmer has just blown a Nazi up]
- Lone surviving Nazi: What a guy!
- Lister: Are you my faithful man servant or what?
Kryten: I'm ashamed to be with you sir. I haven't been this embarrassed since I was loosening my adjustment screws, and my entire groinal box dropped into Mr Rimmer's soup.
- King of Camelot: Good Knight, bring me this knaves head on a silver platter...
Lister of Smeg: Hey, steady!
King of Camelot: Then disembowel him and feed his innards to the crows. [Crowd cheers]
Lister of Smeg): This is worse than playing away at Leeds.
- Lister in a tent with the Queen of Camelot: Anyone got any whipped cream?
- Ace: You can't judge a book by its cover.
Lister: And you can't confuse Rimmer with a book. For a start, a book's got a spine.
- Ace: Can you see the cougar Arnie? It's you! Running free and unfettered through the mountains. Can you see it man?
Rimmer: [seeing a hamster in a wheel] Sort of...
- (New) Ace: Stoke me a clipper, I'll be back for Christmas.
- The original title of the episode was "Natural Born Rimmers", but this was altered due to the negative connotations this could imply.
- Going solo for Series VII had worried Doug Naylor. To help him with the writing duties he hired a small group of writers. Paul Alexander, a Jasper Carrott writing regular and a cowriter with him on The Ten Percenters, was the first one to help out. This was a new situation to Naylor who had previously had control over every script. He would however re-write and edit each script to make them fit into the Red Dwarf creative pedigree.
- This episode featured a large number of famous guest actors. Scottish-born Hollywood movie veteran Brian Cox played the Medieval English King. British comedy actress Sarah Alexander portrayed the French Queen. English actor Ken Morley portrayed the German commander Captain Voorhese. British television actress Alison Senior portrayed Princess Bonjella. A German television comedy duo, Kai Maurer and Stephan Grothgar, portrayed the Wehrmacht soldiers who get hit on the head by the crocodile. Andy Gell also appeared as a soldier.
- The extras for the Camelot Game were made up of the Plantagenet Medieval Reenactment, Archery & Combat Society, a historical enthusiast group based in the West of England. Red Dwarf fan and competition winner Cara Williams was also present as an extra; wearing green to left of the Good Knight.
- Creator / writer Doug Naylor's son, Richard Naylor, who was just a boy at the time, was an extra in the crowd. Richard Naylor would later go on to himself become a producer of Red Dwarf after Back to Earth (2009) and during Series X, XI and XII.
- The accident report from the set reveals injury to props man Nigel Pinhay, who was bitten by the hamster brought in for the dual Rimmer training scene.
- Mike Tucker of BBC Vis-FX created the smaller, hand-held Bazookoid Mk-II for this episode, a less cumbersome gun that took live or blank cartridges as part of the Stoke storyline. "Smeg ups" from earlier series had shown certain members of the cast struggling with the extra long barrel, such as Chris Barrie when he went to destroy the Time Drive in Out of Time.
- Brian Cox / Howard Burden as the Medieval English King.
- Sarah Alexander as the French Queen.
- Ken Morley as the German commander Captain Voorhese.
- Alison Senior as Princess Bonjella.
- Kai Maurer as a Wehrmacht soldier.
- Stephan Grothgar as a Wehrmacht soldier.
- Andy Gell as a Wehrmacht soldier.
|Red Dwarf: Episode List|
|Series I | Series II | Series III | Series IV | Series V | Series VI | Series VIII | Back to Earth | Series X | Series XI | Series XII|
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