Series VII of Red Dwarf aired between January and March 1997. It starred Chris Barrie as Arnold Rimmer for the initial two episodes and cameos in another two, Craig Charles as Dave Lister, Danny John-Jules as the Cat, Robert Llewellyn as Kryten, and introduced Chloë Annett as Kristine Kochanski beginning in the third episode. Norman Lovett reprised his role of Holly at the end of the final episode as a prelude for his full-time return in Series VIII. For this and Series VIII, the number of episodes increased from six to eight.
The crew return from their supposed deaths, saved by a time paradox. In fact they return better off, with more supplies and a much expanded version of Starbug. However, by now they have lost all trace of their mother ship and instead they fly idly around through space, encountering simulants, GELFs, Ace Rimmer, yet more parallel versions of themselves, a mechanoid brother, Rimmer munchkin puppets, the rinse cycle of the ship's ductwork, nanobots, the characters of Pride and Prejudice, an intelligent virus and most disturbingly of all the President of the United States. In this series the hologram version of Arnold Rimmer leaves and the crew is later joined by an alternate universe incarnation of Kristine Kochanski. The series end also marks the return of the male Holly and of Red Dwarf itself.
|Picture||Title||Original Airdate||Episode #|
|Tikka To Ride||January 17, 1997||37|
|In a desperate mission to find more curry, the Starbug crew travels back in time and end up inadvertently stopping Lee Harvey Oswald from assassinating U.S. president John F. Kennedy.|
|Stoke Me A Clipper||January 24, 1997||38|
|Arnold is recruited to be the new Ace Rimmer, the cross-dimensional defender of virtue in the multiverse.|
|Ouroboros||January 31, 1997||39|
|The crew meet their doubles from a parallel universe, including a still-alive Kristine Kochanski, and Lister discovers his origins.|
|Duct Soup||February 7, 1997||40|
|A power failure causes the crew have to travel through the substantial duct systems of the now enlarged Starbug, and the crew do some "venting" of their own...|
|Blue||February 14, 1997||41|
|Lister grows to miss Rimmer, until a virtual reality simulation by Kryten sets him straight.|
|Beyond a Joke||February 21, 1997||42|
|After the crew ignore Kryten's efforts to celebrate his anniversary of joining the crew, he literally blows his top.|
|Epideme||February 28, 1997||43|
|Lister gets infected with a deadly but charismatic virus.|
|Nanarchy||March 7, 1997||44|
|Trying to restore Lister to full health, the crew stumble upon the truth about what happened to Red Dwarf.|
Main Cast Edit
- Craig Charles as Dave Lister
- Chris Barrie as Arnold Rimmer
- Danny John-Jules as The Cat
- Robert Llewellyn as Kryten
- Chloë Annett as Kristine Kochanski
- Norman Lovett as Holly
- There was a three-year hiatus (1993-1997) between Series VI and Series VII with production in 1996 and airing in 1997, the longest span between series at the time; Series VIII was filmed in 1998 and aired in early 1999. There was then a ten year gap between VIII and the Back to Earth mini-series (1999-2009), followed by a three year gap between BTE and the full Series X (2009-2012). Another gap followed between X and Series XI (2012-2016), but with Series XII to follow immediately in 2017 (and, for the first time, even filmed before XI came out).
- Series VII and, later, Series VIII were produced without Rob Grant as he had decided to move on to new projects by this time, ending his long-running writing partnership with Doug Naylor to whom he left full creative control of Red Dwarf.
- Chris Barrie left the show after the episode "Blue". According to the BBC website, Barrie left because he felt "he had taken Rimmer as far as he wanted", while the Series VII DVD featurette "Back from the Dead" indicated it was due to the fact that Barrie was simultaneously starring in a second series, The Brittas Empire. Officially, Rimmer was written out with the second episode, "Stoke Me a Clipper", but Barrie also filmed cameos for "Ouroboros" and "Blue", so Barrie was ultimately only absent from the series for a couple of episodes. Despite his intended departure, Barrie returned for Series VIII having been, according to "Back from the Dead", re-energized by his work on Series VII; however, "Blue" marked the final appearance of the original Rimmer hologram as Barrie returned as a human version of Rimmer. Rimmer returns as a hologram in Back to Earth, although which hologram is portrayed is still a matter of debate (a line of dialogue in "Lemons" implies that it's somehow the original).
- Chloë Annett joined the cast as a parallel universe version of Kristine Kochanski. According to several sources, Annett was not brought in to replace Chris Barrie but in order to have a female lead for the Red Dwarf movie to be more marketable in Hollywood. The program booklet with the Series VII DVD says Kochanski was brought back in order to retain the balance in the cast after Barrie's departure, and that Clare Grogan was unavailable to join the series full-time as she, by this time, had become a television presenter.
- Annett actually appeared in two science fiction series during the first part of 1997. First, she appeared in Series VII of Red Dwarf, and then one week before the final episode of the series aired her second series, the time-travel detective series Crime Traveller, debuted. Although highly rated, a change of management at the BBC would later be blamed for a second series of Crime Traveller not being commissioned. Both Series VII of Red Dwarf and the run of Crime Traveller lasted eight episodes.
- Norman Lovett briefly returns as Holly during the last episode of the series, "Nanarchy". In Series VIII he comes back as a regular cast-member, the last appearance of Holly thus far.