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Red Dwarf episode
Red dwarf bodyswap rimmer feast.jpg
Using Lister's body Rimmer has a feast for the first time in 3 million years
Episode no. Series 3
Episode 4
Directed by Ed Bye
Written by Rob Grant & Doug Naylor
Original air date 5 December 1989
Guest appearance(s)

Lia Williams as Carol Brown (Voice)[citation needed]

Episode chronology
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List of all Red Dwarf episodes

"Bodyswap" is the fourth episode of science fiction sitcom Red Dwarf Series III,[1] and the sixteenth overall.[2] It premiered on the British television channel BBC2 on 5 December 1989. Written by Rob Grant and Doug Naylor, and directed by Ed Bye. This was the first episode to be recorded without a live studio audience. The plot has Rimmer suggesting that the perfect way to help Lister get "healthy" is swapping bodies. The episode was re-mastered, along with the rest of the first three series, in 1998.


A malfunctioning skutter runs amok and rewires Red Dwarf's circuitry, producing two thousand wiring faults and making the whole ship a booby trap. When Dave Lister orders a milk shake and a Toffee Crisp from one of the snack machines, he inadvertently triggers the ship's self-destruct countdown. As the auto-destruct can only be over-ridden by a senior officer, all of whom are dead, Kryten performs a mind-swap: the mind of Executive Officer Carol Brown is temporarily placed into Lister's body so she can voice-activate the shut-down procedure. The plan fails and the auto-destruct sequence continues. Everyone braces for death as the countdown reaches zero – whereupon the food machine dispenses Lister's milk shake and candy bar. It turns out the countdown was wired only to the vending machine, not to the ship's bomb — besides which Holly got rid of the bomb ages ago and never bothered to tell anyone.[3]

Although the excitement is over, Kryten's solution gives Arnold Rimmer an idea. He convinces Lister to swap bodies with him. He will be able to enjoy the benefits of a tangible body again for two weeks, while he exercises and gets Lister back into shape. However, unable to resist the pleasures he has been denied for so long, he eats, drinks and smokes far more than Lister ever would have, putting on quite a bit of weight in the process. Lister is naturally appalled and demands his heavily abused body back after just one week.[3]

Rimmer, enlisting Kryten's reluctant help, chloroforms Lister and reacquires his body. In Lister's body, Rimmer then absconds in Starbug with a full freight of junk food, promising to be back in a month – maybe.[3] Lister, with Cat and Kryten, give chase with Blue Midget, causing Rimmer to lose concentration and crash into a rocky planet. Rimmer is forced again to give Lister's body back, but later Rimmer walks into Lister's sleeping quarters looking strange. He's actually Cat and says that Rimmer has stolen his body. Just then Rimmer, in Cat's body, turns up carrying a heaping dinner plate and assures his crewmates that it will be for just one night, or maybe until Thursday.[4]


This was the first episode to be recorded without the live studio audience. Technical difficulties of the actors playing other characters meant that the scenes would have to have been done twice. Instead the voices were dubbed over the scenes in post-production and trying to match up with lip movements caused much mirth while recording. Chris Barrie, being an impressionist, had no problems playing Lister, whereas Craig's portrayal as Rimmer was not as smooth. The final edit, with dubbed voices, was then played to a small audience to provide the laughter track.[5]

The long chase sequence with Blue Midget and Starbug was overseen by effects supervisor Peter Wragg. Using his experience of working on shows such as Thunderbirds, he had the model ships of Starbug and Blue Midget flying on hidden wires over a scaled landscape, Starbug eventually crashing into it.[6]

This episode has the only mention of the ship White Midget. This was a mistake on the part of the writers. In the Remastered version, Lister's voice is dubbed over so he says "The Midget" instead of "White Midget". Originally the new smaller ship that would be used was White Midget, a similar version of the Blue Midget, but then Starbug was created, which would be bigger and allow for more room to film inside.[7]

The large interior areas of Red Dwarf were filmed inside Padiham Power Station.

Cultural references[edit]

Alfred Hitchcock is referenced by Rimmer when describing Lister's silhouette. While using the toilet with Lister's body, Rimmer hums The Grand Old Duke of York tune to himself. It is from this experience that Rimmer references Star Trek's Spock when describing Lister's urine.[8] Rimmer also recites Clint Eastwood's line from Sudden Impact.[8]


The episode was originally broadcast on the British television channel BBC2 on 5 December 1989 in the 9:00pm evening time slot.[9]


The remastering of Series I to III was carried out during the late 1990s.[10] General changes throughout the series included replacement of the opening credits,[11] giving the picture a colour grade and filmising,[12] computer generated special effects of Red Dwarf[13] and many more visual and audio enhancements.[13]

Changes made specific to "Bodyswap" include the Starbug and Blue Midget chase scenes have been replaced with a CGI sequence. The scene with Rimmer, as Cat, playing around with food has been added to the ending.[14]


  1. ^ "British Sitcom Guide - Red Dwarf - Series 3". Retrieved 2008-01-25. 
  2. ^ " - Body Swap summary". Retrieved 2008-01-25. 
  3. ^ a b c (Howarth & Lyons 1993, p. 63)
  4. ^ (Howarth & Lyons 1993, p. 64)
  5. ^ "Red Dwarf Series III Production". Retrieved 2015-12-07. 
  6. ^ "Red Dwarf Series III Effects". Retrieved 2015-12-07. 
  7. ^ Interview: Peter Wragg, Red Dwarf Smegazine, issue 8, October 1992, Fleetway Editions Ltd, ISSN 0965-5603
  8. ^ a b "Red Dwarf movie connections". Retrieved 2008-01-16. 
  9. ^ "BBC - Programme Catalogue - RED DWARF III THE SAGA CONTINUUMS - 4, BODYSWAP". BBC. Retrieved 2007-12-11. [permanent dead link]
  10. ^ "Remasters of the Universe". Archived from the original on 4 January 2008. Retrieved 2008-01-28. 
  11. ^ "Red Dwarf Series I Remastering". Archived from the original on 18 January 2008. Retrieved 2008-01-30. 
  12. ^ Remastering Crew (2007). The End Re-Mastered DVD Commentary (DVD). Bodysnatcher DVD Boxset Red disc: BBC. 
  13. ^ a b Remastering Crew (2007). 'Re-Dwarf' Documentary (DVD). Bodysnatcher DVD Boxset Red disc: BBC. 
  14. ^ Remastering Crew (2007). Bodyswap text commentary (DVD). Bodysnatcher DVD Boxset, Green disc: BBC. 

See also[edit]

  • Body swap, for numerous other fictional examples of the concept


  • Howarth, Chris; Lyons, Steve (1993). Red Dwarf Programme Guide. Virgin Books. ISBN 0-86369-682-1. 

External links[edit]