Kryten (Red Dwarf)

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Red Dwarf episode
Kryten (Red Dwarf).jpg
Lister, Rimmer and Cat meet the women on the crashed ship Nova 5
Episode no.Series 2
Episode 1
Directed byEd Bye
Written byRob Grant & Doug Naylor
Original air date6 September 1988 (1988-09-06)
Guest appearance(s)

David Ross as Kryten
Johanna Hargreaves as Esperanto Woman
Tony Slattery as Android Actor

Episode chronology
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"Better Than Life"
List of Red Dwarf episodes

"Kryten" is the seventh episode[1] from science fiction sit-com Red Dwarf, the first from series two,[2] and was first broadcast on BBC2 on 6 September 1988. Written by Rob Grant and Doug Naylor, and directed by Ed Bye, this episode introduced the mechanoid character Kryten. The episode was re-mastered, along with the rest of the first three series, in 1998.


Red Dwarf receives a distress call from a crashed spaceship, the Nova 5. As usual, Rimmer (Chris Barrie) claims this to be aliens. But according to the on-board service mechanoid that sent the distress call, Kryten (David Ross), the ship contains lifeforms of a much less hostile nature — three female crew members. With only 24 hours before they reach them, the Red Dwarf crew boldly spruce themselves up to respond to the call: Rimmer puts on an Admiral Uniform, Lister (Craig Charles) wears his best t-shirt with only 2 curry stains, whilst Cat (Danny John-Jules) creates an entire outfit from scratch (a gold spacesuit with cufflinks).

However, on arrival the gang are shocked to find the droid character Kryten has been looking after, clothing and feeding three skeletons ever since the crash, and have been that way for centuries. Kryten however, takes some convincing. How will he cope now? What will he do? After all, he is programmed to serve on the human race (as he explains, "I serve, therefore I am"). In the end, Lister takes pity on him and brings Kryten back to Red Dwarf.[3]

Rimmer, not surprisingly, gives Kryten a huge list of chores to do, but Lister, not used to lace curtains and bendable boxers, decides to take Kryten under his wing. With a little help from Marlon Brando and James Dean he intends to turn the mechanoid into something of a rebel. It seems Lister's tutoring on rebelling are unsuccessful, until Kryten paints a picture of Rimmer sitting on a toilet in his admiral uniform. He then throws a container of soup onto Rimmer's bunk and insults him. He dresses up in leathers, borrows Lister's space bike and speeds off. (However, he is to return a few months later in a subsequent episode).


The writers realised that the huge Red Dwarf ship on its own did not generate enough story material and to accommodate this new direction for the series a small shuttle ship, Blue Midget, was designed to ferry the crew to and from different locations.[4] The new ship was based on an "every day car" that would go from A to B. Miniature crew models were made to fit inside the small ship and filming was added to footage of the Red Dwarf ship.[5]

It took up to eight hours for David Ross to get into the Kryten make-up

This is the first appearance of Kryten, who wasn't originally intended to become a main character and is not seen again in Series 2. David Ross played Kryten in this episode, but because of scheduling clashes Robert Llewellyn played the character when he became a regular from Series III onwards.[6] The writers had resisted using robot characters as they had considered the practice a sci-fi cliché.[4]

Kryten's appearance was of a mechanical-looking butler with an angular head. The head mask had provided the most problems to the make up and effects team. Prosthetic foam originally used for the mask kept falling apart and eventually a latex piece was produced.[7] Initially it had taken David Ross up to eight hours to get into the full Kryten make-up. To make matters worse, Ross suffered from claustrophobia.[8]

Johanna Hargreaves appeared as the Esperanto teacher and Tony Slattery voiced an android actor in the Androids television show.[9]

Cultural references[edit]

  • Howard Goodall wrote the Androids theme tune with the Australian soap opera Neighbours in mind. The song, containing similar lyrics and tune, was trimmed down due to time constraints.[10]
  • Lister insists that Kryten should watch classic rebel films like The Wild One, Rebel Without a Cause and Easy Rider, hoping that the films, including the Marlon Brando rebel speech, would help the mechanoid break his servile programming. Kryten quotes Marlon Brando in the last line of the episode: Rimmer asks, "What are you rebelling against?" and Kryten replies in an affected voice, "What d'ya got?"[11]
  • During the scene where the Red Dwarf crew meets the skeletons around the table, Rimmer originally says they have "less meat on them than a Chicken McNugget!". The line has been edited to "chicken nugget", without the reference to McDonald's.[12]
  • Originally broadcast on the British television channel BBC2 on 6 September 1988 in the 9:00 pm evening slot,[13] the episode gained average viewing ratings,[14] and received a mixed response from viewers. One reviewer stated that "the episode would be a brilliant one if Kryten weren't a little too C3PO-ish."[15] The episode also received a mixed response from fans, voting it 22nd in a 1992 Red Dwarf Magazine readers' poll with 1.4% of the votes. This ranked it the lowest of Series 2's episodes.[16]


The remastering of Series I to III was carried out during the late 1990s.[17] Changes throughout the series included replacement of the opening credits,[18] giving the picture a colour grade and filmising,[19] computer generated special effects of Red Dwarf[20] and many more visual and audio enhancements.[20] Changes specific to "Kryten" include a new ending with Kryten flying Lister's space bike off into distant space away from Red Dwarf.[21]

See also[edit]

  • Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers, the first Red Dwarf novel, features an expanded version of events from this episode and builds on the backstory.[22]
  • "Backwards", the Series III episode when Kryten begins appearing as a main character.


  • This is the first episode we see Rimmer touching things as a hologram, albeit only other holographic objects.


  1. ^ " — Kryten summary". Retrieved 24 January 2008.
  2. ^ "British Sitcom Guide — Red Dwarf — Series 2". Retrieved 24 January 2008.
  3. ^ Howarth & Lyons (1993) p. 52.
  4. ^ a b "Red Dwarf Series II Writing". Archived from the original on 8 April 2008. Retrieved 7 January 2008.[dead link]
  5. ^ "Red Dwarf Series II Effects". Archived from the original on 6 October 2006. Retrieved 7 January 2008.[dead link]
  6. ^ Series II Episode Guide, Red Dwarf Smegazine, issue 5, July 1992, Fleetway Editions Ltd, ISSN 0965-5603
  7. ^ "Red Dwarf Series II Casting". Archived from the original on 6 October 2006. Retrieved 7 January 2008.[dead link]
  8. ^ Interview: David Ross, Red Dwarf Smegazine, issue 1, March 1992, Fleetway Editions Ltd, ISSN 0965-5603
  9. ^ "Kryten cast and crew". Retrieved 24 January 2008.
  10. ^ "Red Dwarf Series II Music". Archived from the original on 6 October 2006. Retrieved 7 January 2008.[dead link]
  11. ^ "Kryten movie connections". Retrieved 8 January 2008.
  12. ^ ""Red Dwarf" Kryten (TV Episode 1988) - Goofs - IMDb>". Retrieved 7 March 2018.
  13. ^ "BBC Programme Catalogue — RED DWARF -". BBC. Retrieved 7 December 2007.[dead link]
  14. ^ "Red Dwarf Series II Aftermath". Archived from the original on 8 April 2008. Retrieved 24 January 2008.[dead link]
  15. ^ "Red Dwarf Episode Guide: Series II". Retrieved 24 January 2008.
  16. ^ Readers survey results, Red Dwarf Smegazine, p. 27., issue 10, December 1992, Fleetway Editions Ltd, ISSN 0965-5603
  17. ^ "Remasters of the Universe". Archived from the original on 4 January 2008. Retrieved 28 January 2008.[dead link]
  18. ^ "Red Dwarf Series I Remastering". Archived from the original on 18 January 2008. Retrieved 30 January 2008.[dead link]
  19. ^ Remastering Crew (2007). The End Re-Mastered DVD Commentary (DVD). Bodysnatcher DVD Boxset Red disc: BBC.
  20. ^ a b Remastering Crew (2007). 'Re-Dwarf' Documentary (DVD). Bodysnatcher DVD Boxset Red disc: BBC.
  21. ^ Remastering Crew (2007). Kryten text commentary (DVD). Bodysnatcher DVD Boxset, Blue disc: BBC.
  22. ^ Howarth & Lyons (1993) p. 206.

External links[edit]