Parallel Universe (Red Dwarf)

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"Parallel Universe"
Red Dwarf episode
Red dwarf series ii group.jpg
The crew use the Holly Hop Drive to go back to Earth, but instead are transported to a parallel universe
Episode no. Series 2
Episode 6
Directed by Ed Bye
Written by Rob Grant & Doug Naylor
Original air date 11 October 1988 (1988-10-11)
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
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"Parallel Universe" is the sixth episode of science fiction sitcom Red Dwarf series two,[1] and the twelfth in the show's run.[2] It premiered on the British television channel BBC2 on 11 October 1988. Written by Rob Grant and Doug Naylor, and directed by Ed Bye, the plot involves the Red Dwarf crew travelling to a parallel universe where they meet alternative versions of themselves. This marked the final appearance of Norman Lovett as Holly, although he would return years later at the end of Series VII and then for the whole of Series VIII. The episode was re-mastered, along with the rest of the first three series, in 1998.


Holly (Norman Lovett) invents the Holly Hop Drive (a box with 'Start' and 'Stop' buttons on it), which is theoretically capable of taking Red Dwarf back to Earth immediately. However, instead of taking Red Dwarf instantaneously back to Earth as intended, it takes the ship into a parallel universe. Rimmer (Chris Barrie), Lister (Craig Charles) and Holly all have female counterparts here; Arlene Rimmer, Deb Lister and Hilly (Hattie Hayridge). The Cat (Danny John-Jules) is eager to meet his female counterpart but is dismayed that rather than being a woman version of him, instead his counterpart is a dog (named, appropriately enough, the Dog). Here, women are the masters and superior gender, and the men are fighting for equal rights. Nellie Armstrong was the first person on the moon and Wilma Shakespeare the greatest playwright in history.[3]

As Holly and Hilly need a day to repair and recharge the Hop Drive (the two wind up falling for each other), the two crews decide to head to the disco for the night only for both Rimmer and Lister to be quickly turned off by their female counterparts. Rimmer fights off aggressive sexual advances from his parallel equivalent (despite the fact that he uses these same advances on women himself), the Cat shows the Dog how to dance properly,[3] while Lister thinks Deb is gross, criticising her "laddish" behaviour despite sharing similar qualities (he argues that when he belches "Yankee Doodle Dandy", it's stylish.)

Despite this, Dave and Deb end up having sex and are discovered the next morning by the two disgusted Rimmers. Unfortunately, it soon turns out that in this universe it is the men who get pregnant... and since no precautions were used, Holly and Hilly confirm that, as Dave is in this universe, he is affected by its rules, meaning he could indeed be "up the spout", much to his horror. With the Hop Drive repaired, Red Dwarf returns to its normal universe and Lister quickly takes a pregnancy test. While waiting for the results, Holly then reminds Lister of the future echo incident which showed his future self with twin boys, causing Dave to become even more worried. The test comes back positive, much to Lister's dismay and Rimmer's delight ("I'm going to be an uncle!").[4]


Lister's pregnancy is not mentioned in any subsequent episodes (except briefly in the Series V episode Demons and Angels), but a summary of events occurring in the time elapsed between series two and three is included in the opening sequence of "Backwards", the first episode of series three. The summary states how Lister successfully gave birth to two baby boys who he named Jim and Bexley, but since they were conceived in a parallel universe with different physical laws, they suffered from an accelerated growth rate and both reach eighteen years of age within three days of being born. In order to save their lives, Lister returns them to the universe of their origin, where they are reunited with their "father" (a woman) and are able to live (relatively) normal lives.


Tongue Tied [edit]

For time reasons, "Parallel Universe" was shown without its opening credit sequence, and was originally shown with no episode titles at all,[5] although the introduction sequence would later be added in the remastered version.[6] Instead the viewer was led straight into the Cat's song dream scene, where the Cat performs the "Tongue Tied" song, with Rimmer and Lister in backing vocals. The "Tongue Tied" lyrics were written by Grant and Naylor and the music was produced by Howard Goodall.[7] The dance sequence which was choreographed by Queeg's Charles Augins also had to be trimmed down.[8] It proved very popular and later spawned a single release under the artist name "The Cat: Tongue tied",[7] reaching No. 17 in the UK Singles Chart in October 1993.[9]


Rimmer meets his alter-ego

To keep costs down existing shots of the Red Dwarf ship were matted together to give the appearance of two of them. This enabled the crew to use the finances on other model shots.[10] The scenes would later be recreated for the remastered version using CGI.

This was to be Norman Lovett's last appearance as Holly[11] until his brief return as the character in Series VII and full return in Series VIII some ten years later.[12] After the end of Series 2, Lovett decided to leave the show. Having recently married and settled in Edinburgh he felt the travelling from Edinburgh to production locations in London and Manchester would prove problematic, so Lovett decided not to come to rehearsals any more - there was a conflict with the producers, and Lovett was let go. Plus there was the promise of Lovett's own TV show, I, Lovett, taking off at the time.[11] Hattie Hayridge had appeared as Hilly, Holly's female counterpart, in this episode. Producer Paul Jackson had seen her on Saturday Live and suggested her as a replacement for Lovett.[13] This is also the only Red Dwarf episode that doesn't have its title come up at the beginning.

Angela Bruce played Deb Lister, Suzanne Bertish played Arlene Rimmer and Matthew Devitt played the Dog.[14]


The episode was originally broadcast on the British television channel BBC2 on 4 October 1988 in the 9:00 pm evening slot.[15] The episode was considered the best from Series II according to a readers' poll in Red Dwarf magazine, with 5.6% rating.[16] Series II was met with great critical success, even with average viewing figures of around 3 million, so a third series was very likely.[17]

The song "Tongue Tied", which features in the Cat's opening dream sequence, was received so well that it was later released as a single. It was re-arranged and re-recorded by Danny John Jules (under the name 'The Cat') and released in October 1993. It reached number 17 in the UK charts.[18] A video to accompany the release which starred Danny John-Jules as some of his Red Dwarf alter-egos, including Duane Dibbley, was also produced. It was based around a storyline written by Danny John-Jules and featured music videos for some of the remixes, with guest appearances from the rest of the Red Dwarf cast, along with Clayton Mark ("Elvis" in "Meltdown") and Charles Augins (Queeg 500 in "Queeg").


The remastering of Series I to III was carried out during the late 1990s.[19] Changes throughout the series included replacement of the opening credits,[20] giving the picture a colour grade and filmising,[21] computer generated special effects of Red Dwarf[22] and many more visual and audio enhancements.[22] Changes made specific to "Parallel Universe" include the addition of video and sound effects of Red Dwarf jumping into the parallel universe. The shots of the twin Red Dwarf ships side by side have been replaced with the new CGI versions. Video and sound effects of Red Dwarf jumping back into its own universe were added.[23]


  1. ^ "British Sitcom Guide - Red Dwarf - Series 2". Retrieved 2008-01-24. 
  2. ^ " - Parallel Universe summary". Retrieved 2008-01-24. 
  3. ^ a b Howarth & Lyons (1993) p. 58.
  4. ^ Howarth & Lyons (1993) p. 59.
  5. ^ "Red Dwarf Deries II Production". Archived from the original on 6 October 2006. Retrieved 2008-01-07. 
  6. ^ "Red Dwarf Series II Remastering". Archived from the original on 6 October 2006. Retrieved 2008-01-07. 
  7. ^ a b Interview: Howard Goodall, Red Dwarf Smegazine, issue 10, December 1992, Fleetway Editions Ltd, ISSN 0965-5603
  8. ^ "Red Dwarf Deries II Music". Retrieved 2008-01-07. [dead link]
  9. ^ CAT | Artist | Official Charts
  10. ^ "Red Dwarf Series II Effects". Archived from the original on 6 October 2006. Retrieved 2008-01-07. 
  11. ^ a b Interview: Norman Lovett, Red Dwarf Smegazine, issue 9, November 1992, Fleetway Editions Ltd, ISSN 0965-5603
  12. ^ "Back in the Red part 1 cast and crew". Retrieved 2008-01-24. 
  13. ^ "Red Dwarf Series II Casting". Archived from the original on 6 October 2006. Retrieved 2008-01-07. 
  14. ^ "Parallel Universe cast and crew". Retrieved 2008-01-24. 
  15. ^ "BBC Programme Catalogue - RED DWARF - PARALLEL UNIVERSE". BBC. Retrieved 2007-12-10. 
  16. ^ Red Dwarf Smegazine Survey Results, Red Dwarf Smegazine, issue 10, December 1992, Fleetway Editions Ltd, ISSN 0965-5603
  17. ^ "Red Dwarf series II Aftermath". Archived from the original on 4 January 2008. Retrieved 2008-01-07. 
  18. ^ " - UK Top 40 Chart Archive, British Singles & Album Charts". Retrieved 2007-12-19. 
  19. ^ "Remasters of the Universe". Archived from the original on 4 January 2008. Retrieved 2008-01-28. 
  20. ^ "Red Dwarf Series I Remastering". Archived from the original on 18 January 2008. Retrieved 2008-01-30. 
  21. ^ Remastering Crew (2007). The End Re-Mastered DVD Commentary (DVD). Bodysnatcher DVD Boxset Red disc: BBC. 
  22. ^ a b Remastering Crew (2007). 'Re-Dwarf' Documentary (DVD). Bodysnatcher DVD Boxset Red disc: BBC. 
  23. ^ Remastering Crew (2007). Parallel Universe text commentary (DVD). Bodysnatcher DVD Boxset, Blue disc: BBC. 


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

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