Robert Llewellyn at linux.conf.au (Canberra, Australia) in 2013
10 March 1956
Northampton, Northamptonshire, England
Robert Llewellyn (born 10 March 1956 in Northampton, Northamptonshire) is an English actor, comedian and writer best known as the mechanoid Kryten in the hit TV sci-fi sitcom Red Dwarf and as a presenter of the TV engineering gameshow Scrapheap Challenge. He is a science and technology enthusiast, a promoter of renewable technologies and electric cars and an atheist and sceptic who frequently gives talks at science and technology events. He is also active online.
Llewellyn's first foray into the world of show business started out as a hobby, organising a few amateur cabaret evenings in a riverside warehouse overlooking Tower Bridge in London. The shows were a great success and he eventually helped form an alternative comedy theatre group called the Joeys. Within six months he had stopped working as a shoemaker and started performing professionally with the group alongside Bernie Evans, Nigel Ordish and Graham Allum. The group toured Britain and France in the early 1980s with an initial idea of exploring sexual politics between men. Llewellyn wrote much of the material, and also began writing novels. The group split in 1985, having toured for years and done thousands of shows.
Llewellyn's involvement with Red Dwarf came about as a result of his appearance at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, performing in his comedy, Mammon, Robot Born of Woman; this show was about a robot who, as he becomes more human, begins to behave increasingly badly. This was seen by Paul Jackson, producer of Red Dwarf, and he was invited to audition for the role of Kryten.
Llewellyn joined the cast of Red Dwarf in 1989 in series 3 and has continued in the role up to 2012's tenth series. In May 2015, it was announced that he would, again, be returning to Red Dwarf for the eleventh and twelfth series. His skills as a physical performer encouraged Rob Grant and Doug Naylor to write him additional characters for the series, namely Jim Reaper ("The Last Day"), The Data Doctor ("Back in the Red"), Human Kryten ("DNA"), Bongo ("Dimension Jump") and Able ("Beyond A Joke"). Llewellyn co-wrote the Red Dwarf Series VII episode "Beyond A Joke" with Doug Naylor.
In the early days of Red Dwarf he would arrive to do makeup many hours before the rest of the actors, however that changed as time progressed as his fellow actors "have a little bit more help in the make-up department than they used to". In an interview with The Skeptic Zone, Llewellyn mentioned that he needs a special pair of glasses to be able to read the script with the Kryten mask on. In Red Dwarf, he worked hard to get the more technically difficult lines right because the show tried to be factually accurate in reference to scientific theories.
He was also the only British cast member originally to participate in the American version of Red Dwarf, though other actors such as Craig Charles and Chris Barrie were also approached to reprise their roles.
Other TV work
Llewellyn has presented a number of programmes for UK television. His first outing as a presenter was on Scrapheap Challenge, produced by Channel 4; the series sees teams of engineers competing to build machines to complete a given task from materials scavenged from a scrapheap. His other presenting roles include a version of Discovery Channel's How Do They Do It? and Hollywood Science, the latter being a joint production between the BBC and the Open University.
Llewellyn's project it2i2, was released on DVD in March 2006. Since 2006 he has had a YouTube video blog called "Llewtube". His latest book Sold Out: How I Survived a Year of Not Shopping – based on his YouTube series Making Do – was published in October 2008.
Llewellyn reviewed the world of science and technology in his popular Machine of the Week report (The MoWer).
Llewellyn also provides the voice of news anchor Perry Flynn for PlayStation Home TV, a programme that started in December 2009 and airs in the Home Theatre of the European version of PlayStation Home, which is a 3D community for PlayStation 3.
Llewellyn has worked as a voice actor, providing the voices of the alien creatures in Skywhales (1983), the voice of Feeble for The Feeble Files (1997), Old Joe in Christmas Carol: The Film, and the perplexed Gryphon in the film MirrorMask (2005). He has described himself as "very much a 'don't want to do it now' kind of person" ("Dwarfing USA" documentary, Red Dwarf V DVD).
In November 2010, the Carpool series began broadcasting on UKTV channel, Dave, before having a months hiatus for Christmas and New Year, it then returned in January 2011. It is a spin-off from his web series, Carpool. On 4 January 2011, he appeared on Celebrity Mastermind answering questions on the specialist subject of electric cars. He has expressed an interest in working on a television show about technologies that we might use in the future.
Llewellyn was the narrator on the 2010 Channel 5 series The Boss is Coming to Dinner.
Prior to becoming a comedian, Llewellyn served an apprenticeship and became a professional shoemaker, working at James Taylor & Son and John Lobb Bootmaker in London. Speaking to Richard Herring, he said he still maintains an interest in the craft; "There is still a side of me that wants to develop a kind of 3D printed shoe thing... where you just put your foot in a thing and you just get a shoe and it's there. and it fits absolutely exquisitely, immediately."
Llewellyn, who is of Anglo-Welsh ancestry, learnt to drive at age 11 (having been taught by his older brother in a go-kart); formerly a "petrol-head", he is now an electric car advocate. As well as being frequently interviewed on the subject, he has a related video blog called Fully Charged.
On the evening of 1 July 2009 while Llewellyn was en route to deliver Carpool footage to his editor, another vehicle hit him side on at a junction in Gloucestershire, writing off his Prius and rendering him unconscious for around ten minutes. The force of the impact was such that it bent his laptop "into a banana shape".
Llewellyn praised the honesty of the other driver for accepting full liability for the incident, and the hospital, police and other services for helping him. He also gave special praise to his "beloved Prius" for protecting him from the impact. He suffered concussion, minor whiplash and dizzy spells but escaped more serious injury.
In 2014 he drove, with David Peilow, a Nissan Leaf 400 miles from London to Edinburgh. Stopping 9 times, it took 12 hours, beating a previous time set by the BBC three years earlier which took 4 days in a Mini-E, as well as beating the faster time set by David Peilow in a Tesla roadster, which had left 2 days after the Mini-E, which took around 19 hours.
Llewellyn is also the author of ten books, including Sold Out! and Therapy and How to Avoid It with Nigel Planer and five novels.
- The Reconstructed Heart: How to Spot the Difference Between a Normal Man and One Who Does the Housework, is Great in Bed and Doesn't Get All Iffy When You Mention Words Like Love and Commitment (1992) - Non-fiction
- The Man in the Rubber Mask (1994) - Llewellyn's personal account of his career with Red Dwarf.
- Therapy and How to Avoid it. (with Nigel Planer) (1996) - Non-fiction
- Thin he was and filthy haired (1996) - Memoir
- The Man on Platform 5 (1998) - A modern gender-reversed re-telling of Pygmalion of which the film rights were sold
- Punchbag (1999) - Novel
- Sudden Wealth (2000) - Novel
- Behind the Scenes at Scrapheap challenge (2001) - Non-fiction
- Brother Nature (2002) - Novel
- Sold Out - How I survived a year of not shopping (2008) - Non-fiction
- News From trilogy - Utopian science fiction
- News From Gardenia (2012) (Part 1)
- News From the Squares (2013) (Part 2)
- News From the Clouds (2015) (Part 3)
- Carpool - a regular video podcast, released every Friday, in which Llewellyn interviews other celebrities while driving them somewhere in a car. Some of the shows have appeared on the UK TV channel Dave as well as still appearing online after broadcast.
- Wet Liberal Whenever - an occasional video podcast where he does a monologue about subjects he is impassioned about, previously known as Wet Liberal Weekly
- Fully Charged - previously known as Gearless it is a video podcast that was initially about alternative technology vehicles and is now also about The future of Energy,
- Woman Wizard - DVD of his one-man show
- Blue Helmet - online science fiction comedy novel
- Ashens and the Quest for the GameChild - An online independent film (Direct to YouTube - low budget).
- Saunders, Richard (2013-02-03). "Episode 224" (Podcast). The Skeptic Zone. Event occurs at 4:50.
- "the UK's largest collection of comedians biogs and photos". comedy cv. Retrieved 2015-08-25.
- "The Joeys: interview feature". YouTube. 2010-12-03. Retrieved 2015-08-25.
- Neela Debnath (2015-05-03). "Red Dwarf returns: Craig Charles quits Coronation Street to return to comedy sci-fi series - News - TV & Radio". The Independent. Retrieved 2015-08-25.
-  Archived 3 June 2010 at the Wayback Machine.
- "An Electric car called Trev". Fully Charged Show. Retrieved 26 March 2013.
- Interview on BBC Radio 6 Music, 9:15, 18 November 2010
- [dead link]
- Duell, Mark (2014-01-29). "Nissan Leaf electric car driven from London to Edinburgh for FREE | Daily Mail Online". Dailymail.co.uk. Retrieved 2015-08-25.
- Esqueda, Ashley (2011-01-14). "Tesla versus the BBC". CNET. Retrieved 2015-08-25.
- Grimes, Danny (2009-07-09). "[1/5] Whos Got Gods Millions? HQ". YouTube. Retrieved 2015-08-25.
- Llewellyn, Robert (1992). The reconstructed heart : how to spot the difference between a normal man and one who does the housework, is great in bed, and doesn't get all iffy when you mention words like love and commitment. London: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 9780671711825.
- Llewellyn, Robert (1994). The man in the rubber mask. London: Penguin. ISBN 0140235752.
- Llewellyn, Robert (1992). Therapy & how to avoid it! : a guide for the perplexed. Simon & Schuster. p. 192. ISBN 1859988016.
- Llewellyn, Robert (1996). Thin he was and filthy-haired : [memoirs of a bad boy]. London: Penguin Books. ISBN 0140250824.
- Llewellyn, Robert (1999). The man on platform five (Pbk. ed.). London: Hodder & Stoughton. ISBN 0340707909.
- "Robert Llewellyn on The Big Breakfast 1998". YouTube. 2000-12-22. Retrieved 2015-08-25.
- Llewellyn, Robert (2000). Punchbag. London: Coronet. ISBN 0340707925.
- Llewellyn, Robert (2001). Sudden wealth. London: Flame. ISBN 0340751126.
- Llewellyn, Robert (2001). Behind the scenes at Scrapheap Challenge. London: Channel 4. ISBN 0752219995.
-  Archived 15 June 2010 at the Wayback Machine.
- Llewellyn, Robert (2002). Brother nature (Flame paperback. ed.). London: Hodder & Stoughton. ISBN 0340751142.
- Llewellyn, Robert (2008). Sold out : how I survived a year of not shopping. London: Gaia. ISBN 1856753085.
- "News From Gardenia". Unbound. Retrieved 5 June 2012.
- Llewellyn, Robert. News from Gardenia. Glasgow: Unbound. ISBN 1908717122.
- Robinson, James (30 June 2010). "Dave commissions series based on Robert Llewellyn's web chatshow". The Guardian.
- "Wet Liberal Whenever oily brains". YouTube. 2010-06-02. Retrieved 2015-08-25.
- "Pilot | Fully Charged". YouTube. 2010-06-16. Retrieved 2015-08-25.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Robert Llewellyn.|