Thanks for the Memory (Red Dwarf)

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"Thanks for the Memory"
Red Dwarf episode
Episode no. Series 2
Episode 3
Directed by Ed Bye
Written by Rob Grant & Doug Naylor
Original air date 20 September 1988
Guest appearance(s)

Sabra Williams as Lise Yates

Episode chronology
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"Better Than Life"
Next →
"Stasis Leak"
List of all Red Dwarf episodes

"Thanks for the Memory" is the third episode of science fiction sitcom Red Dwarf series two[1] and the ninth in the series run.[2] It premiered on BBC2 on 20 September 1988. Written by Rob Grant and Doug Naylor, and directed by Ed Bye, the episode has the Red Dwarf crew investigating how, and why, they lost four days from their memory. The episode was re-mastered, along with the rest of the first three series, in 1998.


It is Saturday night and Rimmer's death-day, and a party is arranged for him on a planetoid they encountered with a breathable atmosphere. Back on Red Dwarf, Rimmer drunkenly confides in Lister about his one single solitary sexual encounter with Yvonne McGruder, the ship's female boxing champion, and tells Lister that, although it is entirely his own fault for deciding to put his career over his personal life: "I would trade it all in. All of it — my pips, my long-service medals, my swimming certificates, my telescope, my shoe-trees. I would trade everything in to be loved, and to have been in love." [3]

The following morning, Lister and Cat both wake up with a broken leg each. Lister's jigsaw puzzle has been magically solved, the star charts Holly has been mapping have been messed with, the clocks all show the day as Thursday rather than Sunday, four pages have been torn out of Lister's diary, and the ship's black box is missing. Rimmer suspects aliens, which is regarded with skepticism by Lister and Cat. They trace the black box's signal to a barren airless moon, where they first find what appears to be a giant footprint and then come across a gravestone reading "To the memory of the memory of Lise Yates" - Lister reveals that Lise Yates was one of his ex-girlfriends back on Earth. The black box is buried in the shallow grave marked by the headstone — the rest of the episode consists of them watching the videos of what happened over the missing days.[4]

The black box shows that after Rimmer confided in Lister, Lister felt sorry for Rimmer and decided to do something about it. Lister and Cat went to the hologram simulation suite — where Rimmer's hologram is generated — and Lister uploaded his own memory of the eight months he was going out with Lise Yates into Rimmer's memory. Rimmer woke in a jubilant mood from what he thought was a magical eight months of his life, but he found a number of things confusing. For instance, why did he suddenly move to Liverpool and become a total slob? Why did he need his appendix removed — twice?! And most of all, why did he leave Lise to "play the field" and resist her urgings for him to get a career and settle down, when that is what Rimmer wanted all his life? Altogether, Rimmer seemed to appreciate his apparent relationship with Lise much more than Lister ever did, and Lister came to realise how foolish he actually was in breaking up with her.[4]

Sabra Williams appeared as Lise Yates in this episode

Rimmer's happiness was short-lived as he discovered the letters that Lise wrote to Lister during those eight months.[4] Opting to tell the truth, Lister told him that he didn't go out with Lise and that it was just an implanted memory. Rimmer was distraught at the knowledge that the only woman he ever loved actually loved Lister, and is unwilling to cope with his pain any more, despite Lister's urging that he shouldn't go through life without experiencing love. Eventually Lister agreed to erase all their memories of the past four days, which would eliminate Rimmer's memory of Lise. They buried the black box on the barren moon underneath the gravestone (which Rimmer wanted so "she didn't just disappear"), and in the process Cat and Lister drop the gravestone on the ground — leaving a large footprint-like indent — and then drop it again onto their feet. Back on Red Dwarf with their broken legs in plaster casts, Lister ripped the pages out of his diary for the last 4 days, and as they left the sleeping quarters to erase their memories he put in the final piece of the jigsaw puzzle.[5]


A quarry in Wales was used for the location of Rimmer's death-day opening scene for the episode.[6] The live action footage of the scene was merged with model footage of Blue Midget and Red Dwarf, which was seen in the distant background. During the pre-record filming of the episode, Craig Charles's then-wife was giving birth to their son Jack; Craig filmed the scenes where Lister's face was visible as quickly as possible and then rushed away to be at the birth of his son (arriving twenty minutes late). The remainder of location shooting, in which Lister was wearing a space-suit, had production manager Mike Agnew as the double for Lister.[7] But in fact the plaster cast couldn't fit Agnew's foot as he had bigger feet than Craig Charles — a close look at the episode would reveal that there are several frames in the episode where neither the Cat nor Lister (stood in by Agnew) had casts.[8] To film Lister's drunken pilot skills on the flight back to Red Dwarf, wires were used by the model team to give the jerking motion.[9] The one guest star was Sabra Williams who plays Lise Yates.[10]

Similarity to Star Trek: The Next Generation[edit]

In their book The Red Dwarf Programme Guide, Chris Howarth and Steve Lyons point out the "uncanny similarities" between the Red Dwarf episode "Thanks for the Memory" and the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Clues", which aired on American television nearly two and half years later. Howarth and Lyons note that the American show "has the cast waking up to find that time has passed of which they have no memory. Despite the resistance of their mechanical crew member, they attempt to find out what has happened, but learn that they were better off not knowing. One of them even has a broken limb..."[11]


Originally broadcast on the British television channel BBC2 on 20 September 1988 in the 9:00 pm evening slot,[12] the episode was voted by readers of the Red Dwarf Smegazine in a 1992 poll as the 19th best episode of the 30 then existing, attracting 1.9% of the vote. This made it the fifth-ranked of Series 2's episodes.[13] However, director Ed Bye stated in the Series II documentary, "It's Cold Outside", that the episode was a standout of the series.[14]


The remastering of Series I to III was carried out during the late 1990s.[15] Changes throughout the series included replacement of the opening credits,[16] giving the picture a colour grade and filmising,[17] computer generated special effects of Red Dwarf[18] and many more visual and audio enhancements.[18]

Changes made specific to "Thanks for the Memory" include a new opening shot with the new Blue Midget CGI design has been added, along with the CGI Red Dwarf, to original live-action footage. Scenes of Blue Midget staggering back to Red Dwarf have been replaced with new CGI footage. All flashback shots have been given a faded tint and blurred edge. Rimmer's Spanish television joke referring to the quality of the viewscreen monitor has been removed. A Felicity Kendal reference, felt as dated, has been replaced with Marilyn Monroe. Strangely, it was intended for the Jimmy Osmond joke to be removed for similar reasons but this was not done.[19]


  1. ^ "British Sitcom Guide — Red Dwarf — Series 2". Retrieved 24 January 2008. 
  2. ^ " — Thanks For The Memory summary". Retrieved 23 January 2008. 
  3. ^ Howarth & Lyons (1993) p. 54.
  4. ^ a b c Howarth & Lyons (1993) p. 55.
  5. ^ Howarth & Lyons (1993) p. 56.
  6. ^ "Red Dwarf Series II Sets". Retrieved 7 January 2008. 
  7. ^ Howarth & Lyons (1993) p. 9-10.
  8. ^ Agnew, Mike (2007). It's Cold Outside documentary (DVD). Bodysnatcher DVD Boxset disc 1: BBC. 
  9. ^ "Red Dwarf Series II Effects". Retrieved 7 January 2008. 
  10. ^ "Thanks For the Memory cast and crew". Retrieved 24 January 2008. 
  11. ^ Chris Howarth & Steve Lyons, Red Dwarf Programme Guide: Third Revised Edition (Virgin Publishing Limited, 2000), pp. 80-81.
  12. ^ "BBC Programme Catalogue — RED DWARF — THANKS FOR THE MEMORY". BBC. Retrieved 10 December 2007. 
  13. ^ Red Dwarf Smegazine: Survey Results, Red Dwarf Smegazine, issue 10, December 1992, Fleetway Editions Ltd, ISSN 0965-5603
  14. ^ Bye, Ed (2007). It's Cold Outside documentary (DVD). Bodysnatcher DVD Boxset disc 1: BBC. 
  15. ^ "Remasters of the Universe". Retrieved 28 January 2008. 
  16. ^ "Red Dwarf Series I Remastering". Retrieved 30 January 2008. 
  17. ^ Remastering Crew (2007). The End Re-Mastered DVD Commentary (DVD). Bodysnatcher DVD Boxset Red disc: BBC. 
  18. ^ a b Remastering Crew (2007). 'Re-Dwarf' Documentary (DVD). Bodysnatcher DVD Boxset Red disc: BBC. 
  19. ^ Remastering Crew (2007). Thanks for the Memory 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. 

External links[edit]