The Inquisitor (Red Dwarf)

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"The Inquisitor"
Red Dwarf episode
The Inquisitor (Red Dwarf).jpg
The Inquisitor visits Red Dwarf to assess if they are worthy of their existence
Episode no. Series 5
Episode 2
Directed by Juliet May & Grant Naylor
Written by Rob Grant & Doug Naylor
Original air date 27 February 1992
Guest appearance(s)
  • Jack Docherty as The Inquisitor
  • Jake Abraham as Second Lister
  • Tim Yeates as Second Kryten (uncredited)
  • James Cormack as Thomas Allman
  • Duane Cox as Young Lister (uncredited)
  • Carl Chase as Old Lister (uncredited)[1]
Episode chronology
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"The Inquisitor" is the second episode of science fiction sitcom Red Dwarf Series V[2] and the twenty sixth in the series run.[3] It was first broadcast on the British television channel BBC2 on 27 February 1992.[4] It was written by Rob Grant & Doug Naylor, and directed by Juliet May & Grant Naylor.[5] The episode's plot deals with a time travelling simulant who visits Red Dwarf to assess if they are worthy of their existence.


Starbug is taken under control by a being called The Inquisitor and returned to Red Dwarf. The Inquisitor is a self-repairing simulant who survived until the end of time, and, coming to the conclusion that there is no God and no afterlife, decided that the only point of life was to "seize the gift of life". He is on a journey through time, seeking out those he judges worthless and erasing them from existence, allowing a different person to exist in their place—one of the many that could have been conceived had the original person not been.

Each crew member comes up for judgment, with the Inquisitor morphing into each crewmember during their respective trial, meaning that they are actually being judged by themselves (which the Inquisitor claims is "the only fair way" in spite of the metaphysical implications). Rimmer pleads mitigating circumstances, arguing that his background meant that he had no chance from the beginning and that although he is nothing, for him, 'nothing is up'; the Cat cites his beauty; Kryten questions the Inquisitor's authority; Lister rejects it outright. Rimmer and the Cat are excused on the grounds that they have met their own low standards, but Kryten and Lister are not so lucky: ostensibly, they both had the potential to make something of themselves but failed to do so. The Inquisitor removes Lister and Kryten's influence from the time stream, replacing them with their unconceived equivalents, and prepares to disintegrate them to complete the process, though he is stopped by a version of Kryten from the future, who before being killed, amputates the Inquisitor's left hand along with his time-manipulating "time gauntlet", giving it to his past self and Lister, as well as a cryptic clue about how to operate it: "Enig".

Lister and Kryten escape the Inquisitor and find Rimmer and the Cat, but they get a hostile reception from their old shipmates, who no longer recognise them as they have been replaced by previously unborn versions of themselves. The Inquisitor then catches up with the crew, attacking them to destroy Lister and Kryten, though he inadvertently kills their replacements instead. Using a severed hand from his alternate self, Lister manages to bypass Red Dwarf's security systems (since they were removed from history, Holly is now hostile to them) and the two hide inside Starbug. Kryten manages to decode the workings of the time gauntlet with the help of the clue left by his future self and, with Rimmer and Cat in tow, they attempt to confront the Inquisitor. Rimmer and Cat are immediately destroyed in the ensuing conflict, though Kryten manages to freeze the Inquisitor before he is able to kill Lister. In order to keep the timeline coherent, Kryten uses the time gauntlet to go back in time and save them from being killed earlier "so that [they] can get into this mess in the first place."

Lister takes the Inquisitor's other time gauntlet (duplicated after the amputation) and suspends the Inquisitor over a chasm, letting him fall, but saving his life at the last moment. Lister claims that having saved the Inquisitor's life, the latter would not dare erase him as he would simply fall to his death otherwise; he then returns the time gauntlet to the Inquisitor. The Inquisitor replies that this is nonsense, as Lister was the one who endangered his life in the first place. As the Inquisitor attempts to erase Lister, it is revealed that Lister had Kryten rig the gauntlet to backfire, causing the Inquisitor to erase himself and his influence from history. With the Inquisitor removed from the timeline, Kryten, Rimmer and the Cat are promptly restored and history is reset to its original state.


"The Inquisitor", which was the second episode to be filmed,[6] was considered by Grant and Naylor to lead the series, but as it was heavily science fiction influenced the casual viewer friendly Holoship was chosen to go out first instead.[7]

With the show returning to Stage G for filming, new director Juliet May decided to shoot "Demons and Angels" first over "The Inquisitor". "Holoship" had been put back in the filming schedule because of guest star availability and "The Inquisitor" was passed on by the new director as she was still trying to make sense of the script.[8]

Jack Docherty played The Inquisitor, James Cormack played Thomas Allman and Jake Abraham played the alternative Lister.[5]

Cultural references[edit]

  • At the start of the episode, Kryten observes that Lister is reading a comic-book version of Virgil’s Aeneid: “The epic tale of Agamemnon’s pursuit of Helen of Troy." In fact, although the Trojan horse is referred to in the Aeneid, the work as a whole is not about Agamemnon or Helen (who both feature more prominently in Homer's Iliad).
  • Kryten and Lister chained together and on the run references The Defiant Ones.[9]
  • In a heat of Series 2 of Robot Wars (which Craig later hosted after the end of Red Dwarf) a robot called 'Inquisitor' competed. When the people who made the bot met Craig on the podium, Craig asked: "Where does the name come from?" and the roboteer replied "Red Dwarf". Craig responded "Never heard of it!"


The episode was originally broadcast on the British television channel BBC2 on 27 February 1992 in the 9:00pm evening time slot,[4] and received a mixed reaction from viewers.[10] Although the episode was viewed by over 5 million viewers,[11] the episode has been regarded as very Sci-Fi,[12] and some people found the ending of the episode confusing, and the time travel aspect had added to the confusion.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ IMDB entry
  2. ^ "British Sitcom Guide — Red Dwarf — Series 5". Retrieved 2008-01-29. 
  3. ^ " — The Inquisitor summary". Retrieved 2008-01-29. 
  4. ^ a b "BBC — Programme Catalogue — RED DWARF V — THE INQUISITOR". BBC. Retrieved 2007-12-12. 
  5. ^ a b "The Inquisitor cast and crew". Retrieved 2008-01-29. 
  6. ^ Series V Preview, Red Dwarf Smegazine, issue 1, March 1992, Fleetway Editions Ltd, ISSN 0965-5603
  7. ^ a b Grant and Naylor Look Back, Red Dwarf Smegazine, issue 11, January 1993, Fleetway Editions Ltd, ISSN 0965-5603
  8. ^ "Red Dwarf Series V Production". Archived from the original on 2008-01-04. Retrieved 2008-01-07. 
  9. ^ "The Inquisitor movie connections". Retrieved 2008-01-08. 
  10. ^ Red Dwarf Smegazine: Survey Results, issue 10, December 1992, Fleetway Editions Ltd, ISSN 0965-5603
  11. ^ "Red Dwarf Series V Aftermath". Archived from the original on 2008-01-04. Retrieved 2008-01-07. 
  12. ^ "Series V review by Gavrielle". Retrieved 2008-01-29. 

External links[edit]