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Red Dwarf episode
Red dwarf timeslides scene with tension sheet.jpg
Lister decides to use a timeslide and the Tension Sheet invention to change his past
Episode no.Series 3
Episode 5
Directed byEd Bye
Written byRob Grant & Doug Naylor
Original air date12 December 1989
Guest appearance(s)
  • Simon Gaffney as Young Rimmer
  • Robert Addie as Gilbert
  • Rupert Bates as Bodyguard
  • Richard Hainsworth as Bodyguard
  • Emile Charles as Young Lister
  • Stephen McKintosh as Thicky Holden
  • Louisa Ruthven as Ski Woman
  • Koo Stark as Lady Sabrina Mulholland-Jjones
  • Mark Steel as Ski Man
  • Ruby Wax as Blaize Falconburger
  • Adolf Hitler as himself
Episode chronology
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"The Last Day"
List of Red Dwarf episodes

"Timeslides" is the fifth episode of science fiction sit-com Red Dwarf Series III,[1] and the seventeenth in the series run.[2] It premiered on the British television channel BBC2 on 12 December 1989. Written by Rob Grant and Doug Naylor, and directed by Ed Bye, the plot deals with Lister's desire to change his life by going back in time and changing his past. The episode was re-mastered, along with the rest of the first three series, in 1998.


Lister (Craig Charles) is bored - bored with Scrabble, bored with table golf, bored with Durex volleyball - even bored with Junior Angler. He tells Cat (Danny John-Jules) and Rimmer (Chris Barrie) that he hates his life on Red Dwarf. During the conversation, Rimmer reminisces about a former schoolmate, Fred "Thickie" Holden, who despite being one of the stupidest boys in the class went on to earn an immense fortune with an invention called the "tension sheet", which, as Rimmer states, is merely bubble wrap that has been painted red with the words "tension sheet" written on it. Meanwhile, while working in the ship's darkroom, Kryten (Robert Llewellyn) accidentally discovers that the developing fluid can make photographs come to life. The same thing is possible with slides, and soon the crew are stepping into photographs and back in time. The only problem is that they can't move outside the borders of the original photo. Lister goes back in time, thanks to one of Rimmer's old pictures, to Germany standing alongside Adolf Hitler (where he shouts "Ignore him, he's a complete and total nutter, and he's only got one testicle") before accidentally foiling Claus von Stauffenberg's assassination attempt on him.[3]

Lister decides to go back in time and change history by giving the "Tension Sheet" invention to his 17-year-old self. Going back in time, the four encounter the band Smeg and the Heads, fronted by a teenage Lister who is convinced that he is destined to be a rock star despite the fact that he is hopelessly crap and only has one song which consists of him saying nothing but "Om" (titled, appropriately enough, as "The Om Song"). Teenaged Lister is at first disbelieving of his older-self, continually calling him "crypto-fascist" and cannot believe that his future does not involve him being a rock god. Despite this, Lister hands over the tension sheet to his younger self with instructions to take it down the patent office to register as his invention. Returning to the present, Lister disappears as the timeline changes... only to be followed by the Cat and Kryten, as without Lister the Cat race never existed and Kryten was never rescued. Now Rimmer is alone with Holly (Hattie Hayridge) for the rest of eternity.[3] Deciding that this is not on, Rimmer visits Lister, hoping to persuade him to come back to Red Dwarf, claiming "it is my duty. My duty as a complete and utter bastard!". However Rimmer forgets that the two first met aboard the space-ship, and as Lister never joined the Space Corps, has never encountered him. Sure enough, Lister – now rich, living in a mansion with a supermodel – fails to recognise him, and tells the butler to throw him out.[4]

Rimmer decides that "two can play that game", realising that in order to return Lister, Cat and Kryten to normal, He must "get there first". To this end, he travels further back in time to when he was at boarding school to give the secret of the "Tension Sheet" to his 8-year old self. Upon returning to the present, Lister, Cat and Kryten re-appear and Rimmer waits to disappear to fame and riches. However, nothing happens as Holly explains history shows the "Tension Sheet" was invented by one Thickie Holden – Rimmer's bunkmate, who overheard him explaining the plan and beat him to it, meaning that Rimmer has simply returned history to the way it was. But for unexplained reasons, one thing is different; Rimmer is now alive, not a hologram. Delighted, he takes a bite of Hitler's banana and crisps sandwich, rushes out into a corridor, slams his fists down on top of a pair of crates marked "explosives" and accidentally blows himself up.[4]


Due to a continuity error certain lines had to be cut from the skiing holiday picture scene. The scene established that Lister had got somebody's skiing holiday pictures back by mistake. The skiers were scripted to discuss how they received Lister's rather scary birthday snaps in place of theirs. Craig Charles realised that this was a continuity flaw as at that time, the skiers would not have received them yet.[5] The lines were cut, but as they were originally speaking parts, Louisa Ruthven and Mark Steel were still credited for their parts.[6]

The episode featured music from Craig Charles. Not only did he write "Bad News" and "Cash" but he penned the "Om" song which was sung by the young Lister, who was played by Emile Charles, Craig's brother.[7] Young Lister was lead singer in the band 'Smeg and the Heads', portrayed by Jeffrey Walker and Bill Steer of real-life band Carcass.

Simon Gaffney played the Young Rimmer. Robert Addie played Gilbert, Lister's servant. Rupert Bates and Richard Hainsworth each played as one of Lister's Bodyguards.[8] Stephen McKintosh played Thickie Holden, Rimmer's roommate and inventor of the Tension Sheet.[8] Louisa Ruthven appeared as Ski Woman and Mark Steel appeared as Ski Man in one of the Timeslide photos, Koo Stark played Lady Sabrina Mulholland-Jjones, Lister's "most desirable woman in the Western Hemisphere" fiancée.[8] Ruby Wax, director Ed Bye's wife, played Blaize Falconberger, the host of the fictional TV show Lifestyles of the Disgustingly Rich and Famous.[8] Wax was a late addition to the cast as the original actor chosen to play Blaize, Graham Chapman of Monty Python fame, died shortly before rehearsals began. Chris Barrie also appears in one slide as Rimmer's Brother Frank, it is a picture of Frank Rimmer's wedding which Lister manages to accidentally gatecrash, leading an annoyed Frank to repeatedly punch Lister in the stomach. Chris Barrie's portrayal of Frank Rimmer is similar to Barrie's later portrayal of Ace Rimmer, the more successful, brave and popular version of Rimmer from a parallel dimension. This is most evident in Ace's accent as his voice is a more mid-atlantic version of the voice Barrie used to play Frank.

Cultural references[edit]

One of the Timeslide photos shows Adolf Hitler, leader of the "runners-up" in World War II, in Nuremberg. Lister comes back from the Timeslide with a suitcase from Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, who was a key member in the assassination attempt on Hitler. The possibilities of the Timeslides are endless, as Lister says, that they could go back and convince Dustin Hoffman not to make Ishtar.[9]

With the timelines changed Lister is now famous and rich as shown in a news reel. He bought Buckingham Palace and "...had it ground down just to line his drive." He called his home "Xanadu", not as a reference to the movie Citizen Kane, but rather as a tribute to the hit single by Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich. The wealthy Lister is profiled in a fictional TV show as a spoof of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.

Lister's teenage self continually accuses him of being a crypto-fascist.

Dobbin and Gazza from Lister's band 'Smeg and the Heads' are actually played by Jeff Walker and Bill Steer from the death metal/grindcore band Carcass.

The alternate Lister's mansion and the courtyard with the non-peeing statue is a Grade 1 listed mansion house within Lyme Park. The building can also be seen in the background of the spoof TV show presented by Ruby Wax in the episode. The mansion dining room scene was filmed in the dining room of Tatton Hall.


The episode was originally broadcast on the British television channel BBC2 on 12 December 1989 in the 9:00 pm evening time slot.[10]


The remastering of Series I to III was carried out during the late 1990s.[11] General changes throughout the series included replacement of the opening credits,[12] giving the picture a colour grade and filmising,[13] computer generated special effects of Red Dwarf[14] and many more visual and audio enhancements.[14]

There have been changes made specific to "Timeslides". The special guest star Adolf Hitler mention has been removed from the opening credits. Lister kicking the bomb into the timeslide has been tightened and a fire element added to explosion. Lister's reference to the Dustin Hoffman movie Ishtar has been removed, as have references to Xanadu and Citizen Kane. A running water video effect has been added to rich Lister's huge statue. [15]


  1. ^ "British Sitcom Guide - Red Dwarf - Series 3". www.sitcom.co.uk. Retrieved 25 January 2008.
  2. ^ "TV.com - Timeslides summary". www.tv.com. Retrieved 25 January 2008.
  3. ^ a b Howarth & Lyons (1993) p. 64.
  4. ^ a b Howarth & Lyons (1993) p. 65.
  5. ^ "Red Dwarf series III Production". www.reddwarf.co.uk. Archived from the original on 21 April 2008. Retrieved 7 January 2008.
  6. ^ "Red Dwarf Series III Casting". www.reddwarf.co.uk. Archived from the original on 21 April 2008. Retrieved 7 January 2008.
  7. ^ "Red Dwarf Series III Music". www.reddwarf.co.uk. Archived from the original on 21 April 2008. Retrieved 7 January 2008.
  8. ^ a b c d "Timeslides cast and crew". www.imdb.com. Retrieved 25 January 2008.
  9. ^ "Timeslides movie connections". www.imdb.com. Retrieved 25 January 2008.
  10. ^ "BBC - Programme Catalogue - RED DWARF III THE SAGA CONTINUUMS - 5, TIMESLIDES". BBC. Retrieved 11 December 2007.
  11. ^ "Remasters of the Universe". www.reddwarf.co.uk. Archived from the original on 4 January 2008. Retrieved 28 January 2008.
  12. ^ "Red Dwarf Series I Remastering". www.reddwarf.co.uk. Archived from the original on 18 January 2008. Retrieved 30 January 2008.
  13. ^ Remastering Crew (2007). The End Re-Mastered DVD Commentary (DVD). Bodysnatcher DVD Boxset Red disc: BBC.
  14. ^ a b Remastering Crew (2007). 'Re-Dwarf' Documentary (DVD). Bodysnatcher DVD Boxset Red disc: BBC.
  15. ^ Remastering Crew (2007). Timeslides text commentary (DVD). Bodysnatcher DVD Boxset, Green disc: BBC.


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

External links[edit]