White Hole (Red Dwarf)

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"White Hole"
Red Dwarf episode
White Hole (Red Dwarf).jpg
Holly, now upgraded with a 12,368 IQ, becomes easily frustrated with Talkie Toaster's toast-obsessed questions
Episode no.Series 4
Episode 4
Directed byEd Bye
Paul Jackson
Written byRob Grant & Doug Naylor
Original air date7 March 1991
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
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"Dimension Jump"
List of Red Dwarf episodes

"White Hole" is the fourth episode of science fiction sitcom Red Dwarf Series IV[1] and the twenty-second episode in the series run.[2] It was first broadcast on the British television channel BBC2 on 7 March 1991. Written by Rob Grant and Doug Naylor, and directed by Ed Bye and Paul Jackson,[3] the episode features the crew's attempt to escape the influence of a white hole.


When Kryten repairs Talkie Toaster, Lister is disgusted as it always coaxes them to have toast, but there's method in the mechanoid's work. It's all part of an experiment in intelligence compression—a way of restoring IQ whilst reducing operational lifespan. The ultimate aim is to cure Holly's computer senility, and it works too, but there's a bit of a miscalculation. Holly's IQ is increased to 12,368 instead of leveling off at 6,000, but her life expectancy is exponentially reduced to three minutes. Holly quickly realises that to preserve her life she must switch herself off.[4]

As the crew make their way back up to the Science Room, their journey is interrupted by a sudden loss of power. Kryten is then employed as a battering-ram to get through the 53 electronically locked doors between the crew and the Science Room. Once the crew get there, they discover why Holly has decided to power down the ship and place everything on emergency back-up power only.

Without the power, the crew are forced back to basics. Lister and the Cat are forced to live off cold baked beans while they try to employ a bicycle powered hairdryer to fry an egg while Rimmer and Kryten spend five days getting to and from the cargo decks due to the lack of lifts. However, just before they make it back the two are subjected to a strange time phenomenon, which Kryten describes as 'relative time dilation in an amazingly compressed space'. In a conversation between the entire crew (in which time repeats itself), it is decided that a white hole is the cause of all this. As Kryten explains, a white hole is a very rare spatial phenomenon—for each action there is an equal and opposite reaction, and whereas black holes suck matter from the universe, white holes spew time back into it.[4]

Holly is briefly reactivated by Rimmer and informed of the situation. She then quickly devises a plan before switching herself back off—a thermonuclear device will be fired at a nearby sun in order to catapult a planet into the mouth of the white hole and close it up. However, Lister is not happy with Holly's calculations and, after a vote, he is elected to use his pool playing skills to fire the bomb to its correct destination. He plays a trick shot and a planet is knocked against another planet orbiting a close-by Sun, which in turn hits a third planet orbiting another Sun, knocking it towards the white hole, plugging it up—reversing all time ejected from it, and reverting time back to its previous state thereby restoring Holly to her regular senile self. Kryten, upon realising the crew will have no memory of the events, takes the opportunity to tell Rimmer exactly what he thinks of him.[5]


Danny John-Jules who plays Cat was late and severely reprimanded by stand-in director Paul Jackson.

This was the last script written for Series IV and originally included a story line revolving around Garbage World, which first appeared in the second novel Better Than Life. With the plot featuring giant cockroaches and huge garbage world sets, it was considered too expensive to shoot. A new script was quickly written, taking another idea from that same novel, only the black hole was now changed to a white hole.[6]

Although Ed Bye is credited as having directed this episode he was actually unavailable due to illness. The show's producer, Paul Jackson, stepped in to cover the direction duties with a Christmas party hangover.[7] Danny John-Jules, infamous for being late, thought it was a joke by crewmembers when he was told that Paul Jackson was directing, since Paul was known for his short temper and insistence on being punctual. He still turned up late, and as expected, enraged Jackson. According to Chris Barrie, Paul Jackson's presence alone caused the crew to suddenly double in size. Robert Llewellyn even commented on a soundman walking precariously along the gantry above the set, "risking life and limb," and various other crewmembers removing nails with their teeth and Naylor remarked that some carpenters were hammering in other nails with their heads, humorous references to the fear that Jackson struck into the hearts of the crew.[8]

The new super intelligent Holly was visioned as having a bald head and small spectacles. This was changed to just having her hair smoothed back.[9] To film the new look Holly Hattie Hayridge was filmed in front of bluescreen wearing a blue polo-neck. This allowed her disembodied head to be superimposed to the episode footage.[10]

David Ross, the actor who originally played Kryten, returned to the show as the voice of Talkie Toaster. He found it a much simpler task than when he had previously endured the Kryten make-up. To play the Toaster required no rehearsals; he simply stood in front of a microphone and read the lines.[11]

Cultural references[edit]

Rimmer references Napoleon as the historical figure that he'd like to go back and work with. He also cites Captain Oates and Scott's diary when defending his cowardice to relinquish his life.

The episode references the seminal science fiction novel Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes, as both include an experimental techniques which increases the intelligence of the patient by reducing their life span. Direct references include the IQ score of 68, which both Holly and the protagonist of Flowers for Algernon, Charlie, share.


"White Hole" was originally broadcast on the British television channel BBC2 on 7 March 1991 in the 9:00pm evening time slot,[12] and is the only Series IV episode to go out as originally planned. The other Series IV episode broadcast dates were altered due to the Gulf War hostilities.[13]

The episode was generally considered as one of the best from Series IV - just behind the series' favourite "Dimension Jump."[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "British Sitcom Guide - Red Dwarf - Series 4". www.sitcom.co.uk. Retrieved 28 January 2008.
  2. ^ "TV.com - White Hole summary". www.tv.com. Retrieved 28 January 2008.
  3. ^ "White Hole cast and crew". www.imdb.com. Retrieved 28 January 2008.
  4. ^ a b Howarth & Lyons (1993) p. 71.
  5. ^ Howarth & Lyons (1993) p. 72.
  6. ^ a b "Red Dwarf Series IV Writing". www.reddwarf.co.uk. Archived from the original on 6 October 2006. Retrieved 10 January 2008.
  7. ^ "Red Dwarf Series IV Production". www.reddwarf.co.uk. Archived from the original on 21 April 2008. Retrieved 10 January 2008.
  8. ^ Red Dwarf IV: White Hole, DVD Commentary. BBC DVD, 2004
  9. ^ "Red Dwarf Series IV Costumes". www.reddwarf.co.uk. Archived from the original on 6 October 2006. Retrieved 10 January 2008.
  10. ^ "Red Dwarf Series IV Effects". www.reddwarf.co.uk. Archived from the original on 6 October 2006. Retrieved 10 January 2008.
  11. ^ Red Dwarf Magazine, issue 1, March 1992, Fleetway Editions Ltd, ISSN 0965-5603
  12. ^ "BBC - BBC - Programme Catalogue - RED DWARF IV - White Hole". BBC. Retrieved 12 December 2007.
  13. ^ Howarths, Chris; Steve Lyons (1993). Red Dwarf Programme Guide. Section 1: The History: Virgin Books. ISBN 0-86369-682-1.
  14. ^ Red Dwarf Smegazine, issue 10, December 1992, Fleetway Editions Ltd, ISSN 0965-5603


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

External links[edit]