It is probably fair to say that Craig Charles is best recognized for his role as Lister in the popular TV show Red Dwarf. Consisting of ten successful series, the program ran from 1988 to 1993 and was extremely well received at the time. Following its finish, it has procured a huge cult following – and Lister is seen by many as the most popular character in the series.
Normally dressed in a boiler suit and a leather jacket, Lister was recognized immediately for his soon to be iconic dreadlocks and for a period in the show he is considered to be the last human alive. Based on the mining ship Red Dwarf, a malfunction killed the rest of the crew while Lister was in stasis, keeping him safe.
He was orphaned by six weeks old, and was found underneath a pool table in Liverpool in the year 2155, in a cardboard box. Taking the 14th October as his “birthday” it turns out that Lister, paradoxically, is his own father.
Adopted by the Wilmots, he moved in with his Grandmother Lister when he was six, and has since used her surname as his own. On the Red Dwarf, prior to everybody else dying, Lister was the lowest ranked member of a crew of 169. Put into stasis because he smuggled an un-quarantined cat onto the Red Dwarf, so that he would be sent back to Earth. It later transpires that Lister chose to be put in stasis to save the cat from being dissected.
Lister is kept in the stasis chamber for three million years, as Holly – the ships computer – estimates that is how long it would take for radiation levels to return to normal. The cat that Lister saved evolved into a cat-like creature that accompanies Lister and Rimmer’ hologram around space.
Of all the many strange things that happen to Lister throughout the show, one of the most well remembered was his birth to two children, Jim and Bexley. After fornicating with Deb Lister, his female alter ego from another universe, she produces two twins. However, their age process is accelerated massively in Dave’s timezone, so they are sent back to live with their mother or risk dying within a period of weeks due to their advanced aging speeds.
He has a tattoo on his right buttock, which is a picture of a heart being dipped into curry sauce. The tattoo reads “I love Vindaloo” and he got this from a tattooist when he was on leave, prior to the extinction of his crew.
In the episode “Timeslides” it transpires to show that in one reality Lister died at the age of 98, making love to his 14th wife and crashing a plane in the process. Although the show never truly gives us a fixed ending for Lister, there are many sub-endings and futuristic plot moments that show potentially how things ended up for Lister.
Whatever happened to the maverick Scouser, it is safe to say that the show would not have been the same without Lister being involved in the process!