Like all good things, it has to start somewhere – and for Craig Charles, the start of a long and intriguing career began primarily with Red Dwarf. First shown on 15th February 1988, Red Dwarf was a future based show which evolved around the trials of the remainders of a ship crew. The rest of the crew have been wiped out, leaving potentially the only human left in existence, a cat-man and a hologram to contend with space forever.
The first episode of Red Dwarf, known as “The End” was used to introduce the main character sand give a bit of backstory for the rest of the series. Craig Charles plays Dave Lister, a somewhat hapless crew member of the mining ship Red Dwarf. Having been placed in stasis for smuggling a cat onboard, Lister is put into stasis as punishment. It turns out that the stasis saves him from death, as a radiation leak kills everybody else on the ship – leaving Lister as potentially the only human left.
The first episode gained some of the highest viewership ratings of the entire series, with over five million viewers. Beginning with Lister onboard the Red Dwarf, Lister spends most of his time drinking and dreaming about returning to Earth with his stolen cat, Frankenstein. The cat is due to have children, and Lister plans to start a farm on Fiji and live life happily forever after with Kristine Kochanski, his one true love.
After the cat is discovered, Lister refuses to hand it over for “biopsy” and is put into an enforced stasis period for 18 months as punishment. Three million years pass quickly and it transpires that Lister is still alive. Having been kept in stasis by the ships computer, Holly, until a radiation dose has settled, Lister is informed that the entire crew is dead.
Shortly after, it is shown that Rimmer is still alive and kicking – sort of. He has been reanimated as a hologram, and feels no emotions. While arguing, they come across a cat-like humanoid on board that is the descendant of Frankenstein, Lister’s old cat!
The episode ends with Lister discovering he is in fact seen as the god of this new race of cat people – known as “Cloister the Stupid”. The episode ends with a plot being set for Earth and Lister demanding that they visit Fiji as “the slime is coming home”.
Seen as an iconic start to one of the most popular shows on British TV, Red Dwarf went from strength to strength and “The End” was seen as the perfect introduction to what became one of the most recognized and iconic shows out there.