Red Dwarf returns with feature-length special in 2020

Good news everyone! Red Dwarf is coming back for a new feature length episode arriving on our screens on Thursday 9th April 2020. The announcement was back in October on the official Red Dwarf website with a press release from UKTV. There’s also going to be a three-part documentary series covering the show’s 30 plus years so far from sitcom retrospective specialists North One. While you can find all of the initial details over on the official site, we’ll do our best here to answer any questions you may have.

What’s it called?

The title has been revealed as ‘The Promised Land’ which if you might remember from Series I was what the cats called Fushal, and Lister called Fiji.

Is there a trailer?

Yes, here’s the full trailer.

And here’s the teaser which was released a few days before.


Where will the new Red Dwarf feature length special air?

It will be shown on Dave, the home of Red Dwarf since 2009 when they commissioned Red Dwarf: Back to Earth. They’ve also shown Series X, XI and XII.

When will the Red Dwarf special appear on my tellybox?

The show arrives on Thursday 9th April 2020.

Back in October 2019, there was a Twitter Q&A from producer Richard Naylor, which said the plan was to air in April 2020 so it’s nice that everything has gone to plan.

How long will it be?

Once again, according to Richard, it’ll be 90 minutes in a 120 time slot. That’s 30 minutes of ad breaks for you as a special treat.

Will the original cast be back?

Yes, the core cast of Chris Barrie as Rimmer, Craig Charles as Lister, Danny John-Jules as Cat and Robert Llewellyn as Kryten will all be returning.

On the announcement a press officer ghost wrote this quote for Craig Charles had this to say: “I’m really excited to get back on board with the boys from the Dwarf. I can’t wait to discuss Robert’s prostate problems, Chris Barrie’s hip replacement and have a proper look at Danny’s new dentures whilst they marvel at the agelessness of the Charles physique. I will surely require the services of a chiropractor after dragging these doddering misfits through what promises to be our most epic adventure yet. Dave Lister, the human race’s last hope in a hostile universe. God help us. And may the Dwarf be with you.”

Are they bringing Holly back?

Yes, Norman Lovett will be back following following his glorious cameo in the Red Dwarf Series XII finale ‘Skipper’. Babycow even released a picture of him at a read-through on their Instagram. Can you spot him?

Is there also a really nice poster?

Yes, this one. Find out more about it here.

And what about guest stars? I understand sometimes TV shows have these.

There will be guest performers and they’re all of a feline persuasion. Tom Bennett, Mandeep Dhillon and Lucy Pearman all play cat clerics while Ray Fearon plays Rodon, leader of the feral cats as well as Al Roberts in an as-yet-untitled role.

Sounds like you know stuff, is there some kind of official synopsis?

Yes, UKTV, Babycow and the official Red Dwarf site all released this:

The new 90-minute special is the thirteenth outing of the legendary sci-fi comedy. It reunites the original cast of Chris Barrie (Rimmer), Craig Charles (Lister), Danny John-Jules (Cat) Robert Llewellyn (Kryten) and sees the return of Holly (Norman Lovett) the much loved ship’s computer. Written and directed by Doug Naylor, it was recorded in front of a live studio audience over two nights at the world famous Pinewood Studios.

Three million years ago… David Lister, a vending machine repairman, was sentenced to eighteen months in suspended animation for smuggling his pregnant cat aboard the mining ship Red Dwarf. While Lister remained in stasis, a radiation leak killed the rest of the crew. Safely sealed in the hold, the cats evolved into humanoid form. The cats now roam deep space in a fleet of their own…

The special will see the posse meet three cat clerics (Tom Bennett, Mandeep Dhillon, Lucy Pearman) who worship Lister as their God. Lister vows to help them as they’re being hunted by Rodon, the ruthless feral cat leader (Ray Fearon) who has vowed to wipe out all cats who worship anyone but him.

That’s all well and good, but what will it look like?

Some pictures have been released. They’re nice, aren’t they? Above, you can see the cast looking pretty similar to their Red Dwarf XII costrumes and here we have a look at Rodon.

And here’s one of Rimmer looking…different.

Was it be filmed before a live studio audience?

It has indeed been filmed before I live studio audience. These are very perceptive questions. There were two recording sessions, both taking place at Pinewood studios. The first recording session was originally scheduled for 6th December at Pinewood studios but was cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances. The first session took place on Friday 13th December with the second rescheduled for 11th January 2020. You can read a full set report of that recording session here.

Can I get tickets to be in the audience?

There was a ballot for tickets through Lost in TV which ran from Friday 18th October at 12pm until the same time on Monday 21st October. If there are future recordings of the show, they’ll probably follow a similar format.

Is Doug Naylor writing?

Co-creator and writer of all 73 episodes Doug Naylor is back once again to write and direct this feature-length special. This quote was attributed to Doug: I’m absolutely thrilled to have the opportunity of making more Red Dwarf. UKTV have been a never-ending source of support and encouragement since we first started working together ten years ago. Can’t wait to start shooting a format that I don’t think has ever been done before. Smoke me a kipper, we’re back and not just for breakfast.”

Not just for breakfast?

I know.

Is Rob Grant involved?

Other than putting in an appearance in the recent Stellar Rescue mini-documentary, Rob Grant hasn’t been involved in any meaningful capacity since 1993 and that seems unlikely to ever change.

Why aren’t they making Red Dwarf XIII?

There could be a whole bunch of reasons. Perhaps the cast are not available. Maybe UKTV wanted to try something different with the show. It could be a creative decision. Perhaps Doug had a dream where the almighty told him to do this. Maybe there’s a big story idea that demands a longer format. We don’t know, you don’t know. All we know is, there’s some new Red Dwarf happening.

Is this the end of Red Dwarf?

While the cast are continuing to get older as dictated by the laws of our universe, it doesn’t seem likely this is being designed as a finale. According to Richard Naylor, two specials could have been commissioned but the production team decided to make just one to test the format. This could become the future of Red Dwarf, just like Only Fools and Horses moved towards it at the end of its life. Or it could be just what it says – a special, with Series XIII to follow at some point in the future.

Will this be like Back to Earth?

Not really. Back to Earth’s format was dictated by time and budget. This is coming off the back of multiple series so there are sets and models already in place. There will also be a studio audience which means it will retain the feel of a sitcom.

What about this documentary series?

There will be three hour-long episodes specifically for broadcast. As mentioned above, it’ll be produced by North One TV, who currently make shows including Craig Charles’ fronted The Gadget Show. They’ve previously made some excellent sitcom documentaries including How the Young Ones Changed Comedy and The Story of Only Fools and Horses. There will be some brand-new cast and crew interviews as well as plenty of unbroadcast material on show.

Anything else you want to mention?


So what is it?

Let’s not.